• Octophina Artist

How Getting Diagnosed with Mental Illness Forced Me to Restart My Life

Thoughts on the Power to Re-sculpt Your Identity, Re-design Your Reality, and Re-write Your Story

By Sophie Yotova aka Octophina

May 8, 2022, Sofia (Bulgaria)

I asked my upstairs artist neighbor to snap this shot of me minutes after my accident

A year ago - on May 8, 2021, I fainted in my kitchen in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Out of psychological and physical exhaustion.

The pressure I was putting on myself in my attempts to achieve sustainable long-term success was too much for my nervous system to handle. So, it went offline for several minutes.

I was lucky I didn’t fall down a flight of stairs. However, regaining consciousness with my face bruised and bleeding, and my cheek scraping the floor of a house infected with mad Dutch mice wasn’t exactly an enjoyable experience.

In the Belly of Depression

This accident marked the beginning of the scariest year of my life. I spent about 40% of it on the edge of suicide.

I subsequently received a mental illness diagnosis. Which wasn’t a surprise for anyone who knew me well.

After seeking help from multiple mental health professionals, I was told by one that I likely have borderline personality disorder and from another that I likely have bipolar disorder type 2. My experience of the world in the last 7 years is consistent with a dual diagnosis. Which means that I likely have both BPD and bipolar disorder type 2.

This sounds scary. Believe me, it is.

I’ve wanted to kill myself more times than I’m comfortable to admit. But I didn’t. Because I got educated about my condition and learned how to take care of myself.

I didn’t choose to inherit a genetic predisposition to mental illness. I didn’t choose to survive trauma and have difficult life experiences. But none of us ever does. Life happens to all of us. I’m not special in any way.

Living with mental illness doesn’t have to be a life sentence. I’m not a victim. I’m not broken. I’m not defective. I’m not less than anyone else. If anything, I’m more.

The Silver Linings of Having Mental Illness

There’s more emotions to navigate, more difficulty in everyday tasks, more challenges in communication and energy management, but also more inspiration, more enthusiasm, and more creativity, which I apply in every area of my life from cooking and exercising to art and sex.

I recently got out of a long-term relationship that shaped my sense of identity for 9 years.

Today is a new beginning.

Scary and exciting.

I'm ready for the right things and people to come my way.

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