“You have a mental illness, you can’t succeed”


Ouch! That one hurts.

I’ve heard that line so many times, and it never gets easier to hear. I’ve been told I wouldn’t be able to do the things I want to in life because my borderline would stop me. Doctors have told me I would never be able to keep a job, that I might never succeed in a relationship and that I would be struggling forever. I get the whole struggling thing, cause borderline won’t leave me and it will forever be something that can make life hard. But why can’t I succeed?

I’m going to be completely honest with you: I believed them.

I gave the words they were saying a truth. For a long time, I was stopping myself from reaching my full potential because I kept telling myself “I’m sick, I can’t do it”. In a way, it’s been my excuse for not succeeding.

I got my degree two years after I got the BPD diagnosis. It was two hard years and I found myself struggling with concentrating, finding the energy to study, and in general believing in myself. The thing is, I was getting the help I needed to get better, so I should be moving forward, at least just a little bit. But I was stuck. Stuck in believing I wouldn’t succeed.

It was so obvious that I believed what they had told me. I would get angry at my friends over school work and I would feel like they thought they were better than me. They never thought that way – I did. And I made myself believe it was the truth. In an attempt to save face, I would blame everything on my medicine, my BPD or my therapist, because all of this proved that I couldn’t do anything – right? I was hiding behind my mental illness out of fear of not succeeding, cause that’s what I was told I couldn’t do.

After getting my diagnosis and not seeing the results I needed to see to feel better, I was faced with a decision. I had to decide for myself how I would let this life-changing event affect me. I saw 2 options: The first was to feel sorry for myself, and allow the limitations that are often attached with BPD diagnosis to influence my decision and hold me back, OR, my second option was to acknowledge the diagnosis and then move forward, and discover how I can use it to my advantage. I knew I would have bad days, cause that’s how it is with mental illness, but it wasn’t going to stop me.

I started thinking differently when I was away on my 5th semester, over a year after I got the BPD diagnosis. I got way better grades at that time, but I also put in way more work into everything I did because I wasn’t exhausted from trying to be someone else anymore. All of a sudden, I saw how much I could actually do when I put my energy into my projects and my school work and not into trying to keep up with an appearance.

img_5508From then on, I started believing in myself way more. It’s not like I went from having zero confidence to being the most confident person in the world, but I felt a definite change. I could also see it in the feedback I got from the work I was doing, and it felt GREAT! It was around this time I decided I wanted to apply for my master’s degree in a different country because I felt I could be and do so much more than what was expected of me; the girl with BPD.

The day I graduated was one of the biggest days in my life. I had overcome this huge thing in my life and I felt like I had proved to others I could do it. But more importantly, I had proven to MYSELF that I was capable of succeeding! The words I was told so many times weren’t true, and I was the proof of exactly that.

I’m sure many of you have had people tell you, you can’t succeed, and I’m sure some of you believe them. So let’s just get this out of the way:

Your mental illness does NOT define you, or your success – YOU DO!

We are so much more than our mental illness! Yes, we may struggle with things others don’t, and yes, it might take us a bit longer to reach our goal sometimes – but that’s okay! The fact that I was struggling with concentrating, with finding the energy to do something or believing in myself is normal, even for people who don’t struggle with mental illness. Us who do struggle, just have a harder time getting out of it. But it’s okay.

I think a lot of people forget that it’s not accomplishing a specific goal that builds your character, but instead, it’s actually the journey that makes you. It’s in the journey you face challenges, make hard decisions, and learn from your mistakes to grow and discover yourself. Only after you accept the journey as a valuable aspect of goal setting, can you truly succeed. Being hospitalized and deciding to leave my country were two of the biggest things that made me in my journey, and this all led to the decision to devote my life to being a mental health advocate. These things made me who I am today!

It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to reach your goal, or what you’ve gone through to get there. What matters is: you did it! And you did it even though you struggle and argue with yourself every single day. How cool is that?

My next big goals are to finish my master’s degree and to make myself my own boss. I know I have a difficult and tiring road ahead of me, and I know I’m going to be struggling more than others might, but it’s going to be worth it! I can do this!

Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t succeed. Cause I’m here to tell you, YOU CAN! And I believe in you!

Remember: You are Non Solum ❤

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