Hello! Who are you?
My name is Melody Votoire! I am a young author located in Iowa.
I have been in a committed relationship for about a year with my lovely partner, and I’m fortunate to have a small but unique and irreplaceable group of friends whom I love dearly.
I consider myself happy-in-progress, but I am proud to say I spend each day enabling a better future so that I can eventually label myself as truly content.
My ambitions include writing full-time, pioneering new forms of artistic expression, and, if time allows, becoming a “crazy cat lady” sounds incredible.
What is your struggle and when did it start?
I was officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) about a year ago, but the symptoms of it have been occurring since my early childhood. I have always been considerably antisocial, insecure, and impulsive.
As I hit my early teen years, I began to engage in extremely risky and careless behavior, which only worsened with age. I went through periods of severe self-harm and became increasingly suicidal, feeling myself slowly fall into a state of utter hopelessness.
Despite these struggles, I still had moments of extreme (and typically delusional) happiness. This is known as “splitting white” on the spectrum of black-and-white thinking that borderline patients experience and I have been no stranger to splitting drastically.
In fact, there are days when I find myself splitting every half-hour at the slightest of triggers. Going through a constant cycle of emotions, and experiencing them as vividly as possible is incredibly draining.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of my Borderline Personality Disorder, though there are occurrences in my life that I presume enabled it.
My family members that I grew up around experienced similar personality disorders, which I have always credited as majorly impacting my emotional development. A child’s first example of how to process mental functions is often the experience of witnessing their immediate family do so, and I frequently observed situations of black-and-white thinking, disordered arguments, emotional invalidation, and paranoid tendencies.
I have also been involved in abusive sexual situations during varying stages of my life, which is a known cause of the disorder as well. These incidents involved people who I had every reason to trust and love, which directly affected my ability to maintain healthy views toward my peers.
Another major factor of BPD is the fear of abandonment. Much like a majority of BPD sufferers, I have been known to go to extremes in order to avoid abandonment. While I am not proud of it, I once was a person who shamelessly manipulated, begged, and lied in an effort to get people in my life to stay with me.
This, of course, pushed those people away further, causing them to leave and further validating my fear of being left behind. This became a vicious cycle.
Borderline Personality Disorder constantly affects me every day of my life, regardless of how much I have positively developed in recent years. I have the constant role of monitoring my every move and reaction and avoiding triggers at all costs. I still split, just not quite as often, and each relapse with doing so is incredibly saddening as it can feel like I have lost all progress in trying to outgrow the disorder’s tendencies.
The Borderline Personality Disorder “favorite person” dynamic has by far been the most impacting symptom in my own case. To summarize, a favorite person dynamic results in the idolization of someone (typically a friend, partner, or therapist) and acute obsession.
For me, I have had this dynamic with every romantic partner I have had, and it caused me to self-sabotage each of those relationships. There were habits of stalking, jealousy, cheating, suicide threats, and severe emotional distress. I have thankfully grown out of these habits for the most part, though I do still consider my current relationship a favorite person dynamic and it is extremely difficult to monitor these tendencies and maintain a healthy relationship at times.
Having a partner is something I have always valued strongly, and I feel that BPD has directly interfered with this.
How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?
Borderline Personality Disorder makes each and every emotion experienced at its strongest.
Happiness is a high like no other, sadness is a pit of despair, and anger is dangerous to everyone involved. BPD added salt to the wound during the worst moments of my life - occurrences that would be difficult even for someone perfectly healthy - and made existing feel like the most impossible task there is.
The emotions often become too much to handle, and my mind will entirely shut down and prevent me from feeling anything at all. Disassociating is often the first place my mind takes me, and I will become entirely numb in an effort to avoid the draining cycle of emotional turmoil.
Most people in my life (up until I began sharing my recovery journey online) were not aware of the fact that I was struggling with BPD, or even that I was mentally ill in any form. I have almost always remained professional, yet reserved, and the only thing that ever raised concern was how quiet I could be in social settings.
Still, I was only ever pinned as shy, and I have never been approached by peers about potential mental disorders. However, those close to me always knew there was something off.
My best friend and primary confidant of five years has always been aware of every detail of my life, including my reckless and manipulative tendencies. She was the first to hear of my many experiences of impulsive behavior, and consistently witnessed me hurt both myself and others.
Every romantic partner I’ve had has also quickly understood that something abnormal was occurring, especially when they were on the receiving end of the favorite person dynamic. When I finally received my diagnosis of BPD, my partner at the time, as well as my best friend, were not surprised at all.
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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?
When I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I was elated to finally have a label for my issues.
After suffering through the symptoms for my entire life, there was finally an answer as to why I had experienced them. The understanding that I was not inherently a bad person, only struggling with factors that created obstacles to maintaining my own morals, was incredibly validating and finally gave me a reason to begin crawling out of my pit of insecurity and self-hatred.
By having a name for my disorder, I was able to effectively research the experiences of others online and I began trying out their coping mechanisms.
I would say that 50% of my positive development was through my own actions and mental monitoring, and I credit the other half to the incredible support of my partner and friend group. The diagnosis helped them as well, as they were able to see from others that there was genuine hope for improvement, and it encouraged them to stick around and help me work through difficult times.
I am infinitely thankful for their kindness towards me, and the help they have provided in my recovery.
What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?
I began journaling every night, documenting my day’s experiences, and allowing myself to analyze each occurrence. Keeping track of my day-to-day life provided a healthy way of venting about the negative aspects and celebrating the positive.
The best part of journaling for me personally has been looking back on old entries and seeing how I have achieved past goals or grown from past problems. I am incredibly proud of how I have matured, and my journals are written evidence of my own improvements.
For many people, including myself, journaling is a difficult habit to maintain. I started off by mapping out my days via bullet points, and this slowly morphed into detailed paragraphs over time. The most important aspect is getting your experiences down on paper and actually allowing yourself to rationally analyze your own life. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve written is a masterpiece or not.
I also recommend working out. Personally, I have found that keeping a schedule of days to do so (ex. Every morning Monday-Thursday) ensures that I can hold myself accountable, but this of course varies person-to-person.
Exercise is proven to make a positive impact on one’s mental health regardless of their condition (or lack thereof), but it has specifically assisted my BPD in terms of anger issues.
Instead of taking my anger out on myself or others, I am able to convert it into a healthy release when working out. Whether it’s a punching bag or simple stretches with weights, working out provides an outlet that can only benefit me. At the end of the day, you’re improving your physical health as well, which directly benefits every other aspect of your life. It’s a win-win!
Creative writing and poetry has been my most therapeutic outlet. Converting my emotions and experiences into a creative piece has helped me unpack deep-rooted trauma and anger.
Instead of allowing myself to have severe outbursts, I try to take a moment to write down my feelings and spend time crafting them into a poem or story. The creative aspect of it is an amazing distraction and diffuses many of my incoming episodes.
Sharing this work with the world has also proven to benefit me, as it has greatly impacted my readers and builds a community within them. Painting, writing, playing music, and any other form of art is a lovely method of dealing with BPD as it is a healthy and fun way to process difficult situations. There are hundreds of creative hobbies out there and I firmly believe everyone can find at least one that resonates.
Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?
For a long time, I was only comfortable with talking to my close friends about Borderline Personality Disorder. This was partially because they had already witnessed a majority of the effects, and it wasn’t news to them. Having a support system within my friend group is highly comforting for me and I am thankful to have people that I know I can always talk to when I need a shoulder to cry on.
Discussing my disorder with my family, however, proved to be difficult. In my early teen years, I went through varying phases of harboring resentment toward my family, believing that they had ruined my life and were the sole reason for my mental issues.
I now realize this was an incredibly juvenile perspective and that blaming others only contributes to the issue, and does not resolve it in any way. I have matured greatly since then and I understand the reasons for the occurrences that contributed to my situation.
While it is undeniable that they were directly involved with my childhood and development, the last thing I wanted to do when it came time to open up was come across as guilt-tripping by sharing my emotional state with them. Despite their impact on my mental health, I am aware that my family has done their best to love and care for me, and I never want them to feel as though their potential parts in my disorder imply they failed to love me in any way.
After finally speaking to my family about my BPD, I no longer found it difficult to share my experiences with others as I felt I had already crossed the most daunting obstacle. I began to share my experiences online with the community of those who support my writing, and it has proven to be therapeutic to do so.
I often post what I refer to as “BPD-Boot Camp”, which involves videos and photos documenting my coping mechanisms and destigmatizing the taboo struggles of the disorder. There are absurd misconceptions about the disorder everywhere you turn, and I have taken care to share the truth about Borderline Personality Disorder without sugarcoating the parts that are difficult to hear.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?
You are the one and only thing that can make you happy. Relying on others to “fix” your disorder, falling into unhealthy coping mechanisms, and blaming others for your condition are self-destructive and nothing more.
Mental health relies on your mindset, and while it’s easier said than done, inviting a positive outlook into your psyche is the core solution to BPD and similar issues. While having a support system is a beautiful and important thing, you have to be willing to help yourself and take the necessary steps to do so.
This is a message that I truly wish I understood earlier in my life. I have wasted countless amounts of time and energy waiting for that special someone to sweep me off my feet and make everything okay, using others as outlets for my pain, and hurting myself needlessly. The unrivaled cause of my recovery has been, and will always be, my willingness to work toward enabling a better mindset.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?
- BPD Beautiful is filled with information and personal stories that I have related to consistently and used to propel my own recovery.
- The Teenager Therapy podcast was a relatable and inspiring content source for me in my early teens and helped me work through day-to-day adolescent experiences.
- The poetry book “Is It Okay to Say This?” by Trista Mateer provides a raw, inspiring documentation of healing from trauma and helps me understand that it will always get better.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
I am currently in the process of publishing my first poetry book with a novel in the works as well. Poetry is my passion, and I seize any opportunity to post it online and recite it at public events. My hope is that by posting my works online I can help others in the same way that writing has helped me over the years – as a means of healing and empowerment.
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