Redirecting to new blog...

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Ghosts: traumatic memories

TW This post talks about suicidal thoughts. 

Drawing by me. 'Ghosts making homes in my body'. 

Each time I emerge from a period of depression or a particularly difficult time with my mental health problems, I am left to come to terms with that.

I'm left with those shards of glass...those painful memories...

Those times I was suicidal scar on my mind. I sometimes feel traumatised by the experiences I go through. I have to spend time coming to terms with those experiences. I'm doing that at the moment. 

One way I sometimes think of this 'coming to terms' is with the idea of ghosts. 

These memories, these painful shards of experience, are ghosts. They want to haunt me. 

That's okay. Of course they want to haunt me- being suicidal has been traumatic for me. I can't push these ghosts away. If I do, they will rebel and cause me more pain. 

So I have to let them make their home in me. And if I make these ghosts feel safe within me, then I will feel safe too. 

I call this drawing 'ghosts making their homes in my body.' 

Rosie Cappuccino. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Drawing Me & My BPD

TW for this image- self-harm and suicidal thoughts

I recently went through a really scary period of depression. This is one of the drawings I made to empty my thoughts on the page. 

I felt lonely and, to be honest, really scared. I'm out of that period now, which is a relief. 

Distress: Writing & Drawing

TW The following images contain suicidal thoughts. 
When I'm really upset, sometimes I draw and write as a way of getting my emotions out.

A letter I wrote when I was in a really difficult place recently. 

I sometimes draw my emotions / feelings when they happen. 

Sometimes drawing helps me to release some of the painful feelings. 

It's not a cure all, but for me it's a bit of magical process. If I can see it on the page, it somehow alleviates the pain a bit. It's a bit like having a conversation, but with myself and the page. 

Thursday, 26 October 2017

How far I've come...

From one of my notebooks from a few years ago

I wrote this to myself a few years ago. It has taken a long time to get to a place where I'm no longer cruel to myself by default. I have come so far and that's probably invisible to others. 

Perhaps everyone around me sees someone who has a long way to go. I know I have a long way to go. But deep down inside myself I know how far I've come and how hard a journey that has been. 

Hard. At times, it felt impossible. But worth it. 

I want to thank everyone (family, friends, professionals) who has supported me so I could reach this place today. 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

My Response to The Guardian's 'Personality Disorders At Work'

Today (25.10.17) The Guardian published an article by Dr Mary Lamia entitled 'Personality Disorders at work: how to spot them and what you can do', on the Careers section of their website.

As a professional with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), as well as someone who works as a blogger, poet and artist to break down stereotypes around this diagnosis I find this article stigmatising, demonising and ultimately dehumanising. 

I believe that The Guardian has made an irresponsible decision to publish an article that further entrenches stigma, stereotyping and prejudice towards members of our society with a diagnosis of personality disorder. As a society, we need to work towards a more accurate representation of people with a diagnosis of a mental health condition or mental illness. I would argue that people with a diagnosis of personality disorder are amongst the most misrepresented of all mental health conditions, alongside people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. 

First of all, postulating 'how to spot' someone with this diagnosis established the article as an office jest to hunt out the personality disorder. Dr Lamia aligns herself with the damaging media trend of arm chair diagnosing people in the public eye (often Donald Trump). Arm chair diagnosis is not only unethical, but it condemns, marginalises and renders whole groups silent with its accusatory, sanctimonious waggling finger. 

As you will know if you read my blog, I have a diagnosis of BPD. I am a Mind Media Award shortlisted blogger and I talk about BPD in the hope that sharing a bit of myself and my life will break down some of the stereotypes and inaccuracies that swirl around society about BPD.

I have worked very successfully as a teacher in a primary school for over three years now. I have a degree in English Literature from Cambridge University, am enrolled in a Masters in Medical Humanities and I worked for two years as a counsellor at a well-known mental health charity. I was so supportive in my volunteering role, I was asked by my supervisors to become a mentor.

Throughout all of these strands of my life, I am almost certain no one would be able to 'spot' my personality disorder. I can say with all certainty that I don't need anyone to 'do' anything about the fact that I'm working and I have a diagnosis of BPD. 

Dr Lamia misrepresents and maligns when writes that 'a boss or a colleague with borderline or narcissistic traits can leave you feeling manipulated or affect your performance'. Throughout my career as a primary school teacher my communication with children, parents and colleagues has been nothing but open, honest and friendly.  References written by a number of my bosses and colleagues reflect that. It is deeply offensive to suggest that my so-called 'borderline traits' would leave my colleagues feeling manipulated. 

I used to think that the stereotype that people with BPD are 'manipulative' was finally dying a death. I am shocked to see the manipulative stereotype rear its ugly head because I thought that the overt misogyny (the stereotype that people with BPD are manipulative has a misogynistic history) and maligning of people with diagnosis of a mental health conditions has become slightly less socially acceptable to voice aloud. To see the word 'manipulative' in this article feels like a step back into the dark ages when women with a diagnosis were maligned as 'hysterical', out of control and unable to be trusted. 

Dr Lamia is crude in her choice of examples of 'behaviours' that 'a person with a borderline personality would show'. According to her, people with BPD would 'admit' to 'ignoring the presence of particular co-workers when they passed them in an empty hallway to intimidate them'. Not only does the use of the word 'behaviour' infantilise people with this diagnosis, but the word 'admit' subtly aligns BPD with deviousness (an incorrect stereotype that activists like me have been long trying to remove) and even malice, as if people with a BPD diagnosis might bully and 'intimidate'.

Ask anyone who has ever worked with me, and they would not 'spot' this behaviour in me.

The icing on this rotten cake of an article is Dr Lamia's use of the phrase 'disordered personality'. There is nothing disordered about my personality and it is deeply offensive to suggest this. My personality centres around kindness, generosity, diligence and a desire to help others, hence why I have been continuously recognised in my community for the excellent job I do as a teacher. 

I was disappointed when Dr Lamia ticked off one of the most cliched and yet most offensive stereotypes about people with a diagnosis of personality disorder, that of violence. She states that you are 'likely to encounter rage', if you 'push' a person with this diagnosis. 

As a teacher, I work under pressure with children and families at the brink of crisis and I have unfailingly remained calm and respectful. I have remained my professionalism in the face of challenge, including throughout occasions when I have been subject to verbal abuse from parents and challenged by behaviour from children with emotional needs.

I am deeply disappointed with the Guardian's decision to publish an article such as this which entrenches the already deeply embedded stereotypes about people with a diagnosis of personality disorder. Dr Lamia strikes three of the most rampant, inaccurate and shame-inducing stereotypes about people BPD: that people with this diagnosis are manipulative, out of intimidate and unable to control their rage.

As a dedicated, caring, compassionate and well-loved teacher in my community I find Dr Lamia's words problematic to say the least. What I find even more troubling is The Guardian's thoughtlessness to publish such a damaging article that compounds the stigma that community-oriented, generous and caring people like me face. 

It's bitterly ironic and startling lacking in self-awareness that Dr Lamia should state that people with BPD have behaviour that stems from 'deep internalised shame'. What she irresponsibly fails to mention is that an overwhelming percentage of people with a diagnosis of BPD have experienced sexual, physical and emotional, abuse, trauma, neglect and emotional deprivation. 

Furthermore, is it any wonder, given the proclivity of a respected broadsheet newspaper with such an enormous readership to publish an article that demonises people with a diagnosis of personality disorder, that people with this diagnosis feel shame? Is it any wonder I have struggled with 'deeply embedded shame'? Articles like this one have helped to render me silent about my diagnosis and my struggles over the years, and that silence fed my shame. 

I am aware that this response is not exhaustive and that I have focussed mostly on the BPD aspects of the article, rather than the other personality disorders mentioned. 

If you have been triggered by this article, I would encourage you, as hard as it might be, to try to remember that people with a diagnosis of BPD are some of the most sensitive, caring and loving people out there with a huge amount to offer to society. 

People with a diagnosis of BPD have often been engaged with a struggle throughout history to be heard, believed and fairly represented. I see articles such as this and the responses to them as part of that struggle.  I would love to hear your thoughts. I'm on Twitter @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Rosie Cappuccino 25.10.17

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I am not 'a bad person'

A drawing from a few months ago

I drew this after a powerful conversation with a professional. It was one of the first times I realised that my difficulties are not my fault. 

I grew up blaming myself for my difficulties, hating on myself in fact. It has been life-changing to finally begin to engage in the process of accepting that my difficulties did not happen because I'm 'a bad person'. 

It has been scary to accept that things are not my fault because it means having to accept that l'm not in control of everything that has happens to me. 

Mind Media Awards! Got my tickets!

Listen & believe...

These are all my notebooks. 

I've kept diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks & sketchbooks since I was little. They contain my stories. It's vital that we listen to children and young people. 

Monday, 23 October 2017

This is not my 'eccentricity'.

I came across this the other day in one of notebooks from a few years ago:

From one of my notebooks

My mental health problems have been a part of me since I was little, and I've never been one to follow the crowd in anything I do. Because of this, my struggles have been seen as an 'eccentricity' and an 'oddity'. 

These three lines, written probably in a time of deep loneliness, reflect 'my struggle', 'my fight' to be taken seriously. A fight which I feel I have only recently won. 

The word 'fight' doesn't usually feel appropriate for me to use with regard to my mental health problems, but right now- it does. 

Drawing by me

I have had to fight throughout my life to be seen and heard. To be listened to. To be taken seriously. 

'I am the bird with the broken beak. Shut me up, but I will find a way to speak' 
- Rosie Cappuccino. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

DBT Crisis Cards

She Grrrowls...

It was amazing to be at the She Grrrowls Women and Non-Binary Open Mic on Wednesday. The night is founded by the inspiring poet Carmina Masoliver, who is the editor of a poetry collection published by the amazing Burning Eye Books.

'Ocean' by me, Rosie Cappuccino
My poem about depression and hypomania. 

It was brilliant to be at such an inspiring night and to see so many amazing poets and performers share their work. She Grrowls is a feminist poetry night, making space for people to share their work in a supportive and welcoming space. 

You can find more of my spoken word poetry here

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Notes to myself...


In my last post I talked about the possibility of talking back to my emotional states and how creativity might give me a way to do that.

I have heard of people characterising and naming their emotional states, perhaps in a slightly similar way to how some people who hear voices have names attached to their voices.

Mine is called Crow. I've been writing and drawing about birds for years now, and the name Crow feels right.

Drawing by me

I'm in the very early stages of getting to know Crow. I don't know whether it's a him/her/them/it. I am drawing and writing about Crow in many ways, in the hope of giving a more concrete shape to Crow. Maybe Crow shifts shape...I don't know yet.

It's deeply personal actually, but I will share some of the drawings with you:

Drawings by me

Do you imagine/experience your emotional states as a character? Do you have any dialogue with them? I would love to hear any thoughts and experiences @TalkingAboutBPD.

Talking back to my BPD

TW This post mentions self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide, so please take care.

Some people hear voices that others don't hear. They might be voices coming from inside the person, or from outside the person, or any other manner. Many people over the years have had their voices silenced by professionals and/or have been encouraged to silence the voices.

I came across the brilliant activism of Jacqui Dillon and Rachel Waddingham in the BBC 2 Horizon programme 'Why Did I Go Mad?'. I also disovered Eleanor Longden, and all three of these women are an inspiration to me.

Drawing by me

Each of these three brilliant women have done much work around how empowering it can be to not silence the voices, but to listen to them and perhaps talk back to them. 

Engaging in a dialogue with voices can be powerful. It can be a way to begin to understand where the voices have come from, why they happen and what they might be trying to communicate. With an understanding of the voices, there may be a way of working with them as team, rather than having them as an enemy.  

I don't hear voices, but I do have intense emotional states that come over me. For me, these emotional states are usually made up of:
  • intense emotions 
  • feelings 
  • bodily sensations
  • memories / flashbacks 
  • judgements about myself
  • judgements about others
  • urges
Let me talk you through an example: 
  • shame and anxiety
  • worthlessness, panicky
  • looking at floor, heart racing
  • flashbacks to distressing memories
  • 'I am a disgusting human being'
  • 'I'm going to be disowned because I'm a disgusting human being' 
  • to run away, self-harm, suicide
Since watching this documentary, I've been inspired to think about whether I can talk back to my emotional states. 

Video by me

When I was in A&E last week, a nurse suggested it that I talk back to the emotional states. She said they are similar to a voice in some ways, especially as they contain words and phrases. We talked about how creativity might give me a way to do this...

Do you talk back? I would love to hear from you @TalkingAboutBPD. 

A&E: My latest experience

TW This post mentions suicidal thoughts. 

Last weekend I got really distressed when I was out and about. The volume of my suicidal thoughts had increased and were trying to convince me that I was a burden on everyone I loved. At the time, I felt I had two options.

1. To believe those suicidal thoughts that were screaming at me


2. To take myself to the nearest A&E department to see if someone could help me 

I chose option 2.

drawing by me from an old notebook

The next few hours consisted of me crying in a waiting room fearing that:

1. my life was collapsing around me


2. everyone I cared about wouldn't want to be part of the mess I was in

drawing from my sketchbook

I waited in a corridor for about two hours, crying loudly the whole time in front of everyone. The whole time a security guard stood near me and if I got up to go to the toilet, he followed me.

 When a doctor called me, the security guard came too. The doctor told me I was going to get through this. I told him that I had been through this before. He told me I was young and that things would improve with age.

Then I got taken into a small room down a quiet corridor. The security guard came too. I took photos:

photo by me

photo by me

I felt a bit scared about being put in this room on my own. Nobody was walking past except security guards and the occasional nurse. The security guard brought me a snack box and a cup of tea, which I was very grateful for. 

I waited another two hours. By this time, I just wanted to be in bed and away from the hospital. I said I wanted to leave several times but the security guard told me I needed to wait. 

When a nurse arrived I was relieved. She immediately put me at ease. This means a lot to me because in the past I have had some horrendous, dehumanising and actually traumatic experiences with staff in A&E. 

drawing by me

We had a fantastic conversation. She immediately understood where I was coming from and said she had worked with a lot of people similar to me before. We talked about the potential to harness my creativity to manage the overwhelming states.

I left A&E feeling more able to manage and stronger. I want to thank the nurse again, she really made positive impact on me and made me feel immediately safe. My life perhaps wasn't collapsing. 

Video by me about my experience in A&E

I will write more about what I learnt in my next post. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Fear of sharing emotions

I can only speak for myself, that's the only mind I know.

However, from my attempts at understanding others' experiences, it seems that those of us with a diagnosis of BPD often are afraid of what will happen if we share our emotions.

This may be because so many of us have been through and / or still go through experiences of invalidation, abuse, neglect or trauma. I try to keep this in mind with Talking About BPD. I know that I have a very real fear that sharing my emotions will make people reject or abandon me.

It's important that people don't belittle or mock me for having that fear. I developed that fear for a reason. I like to have this fear challenged by people I love and trust, who do with sensitivity and an awareness of why I have this fear.

In fact, having my fear challenged by people I trust has been one of the ways I've gained increasing mastery over my BPD.

Talking About BPD is part of a very concrete attempt to make that fear not come true.

Zine: Why do I have BPD?

I got my diagnosis of BPD in 2014, just before I took my finals at university. 

A zine by me, Rosie Cappuccino

Why do I have BPD? is a question that I have spent a lot of time trying to answer. 

One answer might be that it's the psychiatric diagnosis that best fits my experiences. 

But it's a question that I feel taps into the very core of who I am, my life, my past and my identity. It feels like a deeply personal question. 

Here are some pictures from a zine I made about it a few months ago. 

Pictures from my zine

I use the image of a hurricane inside myself a lot. That's how the emotions feel sometimes, as they whip me up and throw me around. 

You can see more of my zines on my comics page

Drawing distress

TW this post mentions self-harm 

As I mentioned in a recent post, I was in a month of depression during September. It was very painful and quite scary at times. As usual, I turned to drawing in a way to bear those emotions. It's actually my alternative to self-harm these days. 

There is something satisfying about creating a picture that captures something of the emotional state I'm going through. 

I wanted to share three of the drawings with you. I drew them on the train. I take my notebook with my a lot of the time.

Emotions searing through me like a burn
Drawing by me.

On fire with emotion
Drawing by me.

Help me, I'm  drowning in my sadness
Drawing by me. 

I find drawing to be a usefully direct form of communicating what's going on in my mind.

Do you draw your way through your mental health condition or your emotions? I would love to hear from you @TalkingAboutBPD.

The Land of Social Restraint: Comics from 2011

Drawings by me, 2011

I drew these when I was twenty and had a mental breakdown. I was going through a period of horrendous depression and an eating disorder; life as I knew it had imploded. 

One of the hardest things was how to navigate the social aspects of my mental health problems. I felt the weight of silence. Six years on, I'm more able to talk about my experiences than I ever dreamed I would be able to. 

I still find it really hard sometimes though. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

New YouTube videos!

I decided to share some of my drawings and notebooks in my videos. Sometimes it's hard to explain the intense emotions in words and drawing can be a more direct communication for me. 

I'm so happy to share these new full-length videos on my YouTube channel. If you can relate to my experiences, I hope watching these help you feel a little less alone in what you go through.

From silence to talking

A month of depression

The last month was one of the most difficult I've ever been through. The feelings of depression ended on Monday and I'm so grateful for that.

Reflecting on how I felt and what I went through for that month makes me think about how I managed. I must be stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for...

Drawing by me

Friday, 6 October 2017

Being silenced

TW This post mentions self-harm and eating disorders 

I wanted to share two drawings with you.

One of them I did a month or so ago. I wanted to convey the young person I was who needed help- who even asked for help- and help didn't come to her.

'Silenced screams': Drawing by me

I draw that strangling feeling of silence now because I know it so well. Indeed I am so familiar with that choking feeling that I do it to myself. When I am distressed I tell myself to 'shut up', I tell myself that I'm 'disgusting' for wanting to talk about my experiences.

I know rationally now that it's my right to speak. However, one of my main triggers for self-harm to this day is being told that I 'shouldn't talk' about what I go through. I have been through so many feelings of intense shame and self-disgust for talking.

Of course that shame is not deserved. It's human to need and want to talk. I am now speaking out through the silence I have felt over the years.

Staying silent and being silenced meant that emotions were pushed down. I developed an eating disorder when I was about 18. This is a drawing from a notebook I had when I was about 19.

Drawing from one of my notebooks

The most striking this is the words: 'But you keep smiling'.

I kept smiling whilst the fear, confusion and pain attacked me internally and the eating disorder began to take over my life. I couldn't speak about it. I didn't feel like words belonged to me at that time. Talking About BPD documents my journey out of that silence towards speaking.

Feeling like I live two lives

Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal on June 20th 1958:

“It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative--which ever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.”

I haven't yet come across a better description of how it feels for me to live my life as if I have two completely separate strands. 

I wrote about how to accept the distress I go through a while back, and after having come out of a month long depression on Monday this week, it feels more relevant than ever for me to think about these polarised experiences that I go through. 

Even though I have a greater understanding of why I go through extremes of mood and feelings about myself and my life, the drawing that I did about seven years ago still feels relevant to me today: 

Drawing by me 

Maybe you can recognise yourself in this image? I was on the left hand side for a month until Monday this week. Now I'm on the right hand side. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Twitter @TalkingAboutBPD. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Student Minds: 'I felt like I had a dirty little secret'

TW This post mentions an eating disorder, suicide and self-harm

When I started university in 2010, the eating disorder that was developing was taking over me more and more. One term into my English degree, I had a mental breakdown.

Drawing from one of my sketchbooks

I was completely unable to live my life as I knew it. I had depression, was suicidal and self-harming. I couldn't look after myself, I was confused and devastated by what was happening to me. I was lucky that I had my parents who took me home and looked after me.

Over time and with support, I managed to rebuild a new life. I had therapy for my eating disorder and began to get strength back. After nine months, I went back to university and restarted my degree.

The next three years at university were shaped by my experiences of mental health conditions. I managed to get my degree, and I feel proud of that in two ways: firstly gaining a degree and secondly managing to do that through some pretty intense mental health problems.

I'm a Masters student in Medical Humanities at the moment. Student mental health is something I am really in support of, so I'm really proud to share a post with Student Minds. You can read it over on the fantastic Student Minds blog.

Monday, 2 October 2017

The loneliness and the fear

This the first video I made during a moment when my emotions were quite intense.

I had just come back home from a day out and had been experiencing some overwhelming and difficult emotions that came over me on the bus home. I talked a little bit about the fear and the loneliness that having these experiences can create.  

If you have been through something similar I hope it makes you feel a little bit less alone with what you've been through or are going through.