There is no question that the awareness of borderline personality disorder is growing. We, as a community, have come a long way. We have started out from a grassroots level of awareness and education, have proceeded to the recognition of evidence-based treatments and finally, to what I believe is our future — have begun the discussion surrounding recovery.
There is no doubt that a book about recovery is needed, one that explores the topic in great depth. Despite our growth as a community in advocacy, there is still a lot of “doom and gloom out there,” as one interviewee put it. Could there be a place where one can explore ideas about recovery in a safe environment? It is my mission with this book to do so.
There are, however, other reasons I am on this quest, something more personal. True, it doesn’t get much more personal than having the same diagnosis as the people you are writing a book about, but there’s something more.
You see, I have always felt something was missing in my life. It’s not that I’m complaining. Don’t get me wrong — I am lucky to be where I am today. It’s just that all my life I found it necessary to fill an inescapable void. Call it a symptom of BPD, call it general malaise, whatever it is, I’ve grown accustomed to it following me around. I used to suffer from it but I’ve befriended it in my own unique way.
It was in my sophomore year of high school that we read Victor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. That book changed the trajectory of my life and, more importantly, the reason why I’ve been on various quests. I thought, if I could only make meaning out of my suffering, the pain would be bearable. The pain would no longer be the end of the world; there would be a reason to continue on.
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it. – Viktor E. Frankl
Since the age of fifteen I’ve searched high and low for my ultimate meaning. While I dreamed about volunteering in Tanzania I settled on a 545 mile bicycle trip for charity. I also thought I would find it in boxing, fighting the good fight, or perhaps speaking at respected institutions, sharing hope with my story. After all, “meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.” And although they’ve all been meaningful and am thankful for the privilege of those experiences, I still went searching.
So here I am with my next quest, writing a book. My reason, this time around, is rather clear: the way for me to make meaning out of my own life is to help give meaning to other people; to give something back worthwhile. Helping 100 people speak about recovery? That’s got to count for something. And if any of that hope turns into meaning, then the quest has been fulfilled. My reason in writing this book is to make myself work for something that enables others to have better lives. To work on something so that my life will not be in vain because yes, that old monkey-wrench would reappear, thinking that if I didn’t do anything my life would be meaningless.
And so by finding out a little truth about recovery, I can find hope for myself. By giving hope to others, I’ll feel like i didn’t waste my life. Yes, there is a certain, fatal human flaw in my way of thinking, but when it comes down to it, I can’t help it. I can’t live for myself. I can’t enjoy the passing of a day without knowing that I’ve tried. That’s the fight within me — the fight for those who suffer.
Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. – Viktor E. Frankl
I don’t suffer as I used to. I’ve been given a second chance. I’ve got to do something with that second chance; life depends on it.