I recently tried an exercise in positivity regarding my EUPD / BPD diagnosis. We’ve all heard of the negative stereotypes, the stigma and the pain attached to the condition but having it can sometimes bring about good things too. I tried to find one positive thing that my diagnosis led to each day for a week and posted it for the world to see each night on Twitter. Some of the benefits I found included:
“Today my BPD...
~ led to me spending unexpected time with a friend to get a break from my bad MH day.
~ allowed me to reach out to others with mental illness, and those without, and start a conversation.
~ allowed me to feel good again about a relationship with someone who I had written off earlier in the week.”
So what did I learn? The exercise was actually a very interesting one. Some days it was really hard to think of the positives that came from having EUPD but the process of reflection allowed me to see that there was always something, and made me appreciate the day itself more too. It is often said that people with my diagnosis struggle to make and maintain relationships with others but as you can see, a lot of my benefits actually surround making and remaking connections with people. It was more difficult for me to find positive instances of where my emotional rollercoaster led to good things but I did even mange that - one day it allowed me to get fully swept up in the emotion of The Greatest Showman (for the 4th time!) and another, the calm period that followed an episode of high emotion allowed me to notice the beauty and serenity of the plants I have on my balcony, which led to a sense of gratitude for the simple things in life. Whilst I didn’t have any profound moments of being so glad that I have EUPD that I would rather have it than not (I would still rather be without it on balance), it did allow me to see that the diagnosis isn’t all bad. I think every person with the condition could find good in it that was personal to them, which is another reason why I am so determined to help end the stigma that personality disorders have.
People have often said to me over the years that positivity attracts positivity. I don’t know if that’s true but even if it is mere coincidence, since I carried out the little experiment above, things have been working out quite well for me. That’s not to say everything is rosy or that I haven’t been putting a lot of effort in, I have been working really hard on trying to keep well and find meaning in my life and at the moment, that is paying off.
I finished my course at the Recovery College yesterday which led to mixed emotions. I am pleased that I have seen it through and attended all of the sessions even after last week’s bad dissociation episode. But I am sad that it has ended too, although we were only a small and fairly quiet group we did bond quite well by the end of things and I will also miss the support and encouragement from the course facilitators, all of whom have been through (or are still in) their own recovery. As part of the final day we had different speakers come in and talk about other opportunities in the area that we might be interested in. That was really helpful and has spurred me on towards thinking about potential adult education sessions and other mental health training courses in the future.
I have also been working hard on my writing in my spare time and have completed another assignment for my distance learning course. That got returned to me having been marked by my tutor yesterday and the comments I got were really positive, which has buoyed my mood too. I am also always writing here and there about my journey after the writing course I attended a few weeks ago and yesterday I compiled everything so far and joined it all together. It now reads as a potential chapter from a book and that excites me!
I’m not letting the expert by experience role go cold either. I have been approached by two different organisations to give talks in the coming months and next week I am going to help deliver some anti-stigma training. Doing all of this, even contacting people to talk about the possibilities of doing all of this, is incredibly anxiety provoking for me but by putting myself in a role - as someone who is doing it all to raise awareness and improve communication about mental illness - somehow allows me to face my fears with more confidence.
It used to really frustrate me in the past when I’d speak to people about how low, anxious and unmotivated I was feeling and they told me to ‘just get out there’ and do stuff. At that time, I was never at a stage where I felt able to do that. Now though, I am really feeling the benefits from striving to keep busy and involved and facing my fears. I’m not saying everyone can do it just like that but for me at least, doing as much as you can when you feel able really does help with establishing a sense of meaning and achievement.