Monthly Archives: May 2018

Birthday Thoughts

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that content may be triggering. 

As my birthday draws closer, I begin to feel the familiar dread that accompanies this time of year. It has plagued me for a long time now and while, yes, my birthday can be an enjoyable day, it also holds other significance in my life. My birthday marks another year passing and this is something that troubled me.

So why should another year passing be such a big deal? It might not sound like a big deal if you’re not struggling with being alive but for me, someone who is regularly suicidal, it feels like the ultimate failure. “Ridiculous” I hear you cry, “It’s an achievement you are still alive” well not to me. If I had my way I would not be celebrating this milestone. This year is especially tough as I have attempted several times to try and end my life but to no avail. It feels like the biggest failure.

Being alive for another birthday feels like the ultimate failure when you were so sure you would be dead by a certain age. Every year you surpass that age doesn’t feel like an achievement but another reason why you shouldn’t be alive.

Then the guilt sets in as you know there are people out there who are desperate to live longer or who have died at a young age. And all you want to do is swap with them. To give them the time you still have. To finish your time on earth as quickly as possible. You feel selfish at thinking like this but the pain inside is just too much to bear. Birthdays are a reminder of this. 

Another reason having a birthday is so difficult to me is that it marks time passing and I feel I am stuck in the same situation I was last birthday. No one is to blame for this but me, but still it feels awful knowing that as I head closer to thirty I am still stuck in a very child like state, reliant on others for so much. I feel like a burden. And the worst part is I don’t know if it will change by next birthday.

There is also the fact that people expect you to be happy on your birthday. The problem is mental illnesses don’t take days off. The chances are I will feel just as bad in my birthday. I can’t change that. Of course I want to enjoy the day and be happy. That’s what I want every day but it may not happen with the pressures of other thoughts. But I don’t want to spoil the day for others so will put a mask on. This makes everything harder and more tiring. 

This is why I dread my birthday. It’s nothing personal against anyone. It’s just a difficult day. I will do my best to try and make it a good day using some of the tips I wrote about here. If you struggle with your birthday or have any tips to cope feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Therapy Journey: An Introduction

This is the first post in what I hope will be a series. I have decided to document my journey with therapy. I wanted to record each stage of my therapy journey, not only to inform others, but also as a memory aid for myself.

I have currently been waiting for this most recent therapy referral for nearly two years. I have already had to go through a few different stages that I will put into their own blog posts.

In order to get this current therapy referral I had to convince my psychiatrist that it was necessary. I have also gone through an assessment for one type of talking therapy with a different service where I was refused treatment due to the complexity of my illness. This meant I had to go back and be referred again to another different service.

In these blogs I hope to share my thoughts about each session, or step along the journey, as well as what I find helpful and unhelpful. I hope to share strategies and activities. I will not be sharing personal information or details of my past as I feel that would be counterproductive for me and won’t aid me in getting what I need from treatment. These posts may not be weekly as I may group sessions together. It will just depend on how therapy goes for me. 

If you have any questions feel free to use the comments, Facebook or Twitter and I will try to answer honestly. 

BPD Myths

One of my diagnoses is Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as it is also known. It is a diagnosis that is becoming more common but is plagued by many myths. There is a lot of misinformation out there and it can be hard to sort the fact from the fiction. Therefore I thought I would take a look at some common myths surrounding BPD and try to demystify this illness.

1. BPD isn’t treatable: This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are lots of options for treatment for those with BPD. It is not necessarily a life sentence. There is hope. While there is no medication approved to treat BPD, it can be used to treat the symptoms of BPD and it’s possible comorbid disorders. I currently use a mixture of antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics to help treat my illnesses. Medication isn’t the only option either; therapy is a big part of treatment for BPD, the main one being dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). This is the current best practice option for those with BPD, under NICE guidelines. Many with BPD will see their symptoms reduce and may enter recovery.

2. BPD is a variation of Bipolar Disorder: This simply isn’t true. BPD and Bipolar Disorder are two totally separate illnesses with different diagnostic criteria. It is possible to have both BPD and Bipolar Disorder but they are not the same. Yes, both have mood swings as a symptom, but in each illness these present in different ways with BPD mood changes tending to be more rapid. 

3. BPD is only found in women: This is another myth that is simply untrue. Both men and women are equally susceptible to having BPD. There is however a gender bias that has been noted when it comes to diagnosis. This bias sees more women than men diagnosed with BPD.

4. People with BPD are all the same: With every illness there will be similarities to others who have the same condition but each person suffering is unique. In BPD this is more true due to the diagnostic criteria. The criteria contains 9 sets of symptoms. To get a diagnosis of BPD you need to meet at least 5 of the criteria. You could meet more. This means there is at least 256 combinations of the criteria. This also doesn’t factor in severity. This means it is highly unlikely one person with BPD will experience the condition exactly like another.

5. People with BPD don’t know how to love: This couldn’t be further from the truth. People with BPD love hard and intensely. Part of BPD can be feeling emotions more intensely and this includes love. This means we are more likely to love quicker and get hurt easier. We can however change our feelings quickly from love to hate when someone hurts us.

6. People with BPD are manipulative: This is probably the most common myth out there and is untrue. While our behaviour may (and not always) come across as manipulative it is very rarely meant that way. People with BPD can easily become distressed and struggle with how to deal with and express this. This may lead to behaviour that appears manipulative but isn’t. It’s just they don’t know how else to cope.

So those are some of the myths surrounding BPD that I hope I have explained the truth behind. If you have any other myths you think need to be cleared up feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Coping With Stress

Stress is a part of everyday life but when you have a mental illness it can be more difficult to deal with. We all know what it is like to feel stressed and to deal with the pressures of life. There is, however, a link between mental illness and stress. Stress can cause mental illness but also mental illness can cause stress. Therefore it is important to be aware of the signs of stress and how to cope with it.

Stress can give us both mental and physical signs to look out for. You might feel irritable, anxious, depressed or like your thoughts are racing. Your behaviour might change and you might find yourself finding it hard to make decisions, snapping at people or unable to concentrate. The physical signs of stress can include headaches, indigestion, feeling sick, being tired all the time or having problems with sleep. For more information on the signs of stress check out the Mind website here.

How can I cope with stress?

Below are a few ways that I have found helpful when trying to cope with stress. Hopefully they will be useful.

1. Have a routine: Routines really help me when I am feeling stressed. They mean I make sure essential things get done and I can build into them other things that I need to do. Routines make me feel safe and secure. However, try to be flexible with your routine otherwise it can create more stress if things don’t go to plan. It is ok if routines have to change. It is not the end of the world though it can feel like it.

2. Learn to say NO: This is something I find incredibly hard to do but it is so important. It is ok to say no to things in order to give yourself time to look after you. Self care is important and the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is so true. However, I understand that it can be difficult as you don’t want to let people down or feel left out. The truth is you will let more people down and miss out more of you keeping saying yes and then the stress gets too much.

3. Try to be organised: This is easier said than done sometimes but being organised can really help. When I plan things it really helps to reduce my anxiety and I would be lost without my phone to help me. Having everything written down and recorded helps me to feel more at ease and I stress much less about an event if I know what I am doing. 

4. Talk to others: The phrase “a problem shared is a problem halved” rings very true at times of stress. If you talk to others about how you are feeling you may find they can help you. And even if they can’t it can be highly therapeutic to get how you are feeling off your chest. You might be surprised and find others are feeling the same which can make you feel less isolated and alone. I

5. Avoid drugs and alcohol: It can be tempting when stressed to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. This is very rarely a good idea and will more often end up making you feel worse. Try instead to eat well and drink plenty of water. This can help you feel much better.

These are just a few ways to cope with stress that I have found useful. For more information on stress check out the Mind website. If you have any ways that have helped you cope with stress feel free to share in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

Dealing With A BPD Diagnosis

One of my diagnoses is Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as it is also known. Any new diagnosis is difficult to deal with, but for me a diagnosis of BPD was the hardest. Therefore I thought I would discuss how I felt and how I dealt with getting my BPD diagnosis.

My diagnosis of BPD came 5 or 6 years ago when I was 23/24. I don’t know precisely when it occurred as I was never officially told “this is your diagnosis”. Instead the term EUPD suddenly started appearing on my paperwork. Also that time is quite blurred for me as I had a lot of stress going on in my life that has caused me to blank out large chunks of what happened.

With the help of a friend as an advovate, I confronted my psychiatrist at the time to ask what this diagnosis was and how she had come to the conclusion I had this illness. I had never heard the term EUPD then and had no idea about its other name, BPD. I was very unhappy about having an illness that included the term “personality disorder”. I didn’t like the idea that someone was saying there was something wrong with my personality (this is a view I still hold but will explain in more detail later). 

My psychiatrist was very good in her response to my queries and say and went through the criteria with me and showed me how I met it. She offered to answer any questions but I was stunned. She then recommended a book for me to read on the illness written by a psychiatrist. This was a mistake.

I read the book and it was awful. It was full of negative comments about patients with BPD and how they are manipulative (a complete myth). I hated that I had this diagnosis and went into denial as I could not see myself in the words of this book. I decided I was not going to tell anyone my diagnosis for fear they would think I was these bad things.

This denial went on for a couple of years. I told very few people my diagnosis. Even my parents didn’t know. I was ashamed. Then I met some others with the same diagnosis. I learnt they were truly lovely people with similar issues to me. They were not manipulative or horrible at all. This have me the confidence to be more open with some people and I started to learn more about the illness from different sources including the Mind website. This changed my viewpoint and the self stigma I was inflicting upon myself lifted somewhat.

Now I am much more open about my illness and can see myself in the criteria a lot more than I ever could. I have learnt strategies to cope which has helped, and opened up more to those closest to me including my parents. I still dislike the term “personality disorder” as I don’t believe it is my personality that is wrong or that anyone’s personality can be wrong. 

My advice if you have just been diagnosed with BPD or are struggling to deal with a BPD diagnosis is to read about the illness from the perspective of others with the illness. Also check out the Mind website for great information. There are also some great support groups on Facebook for those with BPD like this one here. If you have any advice for dealing with diagnosis or want to share your story, feel free to in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter