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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Mental health : beginning to open up

I really like Time To Change, especially their Personal Stories section, but I admire and support their philosophy in general. Their aim of normalising talking about mental illness is one which I deeply admire and feel inspired by.

I've been thinking about being more open about my mental illness experiences, and whether it's something I should do or not, for a long time now. I have decided that I want to start sharing some of my experiences if the opportunity arises, and with people I trust.

The reason for why I want to do this is two fold. Firstly, I want to speak out in order to erode the stigma associated with mental illness. I want people to see that anyone-- inlcuding me-- can have a mental illness. Secondly, I think it might combat some of the self-stigma and lonliness that I have as a result of feeling like I carry around a secret. I shouldn't feel weighed down around people I consider friends-- I shouldn't feel 'dishonest' because I know I am hiding something.

So last night I told a friend that mental illness is something that was prevalent in my life, and still is, to a lesser extent, today. I didn't tell them my actual diagnosis,  but I told them my fear of judgement and a few of the things I have struggled with in the past. I told them that I had seen a psychiatrist in the past and had been diagnosed with a mental illness, but I didn't tell him it was Borderline Personality Disorder. It was too scary and I felt too vulnerable- I also feared that it was an 'overshare'. I half wish I had told them.

I feel okay about it today, although I still feel a pervasive sense of lonliness around the fact that I have a mental illness. Campaigns like Time To Change are brilliant, they understand how society is and how it needs to change.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Illustrating depression, BPD and eating disorders

*TW depression, eating disorders and difficult feelings. 

These illustrations from a few years ago express some states of minds and feelings. The first one is 'the vortex', which was the feeling I used to get in my stomach- feeling like I was being sucked into a void. The second picture expresses some of the serious, debilitating depression and eating disorder I had a few years ago, when I felt like I was entombed in a coffin. 

I hope you can find comfort if you relate to these images. 

Therapy: a shipwreck of memories

*TW mention of eating disorders 

I've recently started seeing a therapist again. I have had therapy in the past, CBT for eating disorders and integrative counselling/therapy for issues around mood, emotions and coping. I have also had many sessions with a mental health nurse when I was at university, as well as having seen GPs and a couple of one off meetings with crisis mental health services.

It is a relief to start therapy again properly. I have had a long period of coping really well, but the underlying emotional issues and struggles have still been there.

The type of therapy I am doing this time is Psychodynamic therapy. This means that when I see the therapist every week, I set the agenda and she says it's my 'space' to choose whatever I want to talk about.

So far, I have found it to be challenging. I have felt awkward and embarrassed, as well as finding the 'space' liberating too. It is taking a lot of courage to be able to start to open up to the therapist about difficult issues.

In fact, the first few weeks of this intense, new therapy has been like dredging up a shipwreck of old memories. It has been quite painful, but past experience assures me that unearthing this emotional material will be well worth it.