empathy

How My Personal History With Anxiety And BPD Taught Me Compassion, Empathy And Creativity

Pencil sketch by  Amy Robins

Pencil sketch by Amy Robins

For those of you who don’t really know me, I may come up as a bitch; or as someone who has a lot of spare time; as someone who is cold and restrained, or as someone who doesn’t get too close to anyone. A few months ago I had a striking anxiety attack in the bus, and spiralling home with not some of the nicest thoughts in the world, I began to write this short story which I decided to share to everyone who’s been struggling with the same issues and is looking for a helping hand, a compassionate voice, or a brother in arms.

I’ve been dealing with generalized BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) for seven years now. There are countless times when I researched and considered to a) take my life, b) avoid use of chemical substances treatment that is usually applied c) try to do anything in my own power to move on further with my life.

Over these years, I have gained some things: empathy, which went sky rocket, patience, which I never had as a child, compassion, will power, determination and a wish to be there for others who struggle with this or any other challenges in their lives. I have also lost a couple of things: time – when everyone else was having fun, I was stuck in my own system trying to figure out whether I am crazy, experiencing an anxiety attack or going to die because of breath shortage; friends – because they couldn’t cope with it, or because they never coped with it, and they couldn’t understand it or empathize to it; money – because one time I simply couldn’t stand up anymore and finish the work I had to work. I may have also lost an ability to be happy with someone, like a partner, or a date, in spite of achieving the courage to spend most of the time with myself alone.

Painting by Yugo Kohrogi (detail)

Painting by Yugo Kohrogi (detail)

I am not afraid of having to keep on facing it. I am just tired, so tired sometimes. I wish the pains in my chest went off, and I wish I could sleep like normal people, not in American time zone all the time. I wish the impossible wishes I make before breakfast (and which almost always revolve around the terms of health, moderation and happiness) would kick in better than some synth meds that are supposed to work on my dopamine. I wish I did not scare people away, and I also wish people made a better effort to understand that if it’s not cancer, an STD, HEP-C, AIDS or any other disease that will eventually show on the body, it doesn’t mean it’s less dangerous, risky, or painful.

You don’t ask to be born with it, inherit it, or be struck by it. It happens to you, and you may spend years trying to understand what’s happening. You hardly learn to control it, even when you think you nailed it. You may wonder why I choose to write this down on Facebook, or in public, like this, when all these are still regarded so much as stigmas, as private matters. They’re not. Same as verbal aggression is not; rape is not; self harm is not; depression is not. My anxiety and racing heart are the ones making me go on, paradoxically, because they help me build up momentum in my writing, and ultimately they help me put words into perspective. My tattoos are symbols for hope. All of them. My photography is a way to deal with the writer’s block I had when faced with depression. I want to be able to be who I am in spite of my shortcomings, and mostly, instead of a challenging day to day outlook on life. If we meet, I hope this confession will raise the corners of your mouth, instead of eyebrows.

Have a good year, and have trust in oneself.

Ioana Cristina Casapu is the Managing Director of Art Parasites Magazine. She likes Brian Eno, airports and never says no to a good old Gin&Tonic. 

Read all her stories and poetry here.