anxiety · bpd · depression · help · stigma · support

Drinking again…

So it’s been nearly two whole months drinking alcohol again and it has been odd to say the least. The privilege of drinking again was quite underwhelming at first, whereas the idea of going out and drinking socially actually made me quite fearful in the sense I worried I would re-live some of the horrors from the previous years… that my drunken alter ego would raise its BPD head and shatter all the healing that had started to take place.

Luckily this has not overly been the case but it has been a challenge. I do not ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol but none the less the fact is it’s a depressant and on the nights or days I have drunken too much it can trigger memories and emotions which can become overwhelming that bit quicker. It’s been a tough few months on a personal level anyway, I often feel like a child again as I attempt to rebuild my life from what I had destroyed of it or who I had become from it. Capture 2

Even after my recent birthday I noticed I had become somewhat aware that some symptoms of my mental health were showing and proving to be worrying, which can happen around birthdays as from a young age when depression first took its grasp on me I wasn’t sure how many I would have in my future.

The temptation being in these moments of confusion and vulnerability to escape my feelings and I will hold my hands up I drank! But this time I did re-live the horror of my BPD, see alcohol or no alcohol when my BPD takes over it’s hard to define what is real and what is in my head, I describe it as my emotions being flames and they get so strong I feel as though I am being burnt alive.

So I didn’t see the warning signs! But I see where I may have gone wrong. Yes I fell down and I am embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed in myself (mostly because like many I’m my own worse critic) but the point being no matter how much or far we fall we can get back up, and until I start to stand again it’s good to remember drinking for whatever reason is not always the best idea, but surrounding yourself with those who care for you and being patient and kind with yourself is essential for moving forward.

As lets face it most if asked to answer honestly would admit they never really have it all together, so I for one am going to stop trying and just do the best I can.

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anxiety · bpd · depression · grief · help · mental health · reading · stigma · suicide · support

Be kind to yourself

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The art of learning to be kind to yourself.

I don’t know if this is something too many people can relate to but it’s something through therapy such as CBT and MBT I was encouraged to learn to do. I don’t think I had a positive word to say about myself for so long and the way you view yourself, talk about yourself and maybe mentally talk to yourself really does define you in ways I had never really known.

Looking back is not something I’m fond of as though there has been good times my mind and body like to constantly remind me of the pain, the tragedies and what feels like my constant failings. So when I look back and see this bleak darkness it’s hard to move forward in good hope that things will be different. Here is where I am starting to discover the power of being kind to myself.

You know that feeling where you have promised yourself you are going to lose weight and get that body you have always known you could have but you just have never found the time to do it? So you set yourself a challenge and start doing the exercise, you change the diet and your lifestyle and you start to see the results which is great and this could happen for weeks or months then you relapse you have a week of pizza, booze and cake and in your mind that’s it you’ve ruined it all!
This is how I often feel about myself, this attempt to be perfect as I view myself as something resembling ‘damaged goods’ to redeem myself I must try to be perfect no room for mistakes, which when you have a mental health disorder is to put simply beyond unrealistic. I think that’s why I got so close to the edge I always fell short of my expectations for myself, not good enough, kind enough, intelligent enough, pretty enough, compassionate enough I could go on and I’m sure people can relate to this the guilt you feel when you get things wrong when you step over the boundaries you have put up to maintain that image of your ‘perfect self’. I am learning to be ok with not being perfect, of accepting my flaws and my often immature behaviour or stupid impulsive decisions, but being kind to myself is like re-wiring my whole brain I just haven’t done it in so long it’s alien to me.

A few moments in my guilt ridden mind is hard to explain so to share with you a scenario of a night out drinking where I got far too drunk and had to miss work the next day, at first something resembling a panic attack starts to happen head spins into a blurry mess, palms sweating and heart pounding ‘fight or flight’ is very much at work here. My mind screaming things like ‘you will never get better’, ‘permanently a screw up’, ‘you ruin every good thing you have’, ‘that suicide idea was probably your best decision yet to bad you screwed that up too’, ‘everyone hates you’, ‘this is all you are worth’. A few moments of tackling these thoughts feels like going a few rounds in a boxing ring with Mark Tyson and being beaten to a pulp, leaving me with barely any energy to move let alone attempt to battle each one of these thoughts.

There is a temptation to look for confirmation from others when in this state, to have them tell you that ‘You’ve done nothing wrong’ or ‘Don’t beat yourself up about it’ a desperate need for comfort as I cannot find any within myself. But recently I’m trying to change that… not many people know a few things about me, one being I am a Christian and my faith is probably well more honestly definitely the only reason I’m still here, but it’s no walk in the park, no comfort at times but it does remind me I cannot be perfect and should not expect myself to be, if you believe in God or not we cannot be all knowing and any attempt or expectation to be means we will always fall short.

It’s ok to make mistakes, it’s human to get things wrong, it’s even human to hurt people if it be intentionally or not, we cannot control others thoughts or feelings anymore than we can attempt to control our own. Often my biggest achievements have occasionally come from selfish intentions, and my biggest mistakes from my greatest intentions. That’s life, that’s normal and that truly is ok. Even writing these words brings some comfort to me, to tell myself ‘it will all be ok’ and not hoping to hear it from others brings a peace, brings space to open up the door to more possibilities where I wont view myself as a good for nothing failure.  

The whole reason I wanted to write this post is vaguely to get it off my chest to declare it to the ‘blogging world’ and make my peace with it, but also as I know there are people out there who must do this too and I’m probably too comfortable with myself being treated like dirt but am far from comfortable with the idea that others do this to themselves. So to be an example I will say a few things to myself I know to be true, but in my heart of hearts I still have a fair way to go before I start believing but that doesn’t mean they are not true, and these are as true for me as they are for you, ‘It’s ok to make mistakes’, ‘I am worthy of love and peoples time’, ‘I am beautiful inside and out’, ‘I am not a bad person’, ‘My life means something and is important’, ‘I am loved’, ‘I deserve peace’. I think that’s all I can about manage for now as even writing them I feel the stir of something uncomfortable within me awkwardly stirring in disbelief as I say them to myself internally, but I must learn and will learn life is no walk in the park and being kind to yourself is so important to get you through all those tough times.

So lets make a decision to choose to think good of ourselves even when it feels like the most impossible thing to do.

depression · grief · help · news · poetry · reading · support

Diagnosis

How cruel you are to sneak in now,

Leaving us with no time to even process how!?

To cut short our time with no courtesy or forewarning,

Leaving our hearts anxious and sad already aching and mourning.

You enter our lives with scarcely a trace,

Deadly yet silent until you expose your ugly face.

Stealing our last breath as you take one of your many forms,

Making us work desperately still searching for cures.

But just hearing your name consumes us with fear,

How much time do we have left, will they even survive the year?

Sometimes all we can do is beg and pray.

That you won’t take them from us, that they will be able to stay.

Too many lives have been claimed by you incapable to escape,

Here for what feels like just a moment, then gone without a trace.

Just know we are coming for you, we want our revenge!

For all the lives you’ve taken from us we will fight back and avenge.

But for those who have just heard your name and are filled with doubt and fright,

Do not fear, take courage as so many more are refusing to say their final goodnight.

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anxiety · bpd · depression · help · mental health · paranoia · stigma · suicide

Think before you speak!

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I have tried to be as subjective as possible in regards to a lot of the posts I write on here. Both considering those who are new to understanding mental health and those who are very educated and clued up on the matter, as well as being mindful of those who suffer.

However as a BPD (borderline personality disorder) sufferer I wanted to write a post entirely on what it is like experiencing relationships and friendships from my view or rather ‘our’ view (for those out there who also suffer from emotional unstable disorders). 

What inspired me to write this was going on to Google and typing in ‘how to communicate in relationships/friendships when you suffer from BPD?’ And the majority of results that came up were links stating things such as ‘Why BPD relationships are so tough’ or ‘How to love someone with BPD’.  All these links providing reasons why other non-sufferers struggle to be friends with ‘us’, or how it is hard on them to handle ‘us’, and why many break from their relationships or friendships due to the turbulence of the experience of being close to this said person with BPD.

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I must admit this does boil my blood a bit, and lets not now suggest that this reaction in itself is due to my ‘disorder’ and having a BIG reaction to something seemingly small.
No it makes me angry as the sufferer seems to be portrayed as some sort of villain. As the question is often put across as, ‘how does it make YOU feel that your partner has a mental health disorder?’ Or how it makes YOU feel that your mum has BPD or even your best friend?

Now I’m not attempting to take away from this importance in the slightest as it is important how this makes YOU feel, as the education you receive on the subject will help you better understand and know how to communicate and cope with the sufferer. But don’t be fooled to believe that this text book education or small insight tells you or even begins to touch on what it’s like in the head of that sufferer, and I can guarantee to you most of the time they want to spare you the description of that daily battle.

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So how about how it makes US feel? Having friends who expect too much of you emotionally? Or partners who leave you over a condition you cannot control? Or parents who look at you in those dark times as if they have no idea who is standing in front of them? How it feels having strangers call us attention seeking or mental?
Well I can tell you it’s not good that’s for sure!

How about why WE want to distance ourselves from friends who judge us? Who get angry at us? Who put unnecessary pressure on us? All again because of an illness that due to them not being able to see they therefore cannot seem to understand? 
Or why we don’t want to, or are scared to enter relationships? Because we fight this pain and negativity and self-criticism in our heads daily, and believe me we know and already feel guilty towards any pain it may cause you! We can see and feel it affecting you, but just as someone in a wheelchair cannot get up and walk we cannot just switch this off.

No reminder needs to be said of how hard it is for you, how difficult it is for you, how painful it is for you etc. etc. as we have already gone through all of that in our own heads, hence why so many stay silent.

So before you speak to someone with a mental health disorder THINK about your words as they often only confirm our scars, only validate our constant self-criticism and lack of self-worth and ultimately only push us closer to that edge.

Think before you speak to someone with BPD, THINK!!!
As it often does far more damage than you can even imagine.

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anxiety · depression · help · mental health · news · reading · stigma · support

Anxiety Disorders

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Warning Signs That Anxiety is a Disorder

Most people experience some form of anxiety in their lives. In most cases, anxiety is a normal human response to stressful situations. Periods of anxiety can help people suppress pain and often acts as a signal that danger is near. However, excessive anxiety can lead to an unhealthy response that turns into a disorder. 

For some people, anxiety interferes with their ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Daily routines that were once normal now feel like a heavy burden that takes an enormous amount of effort to complete. Excessive anxiety puts an immense amount of strain on a person’s body and some studies indicate it can lead to an increased risk of stroke, cardiac arrest, or heart disease. When struggle with anxiety, people suffer from emotional instability and an inability to form and maintain personal relationships. 

Anxiety Disorders- Signs of a Larger Problem

Clear cut evidence does not exist that shows why some people suffer from excessive anxiety. What mental health professionals do know is warning signs do exist that often signal a person’s excessive anxiety is, in fact, a disorder. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies five major types of anxiety disorders:

General Anxiety Disorder– Classified as chronic anxiety, the characteristics of this disorder include exaggerated worry and extreme tension with no clear reason provoking the anxiety. 
• Panic Disorder- People who suffer from panic disorders feel immediate and intense fear followed by physical ailments such as chest pain, excessive sweating and shortness of breath. 
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder– Known as OCD, the symptoms of this disorder include repetitive, unhealthy behaviors coupled with recurrent, unwanted thoughts. Many people who suffer from OCD will excessively wash their hands or clean their houses. 
• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- Commonly referred to as PTSD, this disorder normally occurs after a person suffered a traumatic event causing grave danger or physical harm. PTSD warning signs include angry outbursts, difficulty sleeping and constantly feeling “on edge.” 
• Social Anxiety Disorder- Also known as social phobia, this anxiety disorder causes people to experience an overwhelming feeling of self-consciousness during social situations. 

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Other Common Warning Signs of an Anxiety Disorder

Most people who suffer from an anxiety disorder have no control over their feelings of worry. What troubles many mental health professionals is most people who suffer from the disorders know they have a problem. Knowing they suffer from an anxiety disorder, the symptoms often become worse. The symptoms include constant muscle aches, headaches, unexplained pains and feeling tired all the time. Persistent symptoms often include excessive sweating and feeling light-headed or out of breath. Unfortunately, for many people, there is no relief from the symptoms without professional help. 
Treating Anxiety Disorders

Although successful treatment for anxiety disorders is individualized, there are several accepted approaches among mental health professionals that have proven effective over the years. The treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, medication and complementary and alternative treatment. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has proven highly effective. Using this treatment approach, doctors can identify and change a person’s thinking and behavior patterns. Treatment centers that offer CBT ensure their patients are actively involved in their own recovery. For more information about anxiety disorders, please click HERE.

charity · help · mental health · stigma · support

Month No. 6

Month Numbero Six

6 months today!!!

That’s it I have officially been sober for half a year, thanks to all the very generous donations you have all made to this wonderful charity Mind!

This experience has been life changing, what started as a decision to simply raise some money while addressing my relationship with drinking and the effects it has on my mental health has turned into something far greater than I could have ever imagined!
A journey where I re-discovered my self-value and that in itself is a realisation I had long forgotten.

So to keep it simple and sweet for all those who have followed me through this journey, if you don’t know much about mental health please discover more and help break the stigma by educating yourself and others, as you can make such a difference in so many people’s lives! And to all those who suffer with mental difficulties, if I can make this journey to recovery so can you! You’re never too far gone, reach a hand out, speak out and though the world doesn’t always reach out a helping hand or listening ear straight away there are people out there who will prove you wrong and want to help and support you, but most of all please know you are worth recovery, you are worth something and you are NEVER truly alone.

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The last thing I shall leave you with are a few words that I wrote roughly 4 years ago but still remain very true today…

If you’re reading this and you have ever felt completely alone, or you have felt at times you have fallen short of people’s expectations, if you have ever hated yourself or lacked self-worth or self-belief, if you have lost someone you loved even if its someone you just had to let go of, if you have had a million things you have wanted to say and not one willing ear to listen to you, if you have held back the tears for ages then burst when there is no one there to hug you, well I love you.

Not because I pity you, and not just because I relate, but because I truly believe everyone is worthy of love and no one should feel alone. I care because yes I’ve been there and I would never wish that upon anyone. People don’t understand that power of love…

This may just be my interpretation of love but I once read love was not selfish, so therefore love is selfless, so you can forget yourself and your fears, your problems to focus on that person and just be there, even if they don’t do the same for you in return.
So yes I love you because I want you to know you’re never alone.

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bpd · charity · depression · help · mental health · news · stigma · suicide · support

TV Appearance

This month I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to appear on ‘That’s Oxford TV’, where I had a chance to share my personal story on mental health.

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I was interviewed by the lovely Emma-Jane Taylor and though the experience was fairly nerve wracking it was great to have a platform to discuss such an important topic, and by sharing some of my experiences I hope others can find that bravery to start to share theirs.

To watch the interview just click the link below: WATCH HERE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIYAM1wjYV4&feature=youtu.be