Out of all the advice that’s been handed down to me throughout the five years since being diagnosed with my personality disorder, the Big Red Balloon is the only thing that’s helped me find clarity when I didn’t have much else.
Let me take you back to just about three years ago. Try to picture a sixteen year old girl huddled in a restaurant corner trying to explain to her friend that she’s sick of therapy and support groups. How she’s so sick of the medicines that keep on changing and the therapists that keep using condescending tones of voice, and how’s she’s sick of her mental sickness in general. That girl was me. I was just so sick of being talked to like I was a child, and being told to wait, to give myself time to heal like the illness in my mind was a small scratch or a broken bone, like it wasn’t a disturbing in balance of chemicals poisoning me. I tried to explain to my friend that with my personality disorder, the anger and the frustration, the depression and the fear, there came riddling anxiety and a sense that no right could come to me in this time of wrong. And my friend listened to me for what seemed like hours before she said the one thing that has changed my life.
“Let the Big Red Balloon go.” I proceeded to ask her if she was on drugs and she explained to me what she meant. She told me to let the medicine do its thing, but in the meantime, I had to picture a big red balloon. This balloon wasn’t made out of red elastic, it was made out of the matter in my mind which was destroying me. It was made out of the anxiety, every little worry that I had building up in me. Things as simple as a fear of crossing the road, a fear of talking to taxi drivers when they tried to make conversation in the cars, baristas at Starbucks. All those little things were compressed inside this big red balloon, and with them I added the tears I cried for what seemed to be no reason, the blood I’d shed through methods I’m not proud of in my darkest moments. It was composed of the terrible words I’d shouted at my mother and my seemingly useless doctors in frustration and anger, the things I’d said to my friends when I couldn’t think straight. And once this big red balloon was full, instead of holding onto the string and letting it burn my hand as the winds tried to help me and take the balloon away, instead of letting myself cling to that pain, I envisioned myself doing something else. I pictured myself standing somewhere alone, and just letting go of the balloon. I watched it float away over the city I grew up in and loved dearly. I watched it fly over my school, my home. Most importantly I watched it leave, and it didn’t return and the lightness I felt in my chest was the most amazing feeling. I felt like I could breathe and I cried.
There were new problems, new worries. But the best part of this method of coping is that you don’t run out of balloons, your mind will always have more for you to throw away, and you get the same sense of satisfaction. So no, the balloons didn’t help cure my personality disorder, the pills did their thing, but the balloon sure as hell helped me cope. So if you need to get stuff of your chest and off your mind, just close your eyes and start filling that balloon because you have no idea how good it’ll feel once you watch it fly away.
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