trigger warning: personality disorder
In October 2020, I finally mustered up enough courage to talk to a therapist. Since I turned 18 (I’m 24 now), I developed some really bad habits and tendencies especially within my closest relationships.
My most recent ex called me “very immature” when he broke up with me through chat. My dad opened up to my siblings about not knowing how to talk to me because I get mad easily. I got into a petty fight with a fling last year who called me “verbally abusive.” These instances (and more) piled on top of one another and I reached a point when, every time I looked at myself in the mirror, all I could think of was “what is wrong with you?”
I was terrified of who I was becoming. I didn’t want to be her. I started digging deeper and found so much hate and confusion buried inside me. A lot of unaccountability for my actions and their repercussions. I tagged my bad behavior as “being true to myself” and was unapologetic for being hurtful to others. And then when I felt lonely or under-appreciated, I sought validation from people who didn’t know nor care about me. I was slowly losing my mind.
After talking about my problems for two hours, the therapist diagnosed me with a personality disorder. I’m not going to mention it here because I believe it’s not important to this entry.
Every single thing she said felt like an arrow shot straight to my heart. I felt ashamed, guilty, and worried. But there was one silver lining – I had a chance to take control. The therapist suggested that we do Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). But that was the last time I ever saw her.
What has happened since then, in a span of almost eight months, has surprised me. I have never felt freer and lighter in my entire life.
After being briefed and reading more about CBT, I thought I understood it enough to do it on my own. Dr. Seth Gillihan wrote that, “Self-help CBT is probably most appropriate for someone with mild to moderate symptoms who is generally able to function well.”
The first few months were rocky. I was still getting into huge fights with my family; my sister took most of the brunt of my temper. But I was inspired and I wanted to change. So I persevered.
I started opening up my heart more. (Not in the romantic sense because I think my heart is too open in that aspect, tbh.) But to the Universe and to understanding other people. I was too self-involved before. I used to think that everything was an attack on myself. That I had to defend myself even when I didn’t have to. I think that that was a sign of being narrow-minded.
I have a friend who has a Psychology degree who told me that teenagers go through a phase where they feel as if the entire world is watching them. He said that this was normal and some adults quickly outgrow this, but some don’t. I think a part of me was still stuck in that phase.
So I took my time and practiced taking control of my emotions, and not vice versa. During conversations with other people, I learned to bite my tongue, take just one step back, and carefully think about what I would say. Is it appropriate? Is it aggressive? Am I just thinking about myself again? Am I taking it too seriously?
I’m still not perfect. I’ve progressed, but there are instances when I’d still get mad at my mom for saying something really petty. But I’ve learned how to slowly let go of my temper. I’ve learned to value relationships over my feelings. I could not see eye-to-eye with my dad on a lot of things but, at the end of the day, he’s family. I can learn to disagree and respect him at the same time.
I’ve also stopped resorting to seeking validation from strangers. I finally feel at peace with being alone. At the moment, I’m more focused on self-development and being grounded. I’ve found that the latter leads to less disappointments.
Albeit relatively shorter than others, my journey to healing was emotionally and mentally exhausting. There were lots of instances when I just felt so frustrated with myself and didn’t believe I could actually change. But I was deeply unhappy with pushing away people that I love.
If someone had told me a year ago that I would feel the way that I do now, I would call bull. But I’m satisfied with my growth so far. And I’m excited to grow even more.