Amanda’s Story

I saw my first counselor when I was eight years old. Even today, I don’t know why my parents decided to take me to one, but it probably had to do with my shyness, anxieties and trouble fitting in at school. Either way, from that point on I would always be different from the other kids I knew. I had a few friends but had little in common with most kids my age. I went to counseling for years. Then, at 12, I had my first hospitalization after a threat to commit suicide.

Despite my problems, I always thought I had a good life. I had a family who loved me, despite our problems. We went to church regularly and my faith gave me strength that probably saved my life. I was able to attend a small private school which met my needs both academically and emotionally. In the years when depression left me, I had friends and some great life experiences. But there was always one difference: sometimes I had a happy, perfect life, and other times I would get so depressed I couldn’t go on.

My relationships helped push me toward seeing my problems and recovering from them. I’ve always been a romantic and believer in love at first sight, and I am intensely attached when I fall in love. Breaking up with my high school/college sweetheart after four years together sent me into a year-long period of detachment, which ended with a complete breakdown that took a long time to mend. A few years later, I was in a very intense love/hate relationship that left me severely depressed. I found a low-income counselor and spent a year in therapy with her. She helped me analyze and work on many of my issues such as abandonment and inappropriate relationships. Yet as I left her and time went by, the depression always came back and went away, sometimes so quickly it was scary. I still knew I was different, that there was something more wrong with me.

One day I was doing Internet searches on what was bothering me and I ran across the condition, “Borderline Personality Disorder,” or BPD. Reading the symptoms was like looking in a mirror: chaotic relationships, intense anger, impulsivity, rapidly changing moods and even the tendency to self-injure. Deep down I knew this was what I had, yet with no health insurance and a low-paying job, I couldn’t afford to go anywhere for diagnosis or treatment. I also felt embarrassed about going to a doctor and telling them I knew what was wrong – as if I had no right to diagnose myself. So for years I rode the ups and downs; sometimes I was insanely happy and then suicidal on the same day. One time I barely got out of bed for two months, and then that episode faded into a happy, upbeat me.

One summer everything changed. After ending a chaotic friendship and facing more family struggles, I was sick of my problems! During that time I was practically living in my bed, feeling hurt all the time. I called Northern Lakes Community Mental Health and I met with my new therapist, who immediately saw my symptoms as BPD. In that moment, everything changed. I knew for certain what made me so different and I was ready to step into recovery.

Like everything in my life, even my recovery seems different. It seems to be happening so fast. I’m seeing my counselor, visiting groups and working through a DBT therapy workbook. I’m rapidly learning how to cope with my emotions and handle the aspects of BPD that affect my life and relationships. That is a good thing but sometimes it’s scary. I don’t know if BDP will ever leave me and I have no idea when the symptoms will strike again, but this time something else is different – I know who I am, and with the new skills I am learning, I will be ready.