This is an email I got back in February. A painful but not unexpected moment, I plagiarized, misrepresented myself and other peoples art and that had consequences. I wrote a letter to the board apologizing, explaining my situation, my mental illness and this was the conclusion they had come to. I think it was the right decision, as crappy as it was for me.
Earlier this month I got this email from the same organization:
Which was also not unexpected as the person who nominated me asked for my permission, but I had hoped their tendency to procrastinate would mean missing the deadline (I know you are reading this, but really this is the first time you have been early to anything). I was inclined to respectfully decline the nomination, but instead of just stewing things over in my head like I use to do; I picked the more difficult path of talking about my feelings.
The discussion with my therapist started with the simple question of: Why did I plagiarize? My answer; I wanted to feel important and I wanted to get attention. Her answer was: Borderline Personality Disorder. This hit me. I was diagnosed officially around this February and I have a really hard time coming to terms with this diagnosis. For one, I feel like I am broken inside and secondly, I feel like its an excuse, a crappy explanation for acting like a monster. I feel like I am not taking responsibility when I say “I have borderline personality disorder which is why I took advantage of your trusting nature and lied”. For me, this comes down to one thing: control. To admit that having a mental illness is the reason for my actions is to admit that I don’t have control of my own mind. My pride, my arrogance, my own heart does not want to face that.
The reality is that if I had a brain tumour that caused me to act in the same manner I would be much more forgiving of myself and when it comes to other people, I do not hold the same level of judgment that I place on myself. I realized that while I am trying to break down the stigma of mental illness, I still hold that stigma within me. I am not willing to admit that Borderline Personality Disorder is a sickness, an illness that resulted in destructive behaviours.
I hate this. I hate this disease like I have never hated anything before. I hate that my brain will see the world as either good or bad, I hate that my first reaction is to act impulsively, I hate that my self worth is so low that I have problems locating it and most of all I hate that I have this frantic sometime uncontrollable fear of being left alone. I hate what I have done.
Acceptance of my homosexuality has been hard but a road that others have travelled and a journey that I have found to be full of love. Acceptance of my depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress has been a challenge but I feel that I can find an understanding within myself. Acceptance of Borderline Personality Disorder leaves me feeling empty inside because I don’t really know who I am without being that monster.
My therapist asked me if I believed that people with mental illness can be rehabilitated, if they can change, if they deserve a second chance.
This left me with one conclusion that I didn’t want to face: to ignore the nomination is to hide, it would be equivalent to crawling out of the homosexuality closet into the mental illness closet. It means to admit that maybe the content of this blog has some merit. It means that I can take pride in the work I have done post diagnosis. It also means that I will see people at this event whom I have hurt, I will be uncomfortable, I will not want to go, and I will not feel like I deserve to be their.
But, going it is the right thing to do. The right thing is to accept that Borderline Personality Disorder is a part of me; the right thing is to recognize that some people in my life will only know me as the destructive monster of mental illness and to respect those boundaries; the right thing is to move forward and forge new relationship being open and honest.
The right thing is to be gentle and not hateful with my mind, it is to recognize that mental illness is a part of me, but not all of me, and most of all, it is to move to the path of forgiving myself and celebrating a life post diagnosis.
I am happy to be here and I give myself permission to be happy.