July 26, 2023

By Fay Green

Illustration of woman
I was raised in an insular Hasidic community in Monsey, N.Y., built by my grandparents and their fellow Holocaust survivors from Eastern Europe. Their traumatic experiences shaped their desire to recreate a safe and familiar environment, free from the secular world that had brought them so much pain.

While this environment offered a rich tapestry of traditions and an inextricable sense of community, the strict norms and traditions were limiting. Our education was deeply rooted in our religious texts, with the study of Torah taking precedence over subjects like history or mathematics. Our curriculum was primarily in Yiddish, and English was considered a necessary evil, taught just enough to equip us to interact minimally with the outside world.

Although the familiarity of tradition provided a buffer against the outside world, it also created an information vacuum. Pop culture references, technological advancements and contemporary thought were virtually non-existent in my community. Many members of my community had never used the internet, watched a movie or even heard of major global events.

This upbringing ultimately took a serious toll on my mental health and pushed me to search for a community of my own.

Feeling Different

While this sheltered world provided a sense of belonging for many, it didn't fit me. I did not conform to the expectations placed on typical girls within the community. In our community, girls and women were expected to conform to a strict code of modesty, both in dress and behavior, which I often found constrictive. From a young age, I was taught to be nurturing, respectful and demure. But I had an insatiable curiosity and yearned to ask questions, to challenge norms and to explore beyond the boundaries set by the community.

As I grew older, the disconnect between the community's expectations and my own aspirations only widened. I craved intellectual stimulation and independence. However, this nonconformity often led to feelings of isolation. I was caught between two worlds; one that I was born into, but didn't feel like I belonged, and another, the secular world, which seemed so frighteningly alien.

The pressure to conform intensified when the community tried to arrange a marriage for me. It was during this time that my mental health condition manifested itself in full force.

Internal Conflict and Mental Health Challenges

The time of my arranged marriage loomed like an impending storm. The community was abuzz with preparations, matchmaking discussions and excited speculation. Amidst all this, I felt like a spectator in my own life, a puzzle piece being placed without my consent. The overwhelming pressure to accept the path laid out for me seemed to leave no room for my own hopes, dreams and desires.

It was during this period that my struggles with my mental health truly came to the forefront. Anxiety and depression, which had been faint whispers in my mind, began to shout. Sleepless nights, ceaseless worries and an all-consuming sense of dread became my constant companions. I felt trapped, confined within the iron bars of expectations and customs. I feared defying the only world I had ever known.

Every day felt like a battle between who I was expected to be and who I truly was. The strain of this internal conflict started taking a toll on me, exacerbating my mental health issues.

I knew I had to escape. The weight of the situation became overwhelming, and I started experiencing intense suicidal thoughts.

Weathering Isolation and a Diagnosis

I found myself in and out of psychiatric wards, feeling utterly alone in a country I was born in but knew little about.

For over 10 years, I struggled without a proper diagnosis. I felt lost and isolated, with no familial support or community to turn to. It wasn't until later that I finally received a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). The relief of having a name for what I was experiencing, however, was overshadowed by the overwhelming feeling of loneliness. When I tried explaining my condition to friends, it seemed like they couldn't fully grasp the depth and complexity of BPD. That's when I realized that I couldn't be the only one feeling this way.

Those years felt like a maze with no end, a journey in darkness with no sign of light. I was wrestling with something I didn't fully understand, which only made the struggle more confusing and frustrating.

When I finally received the diagnosis of BPD, it was as if a thick fog had partially lifted. I finally had a name for the storm that had been raging inside me, bringing a measure of understanding to my experiences. Yet, the diagnosis also felt like a stark reminder of my loneliness.

Creating a Community for BPD Bravery

In response to the lack of understanding and support, I took matters into my own hands. I founded a community called BPD Bravery. The goal was to create a space where individuals with BPD could come together, share their experiences and support one another. It was my way of ensuring that no one else had to feel as alone as I did.

In founding BPD Bravery, I hoped to craft a haven that I had so desperately yearned for during my darkest hours. This community was more than just a support group — it was a validation of our shared experiences, a testament to our resilience and a promise of a safer space.

To further amplify the voices of those living with BPD and provide valuable resources, I launched the “BPD Bravery Show” podcast. On the podcast, I feature mental health professionals and individuals with lived experience, discussing various aspects of BPD and mental health. My hope is that through these conversations, listeners can gain insights, find solace and access the support they need. Recognizing the lack of mental health resources specifically tailored to BPD, I aim to guide peers toward a better life, even if they don’t have immediate access to traditional resources.

My journey with BPD has been challenging, but it has also fueled my passion for advocacy and support. Through my community and podcast, I strive to create a world where individuals with BPD can find understanding, acceptance and the resources they need to lead fulfilling lives. No one should have to navigate their mental health journey alone.

Fay Green is the founder of BPD Bravery, a community dedicated to supporting individuals with

borderline personality disorder. Through the BPD Bravery Show podcast, she aims to raise awareness,

provide education and foster a sense of belonging for those affected by BPD. To learn more about her
work, listen to the podcast and join the community of bravery. Together, we can create a life worth

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