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Sunday, 30 October 2016

A message against internet hate

When I was first diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, I turned to the internet as a source of  information - as I do with anything and everything !

I was astounded at the amount of hate I came across that was directed towards people with BPD. Not only false information, but prejudice, lies, blatant hatred and trolling.

I was happy to find some helpful blogs about BPD too- especially Debbie Corso's Healing From BPD which in part inspired me to make my own blog and Twitter.

I'm trying to spread this quote out to reach as many people who, like me, might have been negatively affected by the senseless internet hate out there.

People with BPD are amazing and deserve to define themselves. xxx

You Are Not Alone: I was too embarrassed to verbalise it

**TW this post mentions suicidal thoughts**

When I was at university, I had lots of experiences when I was extremely distressed and was in crisis, or close to it, many, many times. It was a very frightening and confusing time because I was having suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm without understanding why or how to manage them.

One day, I'd had enough and I started to walk and walk, I didn't know where I was going. I was sort of heading in the direction of the train station with the vague notion that I was going to catch a train 250 miles to my parents' house. Somehow I was going to get through the ticket barriers without a ticket (I didn't have the money) and somehow get to my home town....

I was crying in the street, I kept stopping and sitting down on  walls or benches, because I could barely pick my feet up, I was so overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious, In the end, I made a plan that instead of carrying on running away, I would try to ask for some help.

I was on the side of town where the university counselling was. I knew where it was, I had been there a few times. I walked there, incredibly distressed, I went inside, I was visibly panicking and I said to the woman on the desk: 'please help me. I need help.' I couldn't express myself much more than that. I guess I was terrified of verbalising the suicidal thoughts I was having. The woman behind the desk gave me a form to fill in, and I thought that she meant that someone from the counselling service would come and talk to me.

I went into the waiting room and couldn't answer the questions on the form. Questions such as 'how would counselling help you cope better in your life'. I just wrote all over the form 'help me' over and over again in capital letters and drew spirals all over it. It wasn't that I was being rude, I was just incredibly desperate and felt so scared.

I waited and waited and waited. People were called from the waiting room and I sat there. After an hour of sitting there feeling like a dead, empty shell with nothing left inside me, I went to the desk and gave the woman the form, scribbled all over with my plea. I had tears down my face and must have looked completely desperate and out of it (mascara all over). She said I would join the waiting list.

I probably should have told her I was suicidal, because then maybe she would have pointed me towards some help, but I was too embarrassed to verbalise it. I was scared of things happening that were out of my control and decisions being made for me, not by me.

So I walked back to where I was living. I don't know how I made it up the hill. When I arrived I burst out hysterically crying at the student reception and the lovely lady brought me inside to the office and made me a cup of tea and called me tutor, who looked after me in her study until the crisis had calmed and we had made a bit of a support plan for the next few days.

From my notebook.

Looking back, I was completely clueless about what was going on, and how to deal with it. All of this walking around streets 'looking for help' from 'anyone in some vague and misdirected way was probably triggered by the flight part of my fight and flight system. I think this story highlights the importance of crisis plans. I had friends and family at this time, but I didn't feel able to communicate how I felt with them- I was scared of overwhelming them. I was also scared of being misinterpreted....of people telling me how I felt and what was best for me....I was very scared of being forced to do things I didn't want to do.

If you have felt similarly and have wandered streets in a suicidal state, 'searching for help', but you not knowing what you were looking for- maybe some warmth, security and hoping for 'the kindness of strangers'....You are not alone.

Drawing by me. 

I hope if you can relate to my post that it makes you feel less like 'the only one' if you feel isolated with your experiences.Things have got better for me as I've understood my thoughts and feelings through talking about them and understanding them.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

You Are Not Alone: 2AM and running

**TW this post discusses a time when I had suicidal thoughts and ideation, so please avoid reading if this might affect you.**

I was at university, it was late into the night and I feeling very low and had been having suicidal thoughts on and off for a while. I was on the phone talking to someone close to me, and we started to have an argument. I began to feel incredibly anxious and quickly felt more and more terrified, empty and alone. I couldn't anything but the moment I was in, the blistering pain my mind allocated to the words being said. I had handled the phone conversation terribly, and I felt incredibly let down that instead of bringing me the comfort I so desperately sought, it only served to make me feel even more useless and despicable than ever.

Drawing by me. 

I pressed the 'end call' button and ran out of my flat into the street. I can remember the sheer terror and desperation of wanting to get away...wanting to be out of my own skin...wanting someone to hold me because I felt like I couldn't hold my own body someone fleeing a crime scene...only I felt that my body was the crime scene. ..

I began to run and run down the empty, 2AM street. It was winter, I was wearing only pyjamas. I knew I was headed for a scary place that would take me into a dangerous situation. I was so scared of what I was doing, yet the only thing I could do at that moment was think of that dangerous place.

My drawing. 

I ran, crying loudly and hysterically in the deserted street. Absolutely desperate, and just wanting something, anything, didn't know what, just felt so terrified and needed to run away...

I must have run out of breath, and was calmed by the cold air, because I flung myself face down on a patch of wet grass. I lay there sobbing until I came back to my senses and heaved myself back to my flat and cried in my bed until I woke up the next morning with a headache and the knowledge that things had got even worse than I ever imagined they would.

Drawing by me. 

Luckily, that was a few years ago now and I have managed to calm my moods considerably, so that I can handle these frightening emotions and impulses much better now. If you can relate to this anecdote, my story here is the proof that you are not alone in your experiences and things can get better for you.

This is me!

New blog series! You Are Not Alone

I'm writing a new blog series entitled You Are Not Alone. The series will comprise anecdotes from my times in my life when I have been very distressed.

My aim is that through telling these short stories others who have gone through similar experiences won't feel like 'the only one'. Before I started using Twitter and blogging about my experiences, I felt like I was 'the only one' and I know how lonely that can feel.

Monday, 17 October 2016

To my family and closest friends...

I am so intensely thankful to my family and to that amazing handful of my closest friends who never gave up on me through all of this. The ones who stuck with me through all of the most painful and difficult times. Who sat with me when I was a crying heap on the floor, who watched over me when I couldn't leave the house, who picked up the phone to listen and give me messages that you believed in me. Without you I would not have made it through. I am so lucky to have you. From the bottom of my heart with forever gratitude, I want to say... 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Book Review: Darkness Visible by William Styron

**TW for the post and for the book itself, which discusses suicide.**

I'm currently reading Darkness Visible by William Styron, a searing and precisely crafted memoir of depression. I'm passionate about literature, writing and mental health so my reading naturally takes me into writing about mental health by people with lived experience (The Bell Jar by Sylvia Path being perhaps the archetypal example of the genre here).

Darkness Visible attempts to put words to depression. As Styron notes, this is a 'near-impossibility'. The memoir, however, risew to the challenge of doing the impossible by acknowledging the inadequacy of language to convey the utter terror, lonliness and desperation of depression:

'For myself, the pain [of depression] is most closely connected to drowning or suffocation - but even these images are off the mark'.

Styron argues that the word depression is not fit to describe the mental anguish that depression inflicts. When I had depression, I used metaphors of drowning and being suffocated too, and reading this book made me align my experiences with those of others, even if they are strangers and through the pages of a book. And as many people who love to read know, that is incredibly comforting. 

I started to cry at the part in the book where the author throws away his notebook (I too keep notebooks) and becomes what many mental health professionals term actively suicidal. I was crying in the empathy and recognition of my own experiences of suffering and suicidality in those of another human being. Furthermore, Styron details the love and support of his wife all through his depression and I too was someone who was in suicidal despair in the face of unwavering familial love. 

In fact, so much of the book struck a chord with me and my own experiences of mental distress. One part which stands out is when Styron's doctor advises him against going into hospital 'owing to the stigma'. Styron writes with an incredulity I know all too well about the mental health system

'Such a comment seemed then, as it does now, extremely misguided; I had thought psychiatry had advanced long beyond the point where stigma was attached to any aspect of mental illness, including the hospital.' 

I haven't finished the book yet, but I can already recommend it to anyone who has experienced anything akin to depression and knows how hard it can be to describe its depths. It's also great reading for anyone who hasn't had depression but who wants to learn more...and the more awareness of experiences of depression in society, the better!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Ways of Coping: Drawing & writing

Sometimes it's just good to get it out.

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Trying to accept the feelings, rather than run away from them away as instinct tells me to.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

My post shared by Time To Change

My post on the amazing organisation Time To Change's Facebook page.

My post. 

Thank you to the support of everyone who commented, liked and shared. It means a lot to know I'm not alone in my experiences.