Compassion: a key to healing


My name is Maryam. I’m 29 years old. When I was 22, I developed borderline personality disorder.

To start to get back on my feet, I had to fight an epic seven-year battle. I didn’t realize how strong I was before going through this nightmare.

This chance to tell my story is significant for me, as it’s a great opening for me to transform psychological suffering that lasted too long into an opportunity for permanent healing, not only for me, but also, I hope, for others. Hopefully, the whole country can benefit.

I agreed to tell my story today openly, despite the stigmatization surrounding this issue, as I hoped in my own small way to overcome this stigmatization. I find that there is still too much ignorance and prejudice, which means too many taboos and things unsaid.

I don’t know if you realize how important it is that you read this and how it can make all the difference in someone’s life, in everyone’s life and, ultimately, for the health, vitality and well-being of society as a whole.

Living with borderline personality disorder means grappling each day with dreadful, lasting, intense and frequent suffering. We often hear that “borderlines” react disproportionately to certain triggers, but in fact these seemingly illogical reactions are proportionate to our inner torture.

My inner battle is never ending, interspersed with flare-ups and lulls. I put my life at risk several times, but now I’m working hard to find alternatives, tools that help me build and lead a full life in keeping with all the gifts within me. I now feel increasingly able to contribute to building our society, with my difference, and I’m truly proud of that.

It’s possible to achieve a balance, a remission phase as it’s called.

But to do that, we need appropriate therapy and have to work actively and be involved in our healing process. I had to make a commitment to myself and often make difficult choices, unlike the ones I used to make to get through the day. I learned to let go and seek out the tools that would let me develop the skills I needed, to gradually re-create myself as a responsible, autonomous, stable and fulfilled young adult.

So far, I’ve managed to put an end to all of the dysfunctional and often dangerous or even lethal strategies I relied on to soothe my suffering. To achieve that, therapy has certainly been very useful, even if it is sometimes very confrontational. It’s not always a picnic, but we’re fortunate to be able to benefit from a therapy designed for us by Dr. Marsha Linehan and have access to great professionals in Montreal, who are there to help us.

It is important that the quality of care be maintained and improved and that our healthcare providers always have the resources they need to treat an ever-growing number of people as quickly as possible.

Access to the necessary services for people in psychological distress can save lives and greatly reduce suffering. It also relieves families and friends, along with society and the array of health services: emergency departments, crisis centres, local community service centres (CLSCs). And it lets the person concerned focus on and share his or her inner talents. At the end of the day, we all come out ahead.

We are all concerned by this issue in one way or another, directly or indirectly. We could all be affected one day, as no one is immune to problems like depression and burnout, and we all know at least one person struggling with these issues.

I sincerely believe that therapy and other mental health services should be democratized, as they are beneficial and  productive for all of society. For someone living with borderline personality disorder, access to these services is a question of life and death. That’s why mental health support initiatives are essential, as they provide funds and also focus on love, awareness and mutual help, three things I find crucial.

I’d like to thank you for the sensitivity you show towards people struggling with this issue, women, men and children, as even children are affected, unfortunately at an increasingly young age.

Thank you for your collective involvement and interest.

Maryam