Before I knew that I had a mental illness, I used to run from my emotions. It was easier to stuff them deep inside and not allow myself to feel anything. For many years, I was numb. On the outside, I portrayed a happy and outgoing person, but it was all a facade. That wasn’t who I really was.
And then it hit me. The full force of all those emotions and pain that I’d been burying came flying at me full force and knocked me to my knees. It was if I had been run over by a freight train and I didn’t know how to cope with the intensity and raw emotion that appeared so suddenly.
I struggled for many years trying to cope with this trauma and still consider myself to be “in recovery”. It’s been a lot of steps forward and many stumbles backwards along the way, but I hold fast to the notion that I am still making progress. Sometimes, it takes pausing for a few moments to reflect on how far I have actually come for me to comprehend this and garner the strength to continue moving forward.
Last week, my therapist asked me, “Would you consider yourself mentally well now?” And after thinking for a few moments I responded with this: “I don’t think that I’m ‘well’ yet, but I’m recovering. I believe if I say that I’m well, I’ll grow complacent and relapse.” Recovery is a choice that I will continue to make every day.
Today, instead of keeping my emotions inside, I allow myself to feel them and experience them as they happen. I’ve learned over the years to name my emotions and look for the reasons that I’m feeling them. There’s still many times that they overwhelm and frighten me, but instead of running away from them or allowing them to fester, I face them head on, even when they’re painful. Doing this has given me a freedom that I never had before – freedom to live in the present and unburdened from the pains of the past.
The road to recovery begins with just one step.
About Wendy Enberg
My name is Wendy Enberg and I live openly with mental illness. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I reside near Edmonton, AB. I began sharing my story with others as a way to remove stigma and raise awareness and compassion for people living with mental illness. I started with a Facebook page where I posted inspirational messages. This grew into a blog about living with BPD at where I openly share my struggles and my successes. This wasn’t enough. In July of 2014, I co-founded a peer support group in my community for people living with mental illness that provides online and weekly support meetings. Our membership continues to grow each day and we are gaining a presence in the mental health community.