The beginnings of this collaboration between myself and a close friend can be found on the blog 'Better, Drawn' here. It is a bit unsettling to start the process of being open about something that has previously only ever been revealed on a need-to-know basis but also, strangely exciting.
It needs to be said that this panel is not going to be completely indicative of the work as a whole. It would be easy to just write about BPD negatively but I don't want to further perpetuate the stereotypes and associated stigma of the illness. It is certainly possible, with time and the right treatment, to live life well around and alongside BPD, if not recover completely. I don't think that this is said enough. Having BPD- or any mental illness- doesn't turn you into some cartoon version of a lunatic or a bunny boiler or someone incapable of rational thought. That said, whilst it is important to remove the stigma of mental illness and demonstrate that mental health/ illness always exists on a spectrum, it is also important to legitimise the very real presence of mental illness when it does strike. Otherwise, we risk suggesting that it doesn't really exist, thereby negating the validity of diagnosis and subsequent treatment. And then, what was meant to be liberating could only end up repeating prior injuries.
I was diagnosed when I was nineteen but it wasn't until last summer that I, my family and my doctors started taking my treatment seriously (being sectioned tends to do that). It shouldn't have taken so long and so much for all of us to get to that point. Recovery is hard enough without the incredible delay of treatment. A year later, I am nowhere near done. I may never be truly done. But in the meantime, the culmination of medication, treatment, good friends and vigilance has meant that I am coping. I laugh a lot in an obnoxiously loud way which I'm no longer embarassed about because I am truly grateful for that moment of joy. I try to enjoy myself and try to make sure other people enjoy my presence. I immerse myself in as many good things and good people as I can. I believe that one day I really will believe that I'm resilient enough to withstand the battle wounds of BPD.
And actually, I'm okay with the half-light between well and unwell, considering where I have been. With the actual possibility that one day, the lingering shadows will recede and I'll find myself bathed in a light that somehow makes my skin shimmer.
Image by Andrew Godfrey