Mental health advocates, Cassidy Camp, who has been diagnosed with with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and Mason Remillard, her supportive partner, will hike the Appalachian Trail Southbound from Maine to Georgia beginning Independence Day of 2019 to raise awareness of BPD and inspire others struggling with BPD or other mental health issues to overcome a personal obstacle of their own.
Hike the Borderline began with the simple idea that all of us, everyone alongside us on this earth, can do great things.
My name is Cassidy Camp, and I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2017.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships.
BPD exists on a spectrum, and everyone's experiences are unique and different - not everyone with BPD experiences all symptoms of it, making it difficult to say concretely what BPD is and isn't, but it is characterized by a few key things:
Intense and often uncontrollable emotional responses and mood swings
Unintentional characterization of people and situations as 100% good or 100% bad and the inability to see an in between (called "splitting").
A lack of a sense of self-identity, or a distorted or disconnected self-image
Crushing fear of abandonment and severe trust issues leading to difficulty maintaining relationships
Self-destructive behavior, including substance abuse, excessive risk-taking, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies
BPD is one of the most deadly mental illnesses, with a suicide attempt rate of 80% of those with BPD and a death by suicide rate of 10%.
I knew that the struggles I faced were extremely difficult and that I needed help, but there's a certain power in naming the problem and having a professional (or several) validate the presence of a very real and tangible issue. There's an even greater power in the realization that the way your brain functions will likely alter the entire course of your life and your ability to do the things others are able to do.
Living with mental illness is challenging in many ways. It has been a long, strenuous road working toward mitigating the struggles I face in my day-to-day life, not just for me, but also for those who love and support me. Over the years, I have undergone therapy and been involved with several support groups, and I have noticed a commonality between myself and the individuals I've met on their road to recovery - mental illness comes with an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. This powerlessness is a feeling I know all too well, and it can be utterly paralyzing, making it feel impossible to improve, to get better, to move forward in life.
This powerlessness is what we hope to combat with Hike the Borderline. My amazing partner, Mason Remillard, and I have chosen to hike the Appalachian Trail and walk ourselves from Maine to Georgia to show others who may be struggling with their mental health that everyone can do great things, whether that great thing is getting out of bed and showering that day, or conquering a mountain. Mental illness doesn't have to paralyze us, define us, and make our decisions for us. Everyone's battle is different, and everyone has bad days and stumbles, but everyone, all of us, has the power to do great things.
While I know that I have made great strides toward recovery over the past several years, I know I still have many more to make. I know this hike will prove to be an overwhelmingly difficult endeavor at times, but I also truly believe that it will be a hugely healing experience. If I can inspire just one person who is struggling to do something difficult and overcome an obstacle they face, no matter how big or small, it will be worth it.
Our goal is to raise $10,000 for our cause. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder to fund research and treatment initiatives, and a portion will be donated to the National Forest Foundation to fund nature conservation initiatives so others can go out and enjoy nature for generations to come. The remainder will go toward funding our six month hike for BPD awareness. If you feel so inclined, you can donate to our cause via the GoFundMe below, or visit our Support Us page to discover other ways to show your support. We hope you'll follow us through this journey, and we thank you for your support!
To read more about BPD as well as my personal battle with BPD, visit our blog.