Monthly Archives: March 2019

Saturday Night

This is a personal piece. Please be aware that some content may be triggering. I have since reached out for help.

When everyday you wish you were dead it is hard to see a way forward. It feels like nothing is worth doing. It is like noone cares about you. All you want is to stop this thing called life.

You sit and wish you were no longer here. Noone asks how you are. And even if they do you feel it is fake. You feel isolated. What’s the point in carrying on?

This is where I’m at. I no longer want to live and feel totally alone. I’m sitting in the dark on a Saturday night and nothing is tolerable. I don’t feel able to reach out. I feel unimportant. I feel needy. I feel hopeless.

I currently have very little support from my mental health team. I’ve had two care coordinators leave in the last two months. There is no replacement, just a name of an interim person who hasn’t bothered to contact me. My psychiatrist has left and I was seen by the consultant who wasn’t bothered about listening to me. This adds to the loneliness.

I don’t want to worry anyone. I’m hiding how I feel. Everyone has their own problems. I’m not important. I’m worthless. I’m a waste of space. I don’t want to go on. I’m tired of everything. What is the point?

If you feel suicidal there is support out there. In the UK the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day. For other countries see the crisis helplines page accessible via the menu.

To connect with me feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Losing A Mental Health Professional

This piece contains my personal opinions and some of the content may be triggering.

Sometimes in life we can’t control what is happening around us. People come and go in our lives whether we want them to or not. This can be hard to deal with. One big change can be when we lose a mental health professional who has been involved in our care for a long time. We may have come to rely on their help and support. We may have built up a good relationship with them. And then it ends.

As someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) endings can be particularly tough. Having a fear of abandonment means that when someone does actually leave our lives it is like a self fulfilling prophecy. Our worst fears are happening. This may lead to us getting involved in risky behaviours or rejecting the person before they are out of our lives in a way we believe will protect us.

Recently I was given the news that my care coordinator was moving on and I was going to have to say goodbye. It was difficult news to take as we had a good relationship and she was a great and supportive care coordinator. Getting the news made me feel like I was being abandoned as at the time there was no replacement on the horizon and no idea when one would be recruited. I was close to tears. Many thoughts went through my head including “was this my fault?”.

As I came to accept that this was going to happen I started to pull away from my care coordinator. This is what often happens with people who have a BPD diagnosis. It’s a way of protecting ourselves from a perceived abandonment even when it is not a true abandonment.

What helped though was the way my care coordinator rounded up our sessions together. She made sure my care plan was updated before everything ended so the next person would know what I needed help with and what I was working on already. Also in the end a new locum care coordinator was appointed so my old care coordinator could introduce me to the new one. This allowed her to inform the new person as to how often we met, what my major issues are and what needs to be brought up at my next psychiatrist appointment. It also helped to make a plan with the new care coordinator as to how our meetings would work.

What should a mental health professional remember to do when leaving a therapeutic relationship?

  1. Let the person know your leaving face to face
  2. Answer any questions about the change that the service user/patient has about the change
  3. If possible introduce your replacement to the service user/patient
  4. If unable to introduce your replacement, leave notes for your successor
  5. Tie up all loose ends

What can I do if I’m losing a mental health professional?

  1. Talk about any issues you feel need to be taken into account with a member of your mental health team
  2. Make sure you have numbers of people you can contact if you need help
  3. Create a support network (if possible) away from the mental health team
  4. Be open to a new mental health professional, remember just because they are new doesn’t mean they’ll be awful

Those are a few pieces of advice that I have but if you have more then feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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The Lesser Known Symptom Of BPD

As some of you may know there is a criteria of 9 symptoms which are considered when diagnosing BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)). To gain a diagnosis of BPD you need to meet at least 5 of the 9 criteria but each criteria can be met to different degrees. This means there are many different combinations of the criteria and therefore everyone who has the diagnosis is unique.

One of the lesser known criteria is hallucinations and psychosis in times of stress. This has been described below as mentioned on the NHS website.

“Brief episodes of strange experiences – such as hearing voices outside your head for minutes at a time. These may often feel like instructions to harm yourself or others. You may or may not be certain whether these are real.” (NHS website)

This lesser known symptom of BPD can be devastating but it is often overlooked by others. Most people focus on the difficulty with relationships and self harm. These of course are very serious symptoms of BPD but so is psychosis.

Often when you tell someone you hear a voice people will assume you have schizophrenia but it can be a part of many different illnesses, BPD being one of them. It means that an already stigmatised diagnosis (BPD) is even more stigmatised. This can be from others with the same diagnosis as well as mental health professionals.

It took a long time for me to tell my mental health team about the voice I hear. I thought that they would write me off as crazy and didnt realise it was part of my BPD diagnosis. I wasn’t informed that it was a part of BPD until years later, as different mental health professionals didn’t inform me that it was.

In fact I came up against stigma from some. They didn’t seem to take my symptoms seriously and dismissed me to begin with because I knew that the voice was in my head. They made out that it wasn’t a big deal even though it was still distressing. It took some time to persuade them to give me treatment. In fact one professional told me that because the psychosis was part of BPD I would never be able to get help with it. This was untrue as my current psychiatrist believes it can be helped by medication and I just haven’t found the right one yet that doesn’t cause me side effects.

Of course not everyone who has a BPD diagnosis experiences psychosis but it is part of the criteria so many who have it will suffer. How many suffer in silence? I want to talk about this lesser known symptom and end the stigma.

Have you had an experience of psychosis because of BPD? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture by me. ©Me And My Mental Health Matters

Feeling Trapped

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

I’m stuck in this place where I don’t know what I want. All I know is I want out. I feel trapped in a life where nothing feels good enough, where I can’t seem to share all that I’m feeling and thinking. I feel like everything is overwhelming.

I’ve recently started volunteering and while everyone says it’s a good thing (and I do get some enjoyment out of it) I feel like it is too much too quickly. I don’t feel in the right head space but I don’t feel able to say no or to give it up. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. Also I’m kind of stubborn and know I will feel like a failure if I have to stop.

I also have changed care coordinator which has been stressful as I know the new one is only temporary. I have only just come round to this to have another blow come out of the blue on my appointment for my psychiatrist. It seems I have a new one. And now I’m scared that all the plans made with my other psychiatrist will go in the bin. I am terrified of being left feeling the same way as I already do. I’m so anxious.

I’m also feeling trapped in my mind. The voice is loud right now and working hard to convince me that I should be dead. The intrusive thoughts are overpowering and trapping me further. I can’t rid myself of them and I feel embarrassed by their content. Something I’m building up to telling my psychiatrist about. It means I feel so lonely.

I also feel lonely because I don’t feel able to speak out to others. I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to come off as needy or be the friend that is always bringing down the mood. I keep using the phrase “not too bad” when asked how I am, desperately wanting people to see beyond the words.

Overall everything that is happening is just piling on the pressure and I feel like I’m going to explode or hit the self destruct button. I’m already harming myself and I want to do it more and more. I’m not satisfied with my current level of self harm. My head is telling me to do more or worse. Though why it should matter I don’t know. It’s just how I feel. Maybe I want someone to notice I’m in a worse headspace than I may appear to be, based on what I’m doing. I am trying to get help.

If you want to keep up with how I’m doing feel free to follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Why I don’t blame social media

There has been a lot in the news about how social media has a negative effect on mental health and it has even been blamed for the suicide of a 14 year old girl (check out the story here). However I personally don’t feel that social media is being given a fair trial and is not to blame, at least not solely.

There are many other things that have helped cause the increase in mental illnesses among young people. These are things that seem to have been overlooked in place of blaming social media outright. Social media feels like a lazy excuse for the ever-growing problem of mental illness among young people.

One major reason for the increase in suicide rates among teenagers (for statistics look here) is that they are unable to access the mental health care they desperately need. Waiting times have increased for therapy, if teenagers even get as far as being referred for it in the first place. There seems to have been a shift in what children will be accepted for treatment by CAMHs (Child and Adolescent Mental Health services) meaning that many slip through the net. Why is this the case? Put simply it is a lack of funding for mental health services as a whole.

Having a lack of CAMHs services also means that children and young people are having to get worse before they are considered for care. This means they’re in a worst place to start with when early intervention could stop them reaching crisis point. This could shorten the length of time they need support or lower the intensity of the support they require as well as preventing serious self harm and suicide.

Another reason for the rise in the number of suicides among young people, in my opinion, is the school system and the constant criticism that it brings. Everyone says that things are easier for young people these days and that the education system is too easy. For someone going through the system and hearing this makes you feel like a failure especially if you are struggling. This isn’t helped by the pressure from teachers. This isn’t the fault of the teachers. They themselves are under huge pressure to get results and meet targets, so obviously the pressure gets passed on to the students.

I’m not saying here that social media has no part in the rising tide of suicides among young people. Obviously with cyber bullying there is not the escape from bullies that you would get in previous generations. It is constant. But blaming the images of self harm and suicide quotes on Instagram I feel is taking the blame too far. There must be something wrong before they see the images to make them go looking for these images. Also these images are available on the Internet via a Google search not just social media.

Social media also has some positive effects on mental health. There is a very supportive community on the different social media platforms. There is also advice and information about different mental illnesses available via social media. Also it can help those struggling feel less alone and can encourage them to talk and get help.

I know my views may be controversial but I felt I needed to share them and I would love to hear your thoughts either in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Self Harm Awareness Day 2019: Q & A

Today, 1st March, is Self Harm Awareness Day. This awareness day is close to my heart as self harm is something that’s been part of my life for a long time. There is a lot that people assume about people who self harm and some of these misconceptions can be broken down on this awareness day. This year I decided to ask some friends, who don’t self harm, for their questions and I’d answer them. I’ve also added in a couple of frequently asked questions that hopefully will break down some of the misconceptions.

What are the best/worst things to say to someone who has self harmed?

The best things to say to someone who self harms is that you love them no matter what and that if they want to talk that you are there to listen. The worst thing to do is get angry and just tell them to stop. This will make them hide what they are doing more. For more things that are unhelpful you can see my blog post here.

How does self harm make someone feel?

This is a complex question and will probably be different for everyone who self harms. Quite often it can feel like a release at the point of harming. This however can develop into a feeling of guilt about succumbing to the urges. There can be many other feelings that come from self harming; anger at themselves, disappointment, and sadness. It often feels very confusing with so many emotions.

One emotion that doesn’t often get mentioned is joy and pride. This can happen when you self harm as you might be pleased with what you’ve done to begin with. This emotion doesn’t often last and it can lead to more self loathing as you know you shouldn’t feel this way about hurting yourself.

What triggers someone to self harm?

There are many things that can trigger someone. Triggers are very individual; what triggers one person may not trigger another, although a few may be pretty universal. Some major triggers can be arguments, images of self harm, stressful situations and past traumas. Sometimes though there can be nothing obvious as a trigger. It can just feel like a build up of emotions that you just need to get out.

What should I do if I suspect someone is self harming?

If you think someone is self harming it can be tricky to know what to say or do. It can however be as simple as saying to them “how are you?” and making them aware you’re there for them. Also asking the question “are you self harming?” is a good idea. It will not make the person start self harming but may help them open up and get the help they need.

Who usually self harms?

There is no usual person that self harms. There is a big misconception that it is something only young people do but that’s not true. I know of people who have been much older before they have self harmed for the first time. It can be anyone from any background that self harms.

What are signs someone is self harming?

There may not be any signs that someone is self harming. Contrary to popular belief most people who self harm do not do it for attention. Some signs that may be seen are covering certain areas of the body (e.g. Covering arms or legs in hot weather), unexplained injuries, being secretive or mood swings.

Thank you to those who gave me the questions, I hope I’ve answered them well enough. If you have any further questions about self harm feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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