Jesse Rae West takes us on her journey of healing through her Borderline Personality Disorder. Read part 1.

As I walked through the horrendously lit hospital hallway this week to my first therapy appointment, I stopped to think about how long I’ve been waiting for this. I thought about how many people have hoped I would get better. I thought about my friends and family and partners who have patiently waited out my panic attacks with me. At times, it’s hard not to feel like I’ve traumatized those I care about most with my behaviour. Walking into that appointment felt like a big first step on the road to experiencing relationships in a healthy way.

I met my new therapist, whom I’ll be seeing one-on-one every week until February. She explained what Dialectical Behaviour Therapy was all about and the guidelines for being part of the study. She asked me to think about what my goals were with this program. That question was difficult for me to answer.

We spent quite a bit of time identifying what things in my life caused me the most distress and what I hoped to work through. When you struggle day to day with managing your wellness, the idea of setting a goal other than “be calm and moderately happy” can seem like a waste of energy. Some days I feel like I’m just working to mentally break even. I hope that in learning to practice mindfulness, radically accept my emotions and communicate effectively, I’ll find my answer.

I’ve had some bad days this week, days where I spun out into full-blown panic and deep sadness. The light at the end of my anxiety tunnel was my first group session, which started with a mindfulness activity that I found to be incredibly helpful. It was a love and kindness meditation.

“May I be at ease. May I feel safe and secure. May I be healthy and whole. May I be filled with joy.”

We were asked to meditate on this for two minutes in silence. I think my first instinct was to be judgmental and resent how corny the whole practice felt. After reading the passage over and over again I started to notice that “May I be healthy and whole” was evoking an uncomfortable feeling in me. It felt like resentment. Resentment for those folks who wake up feeling whole and healthy, folks who aren’t “sick like me.”

After a few breaths, that resentment turned into questioning. Could I actually feel healthy and whole some day too? Optimism set in and my childish critique of how hokey this was disappeared. Everyone deserves to feel these things – being at ease and feeling healthy, safe and happy. Sometimes my brain is capable of tricking me into thinking that I don’t deserve that or that I am incapable of feeling that way.

To know that there could be a day, sometime soon, when my heart and brain feel calm and like they are working together makes my head tingle. When I close my eyes and breathe, I am able to think about a future where I am at ease, feel safe and secure, healthy and joyful. That isn’t my reality right now but taking time to remind myself that I deserve these things and that I am capable of feeling them is so comforting. Creating my own comfort is giving me strength, and feeling strong pushes me to try as hard as I possibly can to live through this.