What it feels like to be signed off work for mental health reasons.

I have been declared unfit for work due to my mental health numerous times. Sometimes I would be signed off, go back to work and be signed off again after one shift. That was in my last job, a job I enjoyed but didn’t really care about. It meant nothing to me to miss a few weeks or months and then go back. Around 18 months ago, after just graduating university and after a crazy (quite literally) year I landed a new job. A job that I cared and still care about. In those 18 months I have phoned in sick twice, only one of those times was mental health related and it was just after my dad passed away so I kind of let myself off for that, and, even then it was only a couple of days, not long enough that I could no longer self certify.

A few months ago, maybe more than that my mood took a turn for the unstable, I was carrying on as normal and keeping myself on track enough to still be working. Then I wasn’t. In mental health world theres a fine line between struggling and in control and struggling and no longer in control. Right now, I find myself in the latter part. I may be in control of my actions but I am completely out of control on an emotional stability level. It started to effect me at work and a few weeks later I found myself declared unfit. It hit me hard, I didn’t ever expect to be back in that place again. Lets talk about the issues and the positives that come with being signed off shall we?

So, before I get into the issues, here are the positives that I can think off.

  • Being signed off gives me more faith that my doctors know my illness. They know when its time to say stop and time to say go. My doctor advised I be signed off a few weeks before I was, he left it with me and I was adament I wouldn’t do it, but on my next visit and the worsening of my symptoms he took the option out of my hands. Looking at the situation that was the right call, and that helps me trust the system a little more.
  • Being signed off takes some of the pressure out of day to day life. For now I don’t need to think about going to work and functioning on that level. I have time to focus on keeping myself safe and that can be full time job in itself.
  • I have the time to work out an updated plan for keeping myself well. The last one I did was a couple of years ago and included things such as ‘go out of the house at least once a day’ and ‘make sure you at least shower.’ Those things are no longer an issue for me now I can swap them out for skills that help me in my higher functioning lifestyle. In looking at those plans I can also appreciate how far I’ve come, and praise myself for it. Like, at one point I was that unwell I couldn’t function without hospital stays and friends monitoring me and actually one hard time in 18 months is fucking good going. Recovery is never a straight line.

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Now lets talk about the challenges, and to do that lets start at the beginning of the being signed off process.

Firstly is the visit to the doctors, I don’t have a massive issue with this, I’ve always trusted my doctor, more than mental health professionals in some cases, but it can be daunting for some people to go to there GP and tell them there mental health issues.

The next thing is one which I struggle with, the dreaded phone call to work. Like hey, I know I’m meant to be on shift tomorrow, I know I’m screwing you over massively and someones going to have to work extra hours but I can’t come in tomorrow, or for the next 3 weeks. I had so much anxiety over doing it, and it makes me feel like the biggest dick on the planet, but truth is it’s better that I do that than come in in the non functioning state I’ve found myself in ( I should also add that if you have a good employer there shouldn’t be 20 questions or any guilt led by them, luckily for me I am in that position). Currently Ive been signed off for a week longer than expected with a note on my sick note saying I need to be reassessed at the end of the two weeks. That scares me even more, because once again in 2 weeks time I may have to ring in again saying I’m not going to be back in at the last minute, leaving me with the, you’ve just screwed everyone over once again feeling.

Then theres the ‘I feel emotionally naked’ feeling, I am open about my mental health but theres something really degrading to me (and I’ll admit its my issue) to hand in a sick note that discloses my biggest secret, the thing I try hardest to hide.

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An issue I faced today was the wording of my sick note, which just says ‘depression’ when I actually want to explain. Yes depression is an issue for me, but right now its instability which means depression, hypermania, impulsivity, anxiety, inability to function in relationships, flashbacks, addiction,dissasociation and so much more. My doctor always puts the least possible on my sick notes because of confidentiality but sometimes it feels more of a hinderance than a help.

Then theres the actual time off. 

How do I explain to the people around me that Im not working for the next couple of weeks? To my mum (who I now live with) I’ve gone down the line of stress. Theres a lot the older generation don’t understand about mental health, my mum falls into that category, which I don’t blame her for at all. She actually tries really hard to understand and support me but I can see the panic and confusion when she tries to talk about it, I think thats a problem with the education in mental health rather than her, but still its there. So for now I’ve gone with stress, then theres the rest of the family, they understand a lot more, but do I change my story to them and risk exposing myself to my mum?

What am I meant to do with my time?

Theres something about being crazy that turns you into a child, like have a spent the last week doing jigsaws and puzzle books just to keep myself distracted? Yes. Have I being spending 18 hours in bed? Yes. Have I been painting and colouring? Yes. There is another panic, what if when I get back to work someone asks me what I’ve been doing? When I answer it won’t sound like I’ve been ill, it will sound like I’ve had a bit of a jolly, but actually I’ve being doing those things to distract myself from my own thoughts and pain.

I 100% don’t want people to know that I’ve spent the first week of my time off reliving every moment of my last 2 weeks at work questioning every decision I’ve made whilst at work. Like have I fucked everything up. When I said that, was that me or my mental illness. When I snapped at that co-worker, was it justified or was that my illness. Then theres the bits I don’t need to overthink, I know I fucked up because of my mental health and I feel guilty 97.34% of the time.

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Being off work means any small amount of motivation I had to keep it together has gone. Like, do I want to start drinking as soon as I wake up? fuck it theres nothing to stop me now, do I want to stay in bed all day? Yes and now theres nothing to make me get up… I was going to make more examples but I’ve reconsidered in case they disclose to much, sorry about that I guess. Truth is in the job I work, it would be selfish of me to carry on going in, barely aware of reality just to keep myself going.

And lastly, you’ll be glad to hear, heres my massive concern, what will people do when I get back? Will everyone treat me like normal and pretend I was never off? I hope so. Will people ask me if I’m Ok? please no, because lets be real, I’ll be better, I’ll be functioning and I’ll be back to doing my job, hopefully well. Will I be OK? probably not, just better.  Worst off all, will people question my ability to do my job? Will I be seen as less? Will my time off be judged? With everything I’m hoping the answer is no. But thats part of the issue with mental illness isn’t it? If I was signed off sick because of a stomach bug, or the flu, would I have the same issues, the same questions?

 

 

 

Happy New Year … again

It’s another New Year. Happy 2018! It seems the New Years come and go really fast and after just recovering from Christmas were expected to be all festive again.

I hate New Years, until the last couple of years I was always scared to admit that. I wanted to be all positive every New Year’s Eve and would talk about having a fresh start and making all my dreams come true but the truth is every time I’ve said that I’ve know I’m lying and I’ve felt that sinking feeling that comes with failing to believe your own bullshit.

So now I acknowledge that I hate it, I hate all the “New Year, New me” stuff, because in reality the only thing that’s changed is the number on the end of the date. I’m the same person at 12:01 that I was at 11:59. I hate New Years resolutions because I believe if you want to change something, truly want to change it, I’d do it whether it was New Year or not.

Last night though, I learned something. There’s something freeing in admitting the truth. I acknowledged that i don’t like New Years and that generally it makes my mood quite low. So I put a plan in place that meant I was in bed by 10pm and would miss anything I might find difficult to deal with. I had no expectations for the night, just that it was a night like any other. So when at 10:30 I found myself hammered with my brother and his girlfriend walking to the pub to bring in the new year, it felt like a real celebration, something I wouldn’t normally do, something chilled but something that felt exciting because my expectations were low. That sounds like the old keep your expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed way of thinking. Which isn’t what I mean, I guess what I’m getting at is when you don’t put pressure on yourself to be ok, you might find that you enjoy yourself, or even better end up actually being OK.

New Year’s Day meant I ended up in the normal depressive spiral of fuck another year, I don’t want to, gross, why is everyone so happy? But by marking actually going out for New Years and attempting to celebrate there was respite from the negativity, a distraction and some fun in the midst of the chaos.

How I feel about the show ‘Crazy Ex Girlfriend’ as someone with a BPD diagnosis.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend is a TV show that started running in America in 2015. It only recently became known to me because it was put on Netflix and a few of my friends were watching it. To be honest it came up as suggested a few times but I ignored it, assuming it would just be another rom com about a girl trying to get back with a boy and eventually doing just that. What Crazy Ex Girlfriend actually is, is an exploration of relationships from the perspective of Rebecca Bunch. The protagonist struggles with her mental health and coping with the effects on her every day life. Her story is told through comedy, musical numbers and some intense moments. In season 3 Rebecca Bunch is diagnosed with BPD, borderline personality disorder. As someone with that diagnosis, I generally think they do it as well as possible. Comedic musical theatre TV is, I imagine, a difficult genre to cover a series mental illness so let’s allow some artistic licence. That being said there are still some parts of the show that made me cringe.

What I think was done well –

  1. Ok, so I’m kind of starting at the end here, but this is the part of the show that made me think “I’m so glad they did this.” When Rebecca Bunch googles BPD the show goes into the answers you find on google about the illness. It shows the characters response to these (and it was exactly the same as my response). It shows on the screen how when you google BPD, the internet will tell you that those who suffer are unstable, manipulative, untreatable and 10% will eventually kill themselves. The show talks about how misunderstood the illness is, and even follows the googling scene with a scene from a Rebecca Bunches therapist, talking about how the internet is full or misguided and uneducated information on the subject. I’m so glad this was addressed, stigma and BPD is a massive issue, and this raised it as just that.
  2. Can we just praise the show writers for actually using a BPD diagnosis. This is hardly ever done in TVs and film. If you google shows about depression, anxiety, bipolar etc, a lot of films are suggested (I’m not saying they are correct in doing so, or that they are accurate, or that they haven’t caused damage and stigma in themselves). If you google shows about BPD, you get a list of 1, Girl Interrupted, the rest of the lists consists of fans that have suggested certain characters have the illness but it’s never mentioned. So just using the diagnosis, giving it a name and talking about its symptoms is amazing.
  3. The instability of BPD mood changes fits in perfectly. I’ll admit in the beginning it annoyed me, I felt like the show didn’t portray how long it can take to get over small events and how debilitating it could be. However the nature of TV is that things are resolved in an episode, which fits perfectly with BPD. In an episode of the show we can see a full mood cycle, which is how quick mood cycles can be in real life. It also showed how the little issues that caused instability build on each other if they are not dealt with correctly and how catastrophic that can be.
  4. The show explores moods other than depression. BPD is not mood changes between depression and “normal” it’s also anxiety, hyperactivity, over excitement, impulsiveness etc. Rebecca Bunch is a character that experiences all of these things. The show explores them, there impact and how characters deal with them.
  5. A massive symptom for most people with a Bpd diagnosis is fear of abandonment. This is the focus of the whole show, and it shows how different breakdowns in relationships can influence mood, or how successful relationships can heighten moods.
  6. The show makes reference to anxiety, delusions and disassociation. I particularly love the idea of Rebecca’s anxiety manifesting itself as a hallucination of her younger self. I also love that the show didn’t chicken out of this and made it obvious that it wasn’t just a dream or staying in Rebecca’s head but was actively effecting her ability to function and the other people around her.

The show picks up on some of the small issues that generally get missed and go untalked about. In fact the whole are of BPD is often a silent one with little discussion in culture and media. This show is a step forward, it’s hilarious, brave, entertaining and educating. Also, Rachel Bloom, the actress playing the protagonist is one of the best I’ve seen, both in her comedy and in the depth of the character, she also helped create and produce the show, so you know, genius all round.

That being said, there are some issues I have with the show.

  1. Paula – Paula is Rebecca’s best friend throughout the show and although I love her on an entertainment level I have some issues with how she is portrayed. It is very clear that Paula has some faults, she’s not perfect, non of us are, but she is displayed as a positive and helpful person. This is where I disagree, Paula feeds into Rebecca’s behaviour and struggles to see it is unhealthy until a while into the show. In fact, as someone with BPD I relate to a lot of Paula’s actions and feelings, maybe even more so than Rebecca’s. The need for approval, need for excitement and the need to try and make everyone happy are all things that can also be part of BPD. If someone asked me for advice on a similar friendship I would be encouraging them to limit the influence of that person.
  2. The lead up to diagnosis, if you’ve not seen the show, before the event that leads to diagnosis everything is chaotic. Rebecca does some, well as in the title of the show, crazy stuff. I felt like this went too far, obviously there’s always going to be an entertainment aspect to a show, but watching the things Rebecca did left me in a panic of “people are going to watch this and think that’s how we actually behave. ” Although everybody’s illness is different, people with BPD are generally not stalkers, kidnappers, threatening or prone to psychotic laughing while standing outside someone’s house.

3. Now, I am not one for being adamant that recovery language is the only way we should speak to each other. If I want to call myself crazy, I will. If that’s how I talk about myself or how someone else who struggles wants to talk about themselves as a way to cope that’s also ok. If someone else wants to refer to me as crazy, that’s not Ok. Essentially that is what the title of the show does, by calling it Crazy Ex Girlfriend and then diagnosing, it insinuates that those with that diagnosis are crazy.

Finally, I wanted to separate this point because I believe it is a general issue with Netflix and other streaming sites rather than just the show itself. I found parts of the show difficult to watch. Not in a stereotypical triggering way but in a “this show is so close to home it’s sending me into my own panic” kind of way. I saw so much of myself in Rebecca’s character that it sent me into similar thoughts stemming from ‘that’s so accurate, I probably am going to be alone forever’ and ‘it’s true I have no idea who I am without that certain person as well.’ And ‘what am I doing with my life, maybe I should run away.’ In fact on the back of watching the show I applied for loads of different jobs all over the country and googled how much I’d need to save to be able to run away and start again in my own search to be happy. As dramatic as that all sounds, that’s the nature of the impulsivity, thought spirals and emotion changes of the illness the show is dealing with. Yet there’s no warning on the shows description, there’s no indicator that it may be triggering or that the show deals with a serious mental health issue, or that the show may touch on sensitive areas. Come on Netflix!

5 Songs…

I’ve neglected this blog recently. I keep seeing it in my diary that I’d planned to post on a specific day and then ignoring it. I guess that’s partly because my beauty and lifestyle blog and YouTube channel are growing and it’s exciting so I’m putting a lot of work into that. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

Truth is, I find it really easy to blog most of the time, but right now I really don’t want to. I have a style of writing, it mainly involves overcompensating for anything negative I write with humour and positive cliches. I write that way because I think it’s more enjoyable to both read and write and I can cover up what I actually think by typing a well timed pun, comment or fuck. It’s difficult to write like that when you can’t see the positive and don’t have the energy to pretend to be witty.

So anyway, last night I left work and went in my diary to make sure I had my next shift correct and I saw on today it said that I should post. Past Naomi was trying to be organised and had even chosen a theme to write about. Thanks past Naomi, that really irritated me. My immediate thought was “maybe I can blow that off and write a new eyeshadow palette review on my other blog and still feel productive.”

The theme I was going to write was “5 songs that help me in recovery.” But fuck that, because right now I don’t care about the songs that help me in recover, I care about the songs that help me feel sorry for myself. So here it is “5 songs that help me feel sorry for myself and make me even more likely to ignore the world and get back into bed” (catchy blog title I know).

Sometimes, and by sometimes I really mean sometimes, I think it’s OK To wallow maybe even healthy in some ways but it’s also important to recognise it, move on and work on it. Logically, I know that. However, right now I’m really good at the wallowing part, the rest not so much. Let’s just note that this is also quite a sarcastic post, it’s partly written to help me recognise how stupid I’m being and partly written as a sarcastic look at my own behaviours, I’m going to sound like a dick at times, but I’m ok with it.

1 – Empty Apartment by Yellowcard

I have no idea what some of these songs actually mean or are talking about. Sometimes it’s just a line or a phrase that catches me and helps me in my self indulgent spiral. The line in this song that hits me right in the broken bit of my brain is “how’s your life, what’s it like there, is it all that you want to be, does it hurt when you think about me and how broken my heart is”. I mean, I’d write about why but I think it’s pretty self explanatory.

2 – I Can’t Do Anything About It by Felix Hagan.

“As the walls are crumbling I am tumbling to the ground and I can’t do anything about it”

“Give me the keys and I’ll wait outside and I’ll smoke myself into a hole”

Because why take responsibility for my own wellbeing when I can ignore it and sing “I can’t do anything about it” repeatedly and pretend I have no power over my own life so as to avoid any work on my own health I should be doing?

3 – Same As You by The Fray

“You can stand if you want to, fall if you want to, I’ll do the same as you”

There’s something really beautiful in this song, it talks about compassion and how someone is willing to do the same as another person for comfort. I like to twist it and use it to fuel my anger at people in general by listening and thinking about how no one would be willing to do that for me (actually a lot of people would but that doesn’t fit in with my feeling sorry for myself attitude)

4 – You Should Be Here – Cole Swindell

“Everything’s just right except for one thing, you should be here”

There’s nothing to make you feel more sad than a song that makes you think about your dad who died last year. Although on a alternate note when this song does make me sad it also reassures me, like hey, look at you having normal emotions for a valid reason, you can be a normal person.

5 – Plain Sailing Weather – Frank Turner

“Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can fuck up anything”

Well yeah, that’s just me in a sentence isn’t it? However having this on repeat also get me of my arse because I think if I carry on, that sentence really is going to be true.

Anyway, that’s all for now, I promise next week I’ll get back to scheduled blog posts with a happier overtone. Sometimes it’s just more fun to be a negative dick, you know?

The problem with my birthday…

My birthday is on the 9th November. For those of you who never know the date like me, that was yesterday.

To celebrate, me, my mum, her boyfriend and my biological mum packed up our bags and got on a first class train to London. We ate a fancy dinner, saw a show, drank fancy wine and went on a river cruise. We set up everything to be the perfect experience, and in many ways it was. We saw all the sites and we enjoyed each other’s company and yes, we had a great time, I had a great time.

(Disclaimer : it gets a bit darker from here guys, if you suffer with suicidal ideation or depression it might be tricky for you. Please turn around and find a different post, may I suggest one of mine that isn’t triggering? I’m also going to get pretty honest but don’t worry, I have good professionals working with me and I got this 💪🏻)

But there was a little problem. Yesterday my sole focus wasn’t only my birthday, it was also the depressive episode I’m currently in the middle of and the relapses that have come along with it.

I mean, my birthdays bring along the normal existential crisis a lot of people have, like “fuck, when did I get so old?” “What have I done with my life” “what is the meaning of my fastly passing existence.”

In a depressive episode, these normally valid and normal thoughts turn into something darker. Instead of thinking “what have I done with my life” and then Laughing it off over some alcoholic beverage, it turned into “what have I done with my life, nothing, I’m worthless and so is my life, what’s the point.”

I spent moments through the day terrified that someone was onto me, someone would notice the sign of relapse and it would lead to horrible conversations. I spent some of the day hoping that someone was onto me and would come and save me, not my family, you see I have this over the top and ideal fantasy that one day someone, a stranger will come to me and tell me they know what’s going on, and then they’ll save me and fix the parts of me that broke. You see, on depressive days it’s difficult to accept the fact that I am the one who has to fix the broken parts in me.

I sometimes see my life as a smashed mirror, I look at the pieces and try and put them together or I give up and leave the pieces on the ground, or I wait for someone else to put them together, or I get in a strop because I want a fucking new mirror. Mirrors reflect and in some ways I think that’s what a birthday is, we reflect and celebrate the year before and then look to and plan the next year (after partying a lot). But what if I’m in a state that means looking back is to painful and looking forward is full of anxiety? Then, it becomes all about the now, and we’ll now is my birthday, and now is meant to be a celebration.

Birthdays are a celebration of being alive. I am proud that I am still alive, it was touch and go for a while. I didn’t think I would see this birthday, or the birthday that went before it. That I can celebrate, even on my darkest day.

But, I can also question, what if I wasn’t here to see this birthday? Would that be so bad? Do I really want to be here for another year? Do I really want to put the effort in again to fight through this? Would it be so bad if 26 was the final year?

Well, I guess at the core, birthdays are about hope for the next year and so for now, I have to stick to that until things get better, because despite all the shit, things do eventually get better.

Maybe it’s worth the 6 months of depression for the month of stability.

Maybe this will be the last 6th months of depression I get.

Maybe the depressive episodes will get shorter and shorter.

Maybe.

For now, even if I can’t celebrate my birthday, I can celebrate the maybe.

Of all the things I could have broken.

I broke my personality.

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So today is world mental health day, a specific day in the year where all the bloggers who have had mental health struggles or have them currently come out in full force to write about it. Turns out this year I am one of those bloggers.

I am not critiquing,  in fact I think its important that as many people as feel strong enough talk about there experiences without shame or fear. What disappoints me is that we are in a society that needs a specific day to do this. However, thats not what I was going to write about, thats a whole other rant for a different time.

I didn’t know what I was going to write about for today, I had a few ideas floating around in my brain, but I thought on a a day which aims to raise awareness and combat misunderstanding, I am in a position of being diagnosed with what I believe, is one of the most misunderstood illnesses. I am diagnosed with an illness that a lot of people haven’t really heard off. When I talk about it and give it its name I’m often met by ‘what is that’ or ‘how does that effect you’ or in a few cases ‘I thought that was just a made up thing for films.’

So heres what Im going to do, I’m going to tell you about the signs and symptoms of having Emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder (BPD) the ones straight from a text book, then I’ll tell you what they actually feel like, well what they feel like for me. Personality disorders are a spectrum, so it feels and looks different for every person.

A quick google of BPD brings up this diagnostic criteria on the NHS website

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Emotional Instability. 

Lets just focus on that label shall we, how off-putting does that sound. ‘Hi I’m Naomi and I’m officially unstable.’ That been said, I am unstable, my mood changes rapidly based on seemingly insignificant events. The smallest comment can boost my mood or cut it down. The littlest event can send me into panic. The tiniest compliment can spark hypermania. I have worked to contain my mood changes so people who haven’t known me through my ‘severely broken brain’ stage  may not register them and I can have decent relationships and day to day experiences. That being said, I can register them. I know that my mood cycles haven’t changed that much, and, to be honest there isn’t a ‘cure’ for BPD so I am aware that they will for the rest of my life. That is a hard pill to swallow, it’s also fucking exhausting. On days I’m finding it harder to contain my mood changes, these are the things you might notice.

  • Going from talkative and funny and over exaggerated to silent in seconds.
  • Being unable to concentrate.
  • Finding it difficult to string a sentence together.
  • Being unable to follow a conversation.
  • Being forgetful.
  • Coming across as ditsy, or dumb.
  • Smoking a lot more.
  • Appearing lazy or frequently saying ‘I can’t be fucked’

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Disturbed Patterns of thinking or perception.

This phrase covers a lot of different elements of BPD. It covers paranoia, intrusive thoughts, negative thinking and psychosis. Here are some of the common BPD thoughts I have.

  • What is the point… in anything?
  • Everyone hates me.
  • The world would be better if I wasn’t in it.
  • I made a mistake, I fuck up everything.
  • People always leave, no one thinks Im worth staying around for.

This section of diagnostic criteria also covers the bizarre aspects of having BPD. It is a comment trait for those with BPD to experience elements of psychosis when there emotions are to intense. Lets have a look at some of the Gems I’ve come out with while in that state shall we. Feel free to laugh, I do.

  • ‘Am I the devil?’
  • ‘If I really put my mind to it and pray hard, I think I could stop ISIS’
  • ‘That earthquake that happened was obviously my fault because I said something horrible.’
  • ‘I can’t answer my door, theres a man with a chainsaw on the other side.’

Disassociation is also a common trait of BPD, and probably the thing that I still struggle with most, but I also don’t know how to explain it. Its basically like your brain goes to auto pilot. I can still finish tasks I can still function, but I’m not thinking. I don’t know whats real. Everything feels like that stage when your falling asleep, when your not quite asleep and your still registering part of what is going on, but your on the edge.

Impulsive Behaviour.

Impulsive behavior is simple really. Its all fun and games until you come round and have to suffer the consequences. It can be anything, shopping, gambling, sexual behaviors, drinking, self harm, suicide, the list goes on. For me impulsive behavior comes in two elements. The first is all about what will make me happy, or what will make me feel better in the moment without taking into account the consequences. Like I feel shit so I’m going to go spent all my pay check in one go. Or Im bored and its taking me into a and place so I’m going to drink until I’m passed out.

Then theres another element, perhaps a more difficult element. Which is intrusive impulsions. In English that means that I have thoughts about self harm and suicide that come out of no where. I can be perfectly happy and have a really good day, then suddenly my brain is like ‘why don’t you stop the car and jump off that bridge’ or I can be feeling sorry for myself but dealing with it and my brain says things like ‘hey, self harm, that was fun.’

Intense but unstable relationships with others.

This is an interesting one for me. I tend to not notice a relationship is unhealthy till its to late and I’ve already done some damage. A big part of BPD is fear of abandonment. Sometimes that makes me act in obsessive and dramatic ways. I also rely on certain people. I, luckily haven’t had friendships break down because of this, but that is not due to my behavior its due to the strength and compassion of the friends around me.

But, it means that my brain works over time.

Don’t answer one of my texts? Its because you aren’t really my friend. Cancel our plans? Its because you hate me. Don’t talk to me for a day? Its because you don’t really care.

Or thats what my brain tells me anyway.

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The problem with BPD.

There are so many problems with the way BPD is viewed and treated. I have had my share of shit experiences in official capacities and in my interaction with people. BPD is seen as an incurable illness, there are no meds that will stop it and therapy has limited responses. It also has one of the highest suicide rates of all mental illnesses. 2-3% of the population have BPD. 10% of these people will die by suicide and 80% of people with BPD  will attempt suicide. There are failings in our mental health systems, and most of these come down to funding, why fund treatment for a disorder with no cure? Well, I can say recovery is possible, when its done in the right way. It takes time, and effort and its exhausting and its slow. But things can gradually get better, and relapses become just relapses.

So lets talk about it, because shame is never going to lead to recovery.

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Finding A Purpose

I grew up in the church.

I didn’t just tag along or go for friends, I went because I loved it, I was fully involved, at one point a even wanted to go to school to be a full time Pastor. I am not that person any more, I wouldn’t describe myself as a christian. I wouldn’t even say I believe in God.

I left the church when I was about 19, what I didn’t know is that it would have serious effects on my mental health.

As a teenager people used to tell me I was ‘deep,’ that I thought about things deeper and harder than other people my age. What they didn’t know was that wasn’t because I was wise, or because I really wanted to think about things. It was a cry for help.

I didn’t ask what the purpose of life was because I was philosophical , I asked because I desperately needed someone to give me a reason to live. Being a christian I believed fully that my purpose was to love God. That was what I was made for. At 19, when I dropped out of churches and all that had been taught to me as a child, part of the reason was that loving God wasn’t enough to keep me going anymore.

I thought I would find something better, I thought someone, one day, would sweep in like my knight in shining armor and tell me why I was alive. Maybe we’d even run away together in search of our bigger meaning. What I found was not what I hoped, what I found was people were now telling me the purpose of my life was ‘to be happy’ or ‘to make the best of it.’ I’m not being funny, but really?!? Your telling a person with depression, a person that could not remember the last time they were happy is that the meaning of life is to be this emotion that seemed non existent.

So I set out and made my own purpose in life and with every changing season seems to come a changing meaning. The first task I set myself was to die. That one I tried really hard at, but after a year of trying and ending up going in circles of Accident and emergency, ambulances, psychiatric units and treatment groups, with friends that irritated me because they wouldn’t let me die, I found a new purpose, recovery.

Recovery is the thing I work the hardest at everyday. I work in a sometimes challenging job, but my biggest challenge every day is my mental health. I shop, I spend time with friends, I blog about mental health, or music, or beauty, I youtube, I watch Netflix, I am any other person, but at the forefront of my mind, everyday, is ‘what do I need to do today to make tomorrow easier.’

What I’ve found is that I don’t need purpose at the minute, I need to be healthy before I can make decisions about my life and within that, there is purpose. The question I ask myself most nights is ‘if I wake up tomorrow and my mood has changed will I be able to deal with it?’ My purpose is to make sure the answer to that question is yes, then i’ll figure out the rest.

I have learned, since starting treatment and recovery that struggling with purpose and identity is a big issue for a lot of people with my illness, I am not on my own in my need for existential questioning. For that reason, Im done trying to find a purpose in my life, Im just going to live it. Because theres nothing I love better that giving my borderline personality disorder a massive fuck you.