I didn’t know what kind of post I was going to write for Mental Health/ BPD awareness month but then I saw the news about the death of blogger Heather Armstrong appear on my newsfeed. Here’s an article about her passing: https://apnews.com/article/dooce-heather-armstrong-dead-83c8f4812bda1766301793ea3afb02cb
I want to preface this by saying that I haven’t had a suicidal ideation episode since May of 2022 and here’s the blog post about that:
Borderline Awareness Month: I Could be 1 in 10
I think the news of Heather Armstrong hit me hard because well, looking on the surface, her life seems almost idyllic. This is a rich white woman who has all of the resources at her disposal to help her get to a much healthier state with her mental health and I’m like WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? WHAT THE FUCK WENT WRONG? While I could speculate why or how this happened, I won’t. What I will say is that nobody could possibly understand why she made that decision or how much suffering she was in. This made me reflect on my own journey with recovering from mental illness.
I have battled depression and anxiety since I was a teenager except I wasn’t formally diagnosed with it until after I had my third child in 2012. It’s been a not so well kept secret in my family that I continuously tried to mask to seem well, normal to everyone else. For years, I’ve mostly kept my depressive episodes to myself because more often than not when I’ve disclosed I’m depressed, I’m met with the comments: “You need to get over it , we have no time for this” or “Think about your kids” or “But you have SO MUCH to live for”. I know the people making those comments thought they were being helpful but all it did was drive me further into a spiral of shame for having no control over my brain chemistry and being depressed. It adds fire to the fuel of my inner critic who tells me during this episode, “let’s add being a failure as a mom to your thoughts about being a worthless and terrible human being”.
The sun is shining
Everything is green and bright
And yet winter feels eternal
In my heart and my mind
I feel a profound darkness that
Seems to seep and ooze everywhere
Inside of me
Is this what true loneliness feels like?
Will I ever get rid of what feels like
my forever depression?
Or do I just learn to live
with the elephant that
lives on my chest?
That I try desperately not to wake it up
Writing, exercise, friends, tv-
Everything to keep it calm
But no matter what
The elephant always seems
To wake up
In a lot of my poetry, I’ve talked about the impossible pressure I’ve had to deal with in being a mother but I don’t think I talk enough about how this was modeled for me growing up. Growing up, I saw my mother as this larger than life woman who constantly worked hard and sacrificed for her family. She worked countless hours to provide for us. She was this superwoman who at one point had 3 jobs and still managed to keep a clean house and cook dinner. I remember her sleeping a couple hours after she got home from an overnight shift at her job and waking up to walk me to school in the morning. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I never saw my mom breakdown or cry.
The message I received and perceived was one that in order to be a good mother, you have to be this superwoman who balances everything perfectly all the time. Being a good mother also meant being strong and resilient and if needed it was necessary to suppress emotions to continue to function. When I became a mother at 17, I had these unrealistic expectations of motherhood that I wanted to attain. And we wonder why I ended up with a diagnosis of BPD-lol. Honestly, while I’ve healed a lot from my past, I feel like it’s still necessary to share it because this isn’t just my story. It’s the story of other mothers who are still ashamed about having a mental illness and more often than not, don’t seek help and mask, mask, mask until they explode.
I’ve often talked about how my children are one of my greatest motivators for continuing to move forward with my life, to try to continue with my self improvement; but what I have failed to talk about is how my children are a major source of guilt while I’m in a major depressive episode. If I had to be honest with myself and everyone else, when I’ve been in that really dark place with my depression, I’ve had thoughts about how maybe my kids would be better off without me, how my kids deserve a better mother than me.I’m coming from a very vulnerable place talking about this. I also want to add that I haven’t been in this dark place with these thoughts since 2021. It is a fucking scary place to be in and it’s something I would never wish upon my worst enemy. Thankfully, I have always been able to pull myself out of this headspace and seek help if I need to. However, once I start to get out of this head space, guilt over how selfish I was for not thinking about kids hits me and ooof I’m off to a shame spiral that almost loops back around to another depressive episode but nowadays I’m able to get a better handle on it. In January of this year, when I had another major depressive episode, my worst thought was, “I don’t think I’m doing enough to improve the lives of me and children ” which is irrational for many reasons. Anyways, I decided then and there that I needed to go back to therapy. It was hard to make that decision but in order to prevent my depression from getting worse; it was necessary. Some part of me felt like a failure because of how many healthy coping mechanisms I have now, how much emotional support I have from family and friends, and how much therapy I’ve had; I felt like I should be able to get this on my own. However, I’d rather be safe than sorry and get the extra guidance and help I need so I can get through this depressive episode before it gets worse. It hasn’t always been this way for me. For several years, I thought that the brave thing to do was to suffer in silence and try to get through my depression on my own. Journaling consistently since 2019 has helped me get through the worst of it but looking back on those journal entries, I’m filled with grief for the version of me who thought strength and being brave meant keeping it all in. I’m filled with grief at the version of me holding it together trying to balance it all and functioning at work when inside all I wanted to do was die or disappear. However, I hold compassion for that woman because she was doing what she knew best to survive. And sure at times that looked messy and unhealthy but at the end of day what matters is that I’m still here.
Here’s a poem I wrote about my depression in 2020:
The Darkness comes back
with a fierce strength
and takes over my mind
I want to run
I want to hide
But most of all I want to die
The Darkness comes back
like a hurricane
and wrecks my body and mind
and I don’t want to work
and I don’t want to talk
and I don’t want to breathe
The Darkness comes back
and not even the promise of love
keeps it away
Fortunately for me, I learned to work through my feelings of shame in getting the help I needed to get better. My mental health improved drastically after getting a BPD diagnosis and here’s the post about that:
A New Diagnosis: BPD
I’m very fortunate that my meds, my therapy, and the strict routine and consistency I now have in my life has improved my mental health so much, my depressive episode and low moods are milder and my quality of life has gotten so much better. I know that even in 2023,there is still so much pressure on mothers to be superwomen, to be “brave” and fight their battles alone but it doesn’t have to be this way. I hope that any mother out there struggling with depression/mental illness who might happen upon my blog post understands that they don’t have to fight this battle alone. In this journey, it is important to understand that being brave can also be taking the first step to seeking out the help you need to get healthier. I’m lucky to have found my own village ( my support system, my therapists, my writing community) to improve the quality of my life; my hope is that other mothers find their own village as well to lead healthier and happier lives.
I want to end this post with a poem I wrote in February of this year:
The Finish Line
I have yet to cross the finish line of my uprising, my marathon of healing-
Sometimes I stumble and fall for a few days, a few weeks.
a month when life gets overwhelming
I dissociate and drive around aimlessly
Forget about all the progress I made-
but always get up and do the best I can
Sometimes I mask well enough to fool the people in my life
Sometimes, it’s not enough and they start asking what’s wrong
but somehow I always manage to get back to a place where
I move forward and evolve-
listen to my therapist-
healing isn’t linear-healing is messy
and just because I stumble sometimes,
it doesn’t mean I can’t cross the finish line
Below are some resources that helped me along my journey:
Back from the Borderline podcast episodes that have really helped me
One thing I want to add about the above resources I have shared is that I take notes from the books/podcast episodes . I jot down certain phrases, concepts, or quotes that resonate with me and/or I find helpful. I take notes on sticky notes and have a notebook where I taped them later in a notebook where I write about it as to why I related to it or why it was helpful. This method of mine works for me in finding understanding the book better or validating my experience. You don’t have to do this at all, of course. It’s just what I found helpful. Also, if you want more books or resources, feel free to contact me:
I also want to add other helpful resources:
Below is a link to find a therapist and other mental health professionals-