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Do what you can to take the smallest step towards light.

This is my new goal in difficult moments. Having borderline personality disorder, a mental illness that is still largely misunderstood and unknown in the public eye, means my day to day experience involves monitoring my vulnerability to intense emotions and using coping skills to avoid spiraling into despair. Despair is a familiar place for me. At times its embrace even feels like an old friend.

Sometimes it seems that my emotional memory is much stronger than my logical memory. The pain of past struggle feels fresh and new, when in fact I know it is just old scars. The pain pins me down, holds me hostage, and demands to be felt. And instinctively I resist.

Sometimes the smallest step towards the light is accepting the darkness. Letting it in, letting it whisper and rage and swirl and silence. Letting it crawl along your skin.

My own struggle against suicidal ideation is rooted in escaping emotional pain. The darkness flourishes in thoughts of endlessness, of inability to endure the darkness. The darkness tries to panic me, and as I try to flee, it solidifies its hold.

Everything I know (so far) about living with borderline personality disorder and depression is in these words by the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, “Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

I will let the darkness come if it must, as I hold within me the hope for light. When we ache in the absence of light, the ache in itself is a spark. My desire for light in the face of darkness is in fact a source of light. It shows me there is still life here. There is still some fight left in these bones. I will not give up, I will not give in, to the dark scars I carry.

Sometimes the smallest step from darkness is to accept it. If I can resist the desire to flee and allow it space to sit I may find my soul, much like one’s eyes, begin to adjust. Nothing can extinguish my hope. The darkness may call me stubborn, it may call me a foolish coward, but the embers of hope will still burn and this burning will lead me to light.

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