My name is Marina. I’m a 17 year old from Toronto and I am living with Borderline Personality Disorder.

My mental health has always been a struggle, even before I really knew what mental illness truly was. Growing up I always felt everything so intensely that I could never really label what I was feeling. It wasn’t until the beginning of grade nine that I realized there was something was wrong. I was constantly anxious, my mood would spiral at the drop of a hat, and I always had this heavy weight on my shoulders and an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was at an arts school but completely lost all the passion and motivation I once had. I was struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts and managing everything on my own, and people started to notice. A couple of my friends had realized I needed help and spoke up to a teacher. At the time I was furious and I resented them for telling someone about what I was going through, but looking back at it I can honestly say that they saved my life by trying to get me the help that I didn’t know I needed. I started seeing a guidance counsellor at my school and was put on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. During the weeks of waiting for my first appointment, my mental health got worse and I was admitted to a psychiatric ward for two months. This is where my journey to recovery really began.

Over the past few years I’ve had many hospital admissions, tried countless medications, tried multiple types of therapy and worked with several doctors, none of which could settle on a diagnosis or a treatment plan that would work for me. After trying so many routes of treatment that never seemed to work, I started losing hope. I really believed that I would never get better. That I would live in constant distress forever. After being discharged from a 3 month stay at CAMH, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. When I heard the symptoms and explanation of BPD I was shocked. I finally had a diagnosis that made sense to me. I had an explanation for the things I was feeling and through learning about the disorder I learned more about myself. I decided to give my recovery one last try and I started fresh at a new therapy clinic where I started working on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT for short. I went to group every Thursday and saw a psychologist once every week. I was doubtful at first that this type of therapy would work for me, but slowly I started realizing that it was exactly what I needed. I finally had a therapist that I felt comfortable with, and she helped me find hope and faith in myself again. I made a promise to her and to myself that I would dedicate myself to life and creating a life worth living, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for impacting my life in the way that she has.

I’ve now been working on DBT for two years, and it’s changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I’ve turned my experiences with mental health into a passion for music, poetry, creativity and a passion for life. I use music and poetry as healthy coping strategies and as a way to tell my story and hopefully help others. I take all my negative emotions and project them into my art, and I honestly don’t think my work would be the same if I didn’t go through everything I have. I have a job here at DYS which I am so grateful for, and I get to use my experiences with mental health to be able to reach out to others.  There is so much negativity in the world, and spreading a positive message is so important to me. I find the work that Delisle does so inspiring, and what they’re doing is so important. Through my experiences with mental illness I’ve found so much love and empathy for the people around me, and I’m so passionate about mental health and the importance of taking care of your mind. I’ve had so much help along the way to where I am now, and I want to be able to do the same for someone else one day. I want to be that positive person in someone else’s life. I want to help people realize that they’re so capable of recovery and how worthy they are of happiness.

My mental illness doesn’t define me, but it will always be a part of me. Recovery is a journey, not a destination, and I’m still working on it, but I am so proud of how far I’ve come. For the first time in my life I’m living. Not in fear, but for myself.

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