Maintaining any kind of relationship when you’re mentally unwell is really hard. There is no nice way of saying it. Family, romantic partners and friends – your ability to love them and be loved in return suffers. Being depressed often includes experiencing a ton of self-judgement. No one has ever hated me as much as I have. When you are unable to have love for yourself it’s easy – if not inevitable – to convince yourself that everyone else feels that way about you.

I can only speak to what I know and I now know that the only love that makes me feel whole is the love I feel from myself. I don’t love myself all day every day and it doesn’t come easily to me, but I can feel it now. It feels more important than any love I’ve felt before. I promise if you haven’t felt it in a long time either you will again one day too.

At twenty-two years old (I’m twenty-six now) I started hosting queer night club events in Toronto. Despite doing this very social thing, I’ve been remarkably anxious and often depressed for the entirety of my event-running career. I’m not really sure why I ever decided to do it, but I’m glad that I did. Through hosting these queer parties I’ve been lucky enough to find a few very solid friends who have supported me during my best and worst moments. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these friends all struggle with their mental health as well. I find comfort in knowing that other people also struggle as much as I do. Not because I want other people to suffer but because being unwell is so incredibly lonely. I don’t feel alone anymore.

These friends have taught me what it means to love unconditionally. They have taught me about friendship and how important that is to me. They listen and support me when I need to cry for a minute because I’ve been feeling panicky all day and then I was cat called “Fat,” “Pretty” and “Bitch” all while walking home from work. They are the friends who have genuine empathy and concern; they don’t just feign it for appearances. I’ve lost a few friendships along the way, some of them so full of love that I just couldn’t feel at the time.

The volatility that can come along with Borderline Personality Disorder is hard to tolerate, especially if you’ve never personally experienced it. I am so lucky to have friends who know what it’s like to wake up devastatingly sad for no reason. They’re the ones who stay in touch even when I am flaky and need to reschedule. They know that if we’re at a cottage together and I need to leave the group to go have some quite time alone in my room I’m not being rude – I’m trying to maintain calmness.

I am so very lucky to have a wonderful core group of friends who love me when I forget how to love myself. They remind me that we are all complex and not definable as good or bad, sick or healthy. They push me to recommit to loving myself day after day. I want to be able to love them as much as they deserve and that can only happen once I’ve found compassion and love for myself.