So I have a “illness,” thanks for the update…

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you…” George R.R. Martin

So I actually wrote this article last Wednesday. I’d been meaning to write it for a while, and I had already mentioned some of the contents in other articles I had written. But after getting it finished I kinda backed off on posting it.

The whole thing was pretty in-depth and was really me trying to help others to understand what a lot of folks are dealing with. But then Friday I just had a FUCKED day. My rig broke down on the way into work. Then work that day was a complete mess. I’m also gearing up to go teach a course in China and have a nagging injury that makes a 19 hour flight before teaching a two day seminar just sound amazing. But then I had a Fuck It moment, and decided to rewrite this whole damn thing and just kick it off the way I start our LiveForward support groups.

So here it is: My name is Zach and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

It’s something I’ve dealt with for more then half my life and to tell you the truth it really blows most of the time. But one of the big problems with it was that I was too stubborn to accept there may be something “wrong” with me for a long time. I saw a counsellor for it once when I was in high school, and end up getting misdiagnosed with ADD. I got some pills, the pills didn’t do shit, so I just scrapped that route of action.

I actually decided to scrap any action in dealing with things. And what I did instead was muscle my way through life. Let me tell you something, that wasn’t the way I should have approached this. But, hey in my mind it was cause I could hanlde anything.

I just told myself there was no way anything was “wrong” with me. I was just an asshole sometimes with a short temper that had a real issue managing his emotions in a lot of situations. That lead to more internalized pain and anger than I’d like to admit right now. I just kept pushing forward. And when things got real dark in life, I just kept my head down and kept pushing. It fucked up relationships, made me real difficult to be around sometimes and put my family through a lot of things I wish I hadn’t made them go through.

You see most folks with BPD are usually diagnosed within 4-5 years of its onset. I made it 16+ years before the floor fell out with out a bottom in sight. I had taken multiple trips to what I call the elephant graveyard and had found rock bottom before. But this last time even rock bottom couldn’t stop the spiral.

I sadly lost another Uncle to suicide this Summer. And I thought I was gonna be able to deal with it and be the rock for my family. It may sound odd to feel flawed and be a support system for anyone, but that’s a large part of who I am. Then one night it all caught up with me and that’s when the floor dropped out. I couldn’t get a grip and I pretty much gave into everything like I had in the past, but this time was different and the fall didn’t stop, I think part of it was I didn’t want it to.

When I finally realized what was happening and there was no bouncing back, I had to get help, like real help. I went back to a counsellor, which let’s be real is a term for a therapist. And the search wasn’t easy. I stormed out of offices and really hated the whole experience. But then I found a couple of Docs who I ended up trusting (which is really hard for me). So got real help, I got on meds even though I didn’t like the idea, I did it, and I began the process of figuring out what was wrong.

It didn’t take too long to figure out I had BPD. To make this short, it’s kinda like being Bi-polar, but instead of hills and valleys of emotions I have a Richter scale that bounces like an earthquake is going on. But the thing is that earthquake is always happening. I’ve started reading more and connected with some of the things I read. The simplest one was it’s like living without skin, so bumping into things that set me off, set me the fuck off.

But there’s also good things about it and those things I don’t want to change. I’m empathetic and really attached to other folks’ distress and emotional issues. I’m a business owner, a coach, a mentor and have always been a point of support for people. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

I just missed some key developmental points in my life and I’m relearning how to deal with them. And that’s just part of the process and I know its a long one and I hate it but I’m going to see it through.

Part of that was becoming open with all this, and standing by my belief that life doesn’t end at diagnosis. It just doesn’t, it’s just a word and some people may view this as an “illness” and that’s their own right. I simply see it as a part of who I am, but not who I am.

After losing my second Uncle this summer, part of finding my feet again was creating LiveForward. It’s a support group that’s open to anyone. Mental health isn’t the only topic we tackle; addiction, suicide, those that have lost loved ones or who are the support system for others are all open for discussion.

The other week I announced that I joined Team Uncommon which is part of my friend Ryan Sutton’s brand, The Uncommon Breed. I’ve know Ryan for a long time and when he explained his mission statement and vision for his Team, I signed on right away.

Part of the deal though, was that I wanted to be viewed as an Athlete/Advocate. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and physical culture and training has pulled me through a lot of those dark times. And at this stage of my life, I have decided to get off the sidelines and not only tackle my own mental health issues but be an Advocate for those that aren’t ready themselves for help or who need it and haven’t found anywhere to turn.

In LiveForward we say, Close the Loop. My Loop is far from closed, its damn near cut in half honestly. And thats why I decided to simplify this article.

It’s ok today feel different, there are a lot of us out there. I wrestled with it for a long time but now I am Unashamed. I’m proud to have the people in my circle that have put as much into LiveForward as I have, and I’m also proud to be part of a Team that represent tackling these issues with me in The Uncommon Breed.

Don’t be afraid to find help. The first step is the hardest and mine wasn’t publicly admitting this, it was the private acceptance that I just couldn’t do it on my own anymore.

Get out there and live life. It’s a gift and if you need help there is support, you just gotta take the steps to find it. If I can take this on anyone can, and you don’t have to do it alone


Posted by: Z

One Response to “So I have a “illness,” thanks for the update…”

  1. Peggy Smith Says:

    Dear Zach, this is so courageous. You are so right, this is part of you but doesn’t define you. It’s time we humans accepted the reality of our mental and emotional health needs. Thanks for humbling yourself to share this. It will help so many people. God Bless You.

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