"That's the first time in ages my reflection has looked like Satan," Ida Storm muttered to herself as a tiny camera in her hand, held at chin-level, recorded this intimate picture of a young woman struggling with the battle in her own mind. 

Advertisement
The 28-year-old Norwegian began filming herself at the age of 18 in an attempt to better understand the inner workings of her mind. She is diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder, a mental health condition that affects the way one feels and thinks about himself/herself as well as others, causing problems with functionality in day-to-day life, according to the Mayo Clinic. Borderline personality disorder is characterized by harmful patterns of impulsiveness, distorted self-image, extreme emotions, and unstable relationships. Because people with borderline personality disorder struggle to control their anger and impulsiveness, they often suffer extreme mood swings that can be off-putting or confusing to loved ones and friends. Tragically, this very often results in the individual with borderline personality disorder pushing loved ones away despite longing for meaningful and long-lasting relationships. When Storm felt alone and needed someone to talk to about her struggle, she would turn to her video camera, explaining in a follow-up interview with VICE that she felt very much like her camera was a friend who would always listen. 

The below video, "Being Ida," is a mini-documentary version of the feature-length documentary "Ida's Diary," both composed from bits and pieces of the footage that Storm collected of herself over the course of eight years. While "Ida's Diary" paints a much more detailed picture of Storm's mental illness, depicting in more detail her battles with destructive patterns like drug abuse, "Being Ida" still manages to tell a highly compelling story. We as viewers are able to take a privileged look into what a person is thinking after she has inflicted self-harm as a coping mechanism and then immediately recognizes her error; we are ushered into the emergency psychiatric ward with Storm as she splays herself out on the floor of a waiting room expressing relief to be safe in a treatment facility; and in these moments, it is impossible not to feel the immense weight of Storm's anxiety, fear, confusion, and self-doubt. 

"Being Ida" doesn't just show the negative, however, and also highlights precious breakthroughs in which Storm finds herself feeling happy and capable of dreaming about a positive and healthy future. The result is a comprehensive and deeply honest examination of what life is like when your mind is your own enemy, illuminating what it is like to live with mental illness on a day-to-day basis. 

Unfortunately, twenty minutes of running time isn't quite enough to shed light on the full range of symptoms that accompany borderline personality disorder, but it's important to understand the breadth of these symptoms to get a clear idea of its effects and consequences. As mentioned above, intense fear of abandonment and patterns of unstable relationships are prominent symptoms, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. 

The characteristic impulsiveness of those with borderline personality disorder, for example, can lead to behavior problems that are risky and potentially dangerous, like gambling, having unprotected sex, driving recklessly, and over-spending of money, according to the Mayo Clinic. This impulsiveness can also lead to self-sabotage in relationships as well as professional settings (i.e. quitting a job suddenly and without means to get by while searching for another). Those with borderline personality disorder can also lose touch with reality for periods of time lasting a few minutes to several hours as a result of stress-related paranoia. Extreme mood swings, including bouts of intense anger, are also characteristic of the disorder. Despite these extreme emotions, however, sufferers are usually plagued by an almost perpetual feeling of emptiness. The most dangerous symptoms involve self-harm, and many who suffer from borderline personality disorder struggle with suicidal thoughts and behaviors, self-injury, or both; Storm, for example, had been inflicting harm on herself from early childhood up into her twenties by cutting herself all over her body. 

The result of a combination of such troubling and crippling symptoms can lead to a variety of negative effects in day-to-day life, including frequent hospitalizations for self-injury or suicide attempts, time spent in jail or other legal issues as a result of impulsive behavior, or involvement in dangerous and abusive relationships. For those with borderline personality disorder, surviving daily life can feel like an uphill battle at all times. Treatment can, however, greatly lessen the effect of these symptoms by teaching those with borderline personality disorder to manage and cope with their symptoms. Psychotherapy is used to teach sufferers to acknowledge and then manage unpleasant emotions instead of acting upon them, to reduce impulsiveness, and to practice behavior that allows for healthier relationships. 

Though her battle was long and exceptionally difficult at times, the Ida Storm you see at the end of "Being Ida" is a testament to how treatment really can make a difference for those with borderline personality disorder and that there is genuine hope for recovery for those struggling with the same issues. By sharing her footage, she opened up an important and very honest dialogue about mental illness that is heartbreaking and poignant and inspiring all at once, encouraging all viewers of "Being Ida" and "Ida's Diary" to really see what mental illness is and how it manifests. Storm told VICE in the follow-up interview, "I've got feedback from families who say they understand their loved ones better, and health professionals who say they learned something from watching the film. And it means so much to me to get feedback from young people who are struggling and say they greatly appreciate the movie and my openness." 

"What I hope people get out of the movie is that it's okay to say you're suffering from mental illness," Ida later told VICE. "It should be okay to tell it like it is." 

If you were moved by her story and feel you learned something from it, please do not hesitate to share - too many people in this world feel misunderstood, alone, and hopeless because of mental health problems, and the first step to helping them is to understand.