One of my good friends told me the other day, regarding my skating videos, “I love your skating videos because obviously, they’re skating which is a whole thing, but because you post the process and I don’t see a lot of that on social media.” Another close friend reminded me last night, about some embarrassment I had around the way in which I share my larger life process, by asking me what’s wrong with taking people along on your journey? That could be a really beautiful thing. And those two ideas really came together for me last night as a way to reframe something I’ve been ashamed of about myself.
So I’m going to take you along on my journey once again.
Here’s what happened, the short version: the meds for bipolar made me super sick and mildly insane feeling. I had some realizations about how my depressive episodes are externally triggered vs biologically as it is for some people. I talked to my therapist yesterday about it and she reminded me for the third or fourth time since seeing her over a year, that this sounded more like Borderline Personality Disorder than bipolar. There was acceptance but also shame and also embarrassment. I’ll tell you why.
I am starting to see the pattern of shifting identity, in a new way. I’ve noticed it for a long time, as I am hyperaware of myself. But, for example, despite my therapist saying “I think this is bipolar, let’s start meds and see how this goes,” I took it and ran. Which is what I always do. Which is trauma. I WAS bipolar and I want to be gentle with myself while explaining how I fully embraced and embodied it, making it MY Thing (which is actually part of being Borderline). There is also an element of being embarrassed that I was wrong, but mostly the whole freight train aspect of my trauma that is part wanting answers and how to deal with it and part wanting identity so I can fit somewhere in the world. But ultimately going down a huge rabbit hole of research and making myself feel even worse.
I always feel like everything fits. And then end up not wanting to be here because how does one untangle the mess of a self like that? How do people seem so solid and together? I think that is the downside of social media especially. You don’t see the process.
The shame comes from a lot of places. The voices and opinions of people in my life at one time or another echoing in my brain. An awareness of my differences when I look out into the vast world and how people express or share or interact. That part of me that feels like I must mirror what I see in order to fit in but then being unable to. It’s deep.
But I had this thought, after putting what my friends said to me together: what if I just owned who I am? What if I flip that shame upside down, expose it and find out that this is actually a gift? What if that is why I’m here?
Now. The thing is, I did that for awhile. A couple years ago, that was something I had finally started to understand about my work. And things were flowing. But then I entered an extremely volatile relationship that shattered me to my core and ripped my family and community apart. I have to acknowledge the healing it will take, which I am doing. But it feels like I am picking up a thread right now and that thread turned golden in the process. It feels more solid.
My last therapist diagnosed me with Borderline also. But when I realized the unethical issues going on there and the involvement of my partner who is a habitual liar and narcissist, I dismissed the diagnosis because I no longer trusted a therapist who did not recognize abuse when I was telling her. One who encouraged a continuation of that relationship even when I started recognizing that something was really fucked up. That’s hard for me to write about but it’s an important piece of the process.
There seems to be a huge push in my life to find any identity, grab it, embody it but then ultimately realize this is not it. It’s a bit maddening and being someone, an artist, who expresses openly, that’s where the shame and embarrassment comes from. At this point, I am at square nothing. I am again questioning everything I’ve believed about myself: sexuality, gender, mental health, spiritual path, my place in the world. I’m starting to hear a very quiet voice rising to the surface the more I listen, that feels more real but also more vulnerable to be in the world in an authentic way. And this person really doesn’t need labels, nor does she want them.
Diagnoses are weird. I was reminded that the whole thing is a process. No one knows for sure and these things change. I’m also at a point where I’m done researching every fucking thing I think is wrong. For me now, I want results. The great news is that Borderline is treatable with hard work. And that is something I’ve already started on. I have two methods of building tools to help me going forward. And I’m not afraid of hard work. There is a lot of stigma around people with Borderline but it’s been really important for me to remember that trauma got me here. Starting in early childhood and repeating itself for over 20 years. I think I was having some issues around the idea of this because it meant that maybe I could somehow have prevented it. Maybe I didn’t work on my healing hard enough. Maybe I wasn’t a good person after all. All faulty thought processes. And honestly, I’ve looked at it all and am ready to move on from why it happened to how do I get real results in the parts of my healing that I feel really stuck in?
I come back to the relationship I have with myself. How would I treat a friend who went through this? Where is my compassion? I’m realizing so many of the issues I’m having with others is because I’m approaching myself in an unhealthy way. I must be kind and compassionate toward every part of my humanity. The world is not going to because most people are still on a witchhunt to cancel everyone, which ultimately is a reflection of how they feel about themselves also. It’s an endless loop.
As of right now, I am working on a more focused spiritual path and dialectical behavior therapy to help with the parts I continue to struggle with: emotional dysregulation, relationships in general, stabilization, peace in my mind. There is no end point. There is only process. And while finding a place to belong has been a driving force in finding my identity, I am realizing now that first I must find out who I really am outside all the labels and then belong to myself. I think the rest will follow naturally.