Updated: Jul 2, 2020
| This is the 280th story of Our Life Logs |
I grew up in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, in the early 2000s. As a young girl, my parents sensed that things weren’t right with me. I would jump back and forth between doing things. I would start my homework and then stop to play with toys. I would then place the toys down to watch television. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t complete one simple task at a time.
More importantly, I didn’t show certain emotions. My parents couldn’t tell if I was happy, sad, or angry. I didn’t smile when I was happy, like my friends. I didn’t cry when I was sad, like my classmates. I didn’t yell or throw temper tantrums when I was angry, like most kids my parents observed. It seemed like the only emotions I was able to express were nervousness and fear—but even then, it wasn’t normal.
I was perpetually nervous and scared to do things. One of those things was school. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious at school. My peers would laugh and talk with friends while I stood away from crowds, my knees knocking together as I shook with fear.
Whatever the reason, I wasn’t right. I needed to be fixed. So, my parents brought me to therapist, after therapist, after therapist. I was placed in different offices, in front of different faces, different people, and they all asked me so many questions. I wished the questions would simply stop. I hated talking about myself. I hated talking about what was going on in my life and in my head. The doctors wrote things down on their pads of paper. They analyzed me. The entire process was scary. As my parents dragged me from therapist to therapist, I wanted it all to end. Doctors and therapists seemed scared to label young kids, but even still, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression at 11 years old.
I continued to float through life as a broken child. I was cracking. I was splitting. Things were getting worse very quickly. When I was 13 years old, I realized that I wasn’t okay.
I would have dark thoughts about how I should leave, go away. I should escape my life. I asked myself the same questions over and over again. Are other people always so scared? Do other people struggle to feel certain emotions?
I went through high school like this. I searched for a light that wasn’t there. I was entirely consumed by darkness. I didn’t have a positive, truly loving, and supportive home life. I also didn’t have any friends to turn to because they lived too far away. On top of that, I was attempting to accept my sexuality and deal with coming out.
Throughout my four years in high school, I attempted suicide three times. I just wanted my life to end. I made the difficult decision to ask for help, but that didn’t last for long. I fell back into the same damaging patterns. I would transform into the darkness that consumed me. I wouldn’t leave my room and I wouldn’t talk to anyone. For years, I spiraled out of control.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) when I was 21. I now had information. The antisocial behavior I experienced, my emotionless mind and body, feeling so physically sick I couldn’t leave my bed, my suicide attempts—they were all symptoms of my BPD. Unlike anxiety and depression, BPD isn’t a well-known mental disorder, which was why I wasn’t diagnosed when I was younger.
In the beginning, I didn’t consider my diagnosis as a positive result that would better me in my life. Instead, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my mental disorders.
Eventually, I wanted to tell people about my health issues, especially those closest to me. These times were my good days, several months after my diagnosis. However, when I shared, I had some people tell me that I was faking it. I couldn’t attend school majority of the time because of my symptoms. So, when I came back to school, some of my peers approached me. When I told them about my BPD and its symptoms, they said that I did it on purpose so I didn’t have to go to school. Some people told me that none of it was real, or it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.
This negative stigma and shame surrounding mental illness prevented me from continuing to share my experiences. This was the saddest part. Instead, I kept them hidden under lock and key from everyone. I traveled back to the darkness of shame, back to loneliness.
The consequence of darkness is that growth is impossible, and as time went on, I craved the light.
I found the courage to create changes in my life. I left my past life with all its negativity and toxic energy behind. I surrounded myself with positive, wonderful, loving people. I quit my management job at a grocery store, which previously added to my depression and anxiety. I began working at Starbucks with supportive and loving co-workers and customers. More importantly, I decided it was time to go to college in September of 2018. I began pursuing my education, learning new things and engaging in new experiences.
Most importantly, I found the person who is meant to be in my life, my girlfriend Catrina. Catrina helps me remain positive and consciously strives to understand each aspect of my mental disorders. She recognizes when I struggle to express emotions. She gives me personal space when I feel antisocial. She has learned how to help me break out of the darkness. Catrina knows this is my BPD. She hugs me and tells me that it’s okay. She holds my hand while I struggle. She listens. She helps me. Catrina makes me feel like a normal person. She loves me despite my three disorders. She loves me for me.
Yes. I have anxiety, depression, and Borderline Personality Disorder. No, this is not shameful. They do not make me weak. They do not define me. My dad, Catrina, and some friends who have seen me struggle helped me realize this truth.
I accepted my mental disorders. I do not keep them hidden any longer.
This is the story of Tara S.
Tara, 22, grew up in Ontario, Canada. With qualities unlike her peers, she was unable to express a wide range of emotions. Throughout her childhood and teen years, Tara struggled with multiple mental disorders. She was surrounded by darkness and suicide attempts. But soon, Tara was able to find her strength and the light she needed to survive. She is now reborn.
Today, Tara is a journalism student at Durham College in Oshawa. She has found incredibly supportive professors and peers in the Journalism-Mass Media program. Her mentors have helped her discover her passion for writing and sharing stories. With her degree and writing skills, Tara desires to be a support system to others who struggle with mental health issues. Tara enjoys going to school and expanding her knowledge. She loves drinking coffee while binge watching her favorite television shows. She sings along to Taylor Swift and goes on many adventures with her girlfriend, Catrina. Tara’s rebirth is a testament of strength, and she exists to help others. She is truly an inspiration.
This story first touched our hearts on January 14, 2019.
| Writer: Marisa Chiorello | Editor: Colleen Walker |