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Sunday, 25 June 2017

BPD is not 'being an unhappy person'

TW This post mentions self harm and suicide. 

If I had a quid for every time people in my life have said to me the following then I would be rich:
  • 'But you were on top form when I saw you yesterday.
  • 'You couldn't stop laughing yesterday.'
  • 'But I thought you were enjoying your job.' 
  • 'I thought you were enjoying your degree.' 
Having BPD is not to do with being 'a happy person' or an 'unhappy person'. It's not about how much you enjoy your job, how much you enjoy your life. It can be very much related to that. Or it can be pretty unrelated. Or anywhere in between. 

All it does is invalidate me and collude with feelings of guilt that I can have about having BPD when someone says 'I thought you had a good job and friends'. 

BPD is about chronic emotional dysregulation and all of the aspects that might come along with that, such as fear of abandonment, self-harm, suicidal ideation and so on.

Drawing by me. 

So please listen to me when I tell you I am enjoying my job, enjoying my life, love my friends and so on. Because I do. BPD isn't about 'being unhappy'. It's about having a set of emotional experiences, as well as a whole dollop of social stigma to deal with a lot of the time too.

I am not diagnosis. My diagnosis is not the extent of my life. I am a person with so many facets! 

Thoughts during a BPD episode

Drawing I did during an episode.

These are some of the thoughts that try to consume me when I am having an episode. It's very scary and I feel very alone when it's happening.

Taking quetiapine

I recently accessed mental health services since I moved to a new city three years ago.

They have been the easiest services for me to access and by far the best. The postcode lottery for mental health services and the difficulties with access, amongst other difficulties, is a national outrage. But that's for another post.

I started quetiapine (also known as seroquel) last Wednesday, so three days ago. It belongs to the family of drugs known as antipsychotics. It's prescribed to some people with schizophrenia, bipolar and conditions that may include psychosis, depression and mania. I am taking it in the hope it will stablise my moods a little bit.

I drew my hope in a cafe after I had seen the psychiatrist on Tuesday:

Drawing of my hopes for taking quetiapine.

I hope it takes the edge of my highs and lows. Just slightly, just to make them that tiny bit less intense. So they doesn't completely floor me. Like my emotions have been doing for as long as I can remember.

It's early days at the moment and I'm on a lower dose than I will be in a few days.

I take it at night. Within 30 mins and I start to feel very sleepy. My muscles start to relax, my legs and arms become heavy. I have even noticed my breathing become deeper.

It's hard to wake up in the mornings. I feel a bit 'zombie' for a couple of hours.

Drawing by me. 

On the plus side, I have felt calm since I started taking it. But I don't know if I can attribute my mood to the medication at the moment, as I feel it's a bit early to say.

I also have a taste in my mouth, like undiluted orange squash, which I can't say is particularly pleasant.

Let's see how it goes. I'm keeping an open mind...

Inspirational Mental Health Advocates

Here are 4 activists, speakers or bloggers whose influences have been enormous on helping me find the meanings behind my emotional distress and helping me live my life the way I want to live it. 

I will post a video with each person so you can have a glimpse into the work they do.
  • Debbie Corso
Debbie is the founder of Healing From BPD, which documents her 'journey of living with and healing from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behaviour Therapy'. She is a hugely empathetic person and her honesty has played an integral part in making me feel I'm not alone in what I go through.

Managing Intense Emotions 

  • Jonny Benjamin
Jonny is an activist and mental health campaigner. I hugely respect his work around breaking the silences around mental health and mental illness. I admire his tenacity and the urgency of his speaking out. He is shattering stigma by sharing his story and the warmth of his personality. Jonny's openness has made me feel okay about my desire to be honest about my experiences of mental illness. Jonny has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, but I relate to his experiences of day to day life in society immensely.  

Admitting I'm unwell. 
'The worst thing of all is doing it in silence.' 

  • Jacqui Dillon 
I watched 'Horizon: Why Did I Go Mad' on BBC a few weeks ago and I can say with certainty that it has kick started something powerful in me. Jacqui talks about how voices can arise from trauma and difficult life experiences. She says that voices can have meanings. She talks about listening to voices, rather than trying to shut them down completely.

Since listening to Jacqui, I have begun to question some of my experiences in a new way. 

Unfortunately, the programme has been removed from online. I have posted this is an amazing speech by Jacqui Dillon about how the psychological is political. 

The Psychological is Political 

  • Jess from Multiplicity and Me 
Jess' blogs and vlogs about her Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) have undoubtedly empowered me. I love the way she shares her experiences to 'dispel the myths' and I would love to have the confidence to do the same about BPD.

I came across Jess when watching BBC 3 Diaries of a Broken Mind on YouTube. She is so articulate, fun and warm-hearted, I recommend watching her. 

Meet the Alters 

Let me know who has really inspired you! I would love to hear from you, tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Friends who want to talk about mental illness.

BPD episode

I fall into this high intensity state. Emotions deafening me. Engulfing me. I'm drowning in them, they are suffocating me.

It can be a very scary and lonely experience. It's something a bit like a flashback to a previous emotional state.

Drawing of an episode by me

I often feel ashamed and embarrassed. And that's when the paranoid thoughts can kick in sometimes.

My episodes are getting better. I come out of them quicker and they are less intense than they used to be. I accept myself more.

Even so, they are still very painful and very frightening when they come over me.

Gemma Correll #mentalillnessfeelslike

The well-known illustrator Gemma Correll is doing a serious of drawings associated with the hashtag #mentalillness feels like. She has done one for BPD!

BPD is often forgotten or misunderstood, so I am happy to see one of my favourite illustrators noticing it.

I relate to her drawing too. Things do often feel very unstable internally for me.

What do you think? Let me know! Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Being open

Drawing by me.

I am thinking about living more openly and how I would approach this...

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Talking about BPD in real life

I've come such a long way since day 1 of joining Twitter and starting this blog, just after I was diagnosed with BPD. I have had so much positive feedback from others who relate to me that I want to take what I'm doing one step further.

Comic by me: Little Miss Taboo

My next step is to use the confidence I have gained online to talk about BPD more with people in real life. This will be scary. But I know I have to do it in order to feel comfortable in my own skin and do what I want to do.

I've been so inspired by Jonny Benjamin, Debbie Corso and Jess from Multiplicity and Me that I want to be able to make some vlogs and films about mental illness myself. In order to do this, I need to be okay with people from my life recognising me and even potentially watching me. Eeek!

How BPD Can Feel

Speaking vs Silence

I drew this picture on the bus after I had told a friend my feelings. I needed to tell someone how I felt, but as soon as I did I felt scared that I had told them. This is a very common scenario for me. 

I swing between my ferocious desire to articulate myself and my compulsion to silence myself. Does anyone else go through this? Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

I define myself, no one else does

I am trying to distance my own perception of myself from others' responses to me. I made this flow chart when I was on the train. 

The more I think along these lines, the more relaxed I feel in myself. Finding friends I feel relaxed enough around to be myself has helped hugely too. 

I would love to know what you think! Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Mental Health Mini Zines!

TW self harm

I love zines- they are accessible, free, easy to make and are an artform along with spoken word and fringe theatre that often tells marginalised stories.

I have started making my own about mental health and my experiences of mental illness!

My zine: Silence is NOT Golden 

Page from my zine: Silence is NOT Golden

They document a bit about my experience of life with mental illness. I want to help people understand what it's like to live with a mental health condition or a mental illness.

My zine: Some People Hurt Themselves

Page from my zine: Some People Hurt Themselves

Page from my zine: Some People Hurt Themselves

Telling stories and sharing art is one of the best ways to raise awareness, break the silences and increase empathy for mental illness.

Watch this space for more info about my upcoming projects! I would to love to know what you think of these pictures...tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD.