Have you ever wondered what it's like to live with a personality disorder? Judging from Ida Storm's short "Being Ida," it's just as complicated, difficult, and hard to watch as you'd expect. The short is part of a larger documentary, Ida's Diary, chronicling the 28-year-old's struggle with mental illness since being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder as a teenager; crafted from eight years of Storm's video diary, the film provides an unflinching look at her mood swings, recklessness, and destructive attempts to self-medicate as she comes to terms with her disorder.
Storm first began her video diary at the age of 18 as a way to understand herself and her illness, Vice reports, but the habit of recording her innermost thoughts quickly grew into something more. "I have been told I am different," she confides to the camera one night, alone in her car. "According to the professionals, I am a hopeless, insane, brain-damaged ex-junkie."
Over the course of eight years, we watch as Storm slips in and out of psychiatric wards, where she's treated by professionals who seem to use every treatment they can in the hopes that one works — Valium, conversation therapy, and even shock treatment, not to mention Storm's own attempts at self-medicating with speed and hash. All the while, she struggles with the effects her illness has on her perception of herself, as well as the way other people perceive her.
"I've been told that I may be psychotic... I don't feel crazy, I feel odd," she reflects during one stint at the hospital. Later, she contrasts it to the way treat those with physical illnesses. "You never hear people tell a cancer patient, 'Get a grip. Can't you see you're hurting us?'" she explains.
She is hardly the only person to struggle with the negative attitudes surrounding mental illness; even in Norway, which is widely regarded as more open-minded on the subject than, say, the United States, a stigma persists toward those who are seen as different. Furthermore, unlike other psychological disorders, personality disorders are seen as largely "untreatable" due to their pervasiveness — although mood disorders like depression can be seen as isolated to the patient's relationship to their emotions, personality disorders are characterized by the patient's fundamental nature.
Despite the downs, though, Storm manages to find little ways to be happy, from celebrating the first time she buys potatoes to making snow angels on her way to a mental health facility. "When everything is at its worst I think it will never be over, but deep inside I know it will be better if I continue to fight. The moments I feel good, I try to enjoy as much as possible," she told Vice.
The film offers a unique glimpse into an illness many don't understand. It's a tough documentary to sit through at times, but it's worth the watch — after all, the first step to fighting stigma is to be open about the subject. You can see the condensed version over at Vice, or watch the full-length documentary on Vimeo. Check out the trailer for Ida's Diary below: