Written by Jacob Roy and Saige Haines
Seeing as May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to do something to bring attention to a mental illness that has not only greatly impacted our lives, but also the lives of many others we know. Borderline Personality Disorder is so commonly misunderstood and stigmatized to an extreme. We are faced daily with the society's perception on what it means to be living with BPD, and it is through this that the stigma has formed. People with BPD are called crazy, monsters, abusive, manipulative, attention-seeking, insane, and the list goes on and on. As two people who are faced with the struggles of living with this illness as well as the stigma around it we wanted to show the world the real faces and real stories behind those living with BPD. Along the journey of creating this project we had the opportunity to meet and hear from so many wonderful people who also have fallen victim to the stigma. It was during this process that we watched all these people stand together as one and open up about their struggles and triumphs in such a beautiful way. For the first time, some of these people were given a voice, as well as validation. We live in a world where although mental health issues are so prominent, there is still a vast amount of stigma surrounding them, and that is why we wanted to help be a part of the process of educating people on what it really means to live with a mental illness.
JR: I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder. Receiving this diagnosis wasn’t shocking to me, I had read up on all the criteria and in all honesty, I was more confused as to how no one else had ever suggested it before. Of course, It was scary to receive an official diagnosis, especially since each of the nine criteria for Borderline are all equally as intense, but at the end of the day I was relived to had finally received an explanation for the way in which I had been feeling, or so I thought I was relieved anyways.
I have never been one to shy away from speaking the truth about my story. For the most part I was always open to telling the world that I was living with Borderline and how that looked for me on the average day and even my bad days. Well at least this was the case until I met a particular person. I always knew that I wasn’t the easiest to deal with, my moods were intense and my level of impulsivity was high, but for the first time since having received my diagnosis I began to question my own self-worth on an extreme level. I craved to be understood, to feel valid, and have someone take the time to look at the “why” behind my behaviors, but sadly I received the opposite. Day after day I was made out to be a monster for my intense emotions and at times uncontrollable actions. I was called insane, abusive, attention-seeking, as well as crazy, and as time went on I began to believe the definitions in which I was given.
As this relationship came to an end and I removed the toxicity from my life, I began my journey back to self-love. It took a very long time for me to create a new and positive definition for myself, and reclaim myself worth. Currently I am still on this journey and although I have come a long way I do still have a long way to go. Ultimately though this is why I wanted to start this project, in the hopes that I would be able to pull together those also living with BPD and help reduce and even demolish the stigma around the disorder. No one deserves to feel alone or worthless, no matter their past or present struggles, as at the end of the day we are all only human, doing the best that we can with the cards we’ve been dealt.
SH: I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 19 and was admitted to the hospital after a suicide attempt. I was in my second year of university, I felt lost, helpless and alone. Nothing seemed to be going my way and I was feeling so defeated. I let the darkness inside of me win and I was admitted to the hospital in December 2015. When I was stable again, I was assessed over and over again by at least 5 separate people and after hours of pricking at every sensitive area of my past and explaining ever struggle I face, I was diagnosed with BPD and was put on new medication.
Going home after my hospital visit is a day I’ll never forget. I felt like I had hope, I didn’t feel like a lost cause and I was starting to see the light. With the diagnosis I started to believe in my self and started fighting for myself. I started Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, through this I learned how to be mindful and how to take control over the negative habits and suicidal behaviours I had. Since being diagnosed with Borderline my mental health has been on a solid incline.
Labels are scary- sometimes it’s hard to admit that I have a personality disorder, or that I am on anti-psychotic medication and mood stabilizers. But it’s all about levelling the playing field… I need a little bit of extra help to get up in the morning and to control my moods, and that’s okay! I am not ashamed, and the motivation behind this project is to help others feel comfortable talking about their mental health as well. And to the people, who are fortunate enough to live without a mental illness, try to bring awareness and understanding to them as well. Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone has mental health.
Check out Saige and Jacob's new project BPD Babes here!
and see their Mental Health Awareness video here!