Valentina, 30, Mexico City, Mexico

**** TW: Mentions suicide, abortion ****

The last five years have been the best and worst of my life. I finished med school, met the love of my life, finished my post graduate training in Palliative Care, got married, traveled to amazing places, met and cared for wonderful patients but also, tried to kill my self, separated from my husband, lost the support and respect of my co-workers, my father died while we weren’t speaking to each other, had an involuntary abortion, and almost lost my career. People can’t believe this when I finally open up and tell them; they say I seemed so strong and happy, a hard worker and responsible, in a loving and happy marriage. Maybe this is because I’ve been living in secrecy and struggling every day for the past five years; almost like living a double life. I’ve had great moments and terrible ones and no one knew what was going on inside my head.

I first developed symptoms when I was 25. Since then, I’ve gone through 4 different psychiatrists, and four different diagnoses, taken over 7 different types of medication. At one time the side effects were so bad I couldn’t keep working at the hospital any more and had to restart my training from the beginning a year later. Once my hair started falling out as a side effect from one of the medicines I was taking and I decided (together with my husband and doctor) to take a break and detoxify. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had fallen into depression and didn’t ask for help.

I tried to kill my self (luckily I was found on time). By then, my husband couldn’t deal with the severity of my mental illness any more and developed anxiety himself. I was finally diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and it was both a relief-to have a reason for all the things I did, to not feel like I was a bad person, and frightening because I knew I had to live with this for the rest of my life and that I could loose everything (my career, my partner, the love of my family). I’ve lived to see almost every fear come true, but I’m also finally getting the help I need. It’s still a struggle every day, so much pain and strong emotions, being so sensitive and living in fear of abandonment. But I also know now that I’m not alone.

Reading your stories on this blog and meeting people in my group sessions that struggle with this everyday has made me get the strength to keep fighting, to achieve my goals no matter how long it takes me. I used to compare my self to others and feel sorry for my self, that I was a failure and couldn’t succeed in life. My parents often see me as lazy, and uncommitted, even selfish, like I’m not trying hard enough. I know all you reading this know we try our best every day, even if it’s not enough for everyone else.

I’m finally done with 36 hour shifts at the hospital, with my residence and training but I’m still struggling to finish my dissertation in order to obtain my post graduate degree; it will take me more time than the rest of the other doctors but I know I will finish it and be able to form a successful career from that for my self. These are some of the inspirational phrases I’ve learned over the past 6 moths that help me keep going:

–     Don’t compare your self to others; you are on your own path and at your own pace.

–     Do what you love (your passion) and hold on to this.

–     People will come and go out of your life but the right ones will love you as you are (with mental illness and everything)- but remember: You are the love of your life, take care of yourself first, and the rest will come later.

–    You are under no obligation to make sense to anyone but yourself. 

– You are not alone. Speak up, ask for help and get the support you need from professionals, friends and family you trust and who love you. 

–    Medication isn’t the cure but it really helps. Be patient. Find a doctor you trust and don’t stop taking your medication without your doctor’s orders. 

–    Take it day by day: be in the present. Don’t focus on your past mistakes or worry about the future, that only generates anxiety. 

–   Learn techniques from your therapist to cope with your intense distress (intense specter of emotions) and learn how to self-soothe. 

– Just because you’re in the process of bettering your self, it doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, make questionable choices or respond out of character. Be patient with your self. It’s all part of the process. 

It’s an every day struggle, with good, bad and really bad days. There’s a battle daily in my head between wanting to die and end the pain, and wanting to survive, become stronger and live a decent and happy life. I choose the latter. I’m not happy yet but I’m working to get there. With my mental condition I don’t know if I will be able to feel happy all day everyday, but doing what I love and caring for others and specially my self, I’m sure I will experience it everyday nonetheless.

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1 Comment

  1. Ricky Gaji
    July 26, 2018 / 12:14 am

    This is very inspiring! Thank you! I was feel pretty iffy and reading this has given me the strength to tell my own story now! I’m glad you’re much better and found the strength to push through! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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