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major rant ahead.  I hope it's pretty obvious this isn't directed towards anyone in the community!
 
Borderline personality disorder, and people with it especially, get demonized a lot.  We're manipulative, we're awful, we're sirens who suck men in and spit out their bones.  (I'm sure it doesn't help that borderline personality disorder is predominantly diagnosed in women.)
 
In Jonathan Kellerman's novel, Silent Partner, this is the description of a person with borderline personality disorder  (by the way, Jonathan Kellerman IS A PSYCHOLOGIST):
 

 

“The borderline patient is a therapist’s nightmare… because borderlines never really get better. The best you can do is help them coast, without getting sucked into their pathology. At first glance, they look normal, sometimes even supernormal, holding down high-pressure jobs and excelling. 
 
But they walk a constant tightrope between madness and sanity, unable to form relationships, incapable of achieving insight, never free from a deep, corroding sense of worthlessness and rage that spills over, inevitably, into self-destruction. 
 
They’re the chronically depressed, the determinedly addictive, the compulsively divorced, living from one emotional disaster to the next. Bed-hoppers, stomach pumpers, freeway jumpers, and sad-eyed bench sitters with arms stitched up like footballs and psychic wounds that can never be sutured. Their egos are as fragile as spun sugar, like a jigsaw puzzle with crucial pieces missing. They play roles with alacrity, excel at being anyone but themselves, crave intimacy but repel it when they find it. Some of them gravitate towards stage or screen; others do their acting in more subtle ways.
 
No one knows how or why a borderline a borderline. The Freudians claim it’s due to emotional deprivation during the first two years of life; the biochemical engineers blame faulty wiring. Neither school claims to be able to help them much.
 
Borderlines go from therapist to therapist, hoping to find a magic bullet for their crushing feelings of emptiness. They turn to chemical bullets, gobble tranquilizers and antidepressants, alcohol and cocaine. Embrace gurus and heaven-hucksters, any charismatic creep promising a quick fix of the pain. And they end up taking temporary vacations in psychiatric wards and prison cells, emerge looking good, raising everyone’s hopes. Until the next letdown, real or imagined, the next excursion into self-damage.
 
What they don’t do is change.”

 

 
That is a goddamn lie.
 
I honestly never believed that I would ever be able to say that I liked any part of myself, that any part of myself deserved compassion, that my self-worth and self-validation could come from myself, and that I didn't have to live with pain eating a hole in me like a cancer.  
 
I can do all of that now; not perfectly, not easily, but I have changed.  And it wasn't people who told me that I was "living from one emotional disaster to the next" who helped me do that, it was people who treated me with respect, compassion, and understanding.
 
For everyone out there still perpetuating the stigma, go fuck yourselves.  That includes you, Sheri Shreiber, Savory Dish (a blog with the tagline "when the woman you love is fucked up beyond belief") and whoever the fuck is running my BPD recovery at blogspot.  (Look at how fucking self centered that is.  "His" BPD recovery is recovering from being in a romantic relationship with someone who supposedly has borderline personality disorder.  As opposed to, I don't know, ACTUALLY HAVING BPD AND RECOVERING FROM IT.)
 
You want to know what MY recovery from BPD is like?  This is what it's like.  I am what it's like, right fucking here----I have many friends, some of over 15 years duration, I have a stable life, I recognize and work on my problems, and I'm in love with a guy whose main criticism of me is that I'm too hard on myself and who wishes I'd open up more when I'm upset.
 
Demonizing people with BPD is adding insult to serious injury.  It makes it harder to get treatment, harder to recover, and worst of all, harder to admit that the diagnosis might be applicable in the first place----they're constructing barriers between someone in pain and treatment.  I really can't understand why they all seem so goddamn proud of themselves.   
 
I would never wish the seemingly unending pain on these people of having borderline personality disorder, but sometimes, I'm pretty fucking tempted.
Edited by saveyoursanity
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Amen.  I agree with what you wrote and commend you on your own recovery.  I have traits of BPD, and recovery is like walking uphill, in a sandstorm, while carrying the moon on one's back.  Basically, it is arduous and difficult.  Shame on those who demonize the borderline client who suffers.  I chalk it up to ignorance and lack of understanding.

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Technically, I suppose I only have traits.  In reality, I consider myself to have borderline personality disorder or c-PTSD and am pretty sure my psychiatrist emphasized the TRAITS so that I wouldn't flip a table on him.

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Great post. I agree with your outrage. That excerpt is ridiculous. 

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Great post.

 

My official dx is atypical depression with features of borderline personality disorder. I personally don't buy the depression part of it, but I think the borderline part is on the mark.

 

Can you share how you've achieved recovery? I honestly don't feel like I ever will get past this...it would be helpful to hear how someone else has been able to achieve it.

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I have traits too and I've had a hard time accepting the possibility mostly bc of the stigma such as what you quoted. I don't think we are bad people.

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Can you share how you've achieved recovery? I honestly don't feel like I ever will get past this...it would be helpful to hear how someone else has been able to achieve it.
 

A lot of therapy.  And um, I mean a LOT.   Christ, get ready for the longest post EVER.

 

To give you a small taste of how bad it was, I've been involuntarily committed twice, once voluntarily, and have tried to kill myself (using the means that were available to me, and yes, I did really want to die) at least 9 times that I can remember.  In all honesty, I probably should have been in the hospital at least 15 times, but I managed to develop agoraphobia with panic disorder along the way, and as fucked up as it is, it's basically impossible for me to admit that I need to go to the hospital.  The police have done "wellness checks" on me uh...  at least five or six times over the years since I turned 18, as much as I hate to admit it, and like I said, that's with me doing EVERYTHING POSSIBLE to keep my symptoms hidden from someone who might try to hospitalize me or call the police.  (I don't recommend that route, by the way.  Try to avoid developing agoraphobia and just go to the hospital if you're in danger!)  

 

The last time I tried to commit suicide was in February of 2008, but I still hated myself just as much as ever for awhile after that, I just decided that it was possible that therapy and medication for my depression might kinda be working a little bit so maybe killing myself was not the best idea, but I would keep it in reserve.

 

(This next bit I wrote in a post somewhere else that I'm way too lazy to find and link right now.)

 

I started taking classes in January of 2010. You can pretty much date my real recovery from that point. When did I start getting (real) treatment? January of 2006. (I'm not even counting the shitty, erratic treatment I got from 2002-2005.)

So that's 4 years I was doing anything I could think of: inpatient, outpatient, 3 different modalities of group therapy (DBT, ACT, and mind-body), 2 therapists (one left & went to private practice or I'd probably have stayed with her) once a week every goddamn week, a psychiatrist every 1-3 months and real trials (i.e. 12+ weeks) of more drugs & supplements than you can shake a stick at . . . hell, (as I told a friend), I would have cut up and waved paper in the air to catch fumes of happiness if I'd thought it would work.

 

(end self-quote)

 

After I wrote that post, I had a episode of severe depression in winter of 2011/2012.  It was terrible, I'm not gonna lie, and I did do some extremely stupid things like trying to push my friends away and going off all my meds.  However, I did not cut myself, harm myself, or try to commit suicide.  I also told people that I was in pain, and was able to mobilize resources to keep me out of the hospital.

 

I've also switched therapists since I wrote that part, twice.  CBT had kinda reached the end of its useful lifespan with me...  I'd stopped learning anything new from it and started using it to beat myself up.  So I tried Individual DBT (with group, like you're 'supposed' to do it), and it did NOT work for me, and it had nothing to do with me being a difficult patient (all my other therapists have told me that they really enjoyed working with me, because I have a lot of insight and motivation to change), and everything to do with the type of therapy that it was not being suited to my own ways of looking at the world and a lack of rapport with the therapist.

 

I'm currently in Internal Family Systems therapy and it is working really, really well.

 

soo...  what did I do that helped me recover from being "severely borderline", as the jerks I wrote about would say....?

 

I committed to therapy.  I continued to go even when I thought it wasn't working and I was beyond help.

 

I found therapists who both supported me and gently challenged me and who were, very importantly, willing to repeat themselves over and over and over and understand that it would take time for me to progress.  My first therapist said that she realized I needed to hear something contrary to my beliefs at least 5 times from 3 different sources before I was willing to consider it.  That's the kind of patience you need in a therapist.  My second therapist told me that she was extremely proud of the progress that I've made because in over 25 years of being a therapist, she had never encountered someone with such rigid thought patterns, and to see my self-hatred and cognitive distortions 'softening' and allowing other possibilities was a privilege and an honor.  [They both did CBT-based therapy, so that explains the focus on my thoughts/beliefs.]

 

I found a psychiatrist who was willing to treat the comorbid depression and anxiety and OCD and blah blah etc almost every mental illness diagnosis in the DSM-IV.  (On one hand, I'm a little jaded.  On the other hand, if I ever develop psychosis and mania, I win the DSM Bingo.)  To the best of my ability, I took my meds.

 

I have never lied to my therapist or my psychiatrist, because it really just seemed like it would be shooting myself in the foot, even when I did things that I was deeply ashamed of (shoplifting, obsessing over relationships, overdosing on meds that were prescribed to me by my psychiatrist, etc etc).

 

I developed a crisis plan.  I wrote it when I was NOT in crisis, but it explained what symptoms could be expected at what stages of being ill, named my preferred next of kin for medical decisions, and explained what had been done which helped me previously.  (You can google "WRAP" if you like, or there are tons of free crisis plans out there as well.)

 

Eventually, I stopped working due to disability.  I mention this only because I STRONGLY believe that simplifying your life as much as possible is necessary for recovery.  If someone is stretching themselves nearly to the breaking point, they have no energy left over to work on self-improvement and self-care.  Going on SSDI is NOT absolutely necessary, but it helped me NOT have a new crisis every fucking week to talk about and that meant that we were able to work more on the roots of the problems rather than treating the behaviors/thoughts.  (That's my problem with DBT, btw:  the clinical focus on only treating the evident symptoms now works really well to calm the SYMPTOMS of having borderline personality disorder, but I honestly believe that once those symptoms reach a certain point of remission, it's absolutely necessary to try to heal the root causes of the behaviors.) 

 

I have a social worker who comes to my house and assists me with "activities of daily living".  It sounds like something that's only necessary for "really crazy people" and I nearly rejected it based on that, but in reality what it can mean is something as simple as when I was struggling with agoraphobia, she helped me leave the house again.  Now that I can generally do that on my own, she helps me with budgeting, making phone calls, and is a great reference point for interpersonal relationships.  She reminds me to plan things, lets me know if she thinks I'm sliding into an episode, and helps me set realistic goals.  I've often described her role in my life as "someone who believes in my ability to recover/do better when I can't, and who supports and advises me when I try" and I still think that's a great way of looking at it.

 

And most importantly, I made recovering from my mental illness(es) and borderline personality disorder the major focus of my life.  Honestly, it was relatively easy to justify devoting a lot of time and energy to recovery, because I knew that if I didn't get better, I would kill myself, and I couldn't imagine what that would do to the people who care about me.  (I have two binders, one 4 inches and one 3 inch, nearly full of articles, thoughts, and paperwork from my therapist, my social worker, or my DBT group therapy that contain strategies and thoughts on helping myself feel better.  When I say it was the major focus of my life, I really fucking mean it.  Amassing that information, though, made me feel more in control, because it was like "hey, other people go through this too."  Print-outs were helpful because I could see them even when I was too upset to do anything else.)

 

As I slowly got better, I was able to do things that were impossible for me at the beginning that I think accelerated my recovery:

 

I became more of a spiritual person and found a religion that works for me.  (Buddhism)

 

I focussed on self-care to the extent I'm able to do so.  That includes things like hygiene, but also things like boundaries, meditation, validating myself, accepting how I feel and having compassion towards myself when I am struggling (instead of fighting the feelings or ignoring them).  it encompasses so many things and it is SO IMPORTANT.  Even something like not compulsively relying on others to check whether one's feelings are appropriate is self-care, in my opinion. 

 

I stopped engaging in self-destructive addictive behaviors when I no longer needed the "comfort" they gave, even if it was very hard for me.  For me, that was shoplifting especially, although I admit I didn't stop that until I uhhh, got into trouble.  I also would somewhat intentionally get into relationships with people who were assholes because I knew how to handle them.  I finally promised myself that I would only date or sleep with someone if I actually liked them.

 

I was celibate and single for over a year, ending only recently.  Being in an intimate relationship, for me and I'm willing to bet for most people with BPD, is the biggest trigger possible.  I don't recommend even trying to have a serious relationship until you no longer hate yourself.  Buuuuut...  giving up intimate relationships?  Seriously, it blew, it sucked, and I hated it, I'm not gonna lie.  Until I took a break, I had been serially monogamous with an average of less than a month between relationships for over 10 years.  Still, it was one of the biggest things I have ever done for myself and I really, really recommend it.

 

I also have never been able to do affirmations on any kind of regular basis, but I think they would really help if I could just get myself to do it.   :P

 

ALL OF THAT having been said, I've only actually begun to accept myself as being in recovery recently.  It's a big thing for me to claim, even though I think my recovery may have started back in 2010.  My therapists would probably tell you that I was really making strides as early as late in 2008 (2 years after starting therapy), but my symptoms were still overwhelming my life!  I didn't feel comfortable even really hinting at it until fairly recently.  

 

I still hate myself sometimes.  I still have an extremely hard time with criticism.  I am in a newish relationship and although we really adore each other, I freak out about it A LOT, maybe 2 times a week.  (Still, it would've been every day not that long ago!)  I get overwhelmed much more easily than other people do.  I'm hypersensitive to invalidation, which is understandable but sometimes problematic.  I'm extremely sensitive to behavior that resembles abuse, which can sometimes be good and sometimes be bad.  (For example, someone standing in front of the only exit and blocking it may be doing so because they want to harm you, or they might be doing so because it's the only place to stand.  I have a LOT of trouble telling those two things apart.)  I tend to assume the worst.  I also assume that people probably secretly hate me, but I don't necessarily assume it of EVERYONE anymore, especially people I know well, which is a major improvement.

 

]My symptoms no longer overwhelm my life.  Managing my 'overreactions' is finally not the major focus of my life.  I can now admit that I have many good characteristics, and have a sort of "emotional sixth sense" that alerts me to when I'm feeling overwhelmed and likely to get into a typical "paroxysm" (that's what I call those times when I get so overwhelmed with emotion that hurting myself, verbally hurting other people, or making very poor decisions is a real likelihood) so that I can try to soothe myself.  I believe that how I'm feeling deserves attention, no matter what, even if it's "illogical".  Those are major, major changes for me, and I'm probably forgetting things that have changed because I've been working on this post for an hour.   :P

 

I'm not sure what exactly facilitated my recovery, or helped me turn the corner.  These are pretty much just my best guesses for the things that helped, still, I want to reiterate:

 

The biggest most important thing you can do for yourself is allow yourself to express whatever hope you have for a better life in the form of reaching out for help.

Edited by saveyoursanity
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Thank you for sharing so much.  Hearing experiential anecdotes answers questions and addresses feelings that formal information and discussions often can't.  Thanks.

I found therapists who both supported me and gently challenged me and who were, very importantly, willing to repeat themselves over and over and over and understand that it would take time for me to progress.  My first therapist said that she realized I needed to hear something contrary to my beliefs at least 5 times from 3 different sources before I was willing to consider it.  That's the kind of patience you need in a therapist.

This^^^.  I feel similarly.  It makes me feel like a shitty patient.  But its making everything less frustrating to have realized and started dealing with this particular point.

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Damn, you fucking ROCK, SYS. I'm blown away by your story, how well you tell it, and how much hard work you've put into it.

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SYS....you are awesome. Fuck those haters and their self rightious arsehole misguided opinions bout BPD

 

and Jonathan Kellerman sounds like a right cunt

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The thing about needing to hear things multiple times does NOT mean that you are a bad patient, a bad client, or a bad person. It simply means, imo, that you need to hear things over and over again because they contradict the ideas that often times you learned in childhood.

 

I look at it this way-- say you're singing a song you learned as a 3 year old.  Someone you trust is listening and tells you "nope, that's not how it goes, the real lyrics are XXX."  Are you bad or wrong or horrible if the next time you sing the song, you can't remember the corrections?  Nope-- it's just been engraved in your mind that the way you sing it is the way the song goes.  It feels wrong to do it a different way.  It's just not going to stick unless you hear the same thing multiple times, maybe from different people.

 

I mean, obviously that's not the greatest analogy, but you should ask me about the schools of fish analogy for co-dependence versus trust sometime.   <_<  Not here, though, I've already written like 12 pages of this thread.   :D

 

Oh, and thank you, everyone, for your kind words!  I'm sorry it was so long, I just had SO MUCH to say.  I think the take away message is the last line I wrote, and this:

 

Believe in hope.  Believe in the possibility of change.  Don't ever let someone's preconceptions, whether it's a shitty therapist or your family or even yourself, stop you from believing that your life can be better and working to make it that way.  It's a long hard road, and it sucks for a long time, I know because I did it and I'm doing it right now, even though I often hated having to work so hard, and I hate that I still have problems but...  oh my god my life is SO much better now, in ways I could have never begun to imagine or hope for.

Edited by saveyoursanity
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I totally agree with you SYS.

 

My most recent Shrink has said that I have aspects of BPD & I told him that I agreed and already knew that I did. He's still working on refining my diagnosis (he's gone back to BPII & aspects of BPD to start with) & I'm going to question him about the BPD and work with him to get a more stable diagnosis.

 

I too see how stigmatised BPD is and it makes me really sad and upset that BPD is so maligned :(

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Wow SYS! Your post is so inspirational. I'm really in awe of you! You should be very proud of yourself! Now go give yourself a big pat on the back! You so deserve it!

And fwiw, you are right that no every type of therapy jives well with each individual. I have no BPD tendencies and DBT has worked wonders for me after years of CBT and psychotherapy aka talk therapy. So go figure!

I just really want to thank you and congratulate you too! Keep up the great work!

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Yeah, I get that objectively it doesn't automatically equate with bad patient.  It just feels that way.  Now I'm curious about the schools of fish thing.... but later is cool.  Its awesome to hear about how you've come so far.  And speaking of trust, it is definitely easier to trust the opinions of people who have been on the ass end of things themselves.  Thanks again for sharing. 

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Thank you, Sys. The part about needing to hear over and over is so true for me. I've felt guilty like I was wasting time having to have things repeated. It's like things have stronger and connectful meaning each time important points are repeated to me. Enjoyed hearing your story about your path to wellness. it gave insight into my own path.

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hahaha, you guys are all crazy, but I'll take the compliments before you take them back.   :P

 

CirclesOfConfusion, I think really accepting that I could feel one way and logically think something else was a big hurdle for me.  I was and continue to sometimes be really angry that my feelings and my logical knowledge of things didn't match up when I most wanted them to.  It's OK to feel bad that you can't easily change your mind about things that are painful.  I struggle with both those things all the time.

 

I think that's something that techniques falling under "mind-body awareness" may be able to help you with.  Doing things like meditation and body scans and yoga helped me really believe that sometimes I just think things for no real reason, and it's okay to let them go.  When I start ruminating & overthinking everything on the knee-jerk worries that pain is coming, that's when the upset really starts.

 

That's not to say it's easy to let things go, especially if it seems like there's evidence for how I feel.   I fail at this allllll the time.  I feel like I'm failing right now, in fact.  I'm worried and upset about a lot of things right now, and I've had repeated urges to do things that would be bad for me, even though the last time I did this particular thing was over 7 years ago.  

 

I try very hard to pay attention to how I feel and honor it and let it pass, but it's so hard to feel these intense painful things, or accept that I need to take care of myself, or let it go when what I want to do is worry about it until I fix it.
 

But...  when I'm able to let the urge to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW go and just allow the feelings to be there, taking care of myself...   After the upset (or paroxysm) has passed (and it always does, which I still don't believe most of the time) I can deal with my worries much more productively.  AND I don't have any giant fuckups to deal with that I created while I was super-upset and trying to self-destruct.  

 

That's why I keep striving, you know?  I can see the positive results, even though it doesn't usually come naturally and it's still very difficult.  I have objective evidence that my life is better when I take care of myself, and so are the lives of those I care about.

Edited by saveyoursanity
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Dear saveyoursanity. I just want to say thank you, as sincerely as I can, for answering the question. I've read through it, and will have to study it several times. Your story is very inspirational, and the information is really, really helpful in my efforts to sort out and deal with where I am in my life.

 

Thank you so much.

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Your 2nd post gave me strenght to fight today's urges to SH. Thank you again. You gave me a nice gift for the holidays, to feel more at ease with my thoughts and feelings right now.

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    • By Simone.
      Hello everyone! Where to begin...
      I've been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder with some avoidant traits. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety since elementary school (I am 22 now).
      Up til this point, I have been in and out of hospitals and treatment centers and passed around from therapist to therapist. I was heavily self- harming and abusing alcohol and other substances. A few months ago, I was sent to yet another center after a suicide attempt. 
      Let me tell you, it changed my life. I was introduced to DBT, which has truly saved me. I am finally on the correct medication which has seriously reduced, if not stopped, my horrid intrusive thoughts and paranoia. Before, I was to the point I could hardly get out of bed, and already had to drop out of college and leave my job. Now, I have rediscovered my love for art, I am waitressing (something I would have NEVER thought possible) and- best of all- my relationship with my fiance is SO much better and we are back to planning our wedding.
      I am back to seeing a therapist regularly, and she is awesome. I've finally confronted issues with my toxic mother and am opening up about traumatic childhood experiences as well as working through family therapy with my father (and my mother, when he can convince her to join). 
      The fact is, life is GOOD, I am somewhere I thought I would never be and I am incredibly grateful. I'm back here to recieve support now that I am more stable and moving forward into uncharted territory in my life. Thanks for being here and reading.
    • By deirdrescott
      Bonjour y'all.
      I feel like I know y'all a bit - long time lurker. I just wanna say that I have used this site to help me research and kinda navigate my way through the blissful path of personal awareness in my journey through crazyland. I have been very thankful to find great resources and opinions here. 
      So, into the breach of introductions...
      I am a 32 y/o lady hailing from the great and dirtiest South, Louisiana. I've been a healer for over half my life, and a massage therapist for over a decade. I'm a (veerrry) small business owner working from home So that I can also care for my two magnificent children, one of whom is a tri-lingual, fencing super-nerd and the youngest of whom is the closest thing to a literal angel that I will ever know. I know.. Im biased but I don't lie!
      My youngest (5) is also a soldier in the battle against unwonted, rare disease called Mitochondrial Complex III Deficiency. She is not expected to survive adolescence. I share this information to promote awareness of her affliction and to give some glimpse into the muti-faceted gem of shit luck that contributes greatly to my episodes of mental illness exacerbations. 
      Diagnosed borderline, major depressive disorder, schizoaffectve with just a dash of PTSD and DID to keep it fun. I did not seek help until the peak of my schizoaffective emergence, during which I attempted twice within a year. I've been off and on the pharmacopia and onlythis year did I see a counselor. 
      Now, because I'm swimming in medical bills for prescription meds, supplements (that insurance sure as shit won't cover), shitty cars, doctors appointments, genetic tests....yeah, I'm broke as fuck and I am on Medicaid. The great state of Louisiana is kind of a clusterfuck of bad doctors, limited mental health resources, and waiting lists that last over 6 months....so my mental health options are severly restricted. 
      So I'm finally deciding to say hi to all of you in the hopes that we can aquaint ourselves and, hopefully, I can find some sense of community because no one in Jesus country is really open to talking about mental illness unless its to call MI the side-effect of demonic possession. 
      So howdy y'all!
       
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