Monthly Archives: September 2017

Things NOT to say to someone with a Mental Illness

Talking to someone with a mental illness can be daunting if you have not got much experience of mental illnesses. But we are just like regular people. This is a post about some things not to say to someone with a mental illness. They are things I have heard and thought are unhelpful. Some have been said to me, others are just things I have heard said to others.

1. “Others have it worse than you”- This is the first on my list and is a particularly unhelpful statement. It is one I have even heard from a mental health professional when I was feeling particularly suicidal. Yes, we are aware that other people may have it worse than us but that does not diminish our pain or lessen the impact of what we are going through. It is a patronising statement as well as being hurtful and unhelpful. Just because someone may be going through something worse, it does not stop someone else hurting g. And who made it a competition anyway?

2. ” Think about others”- This is another statement I’ve had said to me when suicidal and its one that really hurts me. When I am feeling suicidal I am thinking of others constantly and have come to the conclusion they would be better off without me. It is not a selfish decision on the whole and most people with mental illnesses are constantly thinking of others. The problem is our thinking is distorted.

3. “You’re selfish”- This leads on from my last statement. Most people who are mentally unwell think of others before themselves. Quite often they feel that they are a burden to others. They have thoughts that people would be better off without them. They are being far from selfish. Their think in is just distorted. They are struggling to deal with overwhelming thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they need to look after themselves first before they can help others. They are not selfish.

4. “You’re attention seeking”- I have heard this used in particular with people who self harm or attempt suicide and it is simply not true. Most people who do this are in so much pain that this is the only way they can see of coping with it. Also people tend to try and hide these behaviours, far from using them to attract attention. Others with mental illnesses may hear this statement too. It is invalidating. Please remember we are ill, not attention seekers.

5. “You have a great life”- Another invalidating statement. Just because someone has a great life does not mean they can’t get mentally ill because it is an ILLNESS. You wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer or a physical illness, so please dont say it to us. No one can help getting ill.

These are just a few statements that I wish people wouldn’t say. I am sure you have many more. Feel free to share in the comments. I may revisit this topic at a later date with more things not to say.

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Intense Emotions

This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware when reading.

I have BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), also known as EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder), which effects me greatly. One aspect of this disorder I struggle with is feeling intense emotions. I thought I would write a little about my struggle with them.

People with BPD are sometimes likened to the emotional equivalent of third degree burns victims. This is because quite often we feel emotions so intensely it is like we have no emotional skin. This has both positive and negative consequences.

I spend a lot of my time dealing with depression. Depression is awful for anyone suffering with it. It sucks the life out of you. With BPD this depression is intensified. I go into crisis at the drop of a hat. I am desperate to die to end the unbearable agony. Everything hurts so much that I don’t want to be in my own skin anymore. Its all uncomfortable. Now you might say this is depression without BPD but the difference is I can’t just feel a little bit down. Each time depression hits it is with this intensity. I always want to die.

Other emotions are felt with this same intensity. Anger, for example, is dangerous to me because I feel such hatred in me that it physically hurts until the point I am scared how I am going to act. I feel like it is beyond my control. It can be terrifying.

Its not just negative emotions that are felt intensely. Positive emotions are just as susceptible to the BPD intenseness. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be great to feel such joy for others when they achieve something. The feeling that the pride in them will burst out of you is intoxicating. Also when you are having a good time and laugh in the feeling is amazing and makes the event so memorable. It is great.

But it also has a negative side. The come down can be brutal. Especially if you go into a depression. The decline is painful. Also you can be more excited about something and obsess over something, while others treat it as not that important, not realising that to us it feels like the most important thing in the world. It can be very upsetting.

Another thing I have found difficult about dealing with intense emotions is watching films or TV programmes or even reading. All these things evoke emotions and I feel them so intensely. For example if something is meant to be scary it will make me incredibly fearful to the point I cannot watch anymore. It hurts. It is like the event is happening to me.

So intense emotions are not just a quirk of BPD. They can be crushing and feel incredibly overwhelming. Please be patient with us. If you have BPD and feel intense emotions what is your experience? Feel free to leave a comment to share how you cope.

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

It’s another World Suicide Prevention Day and I pondered for a while about what to write. Especially as this year I find myself feeling increasingly suicidal. Then it came to me. This post will be about some of the things I wish people knew when I feel suicidal. This is personal to me so others may be different. Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.

1. “It’s not selfish”- The first thing on my list that I want you to know is that suicide and suicidal thoughts are rarely selfish. Yes, the person may want to end their own suffering, but a lot of the time they believe they are ending everyone else’s as well. When I am feeling suicidal I spend a lot of time thinking of others. I believe that those around me would benefit from my suicide. It is far from selfish.

2. “Language matters”- This may be a small one but saying someone has “committed” suicide is incorrect. “Committed” implys it is a criminal act, which it hasn’t been since 1961 in England and Wales. It is more appropriate to say “died by suicide”. It may seem small but people that die by suicide are not criminals, they are people who were unwell.

3. “You don’t need to fix me”- This is probably a hard one for anyone hearing that someone they care about is considering suicide. It is in our natures to want to solve the problems of others and make things more bearable. But sometimes this is just not possible. Sometimes things can not be easily fixed, and that is OK. It’s OK if you don’t know what to say to help me. I understand and you just being there for me to talk and reach out to is enough at the moment. Please don’t beat yourself up for not being able to fix everything.

4. “It’s not attention seeking”- I can not stress this enough. People who tell you they are suicidal are not doing it to just gain attention most of the time. If someone tells you they are suicidal they are trying to tell you they are hurting. That at the moment their life feels hopeless. It is more saying they need someone to listen and sometimes help. This can be by getting them to access mental health services or just by being a listening ear. I know this might sound contradictory to what I said about not wanting you to fix us but this help is not about you solving all our problems, it is about helping us solve our own issues.

5. “Suicide is not cowardly”- Another point I can not stress enough. Suicide, in my eyes, is far from a cowardly act. If someone is feeling that desperation to make things better they are far from a coward. To take that step into the unknown, to me, feels extremely brave. How can they know what comes next will be better? It is a scary place to find yourself, contemplating your own death. There are so many what ifs. I have made two attempts on my own life and both took extreme courage to get that far. Anyone battling suicidal thoughts is brave in my eyes.

So there you have a few things I would like others to know about suicide and suicidal thoughts. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts there is help out there. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information on suicidal thoughts check out the Mind website.

Mental Illness is NOT a Competition

I am writing this in response to something I read on Instagram which really annoyed me and has been playing on my mind since I saw it. In this post it was said that people who have “true” psychosis are always unaware of it and if you think you have it, chances are you don’t. I will not link to the post as I don’t want to generate hate but I felt I needed to respond in some way. This is my response.

As some of you may know, I hear a voice. I have written about it before. This voice has been with me about four years. It is classed as a form of psychosis. It is not something I have “made up” but I know I hear it in my head. I am aware it is my brain not working right. This does not mean I do not have psychosis. In fact it has been written by medical professionals that it is a psychotic illness. Just because someone is aware of what is happening to them, does not diminish what they are suffering.

I suffer a lot with the voice I hear. It is terrifying on a daily basis. The voice I hear is strong and currently uncontrolled. But I am aware it is in my head. To some people this seems to make them think that what I experience is not “true” psychosis. Yet it is. Anyone suffering on any level with the symptoms of psychosis is brave, whether they are aware it is psychosis or not. People will have different experiences and we need to learn that is OK. Mental illness is not a competition. Saying that what someone is suffering is not valid is unfair and can be dangerous and hurtful. I know this from personal experience.

This, unfortunately, is not the first time I have seen mental illness treated as a competition. Everyone who has symptoms is facing a battle personal to them and we have no right to judge who has it most difficult.

So my conclusion is this; we are all different people, we all experience things in different ways. Noone has the right to invalidate exactly what we are feeling. If you are suffering from psychosis, or any other mental illness, your experiences are valid. Please be kind to others and learn from each other rather than judging. Mental illness is not a competition.

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