Every morning I take Prozac for my depression and anxiety, Abilify and Wellbutrin to give the Prozac a little boost. I’ve had to accept that I’ll probably be taking these medications for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that fact though because I would rather be a happy, functioning adult in control of her life than be a miserable empty pit of hopelessness.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a few years ago and when I was given this label I let it consume me. This label felt daunting in a way that meant I wasn’t in control of my life. Maggie no longer existed. Only the intimidating diagnosis of BPD. This disorder has everything to do with my attachments to other people, my identity, and my critical self image. I’m the type of person who experiences anxiety on a daily basis whether I want to or now. Sometimes it feels like I don’t have a choice where my mind wanders. It’s a web of lies that I find myself stuck in. My mind can become a place of obsession, compulsivity, and self doubt.
I’ve learned ways to combat these thoughts and feelings with therapy and my support system. It’s taken me a long time, but this hasn’t come easy. It’s come with a lot of struggle and loneliness.
I hit rock bottom one night after work in my tiny lonely apartment off Cleveland Ave when I opened the new bottle of meds my psychiatrist had prescribed me and downed them all with a tall boy of Modelo. I sat near the window in my apartment smoking the leftover cigarettes my ex boyfriend had smoked before he left because my mental state had gotten so bad that he had to save himself. I don’t blame him for leaving. I needed help but I wasn’t willing to get it because I felt like I didn’t deserve happiness. I believed I wasn’t worthy of having a meaningful life.
As I sat sobbing and drinking, I wrote a long text message to my ex lover apologizing for how things had ended and telling him one last time how much I loved him and how much I would miss him after tonight.
Looking back now, I can’t believe how sick I was. I truly believed that ending my life was the way to cure all my sorrows. I kept thinking that I wanted to be reunited with my father who had passed away from cancer a few months prior. I thought of how lonely I felt since my lover had left me.
Thankfully my ex contacted my mother who contacted the police for a wellness check on me. Before I knew what was happening my tiny apartment was full of tall policemen with flashlights beaming in my face asking how I was doing.
The next three days I was on the ninth floor of Riverside Methodist Hospital in the behavioral health facility where I was able to reflect on my actions. I deeply regret the decision I made to end my life. I know now that it was a selfish act and that if I had succeeded in taking my life, I would be leaving behind many people who needed me. People like my mother who had just lost the love of her life. My friends who worried about my silence those few days. My pets who would wonder where I had gone. My boyfriend who tried his hardest to help me but had to walk away so he wouldn’t fall into the same darkness.
There were many sick people in that ward. It was a horseshoe shaped facility with rooms on either side where residence would stay. There was a community area with board games, puzzles, and a tv where we would play Wii sports during recreational period. There was a kitchen with snacks like sandwiches, ice cream, and cheese sticks. Everyone had a roommate and had to be a part of the community in order to get better. We had community meetings where we did exercises and shared our experiences with each other. The three days that I spent there I met many people like me. People who felt hopeless and alone. People who believed they didn’t have a purpose in life.
My favorite part of the day was breakfast time. It was quiet and everyone gathered in the kitchen to have breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, muffins, and most importantly: coffee. It was my favorite time of day because of the quiet calm that settled around us from the night’s rest. I would sit with a different person each day. The first day I sat with a lady named Susan. She was a sweet older lady who would read her bible and put together puzzles with me. The second day I sat with Michael, a musician who loved classic rock and drank his coffee black. The last day of my stay I sat with a girl who went by Lala. She was a younger woman, probably younger than I am and I remember thinking to myself when I saw her how pretty she was and I wondered why she was here.
She was what you would call a “bad bitch”. She wasn’t afraid to speak her truth and stand up for herself when some of the residence would get a little rowdy. One in particular was a food hoarder named Abdi. He liked to disrupt groups and leave piles of food in the kitchen for other people to clean up. She would yell at him and tell him to stop being rude to everyone in our group sessions. He usually would be busted with a juice cup and a sandwich stuffed in his mouth with a confused look on his face like he didn’t understand why he was in trouble. Normally he would be asked to leave the group at this point.
I remember the first night I stayed there he approached me while I was in the kitchen and asked me if I had a boyfriend. I felt my body go stiff with adrenaline instantly and I watched as Abdi became physically aware of my fear and immediately apologized. I told him that I thought it was inappropriate and strange for him to ask that question considering where we were all staying.
It also made me think of how scared I made my boyfriend the night I text him by suicide letter. The last thing I saw to him was, “look what you did to me”, which was the worst thing I could have possibly said while being whisked away in an ambulance to a mental health facility.
I’m so grateful he hung in there with me. When I was in the hospital I would call him crying and begging for him to stay with me and promising I would get better and that we could still be together once I was. I can’t imagine how painful it was to say no to me, but I’m glad he did or I wouldn’t be here writing this to you right now. As painful as it was to be away from him, it was necessary for my recovery. I had relied too much on him to the point where I wasn’t living for myself anymore. I was hanging on his every word, action, and when he wasn’t with me, I was miserable and waiting for his return.
I can’t believe how sick I was. I honestly felt like there was no reason for me to live and I wished every night to never wake up again. I’m so glad I got the help I needed.
When I was released from Riverside, the first thing I did was open up the last Modelo in my fridge and smoke cigarettes until my lungs burned. My apartment had become the most depressing place. It was once a cozy nest that my boyfriend and I inhabited but it slowly turned into a claustrophobic, miserable pit on the second floor of the apartment building that I dreaded going home to at night. I needed to leave this place.
The decision to move in with my mother was a no brainer. My boyfriend and my mother both agreed that it was safer than living alone. So I packed up all my things and moved into the tiny studio my mother had outside connected to the garage. It had a mini fridge and a bathroom so I could have my own space which I was grateful for.
“If you love something set it free and if it comes back it’s meant to be” became my mantra I held onto when I was broken up with my boyfriend. I would pace the back patio at night and chain smoke cigarettes while I listened to the songs we used to listen to together. As “creep” by Radiohead played I thought back to the night he first played guitar for me and how happy we were.
When he came back to me I was elated and pleasantly surprised. I thought for sure I would be doomed to life without him and I was having trouble accepting that and I guess so was he. I remember the first night we hung out again after our breakup. We sat in the bath together upstairs in his home naked. I felt exposed emotionally more than physical. It was the first time I saw him and all I wanted was to be held by him and told that I was loved.
He did just that.
Our night was magical and falling asleep in his arms was the happiest I had felt in a long time. I know that I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket, but when it comes to him, I would give anything.
I know now that I’m the only one responsible for my happiness. I believe I am worthy of love and happiness and a meaningful life. When I look in the mirror at myself I’m not disgusted. I see someone who has lots of hurt and pain inside her, but I also see someone with so much love to give and so many amazing things to bring to the world. I see someone who gets to grow and learn and follow her dreams. I see a beautiful woman who deserves respect and to take up space in this world.
When I take these medications in the morning I remind myself how far I’ve come. This disorder I have doesn’t define me. It’s a part of who I am because of the cards I was dealt in life, but I also have a lucky ace up my sleeve and a winner’s attitude. When I look back on my experience in Riverside, I remember being so scared I would never see the outside world again. Now I see each day as a new opportunity to live and experience life.
I hope you never find yourself at rock bottom, but if you do, know you’re not alone. In the darkness of your worst fears is the light, the choice to have a better life. There is always another way. I want you to remember that you are full of love and opportunity. You matter and I love you.