Difficult year. Still here.

I realise that Christmas is not the greatest time for everybody, it used to be that way for me. For the first time in 5 years I’ve spending Christmas with my family. 

My mental health problems caused a massive rift between myself and my family, I never thought we’d get over it, yet here we are altogether at Christmas. It’s been a really difficult year but that’s progress.

Thank you to everybody that’s, read, followed and commented on my ramblings on here. It’s knowing that I’m not alone and that others understand that has got me through this year and enabled me to be where I am right now.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas but if you’re struggling please try and have even the tiniest bit of hope that things can get better and please stay safe.

How music affects me.

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​For no other reason than that I am bored, I have decided to list my top 10 favourite songs, why I like them so much and how they help me (or not) through my struggles with BPD, anxiety and depression.

To me, music is very powerful. It has the ability to stir up all kinds of emotions in me. I’m the kind of person that listens intently to the words and interpret them in such a way, so as they are relevant to me.

I like that I have such an eclectic taste in music. I don’t follow any particular artist. If I like a song then I don’t care who sings it or what genre it’s from. From cheesy pop to hard rock, anything goes. So here is my list. It would also be interesting to hear from others what songs help them through their struggles.

10. Roar, by Katy Perry.                           Most would dismiss this as a cheesy pop song but I find the words extremely inspiring. To me it means, no matter how many setbacks you have in life, you can always come back stronger.

9. Sound of Silence, by Disturbed.           To me this song is about loneliness and an inability to communicate properly with others. I can relate because I am often isolated from the rest of the world because I choose to stay hidden because of my anxiety. I relate so well to what this song means to me, I have the opening lines tattooed on my right arm.

8. You Learn, by Alanis Morissette.     This song, to me, is about everything we go through our lives being a learning curve. You have to have both good and bad times in order to be able to learn how to deal with what life throws at you. I’ve been listening to this song since my early teens, over 20 years, and I’m still not bored of hearing it.

7. Bring it all Back, by S Club 7.     Another cheesy pop song with, what I believe, is a truly inspiring message.

6. Flowers in the Window, by Travis. Such a happy song about the joys of bringing new life into the world. Something I hope to experience myself someday.

5. Someone Like You, by Adele.                   I think that most of us have had what we would call “the one that got away”, I know I do. This song is about missing what you had with that person and hoping that you will be able to find something similar with somebody else.

4. Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing, by Aerosmith.                                                     When you’re so in love with someone that you don’t want to miss a moment of you’re time together. What I wouldn’t give to have that feeling again.

3. Creep, by Radiohead.               Sometimes I hear this song and it’s as if it was written just for me. Not the ideal song to listen to when my mood isn’t great but I relate so well to the words.

2. Cest La Vie, by B*Witched.                   Yet another cheesy pop song. People have laughed at me for how much I love this song but it’s just so happy and cheerful. If this song can’t lift my mood then I know something is seriously wrong.

1.My Immortal, by Evanescence.         Such a beautifully haunting song. I have come close to suicide in the past and this song makes me think about how it would have affected the people I left behind. How they might feel that whatever they did wasn’t enough to keep me here. I never want to make anybody feel like that so I’m determined that I get on top of all my mental health problems.

Will it ever be equal?

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Over the last few years politicians from all sides have spoken about how they want to bring mental health on to sneak equal level with physical health. I don’t think this will happen for a long time (probably not even in my lifetime).

From my experiences, the main reason I don’t think it will happen is the difference in attitudes between mental health professionals and professionals not trained in mental health.

Nearly every mental health professional I have encountered has been extremely understanding of my mental health condition. I have also encountered many non mental health trained professionals that have been helpful and have tried to understand but I have also encountered many that really couldn’t seem to care less.

Every time I’ve had to go to the emergency department is because I’ve been in genuine crisis. It’s OK when I get to see a member of the mental health team but it’s the people I meet before I get that far that’s the problem.

Once when I presented myself in a suicidal state, a doctor recommended that I go home and watch a comedy to make me feel better. On another occasion when I had seriously self harmed and was being stitched up, I complained that it was hurting. The doctors reply was “well it didn’t seem to hurt when you was making the cuts”. Another time when I was admitted after an overdose and was waiting for a mental health bed, the nurse in the general ward told me “this is not a bed and breakfast”.

The truth is I’ve encountered this sort of attitude on at least half the occasions I’ve presented myself in crisis. As long as there are people with the attitude that I’ve encountered, then there’s never going to be parity between physical and mental health. If the government is serious about making things equal I think they need to start with retraining existing staff on the correct way to deal with mental health patients.

Why no mental health information?

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These are the leaflets and posters that were on display in my GP surgery this morning.

Don’t let drink sneak up on you, Combat bedwetting, Repeat prescriptions, Home care, Accessible travel, Injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault?, Effects of asbestos, Is bathing difficult for you?, Care home fees, Questions about cancer, Organ donor register, Have you had a cough for longer than three weeks?, Having a baby, Diabetes advice, Living with a terminal illness, Need a hearing test? and, The future of general practice.

All helpful information I’m sure but absolutely nothing regarding mental health. The government, for years have been saying that mental health will be put on a par with physical health but nothing is happening and the stigma is still there.

I feel that GP’s surgeries need to do more to encourage people to talk about mental health issues. Somebody might go in to a surgery for an entirely different matter and if they were to see a leaflet or a poster encouraging them to talk about their mental health, they may be more inclined to do so.

I wasn’t in the best frame of mind this morning, so I didn’t feel able to approach anybody about the subject. I just find it funny that the last leaflet I saw was, The future of general practice. If they keep ignoring mental health issues, then I don’t hold out much hope for the future.

It’s hard to trust.

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Living with serious mental illnesses severely affects how I can live my life. I understand that it affects the people around me too. I know, when I’m not at my best, I can be very difficult to be around. Over the last few years a lot of people have disappeared from my life. This is for many reasons, my behaviour drove a lot of them away, a lot of them just weren’t good people to be around, some of them couldn’t cope with my mental health difficulties and some didn’t even bother trying. At least this means that the few people that are still around are there because they want to be, but I do worry that these relationships won’t last either because of the difficulty I have trusting even those closest to me.

It’s no secret that I suffer from four personality disorders (that really don’t go well together), am prone to long periods of clinical depression and now, relatively new to me, I also experience severe anxiety. All these things make my life so difficult, but it’s the borderline personality disorder that has the biggest impact.

I’ve tried to explain to people what bpd is and how it affects me, and they genuinely do try to understand. But when they say or do things that I don’t like, they really struggle to understand my reaction. When I think I’m not being told the full story about something or when somebody gives a shit excuse for cancelling, or being late to, an arranged meeting, it really knocks the trust I have in those people. These are small things to the people I’m talking about but because of my bpd they’re massive things to me. Their surprise when I react the way I do also dents the trust because they’ve told me they understand me and my condition but the things they say and do tell me that they don’t. I guess nobody can truly understand unless they’re actually living it.

I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to really trust people ever again. Maybe I left my counselling too early because I’m not dealing with issues as well as I thought I would. I have seen my GP and am being referred back to a community mental health team. I really didn’t want this as it feels like a backwards step but I know it’s for the best as I can feel things going downhill again.

I am grateful that I met so many good friends on the various wards and programmes I’ve been on over the last few years. It’s good to know that there are people that truly understand. I’m also so so grateful for the close friends and family that have just stood by me through everything. I know I am difficult and I know these people don’t purposely set out to betray my trust. I’m trying so hard to work on my reactions, I just wish sometimes that people would realise the effort I’m putting in and try a bit harder themselves to accept my mental health problems because they’re always going to be a part of me.

Men with BPD.

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Just a quick one. 

As a man with BPD I have been scouring the blogs and forums trying to find other men I can relate to, and it’s difficult. It makes me wonder why so few men write about their experiences. 

I was recently attending an intensive therapy course and I was only one of two male patients in sixteen. I did ask my therapist about the ratio of people with BPD and was told that it’s pretty even, it’s just that women tend to end up in treatment and men tend to end up in prison. Could this really be the case?

Big Step Backwards.

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I recently left my intensive MBT treatment early for a number of reasons. Not getting on with the group aspect, moving to a different area, and just because I thought I’d be OK without it.

I was sure I’d be fine. I was feeling relatively happy at the time i decided to leave and for the first time in years I was medication free. I was ready to go and face the world, or so I thought. 

For a couple of months I was fine but it wasn’t long before the warped thinking, impulsive behaviour, anxiety and depression all returned. This time however there was no psychiatrist on tap as there was during my treatment. I was back to square one, isolated and alone.

My GP has referred me back to a community mental health team local to me but the hardest thing to accept is that I’ve had to start taking medication again. It feels like such a massive backwards step. I’m also regretting my decision to leave treatment early but I don’t think I’d have coped much longer there anyway. 

‘Depressed People Don’t Smile’

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‘Depressed people don’t smile’.

These words were actually said to me by a mental health professional. It was during my first admission to a psychiatric hospital and I was being assessed for home treatment. For me when I’m talking about things that make me scared or nervous, I tend to smile. I had been admitted due to taking an overdose. This was long before my BPD diagnosis, I had been diagnosed with only depression. I had never been admitted before and didn’t really understand what was going on, hence scared and nervous. I was answering the questions and I smiled at a lot of them, which was when she told me that depressed people don’t smile. Obviously I got pretty angry and was no longer smiling, I demanded to leave the room and needless to say she refused me for home treatment and my stay in hospital was longer than it might otherwise have been.

I was actually in hospital on and off for a total of 5 out of the next 18 months and what struck me was how wrong that woman was. Although I wouldnt wish being on a psychiatric ward on anybody, I can honestly say there were times when I laughed more than I ever had before. There was such an eclectic mix of people and being stuck on the ward meant we had to make our own entertainment. Beneath the mental health issues we were all just normal people and it just became like it was a night out with your mates (without the alcohol, obviously). We played games, we told jokes and it was easy to walk away if we weren’t in a good mood (which was more often than not). What I’m saying is depressed people can smile and stuck in a psychiatric ward, even if it’s for a brief moment, laughter really is the best medicine.

That Fucking Song.

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Never date a person who was named after a breakup song.

In May of 1985 Marillion released a song. A breakup song I wouldnt even hear until nearly 30 years later. But now, this song, when I hear it (which I go out of my way to try and avoid) triggers more sad unsettling emotions, more anger and affects my BPD more than anything else. It’s crazy how a song I didnt know existed until 2 years ago, now seems to be everywhere when I really dont want to hear it.

My ex girlfriend was named after this song. Breaking up with somebody and then hearing the song would be hard enough for anybody. As a BPD sufferer for me it is much harder. We actually weren’t together very long and we broke up nearly 2 years ago, but we were good friends for a long time before we got together so for me it wasn’t just a few months together that was wasted but also a few years of friendship. I get really angry with myself for the way I react when I hear the song. I tell myself I should really be over it by now and I think I am, it’s just that all the old memories get stirred up.

I’m due to start my therapy soon and it’s things like this that I really hope I can learn to deal with. It’s so hard being me. I know exactly how I’d like to react and how I should react but something inside me just won’t let me. Luckily for me now I live in supported housing. There are people around to talk to when I have an episode. It means I very rarely react as drastically as I have done in the past, which for me is improvement.

Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m not alone.

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One good thing about spending so much time in and out of psychiatric wards (if there can be such a thing) is some of the people that I’ve met. It feels to me as if so many people that I was close to (people without serious mental health problems) seem to have drifted away. So I am really glad of some of the people I met in various hospitals. These people know whats it’s like not to function like normal people, they understand how I’m feeling, they know instinctively when I need to talk or when I need to be alone, and they don’t judge me when I get angry or upset and I say and do things that I always regret later. I truly believe some of these people will be friends for life. They are always there to listen and let me vent, as I am for them. It’s our own little support group, and it works! I dread to think where I would be now if I didn’t have these people in my life and still thought I was all alone.