Monthly Archives: January 2019

What It Feels Like To Be Suicidal

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

I have spent a huge amount of time feeling suicidal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve been making plans at all times but it has involved wishing I was dead and attempts at some points. It’s a complex feeling so I thought I’d try and explain what it is like to feel suicidal.

Feeling suicidal is exhausting. It is tiring fighting against a brain that wants to kill you. It takes a supreme amount of effort to get up in the morning and functioning at all is wearisome. Feeling suicidal leads to you wanting to hide away from people and it takes a huge amount of effort to keep seeing people.

You also often hear how suicide is selfish. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When I have been feeling suicidal I have spent hours going over and over in my mind about how people are better off without me. I spend time imagining how their lives will be improved without me in them. I go through thinking how hurting them in the short term will be worth it for the long term improvements in the future. Thinking of others is my major concern. I don’t want to be a burden to them anymore.

When feeling suicidal it can feel like your thoughts are crushing you. The weight of them is a burden that is hard to bear. The thoughts become intrusive and make it difficult to do normal things. The whole time you can be ruminating over why you should die or even how you could do it.

Suicidal thinking is tough. It is the most unnatural thought process. We are meant to strive to survive but instead our brains want us to die. It is far from easy. It is definitely not a sign of weakness.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal there are people you can talk to. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a week or see the page of crisis numbers from the menu above.

If you have any thoughts you want to share then feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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My BPD Story

I originally wrote this post for the Break The Stigma campaign that is run by Ben who works for my local Mental Health Trust, East London Foundation Trust. You can find the campaign on Facebook or Twitter. For the original post click here.

“Hello, my name is Jo and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.” These are the words that I wish it was easy to say out loud. But it’s not. The reason I don’t feel able to share my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) easily is the huge amount of stigma that the condition carries. This is something I desperately want to change.

When I was diagnosed with BPD, about six years ago, I struggled to deal with my diagnosis. I found out I had this diagnosis by reading it on my copy of the letters sent to my GP. At the time I didn’t know what BPD was and so I worked up the courage to ask my psychiatrist what this diagnosis was and how she had come to this conclusion. She was very good and went through the criteria with me. I was shocked. She then suggested I read a book written by a psychiatrist about the condition. I agreed. This was a mistake.

The book I was given went into detail about why people with BPD were difficult patients and how they were all trying to manipulate those around them. It listed a number of bad things about people with BPD. I was horrified and immediately went into denial. Even though the psychiatrist had shown how I met the criteria, I did not want to believe I had this illness. I was definitely not going to tell many people I had it either. I did not want them to think I was these bad things.

My denial went on for quite a while. I told very few people my diagnosis. Even my parents didn’t know. Then I met and talked to some other people with the same diagnosis and I realised they were none of the bad things I had heard about BPD. These people were lovely, they just struggled with certain things like I did. This led me to being more open about my diagnosis and even telling my parents.

There is still a lot of stigma out there surrounding BPD and personality disorders in general. People still think we are manipulative and all the same but we are people with an illness, just like if we had cancer or diabetes. I’ve experienced stigma even from a psychiatrist who told me I couldn’t be treated. This is untrue. Therapy is the main treatment for BPD and medication can help manage some symptoms.

It is important to challenge the stigma surrounding BPD, and all mental illnesses, so that people can access the help that they need and deserve. At the moment 10% of those diagnosed with BPD will die as a result of suicide. This number is far too high. With help hopefully this can be reduced. Even one life lost is too many, and stigma feeds into these statistics. Reducing stigma will save lives and help those with mental illness to lead a better life.

Having BPD doesn’t make people scary or manipulative. They just have an illness like everyone else.”

To find out more information on Borderline Personality Disorder click here or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

An Hour With The Voice

This blog post is a personal piece and content may be triggering. It also contains adult language. If you need support please either check out the crisis line numbers in the menu or the Samaritans are available all day, every day.

Living with a voice is tough. It tells you all sorts of things and because it repeats them over and over you start to believe them. For someone who doesn’t hear a voice it’s like having someone whispering things in your ear over and over again. Some are nice, others nasty. Everyone who hears a voice is different and I can’t speak for everyone but I thought I’d give you an insight into what I hear by recording what the voice says to me for an hour. Please be aware this may be highly triggering and does talk about suicide and self harm.

“You’re useless.

Can’t you see that everyone is better off without you.

Why don’t you just die.

You’re nothing.

Noone like you.

Die.

All you deserve is to hurt.

You’re vile.

You’re a whore.

That’s all you’re good for.

How could anyone like you?

Bitch.

Die.

Cut.

You deserve to hurt.

You’re useless.

Can’t you see you’re ruining life for everyone.

They’d be better off without you.

You’re the reason they are fighting.

You ruin everything.

You’re vile.

You’ll never be any use.

Nothing you do matters.

You’re a burden.

Can’t you just die.

Take an overdose.

You’re so selfish.

Don’t you see you’re draining everyone.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die

Die.

You’re worthless, can’t you see that?

Shut the fuck up.

Noone wants to hear you.

All you do is hurt others.

Fucktard.

You’re nothing.

Die.

Harm.

Cut.

You need to hurt.

You need to punish yourself.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die whore.

You’re shit.

You are worthless.

You’re a burden.

You’re no use to anyone.

Die.

Die.

Die.

Die.”

This is just a snapshot. A lot of this is repeated over and over. It feels never-ending. It is hard to hear all this.

If you want to share your experiences feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Mental Illness Competition

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

This will be controversial but it has come to my attention that having a mental illness feels at times like a competition as to who has it worst. We find ourselves comparing how we are suffering to those who are also struggling.

I’m guilty of this too. As someone who self harms I find myself comparing my degree of self harm to others. I feel I should be harming worse than I am. I aspire to hurt more. I find myself looking at images of self harm and wondering if I’m capable of hurting that bad. And I hate myself for this.

Mental illness should not be a competition. It is that simple. But try telling that to my brain. I am constantly comparing myself to others. I know I shouldn’t. But I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s nature to compare ourselves to make ourselves better but what about when we’re making ourselves worse? Surely that can’t be right.

I think some of the issue here is with the requirements by mental health services to get help. It feels like you have to be at breaking point to get any help. If you have an eating disorder, for example, your weight has to be at certain low level before any intervention happens. For me the issue came when my self harm was said to be superficial and my suicide attempt was classified as “not serious”. This made me feel I had to harm worse and try harder to die. That noone was taking my distress seriously. This needs to change.

There needs to be a major overhaul of mental health services. Everyone who self harms, attempts suicide, has an eating disorder or any other sign of mental illness, needs to be taken seriously. Mental illness is not a competition and shouldn’t be encouraged as one by mental health services.

If you find yourself comparing yourself to others or trying to get worse to get help, please don’t feel bad about it. Unfortunately this in itself is a part of mental illness. It makes you try to get worse. It’s how it survives and takes an awful lot of work to fight. But you can fight it. I have faith in you even if you don’t. (By the way I’m not talking of full recovery but just being able to live with mental illness in someway as I know recovery for some people is just not possible).

If you would like to share your thoughts on this please feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be respectful to others.

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What Not To Say: Self Harm

Please be aware this post discusses self harm and therfore some of the content may be triggering.

Self harm is still a taboo subject and is often met with stigma,even from health professionals, who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with. Therefore I thought I’d put together a quick guide to things not to say to someone who self harms.

1. “You’re attention seeking”

Most people who self harm don’t want the attention. We often hide what we are doing much to the detriment of our mental and physical health. In fact there are easier ways to get attention than to self harm. Self harm is often a very secretive act and this can cause us trouble when we hurt ourselves to much. If this happens we’re often scared to get the health care that we need due to the stigma surrounding this subject. Also if someone is self harming for attention they still deserve your help and care. They obviously need that attention for some reason so it should not be dismissed.

2. “You know you’ll have scars for life”

Yes we know this. But at the moment our emotional pain is too much to deal with and we don’t care about the future at this moment in time. We also don’t need the judgements that you are placing on us. We often feel bad enough already without this comment.

3. “If you want to die why don’t you just do it?”

Self harm is often not a suicide attempt. Yes some people who self harm do want to die but often self harm is a way of coping with life and trying hard to stay alive. Also telling someone to just die is plain wrong. Why would you encourage someone to die?

4. “Don’t you feel pain?”

This is one that I’ve heard recently. And for me I don’t feel the pain at the time of harming myself. Everyone is different though. And even if a person doesn’t feel pain, pointing it out is not necessary and can be potentially triggering. This is why you shouldn’t say it to a person who self harms. It’s just unhelpful.

5. “Ugh, your scars are horrible”

My scars may look horrible to you but to me they are a symbol of what I’ve been through. Also its really unhelpful to say this as showing our scars is difficult enough. People should not be ashamed to show their scars. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

6. “Why don’t you just stop?”

If it was as easy as just stopping it wouldn’t be the problem it is. Self harm is like an addiction. You come to rely on it even though you know its not particularly helpful and in the long times makes things harder. Self harm becomes like your best friend as its always there for you but you know it’s actually toxic. It is a hard relationship to break down. So saying “why don’t you just stop?” is unhelpful. What we need is support to learn healthier coping strategies.

So that’s a few things not to say to someone who self harms. If you want more information on self harm you can check out the Mind website. If you want to share things not to say to someone then feel free to use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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