As someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental health condition marked by emotional instability and interpersonal relationship struggles, I’ve found living alone to be hard — even in the best of times. Now, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) — the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system — it is becoming increasingly harder for me to maintain a healthy mind.
Isolation is something I am unfortunately quite used to. My social network is small, but now it is smaller than ever before. Many of us who live with mental illnesses like major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) may also live with borderline personality disorder (BPD). So there is a lot to manage daily in an ordinary situation.
I have learned it is OK to be angry about my situation. It is OK to feel resentment towards my mental health. It is perfectly OK to want to feel “normal,” in times you feel anything but. Although I firmly believe my mental illness has made me the person I am today, it has come at a heavy price and I am learning that at times it is OK to feel anger towards it. That is how I feel at the moment.
Someone close to me recently said, “Well now everyone is in the same boat as you having to stay home.” They didn’t mean any harm by it, but boy, they got it wrong. I am still here living alone but am now facing new challenges of feeling terrified of going to the supermarket, worried about my medication and not able to see my Mum on her birthday amongst many other things. I feel consumed by the news every day and while there are a lot of suggestions of getting out and exercising, or taking an online course, those things just ram home how unwell it makes me feel because I don’t feel I can do those things. So the result is that my anxiety goes up along with my depression and negative self-talk.
That’s why right now, I am giving myself permission to be angry at my mental health. It isn’t something that I indulge in all the time, despite how easy it would be. But we must know that sometimes it is absolutely OK to throw our hands in the air and scream at the part of our brain that simply won’t let us live a less difficult life. Waking up each day to a new day of the same as yesterday is hard. Self-care is incredibly difficult when you live on your own and are not leaving the house. I just wish that I didn’t have to think about those things all the time. So yes, I am indulging at the moment in anger because if I don’t, I will explode at some point and that will be much worse.
As important as it is to give myself permission to be angry, it is also incredibly important to come out the other side. I know that I will need to come through this and work hard to find ways to make each day bearable. I spend so much of my energy fighting against depression, anxiety and the intense wave of BPD emotions, that I’ve found sometimes it’s best to give in and let the emotions wash over me for a little while. Then, when I am ready, I can reset and move forward.
I allow myself to be angry at my emotions. I allow myself to want to feel “normal” and not fight against it. Because you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to have the illnesses I face each day. Sure, I have learned to accept that to some extent they will always be part of me and that they have made me the person I am today, but I do not berate myself for the times, like now, when things are incredibly difficult.
So my message to everyone out there at the moment who is finding this adjustment to a new way of living hard and scary, give yourself permission to be angry when you need to. Always remember that anger is an emotion that is just as important to experience as any other and that allowing yourself that space often provides a sense of relief.
At the moment here in Australia, people with mental health issues are very much being ignored. I am sure there are so many people in the same situation as myself who are worried about going to their local supermarkets and worried about their medication or whether they will be able to continue therapy and currently those issues aren’t being addressed. So until they do get addressed, we have to remain as strong as we can. If this means curling up in bed for the day, then so be it. If it means having a day where you feel anger, then let it happen.