Next month will be the first anniversary of this blog so I thought I’d take a bit of a look at what my plans are going ahead from here. I wrote my first post after a missed exam, a totally horrific experience with academic accommodations and my university disability counselor, and a significant breakdown of my mental and emotional stability. It feels like a lifetime ago, not just 11 months, and I can proudly say that I’ve overcome a lot and learned important things about myself. I feel like a completely different person.
After finishing up with my very useful English degree, I decided to go back to college this coming September and applied for two programs at George Brown College: Community Worker and Assaulted Women & Children’s Counselor/Advocate (AWCCA). Initially I was leaning toward AWCCA because of its heavy feminist outlook, but the Community Worker program focuses a lot on things like policy, funding/proposals, campaign organization, etc., and also qualifies graduates to become Registered Social Service Workers in Ontario. AWCCA has a lot of courses on feminism, psychology, and cycles of abuse, but I think that learning about the more practical side of social justice work might be more beneficial to me. After all, I do already spend a lot of my free time trying to educate myself about feminist, queer, and cultural/racial issues and social determinants of health.
[UPDATE: I took another look at the course outlines for both programs and realized that, while the Community Worker does have courses that would be beneficial to me in the future, the AWCCA program is incredibly well-structured and would be just as beneficial for my career. I also know that the content of the program would be more interesting to me. I haven’t made any decisions officially, but I feel fairly confident that I’ll end up accepting my AWCCA offer. I want to ultimately work with female-identified survivors of abuse and/or womxn with mental health issues, so it might be the wiser option.]
I’m currently working on my resume and cover letter. GBC’s Community Action Centre is hiring for the upcoming school year and I’d love a position with one of their student groups. I have my eye on the Women & Trans, LGBTQ group, and Students with Disabilities groups. I also wanted to start a club for Jewish students since there isn’t one (and I loved heading up my university campus’ Jewish Student Life club!), but that’ll really depend on if I can find enough other Jewish students to join. Since GBC doesn’t have its own Hillel, that might be hard… I definitely can’t walk around campus asking random people if they’re Jews. Something to think about, anyway.
As far as my mental health goes, things are starting to look up a bit. I mean, it’s hard to write about depression and anxiety when it’s something you’re still actively dealing with, and it’s hard to talk about getting through hard times when you know that there are more to come and there’s nothing you can really do about it. But I’ve been doing well! I’ve been taking a combination of Wellbutrin and Cipralex (with my as-needed Ativan) and it’s helped me so much. Ever since my doctor started treating me for Borderline Personality Disorder instead of depression, I’ve improved so, so much. I almost want to schedule another appointment with the awful therapist who refused to diagnose me so I can rub it in his face. Almost. (I’d rather just never see him again.)
Like I said, though, I’m still going through some ups and downs. Mental illness is something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life – sometimes I’m okay with that, sometimes it’s totally daunting. I’ve spent this past year focusing on myself and how I think, feel, and behave in different situations. I track my moods and general wellness, which helps me both in the moment (letting it out) and when I look back on it so I can notice patterns in myself. This is especially important for people with BPD since our moods and attitudes can fluctuate so much (to put it kindly; splitting and dissociating are perhaps more stressful, frustrating, and exhausting for us than it is for the people around us and, trust me, that’s really saying something), and as anyone who deals with mental illness can attest to, our memories and sense of time can get really messed up.
I think it’s important to share this stuff, too, because it really does help other people (as well as myself). Deciding to write about my mental health issues was a much loftier goal than I’d imagined; I wanted to talk about the aspects of mental illness that people tend to downplay or ignore totally, but as it turns out, some of those aspects include lack of motivation, lack of energy, and executive dysfunction, none of which are conducive to completing a piece of writing. That’s been one of my biggest obstacles as a writer, both here on my blog and with my
private poetry, but it’s also something that I’m confident I can overcome now. Self reflection through journaling, wellness tracking, and talk therapy has been so valuable to basically every aspect of my life – I’m better able to manage my symptoms, recognize triggering situations, and logic myself out of anxiety attacks. I’m not saying I have it all down to a science or anything, but I haven’t felt like an actual functioning human being in a long time, so it’s wonderful to feel like I can accomplish something for a change!
I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself for my entire life – I have a lot of passion for what I do and I know that I have potential to do great things – but that pressure has led me to spiral and self-destruct whenever I run into just a little bit of resistance. It’s why this is only my eighth post. My symptoms would worsen at the wrong time and hold me back from being productive (and I have that pesky perfectionist habit of dropping something if I don’t think it’ll be my best work). Now, however, I feel like I have a bit of control over my emotions, my thoughts, and myself as a whole. I’ll never be 100%, but I definitely feel like I’m dealing with my mental health instead of being trapped with it.
What does that mean moving forward? Working towards a career in social services/justice, keeping myself as healthy as possible, and writing much more often. I know it won’t be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m way more prepared for bad times than I was just one year ago, and that’s a huge victory for me!