We often hear expressions of “blessings and curses”. They are two words often used carelessly to compare the good and the bad. We think what brings us happiness is considered a blessing, and what brings us great trouble and sorrow is considered a curse. This is true, but it can be taken to a much deeper and serious level - the reality of it all, by which I mean a spiritual blessing and unfortunate wicked curse. Do I want to talk about angels and demons? No. I want to share my experiences with an illness that is personal and is in my opinion, a true blessing and a true curse, my borderline personality.
I have a mental illness that has caused me much grief in my life. In its nature, it is an emotional disorder that is very chaotic and devastating. As a Christian suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I can therefore understand what a spiritual blessing means to me when I am suffering and what a curse does to me when I am not.
As Christians we all know we must bear our burdens and carry our cross. I feel that I definitely have in my life and will continue to do so. With the symptoms of BPD I often experience deep emptiness. I have and still struggle with mood instability, irritability, anger and emotion regulation. I have in the past suffered from severe impulsive behaviour that was self-abusive. Anxiety and depression play a major part that influences self-harm and suicidal ideations and attempts. I have also experienced an unstable self-image and problems with interpersonal relationships. Fear of rejection is also at the core of the illness.
All of these symptoms appear as curses and as a Christian I do believe them to be, but only to a certain extent. They are also symptoms of a serious mental illness with a biological basis. So, how do I discern my blessings in the midst of all of this? The answer is in God.
One is blessed when they experience God in a special way. A blessing can bring forth joy, support and purification but ultimately it is holiness. Whatever it comes down to, it is a grace sanction from God. We receive blessings from prayers and reading Scripture but also from the goodness that we do and share in our daily lives.
Living with my mental illness has brought me to a deeper connection with my inner self. When one suffers despair for such a long period of time one eventually becomes in touch with Christ. Through the years my faith has grown because of my turmoil in illness and the affects it had on my life. It has sincerely been through my hardships, that I have come to know God more and intensified my love for Him in a new way. To me, this is a blessing.
Two years ago this September, I was suicidal and I had attempted to overdose twice. To me, this was obviously a curse. The aftermath of theses experiences were traumatizing but a year later, I was blessed with therapy, spiritual guidance and was much closer to God in my journey with Him.
Because of my borderline personality my feelings are extremely intense. BPD is an illness where the problems reside within an individual’s core. This is like an abyss where your soul is immersed in delight or extreme torture. There is much distress in this inner core that triggers profound overwhelming emotions.
In a spiritual realm, blessings and curses are soulful, mysterious, meaningful and painful. I sometimes feel like I am driven out or in to where God calls me to be and where the illness takes form. He does not ever inflict pain on me but he does give purpose to my sufferings. Whether I am in awe of God and His Almighty wonder or ill in darkness far away from Him, I never cease to be in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In this faith, love and strength, ultimately, I am protected from any wicked sick curse.
It is amazing the awesomeness that I feel and experience when I am blessed. These are good days but especially precious moments that bring me closer to Him and holiness. During these times, I experience a continued transformation in my new life in Christ.
Amidst my life, I live my disorder, my chaos, my beauty, my wonder and therefore my blessings and curses, but most importantly I do so with God.
“The great spiritual call of the Beloved Children of God is to pull their brokenness away from the shadow of the curse and put it under the light of the Blessing.” ~ Fr. Henri Nouwen