Something has shifted in the last few months. Nearly a decade has passed since I was first diagnosed with borderline personality disorder by the psychiatrist who told me she wouldn't write it in my notes because she didn't want me to be stigmatised. I experienced years of feeling silenced; sick to my stomach with the thought of being 'found out' and told I couldn't be a good mum / partner / friend / teacher / human being because of my borderline personality disorder.
As I've frequently documented, the unravelling of my shame has been a direct result of talking, being seen by and connecting with others. The less invisible my experiences became and the more I spoke up, the less shame I felt. It has taken years and it has been a process. There have been many awful moments of me, sweaty and hot with shame. Crying in toilets, red faced in meetings, staring into the bobbing 'typing...' on WhatsApp and wanting the internet to swallow me whole. It hasn't been a linear process. Sometimes I've been hurt ('don't talk to me about this', 'stop being ridiculous', 'you're embarrassing yourself') and I've closed up like a clam. Or a limpet. On a rock. In the sea. In a storm.
Over the years, through conversations with people who value honesty and openness, I have been able to accept the different parts of myself. I am me: the capable and caring mum, the reliable teacher, the loving partner, the loyal friend. And I am also me: the woman who has had breakdowns, been crying suicidal on the hospital floors, self-harming night on night, desperate and out-of-breath with panic. It is the same me.
I no longer mind who knows my history of serious mental health problems, because I know fully know that this history doesn't make me any less capable, less lovable and less worthy love than anybody else. That doesn't mean it's 100 percent easy to share this aspect of my life with everyone, but it means that when I do I can say it with pride. I know my strength and I know the courage I needed to muster a million times over to survive and nobody can take that away from me.
Thank you to everyone who listened. It meant, and means, so much to me.