My name is Wendy Enberg. I am 41 years old, married with two children and live in Alberta, Canada. I have Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Anxiety, and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and while life can be challenging at times, it’s still a life worth living.
What’s it like to live with many mental health issues? I won’t sugar-coat it – it’s difficult but the good times help sustain me through the bad times.
I always knew there was something different about me and depression began to rear it’s ugly head during my early adolescence. I struggled with the normal anxieties of poor self-image and low self-esteem, but the feelings of despair and emptiness were prevalent, even at my tender age. As a way to cope with the depression, I developed unhealthy strategies, such as drinking and using drugs. Instead of learning to be comfortable in my own skin, I took on the personas of the people I was with in order to gain acceptance and approval. I cried a lot during this time, but never sought or was offered assistance during this time. I was fighting the fight with no weapons or a game plan.
My late teens and adolescence were also when the first signs of BPD were appearing. I struggled with my identity, stable relationships, reckless spending, and self-harming behaviors such as drinking excessively and over medicating. Through it all, I always felt alone and unsure of myself – all I knew for certain was I didn’t like myself and wanted to do anything to get out of my skin.
My early twenties were marked by wild spending sprees, drunken antics and being with the wrong partners. I so desperately wanted to be loved that I often picked men that were unable or unwilling to love me in a healthy way. I fooled myself into believing that I was running my life when in fact my illnesses were running me.
I became a mom at age 23 to a beautiful son. I had planned to raise him as a single mom, as I knew that his dad was not a healthy partner for me. However, after his birth, incredible feelings of guilt washed over me and I resumed a relationship with his dad. This later let to the birth of my daughter a mere 16 months later. 1997 found me as a young and scared mother, trapped in an unhealthy and emotionally abusive relationship, myself getting unhealthier every day.
In 2006, I suffered my first psychotic break which landed me in the hospital for a week. Even then, the doctors chalked it up to exhaustion and sent me back into the pits of hell that I had been so desperately trying to escape. I did begin taking antidepressants but no therapy or other interventions were put in place to help me cope with my emerging illnesses. I finally began seeing a therapist on my own that helped me take the steps I needed to take in order to end the abusive relationship I was in.
2008 found me in a psychiatric unit finally, after experiencing some severe suicidal ideation. It was there that I was finally diagnosed with MDD and therapy was ordered. I spent 6 months as an outpatient attending intensive daily therapy and group sessions. This stabilized me enough for me to continue working full time.
In 2008, I also met the man who saw the beauty and goodness that I couldn’t see and he began to nurture that part of my soul. He was and is truly my soul mate.
I experienced a set back in 2010 which amounted to a serious suicide attempt that landed me back in hospital. This time I stayed a month to get myself back on track. During this time, my son had relocated to the East Coast with his dad and my daughter was living with friends in another town. It took a year this time for me to stabilize but I slowly regained control of my life and my daughter returned home to live with us.
Since 2010, I haven’t had to be hospitalized and have spent countless hours in therapy programs, individual counseling and educating myself about my illness.
Living with mental illness has meant that my life is never easy. Living with hope means that I’m never going to give up.
Through my Facebook page and my blogging, I’ve reached out to others who may be struggling with their own journeys. I always felt so alone during my troubled times and I vowed to help others not feel so alone. I had to forge my own trails when looking for help and now, I help others down the path. I believe that reaching out and helping others is helping me to heal. I am passionate about working as a mental health advocate and peer supporter. Together, the voices of a few can change the lives of many, and open the minds of people. I hope to raise an awareness and acceptance of mental illness and do what I can to bring out the compassion in others towards those they see struggling.