One’s formative years are laden with developmental perspectives of the environment in which they inhabit.
Relationships and personal traits are formed and honed as time elapses and emotions come to the fore within a family setting.
For many, this is the natural order and rhythm of daily life, but for Athlone native, Sean Keyes, such formative years were peppered with a feeling of emotional difference to those of his contemporaries.
Now aged 43, the father of three, who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD ) in 2011, reflects upon his upbringing and the array of emotions he experienced as he sought a feeling of normality during his childhood years.
“Reflecting, I recall being a hyper sensitive child and a feeling of abandonment always lingered when my mother would depart for work each morning, leaving me in the care of my siblings. There was a fear within that she would not return.
“Even though she would always return home at the end of the working day, that feeling of being left alone without a parent never left my mind. In a way, I was not able to process or rationalise the feeling, there was simply no regulation of my brain in this particular situation,” Sean commented.
The fear of abandonment is one of nine traits associated with BPD, a mental health disorder which impacts the manner in which individuals process personal feelings and how they function and interact within society on a daily basis.
As the years elapsed, Sean’s emotional characteristics continued to become unstable and introverted, enduring a traumatic teenage time, unsure of his self worth and feeling that he was a “monster”.
“My emotions were very unstable in nature as I was my mind was continuously over thinking and trying to rationalise the environment in which I was living. Anxiety was a common feeling and a lack of self belief in my potential as an individual inhabited my thoughts.
“I was constantly trying to halt my mind from working, it was a ‘chaotic mess’, and at the age of 19 I tried to end my life as I was completely overwhelmed by these daily feelings,” Sean stated.
The suicide attempt was Sean’s initial call for help and soon he was seeking solace from a professional therapist.
“I simply could not understand the vast array and depth of my daily emotions which fluctuated endlessly. My decision to proceed with ending my life did not alter my state of mind and I remained deeply confused as to why I was harbouring such frenetic traits.
“At the age of 23 I met my wife Emma and even though our personal relationship brought much happiness, I sought to end my life on two further occasions,” Sean remarked.
The turning point for Sean was the fear he witnessed in Emma’s eyes upon his attempt to end his life at the age of 31.
“The image of Emma being completely disconsolate will forever remain with me. I knew after this incident that those who love me most would always be there for me and I made the decision to find firm answers to all the emotional questions which had continued to brew within,” Sean added.
Sean spent four years in therapy and remained in regular session attendance until his formal BPD diagnosis in 2011.
“I was of the view that I had ADHD, but when I was formally diagnosed with BPD it finally allowed me the opportunity to address my emotional state and how best I could live with the diagnosis and be a positive presence in my family’s life,” Sean continued.
A business owner at the time of the diagnosis, Sean was concerned that any medication prescribed would have a detrimental impact on his mind, so he opted to control his emotional state of mind with an alternative approach.
“I have embraced a more healthy lifestyle since my diagnosis which has helped control my BPD diagnosis. My diet is health, I have a positive sleep pattern and I enjoy regular exercise. Yes, there are moments when my thoughts may become irrational but in the main, I am of the belief that I am now an example of one who is managing my diagnosis,” Sean asserted.
Now an advocate for BPD, Sean is presently promoting awareness pertaining to the mental health condition courtesy of his weekly podcast which to date, has had a reach of 69 countries.
“I hosted my first podcast, ‘You, Me and BPD’ in November 2020 and it is with a sense of pride to know that it has achieved such a global listening audience to date.
“I am BPD podcast passionate and my aim is to be a voice for those who have no access to medication or relevant treatment. I want them to hear my story and how I am living with BPD and presently managing my diagnosis.
With imminent plans to further enhance his weekly podcast, Sean is proof that those who receive a BPD diagnosis can enjoy a life of contentment and fulfilment.
“I have adapted my lifestyle to ensure that I am a loving husband and father, living in the present and looking towards the future with a positive mindset,” Sean concluded.