Note: (certain details cannot be shared for classified reasons, apologies)
My name is Pte Carter, I’m 21 years old and am currently a soldier in the armed forces serving in Canada. For years I’ve suffered with severe depression and borderline personality disorder. For those new to mental health, depression is a condition where your body doesn’t produce enough serotonin (the happy chemical) and you tend to feel sad without reason, this includes being overtired or being irritable, changes in diet or routine, loss of interest in things you would otherwise find joy in amongst other symptoms.
Borderline personality disorder is a condition similar to depression with a few differences. The anger and irritability are intensified, there is a constant shift in self-image or how you see yourself as well as chronic feelings of emptiness to name a few.
Having one or the other of these conditions is manageable however both together requires a specialist to go through a customized therapy course. Unfortunately, when I sought help for these my support network was ripped away from me, I ended up going through the recovery alone. BUT, don’t despair because the things I learned doing this alone made me stronger than I’ve ever been.
The first thing I learned is don’t dwell on the fact you have a condition try not to focus on it. Life is 99% mental and 1% physical. If you want something to happen, you will create it through a series of subconscious actions. This is for the day-to-day stuff.
The second thing is when you get a chance, spend time alone, look inward and be brutally honest with yourself “what problems am I facing? What causes me an issue during the day?” Focus on the small details, the bigger things will become clearer in time. Don’t generalize the issues, really try and pin them down and be exact as you can, “I have an issue with alcohol, why is that? My friends have a large influence, don’t hang out with those people as much.”
Thirdly, exercise, I know, a widely thrown out remedy, but it does help with focus. I found Crossfit after I left school, having to focus on each movement so I could lift the heavier weights gave me the starting focus I needed for everyday life. Exercise is also a good stress reliever, I would go in the evenings to relieve stress and anger I kept held in during the day, I ended up looking forward to going to the gym at the end of the day and became a little competitive.
My next piece of advice is to not be afraid to express yourself in the purest form, often we think people are judgemental, and some are, however very often if you open up to people they will be positive and accepting of you. Having an opinion does not make you a bad person and expressing yourself doesn’t make you evil. It’s called being human, we’re all guilty of it.
Another part I’ve learned is that if you have trouble interacting with people, learn how to conversate, learn about body language and how people will react when you say certain words or phrases. Practice giving a Nobel prize speech on your own, to the mirror, or a trusted family member or friend.
There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, wrong with wanting to be alone sometimes, we need it to reset and relax ready for the next working day. I ride a Harley Davidson myself, I love to work on it in the garage with the music blasting, sometimes I get caught dancing around the bike like a witch doctor summoning the rain.
My last piece of advice is stay off the internet, the world you know now has changed so quickly in the last fifty years it’s nearly unrecognizable. Don’t let what the internet has to say sway you. By all means if you use it for research or for your job then go for it, but where you can, stay away from it, the real world has so much more to offer.
We talk about the window of opportunity, but you don’t have to look for the window if you go outside. You are the respective king/queen of your world, no one has the right to make anyone feel bad or put you down, no right to stop you from being who you want to be. You can write your own rules for life, it’s all up to you.
Learn to stay calm in everyday things, if your being yelled at, just keep breathing and think of other things, people will gravitate towards the calmest person in the room.
(I hope this finds its way to someone who can use it to better their lives, this is the tip of the iceberg of advice I can give. These were just the key things that helped me get started on the road to recovery. )
Canadian armed forces
Thank you Pte Carter-Silk for your inspiring story and advice.