“What is your favorite color? ” “What is yours?”
“I’m trying to learn how to be happy and satisfied, but just like a narcissist I find that there are many moments of feeling empty.”
For a long time I fought against all things that were good for me. Self sabotage and harmful patterns can only work for so long. The mind wants to question anything and everyone, the spirit wants to clear up tainted perspectives. I had to choose which lens to look out of, and no one could do it for me, which kind of sucked, but really didn’t.
The thing about an inner voice, a conscious, a form of internal conflict, a dream, a goal… Well.
How effective is using defense mechanisms as coping strategies? Finding every excuse and blaming any and everyone for my actions and choices?
I accept that any single emotion that I feel, I feel to such an extreme point that interferes with my reasoning at times. The dangers of masking, for me, were that I managed to lose myself in the versions of myself that I tried to hide inside of for some form of acceptance.
Looking back I have a better understanding of my patterns. Because let’s keep it real: some of these things were fun. Well, they all were. They satisfied my brain’s need for instant gratification. When I learned to gamble on slot machines, it became the most fun few hours a couple of times per week ever. To the expense of losing thousands of dollars and a series of events that led to another hospitalization. When I was in active addiction, I thought it was a bragging right that I would be the most intoxicated person in the room. Which led to a series of events that led to another hospitalization. Feeling rejection, whether it was from a text message, a misinterpreted phone conversation, or a past event that I would ruminate about (even years later) would also lead to a series of events that led to another hospitalization.
I also noticed how things affected me while dating. First: there had to be some element of thrill within that person to keep my interest. And then their habits became mine, whether that meant healthy or unhealthy habits. Whether they pushed me to the heights of physical fitness, or their life choices led me to the depths of addiction, I learned that I made a series of choices based on an unhealthy mindset and a lack of identity and self love. My favorite color? The color that person loved on me.
What I learned is that no diagnosis is a crutch or an excuse to act in ways that are harmful to myself or others. That no matter what mental illness I have, I must love myself and my children enough to do the necessary work to take care of myself. I cannot do the work “for show” or to prove a point. I must do it publicly and privately, no matter who sees.
I found that the one thing I loved about myself, the ability to “blend in,” to “camouflage” and be liked and accepted by any group of people, was the thing that was hurting me most. Because at some point I began to wonder: WHO AM I?
“I’m trying to learn how to be happy and satisfied, but just like a narcissist I find that there are many moments of feeling empty.” This is a message I sent to two friends in our Facebook Messenger group chat.
I can also recall a pretty comical TikTok video that I posted with some decent effects to keep people’s attention. I was sharing a note that I took down from a recent therapy session. It went something like this:
“Borderline Diary Post: There aren’t enough pets, partners, babies, tasks, accomplishments, jobs that you can obtain or add into your life that can show you that you are worthy of love. You only have so much love to give and these things do not fill the hole inside of you.”
Catch my drift?
I have a point here, stay with me (as I try to stay with myself). The brain of a person with Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and unspecified Bipolar Disorder traits can take years to sort through. It took over a decade to solidify my correct diagnoses.
It took me years. Years of opening doors in my mind that I had managed to shut in harmful ways. Figuring out which versions of myself I was during various stages of my life. I am nowhere near “done” or “fully healed.”
I have to ask God for strength daily, and I feel that I am given the tools and resources that I need in order to succeed and meet my own expectations of the meaning of success. I am still working to affirm my purpose, keeping in mind that what I feel my purpose is today may be something else this time next year.
The immediate need for my life is consistent balance. Because with balance and stability comes the ability to focus, to plan, to continue healing. And with that comes the moments in which to obtain more of my goals. It does me no good to exhaust myself with several temporary jobs that I have difficulty maintaining and the way that I feel when I have to send that email, as some part of me probably knew that I moved too quickly into applying for a position that I equated to my self worth.
It does me no good to “fake it til I make it” around family members who (for some reason) I keep convincing myself are better than me and that I don’t fit in with them, and even that they don’t love me. I know that this is not true, but there are moments, long lasting moments even, when you can’t pay me, bet me, or dare me to believe that I matter to them. Or anyone. Or myself.
So cheers to mental health awareness month. Cheers to healing and growth. Cheers to me making the choice to keep going. Mental illness is a real thing that affects many good people. Not everyone understands it. But I think I finally understand that no matter what we struggle with, it is our job to take the best care of ourselves. And thank God for this realization.