Welcome to another post on personality series! I am going to dive straight in with a story from a friend. This is a heart-warming account of how she has been living an emotionally whole life despite the circumstances.
My name is Bolanle. I am a software engineer by profession. I am also a mother of three energetic kids. My emotions have always been a driving force in my life. As a child, overcoming the loss and separation from a mother whose husband divorced because she was depressed took a toll on me. I had to trade in the soft warm feeling of being loved by a parent with the emotional abuse of a stepmom whose harsh ringing words went like this ” You shouldn’t have been born”, “You are a mistake”,” Why don’t you climb into bed with your dad” amongst other litanies of curses. However, she never cursed out her three precious sons.
I grew up feeling worthless and felt I was only someone because I was brilliant. I bottled up my feelings of anger, resentment, and despair within me using a snobbish facade to build walls around me. Yet, I did not harbor hate towards my stepmom, I loved her and wished she could love me back.
I would not talk about the physical abuse which is predominant in the country I come from. Beating, kicking, and slapping is regarded as forms of discipline here. So, let us move on.
In high school, I was the bookworm and earned several awards. However, I was socially awkward and did not have many friends. I became very sad from time to time and would isolate myself for long periods. People thought I was snobbish, they just could not read the signs.
I transformed into a social butterfly while at college, moving from one intense relationship to another. I did the dumping because I never wanted the boys to find out how scared, sad and lonely I was. I had a lot of friends, went to the best parties, drank like a fish, yet I had never felt more alone.
I graduated top of my class and went on to land a fantastic job. I managed to get married to a guy despite his ears being filled with rumors of my promiscuousness and emotional lability. He left months later after alternating bouts of rigid coldness and clinging behavior.
I started a few affairs to prove to myself I was still desirable but I moved on quickly because they failed to close the deficit I felt.
I was doing well at my job until I had an affair with a client who spread vicious rumors about me and the company let me go to avoid the expense of an investigation. Male co-workers did not help matters, some of who were my college mates gleefully recounted tales of my past behavior.
It took six years before I could touch another computer again; I hid behind being a mother and bingeing to soothe my emotional monsters before I took responsibility for my life. I consulted many therapists (some therapists are damaged souls especially in my country which celebrates incompetence) and found one who was capable of helping face up to the truth of my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. I can identify the triggers, manage my anxiety and anger and use methods to calm or stimulate myself depending on my emotional state. I became more open and began to communicate better with my spouse and others.
Even though I now live in a remote part of the country, I have managed projects as an educational consultant and I owe this situation to mental health advocates who are currently trying to de-mystify and destigmatize emotional disorders.
If you can relate with my friend or know someone struggling with these issues, encourage the person to avail of himself/herself of a therapist. There are therapists online. If you are in Lagos, Nigeria these are the Suicide Research and Prevention Initiative( SURPIN ) numbers: 09080217555, 09034400009, 08111909909 and 07013811143 for more information about emotional health(they are not only there for suicide prevention, they can link you to services that will leave your emotional health in tip-top shape.).