I had two major realizations in the last couple of days. I'm reading Building a Life Worth Living by Marsha Linehan for the second time (I absolutely recommend- it's an autobiography of the woman who created Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, which is used primarily for those suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder) and something popped out at me. In an early chapter, she mentions something she calls "apparent competence" and it resonated with me greatly. Apparent competence is when the sufferer has the outward appearance of having their life together, or being emotionally well when they're actually in great emotional and/or psychological distress. It me. This is something I struggle with quite often- and it's something I've mentioned previously in this blog. I feel unseen by most everyone and that includes the medical professionals because I'm always being told about how strong I am, how I'm articulate and high functioning when really I'm the world's largest mess. It makes me sad. It makes me angry. It makes me feel lonely beyond lonely. I wonder why nobody sees my pain. Reading about Marsha's experience made me stop and think: of COURSE many have a hard time seeing my pain. It's hard to see under the guise of a big smile and cracked jokes. Even though I'm as transparent as they come about my mental health, I think it's easy for a lot of people to kind of forget the extent of it because I "wear it so well"- I can go out and about (you know, when I decide it's safe to go outside) and not portray myself as a person holding on to heavy anguish. I'm trying to keep this "ah-ha" moment close to me; I took people's difficulty in reading me as a sign that nobody cared about me enough to see the hurt. I thought to myself, well, I TOLD them how I feel so why the hell isn't that enough. I let myself lash out because of it and that isn't fair. I suppose that's something! And secondly, I had the troubling realization that my young life fucked me up more than I thought. You see, I grew up in a full house. My dad and I moved in with my grandma and my uncle when I was around 5 or 6- this was so my grandma had more help around the house and also because my pops was a single parent so it would be great to have someone to watch tiny me. The arrangement was pretty great! The only issue was that the older I got, the less I got along with my uncle. And I don't mean we just kinda bickered. No, we fought badly with one another. From the age of about 13-20 (when I moved away; I couldn't take it, anymore), I took a lot of emotional and psychological abuse from my uncle. If I'm being honest, I didn't see it as abuse for the longest time, not until one day my dad said he was sorry that he ever trapped us there with him and that, really, it was child abuse and he had never meant for that to happen. I was taken aback. But... It's true. That's what it was. The shit I went through because of my uncle was beyond maddening. It drove me to psychological breaks I can't describe. He said terrible things to me, he went out of his way to upset me for fun, he gas-lit me once I would snap at his poking and his prodding and he'd laugh and make fun of me when I'd break. That's a yikes. I don't know why it never stood out as anything strange to me. I kinda just assumed he was an asshole. All of that lead to a place I've lived for so long, a place I didn't understand how I got there: my BPD. BPD is generally caused by long-term fear or distress in your formative years, fear and distress brought on by all kinds of abuse- physical, emotional, sexual, being a witness to it etc. So... bingo, I guess. In all the times I wondered how I'd managed to get such bad BPD, the evidence was right there under my nose and I just.. didn't see it. It's funny how that works. Funny, and sad. I just thought my tumultuous relationship with my uncle was exactly that. A bump in the road with some dick. The more I think of it, the more it bums me out. I'm sad for myself. I'm sad to realize I have more trauma than I even knew. I'm sad to know that I have one of the hardest mental illnesses to deal with and treat because of someone's cruel actions. I still have nightmares about the way we'd interact- I had one last night. I woke up feeling viscerally angry. Damn. I suppose I can be grateful for this discovery if only for the fact that it's now something I can confront head on with therapy. But still. Fuck.
Hi! This is my little slice of the internet! I'm not 100% sure why I decided I wanted to make an official blog- maybe it's born of my want to help people and make even the slightest change, maybe it's because my hand hurts when I'm trying to write journal entries. Who knows? Not me!
My name is Shayla and I'm 28 years old. I was diagnosed with depression when I was a young teen and as I grew older, I had anxiety, borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder added to the roster. While my mental health has been a huge source of problems in my life, I've also experienced numerous traumatic events and hardships- and I continue to work through them to this day.
Whether you're here to understand mental health better, here to remind yourself that you're not alone in your struggles or any reason in-between: welcome.