8.8 Editor's Pick
April 30, 2019

I Refuse to be Ashamed about my Borderline Personality Disorder & PTSD.

 

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About a week ago, I had an assessment with a psychiatrist to be evaluated for some mental health issues that had been coming up in a pretty significant way for the last few months.

In reality, these issues have been haunting me for a long time.

I sat before him and poured out my life story, tears streaming down my face as I observed the parts I felt most compelled to share.

At the end of our session, he confirmed what I had already intuitively known: I was in the midst of PTSD. However, he also confirmed something else that, if I’m honest, I already intuitively knew as well: I had borderline personality disorder.

I sat, staring blankly at him as I recalled the moment so many years ago when I found out my dad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and over the years, a part of me always wondered if I had that in me too.

As he shared the ins and outs of borderline and PTSD, an interesting thing happened; there was a lightness deep within my chest as I felt the shackles of perfection fall to the ground. I felt the little girl inside who was, and still is, highly sensitive—the one who learned to stuff down her trauma from years of emotional abuse and abandonment by a man who was supposed to protect her shout, “Finally! I am free!”

I realize my years of numbness followed by intense anger, impulsivity, mood swings, and irrational thoughts, and years’ worth of binging and purging and starving myself were not all for naught. Rather, a way of coping with something my child mind couldn’t make sense of.

I don’t think it was just a label that was so carelessly and casually given to me because as I listened to him speak about these two disorders—my life, my behaviors, my emotional responses—they all started to make sense and fall into place.

I didn’t walk out of that appointment feeling like a victim—I walked out of that appointment feeling a deep sense of empowerment because now I understood. Now I got to really start the process of healing and knowing myself, my past, and my behaviors with compassion instead of self-hatred, judgement, and resentment. There was a softness I felt toward myself I have never known before.

Now I get to develop the tools to thrive instead of constantly beating myself up for a way of being that, at times, feels uncontrollable.

For the past week, I’ve sat wondering how much I should share. If I even wanted to share this truth openly with you or keep this part of me to myself. I worry that you have already retracted a bit and pulled back hearing the words borderline personality disorder.

I worry now there is an unconscious judgment toward me.

I am afraid that someone will come to my website looking to buy my art and read this post and decide otherwise.

I’m nervous that you may think I’m seeking attention or pity or being dramatic.

I’m scared of the rejection I may face because I’m choosing to let go of the mask of perfection and embracing my mess.

Then I think about all the people out there living in their own little hell and how every time I share bits and pieces of my pain, my shattered parts, my story, it finds its way to the person who needs it, who is quietly struggling to find meaning in their own mess too.

I realized that hiding and concealing these parts of myself isn’t who I really am and that part of my purpose—my authenticity—is sharing. Not just the highlight reel but the real and this is a truth of mine that needs to be shared.

The truth of being a complicated human being.

The truth of suffering years of back-to-back trauma from a disease I feel like I have little control over—with myself and my mom and brother.

The truth of being abused as a child in a way that I justified as normal because I didn’t suffer it physically.

The truth of the intense amount of shame I’ve carried for the things I have and have not done in my life.

And although there are parts of this journey I am not ready to share openly because I’m afraid of the repercussions of exposing the person involved, I think I can share in an authentic way nonetheless.

This isn’t only for my own healing, but also for anyone else who is struggling with the embarrassment, shock, confusion, and even relief that comes with finally having answers to some painful questions.

So now what? What does someone do when they fit a piece of their life puzzle together that may not be ideal, but necessary for finding meaning in their life?

You move forward.

You take this new information and instead of compartmentalizing it, you lean into it, absorb it, integrate it, and learn to listen to this side of you more.

You go to those painful places, no matter how much it hurts, knowing that you will be okay knowing the truth.

You seek professional help. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not try to do this alone, which is exactly what I did for years.

You seek a community—not to wallow in, but to uplift, understand, and relate to.

And for me personally, I’m going to continue to slow my life down, eliminate anything that adds more stress, get more intentional, continue making small changes that are long overdue, and peel back another layer.

I know clearly that I have nothing to be ashamed of and I don’t believe this means I am a broken or unlovable woman. I will not hide from this. It’s a delicate dance that requires me to ask for help, get honest with myself regularly, and let go of the shame I’ve attached to so many things in my life.

I will not fall victim to it but use it as a catalyst to know myself in a way I still don’t, to love myself deeper, heal, and hopefully impact people in a genuine and helpful way.

In order to do that, I need to own and forgive my past and slow down enough to allow myself the grace of healing.

Grace is something I have only recently just met.

And we are getting to know each other slowly.

~

author: Amanda Whitworth

Image: Author's own/Instagram

Editor: Naomi Boshari

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starchaplin May 10, 2019 6:56pm

I relate to a lot of what was written today. I can only express my concern that your making such an effort to move past what occurred but you are scared of the repercussions FOR THAT PERSON!? Why?! If they didn’t do anything that bad or not worth mentioning why are you having to go through all this anguish and all this therapy for?
It will help you to heal to speak your truth make this person accountable for their actions!! You are an adult now, what can they do to hurt you now you’re an adult? Don’t enable their behaviour and treatment of you through fear of speaking out look what this person has done and the effect on you. Please don’t allow you to be swept under the rug in fear of what if????

Susan Kilgore May 5, 2019 12:05am

Hi Amanda. Thank you for sharing a portion of your testimony. It takes COURAGE to do so.

I struggle with BPD and C-PTSD. EMDR is a tool I have found very useful in overcoming and HEALING from my lost identity and past physical and emotional abuse/neglect/abandonment issues. But the most important and helpful tool in my handy mental health toolbox was the act of writing down my negative core beliefs which caused suicidal behaviors and then using CBT to change my thoughts so that those behaviors would cease. And, DBT is often a useful tool in my everyday life in dealing with relationships primarily. It has taken years to hone my use of these tools.

I’d like to offer that over these years, I have found it blatantly obvious that the public is generally oblivious to the real struggles mental health entails. I, much like you, long ago felt like I needed to decide if I wanted to share my story. I felt as if someone “out there” could benefit from my testimony. I did not find acceptance right away because I was still angry at the world and untrusting of everyone. I began to realize my sharing of my mental health issues came with a huge price including further alienation and humiliation. I was caught in a vicious cycle.

Now that time has passed and I have healed more, I am noticing that my prior testimony INDEED inspired a minority. What’s important is realizing that sharing my story earlier helped ME heal from trauma: I did it for me!

Best of wishes to you. Thank you again.

Courtney Owens May 2, 2019 9:19am

I was diagnosed with BPD as well after years of knowing something was wrong but not knowing what. My experience was, why did I not know sooner ? I am just in the final weeks of DBT and it has forever changed my life. You can heal from this and live a better life now that you have an answer. DBT has nearly cured me 🙂

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Amanda Whitworth

Amanda Whitworth is a creative director and mentor working with multi-faceted creatives to simplify their lives and find their creative flow (and just be happier too). She’s also a wood artist, writer, and Jack(ie)-Of-All-Trades kind of gal. Currently living in Encinitas, CA Amanda is moving to a goat farm in Bodega, CA and will be living in a yurt.

Amanda can be found working in her workshop, study herbalism, moving her body on the local trails or playing with her dog Baker and cat Louie. She writes about life. The ups and downs of illness (mostly cancer), mental illness, relationships, and soon to be “yurt life.”You can also find her woodworking Instagram or her website.