Dealing With Mental Health: PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder

Amanda Whitworth Mental Health

“Your present circumstance don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” - Nido Qubein

About a week ago I had an assessment with a Psychiatrist at Moore’s Cancer Center 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 very 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; Borderline Personality Disorder.

I sat, staring blankly at him as my memory 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 Personality Disorder and PTSD, a 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 suppose 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 walked 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 towards 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.

I’ve sat wondering the last week 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 towards 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 embrace 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 it’s way to the person who needs it who is quietly struggle 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 a 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 opening because I’m afraid of the repercussions of exposing the person involved, I think I can share in an authentic way none the less.

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 can not emphasize this enough. Do not try to do this alone. That 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 very 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.