MHAM Submission - Katie Stuart
Trigger warning // self-harm, suicide
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) when I was 17 years old (2008). I have always been very shy; I have always been scared to try new things because I was scared I would be rejected. When I was 16 years old, I was rejected very harshly by my mother when I came out of the closet.
Her verbal abuse and abandonment were so invalidating that I started to cut myself. I was hurting myself because the pain of her rejection was so intense that I felt like I did not have any control over my emotions. My anger was so intense because of my self-hatred that I was hurting myself every day, I pushed my friends away, I was intimidating.
One evening, my father found me cutting myself and took me to the hospital and I was admitted to an outpatient psychiatric treatment center in Fredericksburg, VA. I spent a whole month there, while people at school started rumors about how “crazy” I was. I was put on an anti-depressant and was told I showed signs of Borderline Personality Disorder. My mother was more concerned if I was “fixed” from my homosexuality rather than my self-harming.
Once I was discharged, the rejection at my mother’s house continued as did my unstable emotions. I started college in 2010 and I was on the soccer team at Randolph-Macon College. The freedom from my mother was great, but my instability was still strong. I was impulsive, I mixed my anti-depressant with alcohol and was binge drinking almost every day. My grades started to plummet and my teammates and friends were concerned about my wellbeing.
One night, I mixed my pills and alcohol that I threatened suicide and the RA, my roommate, and campus safety almost took me to the hospital again. My relationships, platonic and romantic were so unstable. I got kicked off the soccer team my sophomore year and was on Academic Probation. My home life was rejecting, cold, and cruel while my school life was self-medicated. I was depressed, I felt worthless, I truly wanted to die.
My junior year of college, my cousin (who was 4 months older than me) moved into my mom's house. YES, finally, I felt safe coming home. I was able to confide in her, my thoughts of suicide, my self-harming, and my shame. She understood me and was there for me. My cousin became really sick in the fall of 2012. Her lungs were failing, she was in a coma, and the doctors did everything they could. My cousin died in January 2013, and my world crumbled on me more. I did not know how to mourn with death and I felt so alone and abandoned. I was angry at the world, why did this happen to me?! WHY am I so angry and cant keep it together. Why can't I keep a relationship?! This was my breaking point.
I found myself crying myself to sleep every night. Still cutting myself. Still wanting to die. My thoughts were so negative. One night, a few months after my cousin died. I just had this energy that I can only describe as an “AH-HA” moment. I needed help. I wanted help. I googled BPD and therapists in the area and made an appointment. I took it upon myself to get help and I started psychotherapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).
I learned skills to control my emotions, reactions, and validated myself. I felt like a weight was lifted. I was going to be happy with or without my mother's love. I started to recover and at Christmas 2013 my mom apologized to me, told me she loved me, and she wanted me to be happy. The weight was lifting more.
Fast Forward to now. I have been in recovery since 2013. I haven’t self-harmed since 2013 either. I am no longer on medication, and my drinking is no longer toxic. I still go see the same therapist and I graduated DBT. Although I am not perfect with my intense emotions, I am finally happy with me. All of me. I now work at a mental hospital as a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. I use my story to empower others, be their motivation, and a walking example of HOPE. I even teach DBT from my perspective to my patients. Recovery is a life-long battle for me, but I am winning and I will never give up on myself. Mental illness can happen to ANYone, and recovery can happen to EVERYone.