Redirecting to new blog...

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Shortlisted for a Mind Media Award 2017!

I am absolutely over the moon that I'm on the shortlist for the Mind Media Awards 2017. I'm so excited to be on the shortlist in the category Digital Champion! What a brilliant surprise!

I have been in a state of disbelief for a week and it's only just sinking in. I'm overjoyed to be shortlisted alongside some of the leading media discussion and representation of mental health. I feel very honoured.

Talking About BPD means so much to me. It's my journey from silence to talking. Talking is something that enables me to live with my mental health problems and learn how to deal with them. More than that, Talking About BPD has enabled me to value my experience of mental health problems as a personal strength. Something I am starting to be proud of rather than ashamed of!

Talking About BPD enables me to engage in the two-way of process of relating to others and having others relate back to me. Knowing that we are not alone in our experiences is empowering. Feeling alone has been a difficult place for me to be.

Talking about mental health on social media was a stepping stone for me being able to talk in real life.

The more we talk about mental health, the wider understanding becomes. I want to use being shortlisted for this special award as an opportunity to do more to:

- open up conversations

- break down stereotypes about BPD

- break down the shame

- expose the need for fair access to mental health services that are helpful to individuals

- and show as many people as possible that they are not alone in what they go through.

I am delighted to have been shortlisted, it feels brilliant. I hope it's the start of something even more exciting than what's already happening.

Thank you so much to Mind for placing me on the shortlist. It means so much to me. You can use the hashtag #MindAwards on Twitter to get the latest news on the awards!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

My self-definition of crisis

TW Suicidal thoughts, self-harm and emotional distress

My last post acknowledges how tricky it can be to know what a crisis is, when it is happening and what to do about it.

Drawing by me

Everyone is different and so everyone's experience of crisis is different. Here are some of the things that start happening when I'm having my own mental health crisis: 

  • depression
  • worthlessness
  • intense shame and guilt
  • self-loathing
  • intense sadness 
  • general feeling of things being lost and ruined
  • a feeling of not being able to cope
Behaviours and urges
  • intense crying
  • difficulty with going to bed / sleeping 
  • crying in public, i.e. in the supermarket, at the bus stop
  • wandering around with a vague aim of 'needing help' 
  • urges to self-harm
  • desperation to punish myself (cancelling enjoyable things)
  • out of control texting and unhelpful ways of asking for help
  • calling Samaritans / crisis number several times daily 
  • going to specific places
  • paranoid behaviours
  • paranoid thoughts
  • fears of abandonment and rejecction
  • intense self-criticism 
  • catastrophic thinking 
  • punitive thoughts about myself
  • mind reading others (Eg: they are going to hate my for having a crisis) 
Do you have ways of noticing that you're in crisis? Do you self-define crisis or not? I would love to hear from you! Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

What is a mental health crisis?

TW This post mentions self-harm and suicide

The other day on Twitter someone asked me, how do I know when I'm in crisis? When is it the right time to ask for help from crisis services.

Drawing by me

I think it is a hugely insightful and relevant question. It's something I asked myself over and over for many years. I spent years telling myself that if I asked for help then I wouldn't be believed. Indeed sometimes I built up the courage to ask for help and the help I needed didn't come.

If you've asked for help and it hasn't come, I want to tell you that you do deserve help. We are living in a society where access to mental health services is unfair. Access and quality of care is a postcode lottery. Everyone deserves access to support that's helpful to them.

Drawings from one of my notebooks

I have been turned away from services several times and have been through chronic invalidation. As a result, I denied myself the right to define my own mental health, out of fear I would be ridiculed or rejected.

After years of coming to terms with my experiences and finding ways of articulating them, I now know that I define myself. No one else does.

A flowchart drawn by me! (Click to enlarge)

I now have my own definition of what a mental health crisis is to me. Everyone is different. The word crisis is open-ended and means something different to everyone. Generally speaking, a crisis may be understood as a time when someone's life is not functioning as it usually does and perhaps someone is at risk of self-harm or suicide.

In my next post I will explain my own definition of crisis for me and my life.

Do you have any thoughts on the word crisis, how and when to use it? I would love to hear from you! Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD.

Vulnerability Factors + Triggers

In the last three months, I've had several vulnerability factors that have made me vulnerable to being swept up in my big emotions.

A vulnerability factor is something happening that makes it more difficult for me to manage my emotions. It means that when triggers come, I find it harder to manage them and take more time to recover from them.

Drawing by me

Vulnerability factors for me include: lack of sleep, hunger, lack of rest, change, excitement/positive events, as well a host of other things. 

In the last three months I've left my full time job as a teacher, moved house and started a masters. That's three big changes. In addition, I put my name and face to this blog which has been overwhelmingly positive, but also a huge change for me. 

My life feels closer than ever to the life I dreamed of living, but at the same time, the intense change has been as unsettling as it has been exciting. 

From one of my notebooks

For someone like me with strong emotions, having just one vulnerability factor can make coping with triggers much harder. 

I've had not one, but several vulnerability factors all at once, so perhaps it's no wonder my emotions have felt out of control lately. 

Can you relate to me? Have you had any life changes that have made it harder for you to cope with your emotions. I would love to hear from you. I'm on Twitter @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Guest post for Balloons and the Brain!

I'm excited to say that my guest post, 5 Reasons Why I'm Talking About Mental Health, is out on the inspiring mental health blog, Balloons and the Brain. The post talks about how I remained silent about my mental health problems for years, it felt like a 'dirty little secret' that I carried around with me.

I encourage you to check out Balloons and the Brain for personal stories of anxiety, depression and more. The more we talk and listen about mental health, the better. 

Are you talking about your experiences? Do you feel safe enough to? I would love to hear from you @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

If I could go back in time

drawing by me from around 10 years ago

We must keep talking!

drawing by me

Video for World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

Functioning in extremes

drawing by me 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Spoken word: Distress is not a crime!

Here's a clip of me performing at Spoken Word London, one of the most energetic, inclusive, passionate and supportive spoken word nights I know. You can check them out @SpokenWordLondon on Facebook. 

I made my own crisis plan!

I've had a few ineffective and quite impersonal crisis plans. In the wake of the crisis I had earlier this week, I decided to make my own. I've started to notice more patterns in my triggers and vulnerability factors, so I tailor made my plan to fit my own needs.

Quite a few people on Twitter told me they were inspired to make their own. If you do, I would love to know how you get on with it! Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Podcast for Not Defeated out now!

I'm excited to announce that my podcast made by the inspiring Helen from Not Defeated is now available on iTunes! You can listen to me chatting to Helen for Mind Matters Matter podcast about my journey from silence to Talking About BPD here! 

I discuss my life with BPD, a little background about who I am, ways of coping and my experiences of stigma, stereotyping and silence and my future dreams for breaking down the silences around mental health. 

Available on iTunes!

Helen runs the fantastic Mind Matters Matter podcast series with her friend, Hadley. Both women live with an eating disorder and are dedicated to raising awareness of mental illness, breaking stigma and fighting for better care. Check out their website, Not Defeated

Thank you so much to Helen for having me on the podcast!

No to shame!

No to shame

So many people feel ashamed of themselves because they have mental health problems or conditions. I carried shame around with me, bearing my diagnosis and set of experiences 'like a dirty little secret'. 

I'm talking about it and trying to break the silences because the shame so many of us feel is not deserved. 

No one should need to feel ashamed of their mental health. Shame is a valid response to being told that something must be hidden. I don't agree with biting my tongue and holding my head down in shame. 

I'm saying 'no' to the shame that has been with me for years. Your mental health is nothing to be ashamed about. Join in with me on Twitter @TalkingAboutBPD. 

94% of people hiding mental health condition

How I live my life with BPD

Mindmap of BPD

Being motivated to stay stable

I am so motivated right now to live my life in balance as best as I can. My life with BPD can be like walking a tightrope between euphoria and despair- I can easily tip into an intense emotional state.

From an old sketchbook (despair- left, euphoria- right)

Doing the skills and emotional regulation techniques as prompted by my DBT Wellness Planner is helpful. It can be a full-time job managing, but I know it's worth the effort.

How to support me in a crisis

I feel this is important to talk about. Many people feel they are helpless to help someone in a crisis because they don't know what to do. I thought sharing my experiences of what helps me might show people that they are not powerless to help.

My drawing of how to be a good friend. Click for bigger image! 

Helping someone in a crisis might entail the opposite of what someone thinks helping looks like. It's not about 'saving', 'rescuing'. It's often about a conversation and listening to the person going through something.

We need to start listening!

Drawing by me

I haven't always had my mental health problems taken seriously when I've tried to voice them. It has been hard to find my voice when it has been shut down many times. 

Every time someone with mental health problems is shut down, they must find even more strength to open up the next time. 

I have been ignored, shamed and silenced more times than I can count. But I refuse to remain silent. Why should I? Here's my video about why I chose to open up: 
Mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed about, in spite of the shame I have felt over the years. Even though I fight with the weight of a silent past, I'm determined to keep the conversation open

Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD to join the conversation!

Sharing my experiences of 'stress-related paranoia'

Video: Having Intense Emotions