“Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things”
– Dhammapada 113
Buddhism teaches us that life is a continuous stream, it is only available in the present moment. Tomorrow is 2016 for those using the Gregorian calendar system, but it will be a ‘normal’ day like any other day in 2015 or 2016. The sun will rise and the sun will set. Still, people are obsessed with good resolutions for the new year, as if they can start over again because a new year starts. You can start again and should start again every day fresh when you wake up and open your eyes. I try to meditate every morning, focusing on that present moment and being thankful that I live and breathe. I have no good resolutions for the end of the year, I have good resolutions every morning again! But truth be told, we need some sort of structure. I need it too. Everyone does. In order to properly function in society we have to accept the calendar, but we also should the truth in mind. Nothing will change and everything can change. Here. In the present moment.
Since I suffer from light PTSD, tonight will be a small struggle for me with its sudden burst of fireworks and loud blasts. But I’ll make it a good evening with familyand friend close by! So, going back to the calendar, what did 2015 mean for me? Well, I started the year depressed, feeling like I was lost in the Dark Forest from Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ I was afraid for what this year would bring. I had spent almost a year in anxious depression, not knowing what was wrong with me, other than that I was suffering from PTSD. But there had to be something else dwelling inside my head, something bigger. I had spent two months in autism spectrum research, I found out that I was mentally gifted and that my verbal and performal IQ were locked in an unequal battle with each other. A dear friend of mine who suffers from Borderline personality disorder already told me that she thought I had BPD.
In January I was, as expected, diagnosed with BPD and I would start psychotherapy in June of 2015. In February I started working at the animal ambulance as occupational therapy, a choice I have no regrets about since. My financial income decreased since I was in the second year of the health insurance act. There were ups and downs, both socially and mentally. It wasn’t untill I had an anger attack in which I kicked the police out of my house (I admit, but it was in self defense since they did not follow proper procedures) that things changed more rapidly. It enabled me to immediately start therapy. I was thankful. Finally, something would change and I would gain more insight into what was happening in my head. From something negative, my suffering became a big pile of compost (due to the negative clash with the police) and flower of insight bloomed on the remains of the wicked past.
I later met another girl with BPD with whom I impulsively started a relationship (which was doomed from the beginning of course). We thought we understood each other, but we were only dragging each other down hopelessly. I came to the point where I stabbed myself in the arm in total despair, aiming for the main artery, which I luckily missed by a hair! Eventually the girl I was together with went abroad and the relationship violently bled to death. Since my BPD was triggered by the break in my previous relationship, my parents were afraid I would do ‘something stupid’ and preventively called the police in despair, while my psychologist had taught them to trust in me and my therapy. Bad move, since I had done nothing wrong and in fact, nothing was going wrong inside my head untill the police arrived with a large force to drag an unsuspecting me from my house and locked me up. Another trauma was created that night. I didn’t trust the authorities and even worse, my parents, any more!
But Buddhism has taught me that the law of karma, the teaching of cause and effect, works in every life. For all the bad things that happen, good things will also equally happen. So I kept on going and from then on life became brighter, be it with ups and downs, as I already knew. I really started to understand why things happened the way they did in my head.
I then spent a week hiking in the Schwarzwald/ Black Forest with a dear friend from Belgium, who I met 8 years ago during our archaeology internship in Syria. He was also travelling through the same dark forest I was going through and we talked about it in Leuven and Brussels, before we actually went into the physical Black Forest in Germany. We shared great talks and moments of mindfulness there and I returned home feeling refreshed.
I spent weekends with friends, found solace in the dharma and therapy sessions and I worked at the animal ambulance with joy. I ran into many new obstacles, but I learned how to overcome them every time. Eventually I met my girlfriend, who provided me with huge positive energy and love of life. She made life interesting again and up to today, she is the light in my life, a kindred and independent spirit who loves hiking and reading and who stands with me whenever I feel bad and vice versa. It is because of her encouragement that I started blogging in order to understand myself, write about it and inspire others in the process.
I also learned that this is only the beginning of my journey as a borderliner. Every time something goes right in life I tend to ride that positive wave way too long and forget about my mental issues. Untill the wave crashes on that all too familiar beachfront of suffering and I find myself covered in the muddy quagmire of ignorance again. I run ahead of myself and that doesn’t work. I have to be mindful and understand that I am a borderliner, I suffer from a complex jumble of psycoligical problems and I have to tackle my problems one by one when the time is right. It now understand that I cannot force anything, I have to slow it down and be patient and keep on working on my problems and I have to keep walking the Noble Eightfold Path. Step by step by step. I will run into problems as well, but with mindfulness, insight and the power of the mind I will overcome them. I will try to make no problems where there are no problems.
I am not going through a dark forest anymore now. I have seen the light of Yule/ Christmas, the light mindfulness, of the mind. I have found love. I cherish my friendships. I have gained a lot in a year. I know what is going on in my head, I learn to understand it better every day. I have gained more insight, more patience, I have more control over my anger attacks, I am less frightened in large crowds, I appreciate Buddha’s teachings on an even deeper level. I have been in a car crash which has re-ignited my will to live. I dare to say ‘no’, I act more decisively, I notice when my failure or guilt-complexes try to pull me down, I avoid getting into negative spirals.
I understand that I am far from better, but that I’m walking the right path. I have learned that change is the only way toward progress, since everything will perish sooner or later. I am thinking of leaving the bagpipe band and instead I started to play the banjo, which brings me a lot of comfort and inspiration.
I can go on for hours, but I am going to leave it at this and I’ll blog again soon about new interesting topics! Dear ones, I want to thank you for your support, your love and inspiration. I wish you all a good continuity into the ‘new’ year and that joy, health and kindness may fill your heart and that of those you hold dear every coming day.