The rapper Kid Cudi ("Day and Nite, the lonely stoner tends to free his mind at night, at, at, at night") recently announced he was checking himself into rehab due to his battle with mental health illness, which sparked a twitter trend #YouGoodMan, where Black men talk about mental health...which never happens.
Between cultural stigmatization (you gotta be a "strong" Black man, which tends to mean an embrace of stereotypical hypermasculinity) and racist stereotypes (if someone is criminally inclined, people are more likely to blame some sort of "cultural pathology" vs mental illness), there really isn't a space where Black men are allowed to talk about their mental health. And it's killing us. So...here I am talking about my mental health in the hopes it can spark more understanding and conversation amongst everyone.
I myself was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder a decade ago.
"BPD feels like floating above a dinner party, above the chitchat and laughter, looking down at the smiling people who understand one another, and thinking: Why not me?
It sends you into spirals of self-doubt and hatred. It makes you feel like a tangled slinky, forever bumping inelegantly down a flight of stairs. You know something within you is twisted, and even once you're told what, you're left wondering why.
There's always this stifling sense of isolation."
Part of it is hereditary (my biological mom is apparently manic depressive), I'm very shy...(no, seriously, I am), I'm super sensitive, very observant (annoyingly so) & highly intelligent...I see, feel and experience everything. And part of it is environmental. I grew up real fucked up: my Mom was pregnant in jail with me on immigration charges (she overstayed her VISA after discovering she was pregnant and the doctors said she couldn't travel or she or I may not survive the flight & jail is where they put immigration cases back then...even pregnant 18 year olds). I bounced around from foster home to foster home, seeing lots of violence living in the "hood" in poverty, being bullied, feeling isolated, etc...it's not an excuse for anything, but...as well adjusted as I can seem at times, the reality is, with nothing and no one stable around to help me deal...my brain broke? My "uplifting" personality is really me rejecting everything bad society said I would be, because...fuck you. I determine me. Not any of you.
It's not something I easily talk about because the name is so fucking scary. It almost sounds like you have a split personality. In some ways it would seem like it, but it's really "just" a mood disorder, not a personality one. But...that's kinda splitting hairs. The effect on you and those around you whom you love (especially when you're in a relationship) is the same. Here are some of the symptoms:
Having an unstable or dysfunctional self-image or a distorted sense of self (how one feels about one’s self)
Feelings of isolation, boredom and emptiness
Difficulty feeling empathy for others (not me at all, although once someone crosses me, it's pretty easy for me to write them off)
A history of unstable relationships that can change drastically from intense love and idealization to intense hate
A persistent fear of abandonment and rejection, including extreme emotional reactions to real and even perceived abandonment
Intense, highly changeable moods that can last for several days or for just a few hours
Strong feelings of anxiety, worry and depression
Impulsive, risky, self-destructive and dangerous behaviors, including reckless driving, drug or alcohol abuse and having unsafe sex
Unstable career plans, goals and aspirations
Barrel of fun, right? Dealing with BPD can be traumatic and chaotic to say the least. I'll probably talk about this more at some point in time...but for now read someone else's take on BPD and what it's like living with it.