Written by Jandy. Please note that this article illustrates a unique personal experience and doesn’t necessarily represent, or speak for, other people struggling with mental illnesses.
To the woman at the insurance company who graciously took my call, thank you very much.
Believe me when I say that when you went the extra mile to help me, that you saved me.
Because listening to a hysterically crying and incoherent customer who is off her meds is hard. Telling her that your insurance company won’t cover her desperately-needed antipsychotic medication is even harder.
It takes a deep well of patience and empathy to talk to someone like me, especially when I’m not “being myself”.
Let me take a step back. I am 26 years old and I have mixed Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, comorbid with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. With just that much said, you already know that I’m a handful.
Over the years I’ve lost many friends and have burned too many bridges. It took a half-assed suicide attempt, hospitalization, and multiple diagnoses for me to learn that something was off; that I wasn’t “normal” in the medical sense of the word.
For many years I thought that my extreme mood fluctuations, erratic cognitions, explosive temper, and self-harming behavior are my “personality quirks” and not symptoms of a serious mental illness; I believed that the sum of all those dysfunctional parts made up my existence in its entirety.
Being locked in a mental health ward for several hours, listening to screaming from other “sick” residents, is what helped me differentiate those two versions of myself – me when I’m “sick” and me when I’m “not sick”.
From the perspective of peers who don’t know me well, I am most likely the sum of those two selves, as I have always believed about myself.
Jandy the emotional. Jandy the strong. Jandy the kind. Jandy the hateful.
Always fluctuating from one extreme to the other. An unpredictable, volatile, and explosive whirlwind.
I lost many close friends. That’s the nature of Borderline Personality Disorder. I am sickeningly effusive at the beginning, securing a strong friendship, then becoming cold, distanced, and accusatory when the relationship becomes too close.
I lost control, hurt too many friends who genuinely cared, and isolated myself; ensconcing myself in bitterness and hatred.
There are friends from years ago who still have me blocked on Facebook and cut off all methods of contact. Understandably. Even years later, they don’t want to talk to me.
I wish they forgave me. I apologized profusely and have made efforts to make up for my mistakes. But who can trust someone like me, who flip flops between extreme perspectives, mood swings, and behaviors?
They only see the “sick” – the unstable – part of me and deservedly so. I made the choice to be angry, spiteful, distrusting, and bitter and that is the image they have of me.
But I want to change that.
I left that chapter unfinished, to be resolved when I’m ready. For when I’m stronger.
I have a new network of friends now, who understand my illness and despite it all, stick by my side. The newer the friend, the better the relationship – as I grow as a person and overcome my illness step by step, I become a better friend. The people who I hurt in the past, who would never give me a chance to show them who I am now, will never get to see this side, the person I am when I’m “not sick”.
To them I will always be that sick, dramatic, toxic person that they don’t want to be around. I yearn for their forgiveness, but I respect their decision and leave them alone.
To move on, I need to forgive myself. I don’t think I will anytime soon.
So thank you, from the depths of my heart, to those who forgive who I am and who I was in the past.
Your kindness and generosity empower me to move onward; to a better, positive, and healthy “me”.
Thank you for accepting me even when I’m unpredictable, volatile, and fragile.
Thank you for sharing your life stories, lessons, and pain; for believing in me, when I don’t even trust myself.
Thank you for seeing beyond my illness, for breaking bread with my illness, even when I haven’t.
Being a kind person starts with self-love and I’ve yet to see myself in a positive light.
Thank you for bestowing me with love, because every bit of it helps move me forward.
It’s not easy to support someone with mental illness, but believe me when I say that every ounce of kindness goes a long way.
Thank you for being there.