Open Letter to My Mental Illnesses

To my depression, my social anxiety, and my borderline personality disorder,

I don’t know how exactly to write a letter to you, because I don’t know if there are adequate words to convey just how deeply and totally that I despise you.

In case you haven’t gotten the message sooner,  I hate you. I absolutely detest that you have been present for so much of my life. Over ten years?! It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that some people are blessed with the ability to let things roll off them while I struggle under the weight of my own emotions. It isn’t fair that some people can be so flexible and adapt to their own imperfections, while I find it impossible live with myself for making the simplest of mistakes. It isn’t fair that relationships come so easily to some people and yet I can go back and forth with myself over whether or not to make a joke or ask someone about their day.

It isn’t fair. I didn’t do anything to even remotely deserve you invading my life as a teenager, overtaking my every corner of my world and growing in severity gradually like a cancer, but yet you did it all the same. I didn’t get a choice, and that sucks.

You are all minions of the same beast, dispatched daily to make my life hell. For many years, I let you do that because I didn’t know that you were the ones driving the car. You made me think that my thoughts and feelings and behaviors were just me. You were happy to let me take all the blame and hide in the shadows, protecting the insidious beast of mental illness of being exposed.

Well, I know now. I know what you are. I know what you do. I know more than I want to about you sometimes.

You can take a simple emotion and let it wash over me, rattling my nerves outwards to my fingertips and toes, an intensity I can hardly describe. You can take one ambiguous gaze from another person and spin a whole tale about how they are going to abandon me. You can fade out all the grey area until all I see is the extreme negative. Bad person. Failure. Loser. 

Why did you come for me? I am a good person who generally has good intentions. I try not to do things with I know will hurt others, I avoid judgement whenever I can, and I am actively looking for ways to be a better person. Even as I write this, I hear the whispers running through my mind: You’re wrong. You are not good. You are just lying to yourself to feel better. I know that this is all of you, planting the seeds of self-doubt in my mind.

Maybe I will never understand. Maybe I don’t get to know. I suppose that’s out of my control.

You might think you have taken all control from me, that you will continue to pervade my life for as long as you please. Sometimes I think that too. I’m sure that’s all your doing, squashing my hope to bits so that I can no longer recognize it.

Try as you might, you cannot squash the evidence that says that I’m trying hard. You cannot erase my nearly two years of exhausting and excruciating and uplifting work in therapy. You cannot take away the nights I wanted to cut but made kinder choices instead. You cannot tear up the lists I’ve made of my good qualities. You cannot stop me from reframing your internal tirade into something more positive.

I am stronger than you. I’m stronger because I’m still here, still fighting in this war, even when it gets hard. I’ve paused the fight, but I’ve never stopped. Sometimes I lose the battle, sometimes you come out victorious. Sometimes you release the emotional flood to stop me in my tracks.

But the war isn’t over yet.

You keep trying to put roadblocks in my path. In fact, you are the roadblocks. You isolate me, make me withdraw from the people around me so that I’m fighting these battles alone. Sometimes, it is so easy to believe your continuous mantra that no one understands the immense pain I can feel and that they will abandon me. Then I go  online to places where I can read the words that mimic verbatim the thoughts running through my mind and I remember. Other people have their own BPD minions too. They have depression minions and anxiety minions. You are wrong: I am not alone. I am in good company, even sitting alone at my computer.

There are other people living my story in various forms. Other people who have cleared their roadblocks and kept going. If they can, I can too.

You’ve succeeded in the past at separating me from the people in my support system. You’ve done a wonderful job of isolating me during a tenuous and rocky period in my life.

It’s another one of the reasons I hate you with a fiery passion.

I’m not sure yet how I’m going to overcome that, the loss you have put me through. Sometimes you convince me that I’ve used up all my options, that I’ve messed up my life beyond repair. You convince me that I deserve punishment in the form of sharp objects.

I don’t know why I listen to you.

Despite what you have done to me, I will keep trying to believe that I can overcome the lost friendships and broken connections. I will keep trying to believe that there is more out there for me, new relationships to cultivate. Because like I have said, I’m not willing to let you win.

I know that you’ll continue to run wild in my head, producing thoughts that could rival my harshest critic and evoking feelings that make me want to die. Go ahead. I may falter here and there, defeated by your persistence, but I always get back on track. I’m learning how to accept that you may be a permanent resident. I’m learning that you may never completely be banished back to whatever hell you came from.

It doesn’t stop me from trying.

Regardless of if you stay or go, I am going to keep working on silencing you. Your voices don’t deserve the weight that I give to them. My voice is in there too, mixed up in this chaos. It is not always easy to hear, but I know I can coax it out more with practice. There are skills to learn. There are lists I can make, strategies to cope and fight back. Your time in power is coming to an end, no matter how long it takes me to get there.

So screw you. I’m fighting you. When I have to, I’ll do it just to spite you, just to counter your messages that tell me I’m not deserving or worthy of the life I want. I am deserving of happiness. Part of me knows that, even when the rest is listening to your nonsense, even when you trick my emotions to play right into your little game.

Every day seems like its own battle, but I am clawing my way through it. Whatever you throw at me, I will keep trying.

I-CAN-I-WILL.jpgNote: Thank you to KD for this great idea and the beautifully written letter that inspired me.

14 thoughts on “Open Letter to My Mental Illnesses”

  1. This is great and is healing, actually. May I suggest instead of trying to understand why, try and begin to accept it. Once you accept it you can learn about it. Acceptance is difficult but doable. I’ve watched you transform. I honestly feel as though you are growing and that deserves some credit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely on a path to acceptance. I’ve actually started a post on what acceptance will look like, because it’s interesting that I’m not really sure! Thank you for your always kind and helpful comments, Eve, it’s great to have you in this with me (and to be in your fight with you; I also feel like you are growing tremendously)! xx

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  2. 💜 I think I should copy and paste the comment I just wrote on your other post! Brave letter. I feel your frustration and anger. You’re diagnoses don’t define you. You are moving forward and growing – I know you know this. And remember that what you feel holds you back now, has served, in part, as protectors (even if a little sadistic). I’m trying hard to be gentle with myself and see that the anorexia, self harm, and withdrawing from relationships has been about survival. Those mechanisms don’t work now. I want better strategies going forward. But there’s no denying for a long time they’ve kept me here when I might otherwise have not been. Be gentle with yourself. Hugs X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this. Going through a really hard week with a depressive episode, this made me get up and keep fighting. We need more of this. More of being aware of how are depression is affecting us and the knowledge that it isn’t us but it’s our depression or our anxiety that it’s messing everything around us. Thanks for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the kindest thing you could say. I do not always have the strength to write posts like this, but I hope that if I can say these words in a good place, I can read them later and find some comfort when I need them. I am so sorry to hear you are in the pits of a depressive episode; I hope you will keep fighting it as long as you need to. You are strong too; all of us who fight the minions have the strength. I’m here cheering you on!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely beautiful letter, Ease. I’m so glad you can separate your kind and loving thoughts from the bullshit (yet painful!!) BPD thoughts. I hope this letter is something you can come back to again and again in the future, because there is so much strength in this! Xoxo

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  5. Powerful and empowering! You’re absolutely right, you are not your mental illnesses. There’s a great book by Matt Haig (called “Reasons to Stay Alive”) in which he talked about how mental illness is like a dark cloud, but if such is the metaphor, then you are the sky. You are bigger than it. The sky can exist without the dark cloud, but the dark cloud can’t exist without the sky. You were here before the dark cloud, and you will remain when that dark cloud drifts away or dissolves. It may come back, but it will remain smaller than you. Hugs xx

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