Wagga’s Patrick Flynn hasn’t stepped out for a social event in more than 10 years.
Suffering from borderline personality disorder, he struggles with day-to-day social interaction, forcing him to lose those closest to him.
“The intensity of my emotions makes it borderline – you’re always really angry, sad, desperate or lonely,” Mr Flynn said.
“No matter what triggers it, the emotion is all you can focus on.”
First diagnosed in 2007, Mr Flynn wants to share his journey to raise awareness for the disorder and help others who may be suffering.
“Part of the disorder is that you don’t feel as though you deserve friends and you believe you’ll hurt people,” Mr Flynn said.
“The big fear is if I let them know who I really am, people will abandon me.”
The disorder has forced Mr Flynn to push friends away, only leaving the house for basic activities, like grocery shopping or a trip to the post office.
Three months ago, Mr Flynn headed to a Wagga mental health support group, triggering a change.
“The meet ups helped me learn acceptance, tolerance, patience and empathy,” Mr Flynn said.
“No matter how bad you’ve got it there’s always someone who is struggling a bit more and needs help.”
Since his meetings, Mr Flynn has taken up yoga, meditation and indoor soccer, trying to focus on other things.
While Mr Flynn’s journey is far from over, he wants to help others find their way, concerned the disorder often goes undiagnosed.
“My concern is people could be out there with the disorder but aren't getting treatment,” Mr Flynn said.
“Without treatment it will just get worse and worse over time.”
Mr Flynn said it was important to reach out for help as the disorder was often misdiagnosed with depression, bipolar and other personality disorders.
“You really have to work with doctors to let them help you, it takes a long time to get a diagnosis,” Mr Flynn said.
“You have to be as open and as honest as you can.”
Wagga mental health advocate Samantha Brunskill said it was important to seek support.
“When you step outside and try and stay well it often feels quite isolating, there can be a real sense of shame in different environments,” Ms Brunskill said.
“Having a regular time, like a meeting, without judgement, empowers people to take that same approach outside of the group and stigmatises mental illness.”
Mr Flynn has advised others struggling with their mental health to look ahead and hope.
“Focus on the things you can change and know that feelings aren’t facts,” Mr Flynn said.
“You might feel the world is against you but life does get better.” Samantha Brunskill’s Embrace Mental Health Meetups run from 6pm on the first Thursday of each month, at Romano's.