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My name is Emily Butterfield, and this is my story

I am 23 and I struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder


Mental illness is something I have struggled with since I was 18, and looking back, had its roots and effects in me even before 18. Where to start is the hardest part when writing about mental illness and suicide, because really, mental illness is not as simple as something that just comes out of nowhere with no cause or explanation. There is a reason we are the way we are. So, I will start with my childhood, where I believe it all began. Growing up, I had a loving mum who always did her best to give me everything she believed was best for me to have a great future and enjoy life. She was a single, hard working woman who truly loved me with all her heart. However, I had a father who was not so loving towards me, atleast in their actions. He had a criminal record, and was always addicted to drugs. He and my mother fought for custody over me, and my mum ended up with custody, my dad though was allowed to spend the weekend with me every second week, unsupervised. I can remember, from the age of 5 onwards, seeing my dad on weekends in his caravan. Sometimes he would take me shopping and buy me expensive toys, and take me to the beach, and sometimes he would do drugs in front of me or try to drown me. It was either. One time however, when I was 9, my father sexually abused me. A year later my mother found out through one of our innocent conversations, and the result was a court order stopping me from seeing my father until I was 18 plus some community service for him. I will not go into more details but say that this had a massive impact on who I developed into as a teenager, along with the bullying I also experienced throughout the majority of my school years. As a teenager, I came across as shy, reserved, yet tried very hard to fit in. I felt I never did fit in no matter who hard I tried. I felt as though no one understood me. I felt alone. When I was around the age of 16 I started overdosing on panadols whenever I felt this way. I remember one time I went to the emergency to get this checked out, when a friend caught on to what I was doing. I didn'teven understand what I was doing, all I knew is I felt alone and I was full of pain. When my friend and the doctors asked me why I had done this, I made up a story about having an extremely painful earache. However I pushed this under the rug, and when I felt like I didn't fit in with those around me at school, I started dating a few boys here and there and pouring myself into relationships. While they lasted, they gave me a sense of belonging. I started to feel like I wasn't alone. My mother also raised me from a Christian background, and after awhile, I decided to follow this with everything in me. For 1 year I didn't date anyone. I decided I would just focus on my studies and God that I began to follow, as VCE (my last year of high school) was approaching. Then at the start of my last year in school, another man came along, that I met through a friend. He started messaging me, saying sweet things, and swept me off my feet emotionally, as he pushed all the right buttons my heart longed to hear, at the time. So I decided to date him, and not just date him, but he became everything to me. I had no friends at school, but I had this guy and that was all that mattered to me. I left my Christian faith behind slowly, and I gave this guy every part of me. Until a month after I turned 18, I found out this guy had been cheating on me the whole way through. However he refused to admit it or stop what he was doing, and this threw me of the edge. I started drinking heavily, going out with friends, and behaving like I had never before. There were no drugs in my life, but alcohol became my new best friend. At 18, when drunk one night, I was raped by some men. Friendships that I had outside of school also fell apart. The following years I became anxious at times, depressed, and have done many things that I am not proud. I used alcohol as a way to cope. I self-medicated my pain by cutting myself. I would also starve myself and developed an eating disorder that was on and off. I ended up in a Psychiatric ward in 2014, and took drugs, ironically, for the first time, with other patients who snuck drugs into the ward somehow. Following 2014, I have been back in a Psychiatric ward 3 more times, abused drugs recreationally, and eventually, habitually. I have survived a total of 4 suicide attempts, including last year on Christmas day. Looking back on my life as I grew into an adult, it is a whirlwind of traumatic experiences, impulsive behaviors I used to self-medicate, and intense feelings of loneliness and fear. When I was finally diagnosed last year with Borderline Personality Disorder, I felt a sense of relief. I have realized that there is a reason why I am this way. I am not alone, there is help available, and I can recover. There is nothing wrong with me, simply because I struggle with a mental illness and I am different from those around me. Alcohol, drugs, self-harming, suicide attempts etc are not the problem. Those were ways I used to deal with my pain and the way I felt. Accepting these things, and now dealing with my pain instead of trying to mask it, and being open with my struggles, is one of the best things I have ever done. I am now on a journey to recovery, and leaving these things behind. At times I still struggle, but I have come very far as a person, and any person that struggles with a mental illness is fighting a battle that we cannot see every day just to live. I am a survivor, fighter and I embrace my struggle and much as recovering. I am constantly fighting a battle others do not see, but each day I also make progress others do not see. I used to be silent about my struggles, but I will no longer be silent about these things, because when I am open about my struggles, others do not have to feel alone as I did. I am also learning that no pain is worth losing my life for. It may not feel like it, but there is always a rainbow after rain. No season lasts forever. Depression is a dark place. Anxiety is a debilitating condition. Every form of mental illness gets in the way of truly living. But I am here to say that there is life beyond mental illness, and there is light at the end of every tunnel. This is my story. It is not over yet, and I am thankful for that. Please join me in fighting the stigma of mental illness, so that others know they are not alone.


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4 Comments

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  1. Emily, you are an amazing person to have come out so strong with all that the world threw against you. It is so great that you are here telling your story…….since your’s isn’t over yet. I hope you continue to see all the great things in your life because you have so much to look forward to. Stay focused and most definitely stay with God. You and Him can get through everything. The Serenity prayer and the Footprints in the Sand prayer help me a lot. They keep me saying “Yes” every morning when I wake up. You are definitely an inspiration to us all. Take care and you’ll be in my prayers. JP

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