Monthly Archives: May 2019

Turning 30

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

I turn 30 on 1st June 2019 and I don’t want to. I know a lot of people struggle with turning a certain age and I’m not alone in this feeling but I felt I needed to write out my concerns and see if I could address them in any way as actually I probably can’t stop myself turning 30.

The thought of turning 30 is actually creating a high level of anxiety in me. I feel sick most of the time at the moment with the worry. It feels like such a big leap from being in my twenties to being in my thirties. It feels like the weight of expectation really kicks up a notch. Everyone seems to expect marriage and children and high flying careers. The thing is I’m nowhere near this at all. Most of my twenties has been given over to my mental illness. I’ve not felt able to date or work so I’m left with very little to show for the last decade. This wasn’t my expectation when I turned twenty.

I also, in the last few years, never expected to reach thirty. Even over the last few weeks things have been sufficiently difficult that I still didn’t know if I would make it. Suicide attempts have played a major role in my life. I have not wanted to live. Honestly I still don’t. And part of me feels like maybe I still might not get there. It’s not far off but it still feels surreal that I might make that milestone.

Another reason turning thirty fills me with worry is that I don’t feel old enough. I still feel like a child. I do not feel grown up enough. I feel stuck in my teenage years at most. I don’t feel like an adult. Maybe this is because I don’t have any of the things I was talking about before. But also I think it’s because I got ill so young. I feel trapped at that age.

For my thirtieth birthday I’m having a small party and this is adding to the anxiety. It was my choice and I did feel I should, for once, mark the milestone as my eighteenth was a washout (noone turned up) and I didn’t bother with my twenty first. I think part of me is worried it will be a repeat of my eighteenth with noone bothering but I’m also worried about being the centre of attention. The thought of everyone singing happy birthday to me makes me feel ill. I hate that I feel this way. I should be so grateful that people care and want to celebrate me (and I am) but it terrifies me.

So those are my concerns about my birthday. I have written before some tips about dealing with birthdays that you can view here. I may have to take some of these on board myself. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

BPD Q&A

There is a lot of misinformation out there about BPD and many people don’t have a good understanding of the illness. It can be very confusing, even for those of us who are dealing with the disorder. Therefore I thought I would answer some common(ish) questions. Obviously I only have my experiences to draw on but I hope it is still helpful.

What is BPD?

BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder. It may also be known by the name EUPD or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It is a mental illness classified in the DSM-V (the manual of all mental illnesses). There are a variety of symptoms including relationship difficulties, fear of abandonment, suicidal ideation, self harm, impulsive behaviour, lack of a sense of self and extreme emotions which switch rapidly. To be diagnosed with BPD you need to match five points of a criteria of nine. This means that everyone with BPD is unique as each criteria is also on a spectrum.

What causes BPD?

There are many different theories as to what causes BPD. It is widely agreed that trauma in childhood is a big cause but not everyone who has BPD experiences trauma. There has also been research into changes in brain structure and genetics. However nothing has been conclusive.

What does having BPD feel like?

Everyone with BPD is different so I can only talk about what BPD is like from my point of view. Personally it feels like I’m an alien in this world that seems to be out of my control. And the lack of control reaches even inside me. I also feel constantly scared that people won’t like me or will leave me. I also feel like everything is too much.

What treatment is there for BPD?

The main treatment for BPD is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). This is a therapy that is mindfulness based and proper DBT consists of both group and individual therapy to learn skills to deal with distress, relationships and emotions. However it is not always available. People with BPD may also take medication though no medication is suggested for BPD. It can however help with symptoms and other illnesses that people with BPD are likely to have.

What is BPD rage?

BPD rage is the extreme anger that some people with BPD feel. Like all our emotions it is incredibly intense. It can also last a long time after the triggering event is over and when other people have forgotten about it. It also may seem disproportionate to the triggering event. Sometimes we turn the rage inwards and this can lead to self harm and suicidal behaviour.

Can people with BPD get psychosis?

Yes. It is a lesser known symptom of BPD but it can happen. It is more common in times of stress but can be there long term too.

Is BPD serious?

Yes there BPD is serious. It has a suicide rate of 10%. 70% of people with BPD attempt suicide. Self harm is common. Alcohol and substance abuse are also common. It effects everyday life.

Are people with BPD dangerous?

No people with BPD are not dangerous. In fact people with BPD are more likely to be victims of abuse than perpetrators. We are also more likely to hurt ourselves than other people.

So that is a few questions about BPD. I hope it helps with some understanding of the illness. For more information on BPD check out the Mind website. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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CMHT Fail

This was not the post I planned on sharing today but I needed to get this out.

Today I had a psychiatrist appointment. It was with a new psychiatrist and my latest care coordinator. Except it wasn’t. While in the waiting area I received a phone call telling me my care coordinator had left on Friday and trying to arrange an appointment with my interim care coordinator. When I told her I was waiting for my appointment that was already running ten minutes late they rushed down. Remember they don’t even know me.

In the appointment the psychiatrist had no access to my notes as he had been blocked from the system. Thanks to the interim care coordinator he was able to access the last letter but couldnt read in detail.

He asked me how I was and when I mentioned my mood was low a lot and unstable, he asked more questions about my concentration, appetite, memory and sleep. He asked me to rate my mood which I put at two at best. I mentioned I was having suicidal thoughts and that the voice I hear is worse. He said I didn’t have plans to end my life, he actually didn’t ask.

The psychiatrist then wanted to refer me to a service that has refused to take me on. When I explained this he said he understood and offered no alternative. He did not want to change my medication despite my obvious deterioration. I managed to persuade him to up my mood stabiliser but he did it by the smallest margin possible.

I tried to bring up some other concerns but by that point he was already wrapping up the consultation and urging me out the door with the words “I’ll see you in two months”.

Everything felt like it was too much effort for them. This is from a trust that is rated as outstanding. A trust that can’t seem to retain staff or offer support. It is currently a postcode lottery within this Trust as to what treatment you can access (I am aware that this is actually down to the CCG).

When did continuity of care in mental health services become unimportant? Especially with people with BPD where fear of abandonment is a major symptom. When did it become acceptable not to fully risk assess people?

Unfortunately this seems to be the way it goes for many service users of mental health services. It isn’t often I cry in an appointment and straight after in the street but today’s fiasco made me feel awful and worthless. (Thanks to the psychiatrist who actually sked if I felt worthless).

To keep up to date with my mental health experience, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or use these and the comments to share your experiences.

Body Image

This year’s mental health awareness week has the topic of body image. I was unsure how to cover this as I don’t have an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. However I realised I have had my own issues with my body and my mental illness has effected how I feel about myself physically.

What is body image?

“Body image is a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how a person sees themselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society.” (Wikipedia, May 2019).

My body image

Throughout my life I have been overweight. This has led to me hating my body and the way I look. It’s eaten away at my self esteem and led to me having little confidence in myself. My body image has had a negative effect on my mental health. It hasn’t been helped by the medication I’m on leading me to gain even more weight. It has become a bit of a cycle of feeling worse so increasing meds leading to increasing weight and then feeling worse again.

People have told me that they have found me attractive or that there are nice features of me. I struggle to believe it and cannot see this at all. My body image in their eyes is skewed. I think this hasn’t been helped by the trauma I’ve been through that has led to me hating my body even more. I can only see something that has been used and abused. Something that has let me down when I’ve needed it most.

Improving body image

There are some things we can do to help our body image. They are not always easy and it won’t be a quick fix.

The first thing you can do is avoid negative media. Avoid looking at diet accounts and airbrushed models. They give us a false representation of what we feel we should look like and feed into our doubts about ourselves. Instead try and look for body positivity accounts to follow. Body Positive Panda is a great account on Instagram to follow and there are many more like her.

Another thing we can do to improve our body image is to stop comparing ourselves to others. Easier said than done, I know (I am probably one of the worst offenders for this). But we should know that we are unique.

We can also improve body image by dressing in a way that makes us feel confident. This will be different for everyone. I’m most confident in a funny t-shirt and jeans. Others may prefer a suit. It’s up to you.

Practicing self care can also help with body image. Seeing ourselves as someone who is worth treating nicely and respecting our bodies will have a positive impact.

For more information on body image check out National Eating Disorders who have lots of information (you don’t need to have an eating disorder to have a problem with body image). Feel free to share your experiences and tips for better body image in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Please Stop Hating A BPD Diagnosis

I have seen a lot of tweets absolutely rubbishing the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) diagnosis. I’ve seen tweets saying the diagnosis isnt valid or that it is a misdiagnosis of another mental illness. This has upset me a lot as someone with a BPD diagnosis.

As someone with BPD, I recognise that it is not always an appropriate diagnosis. I know that some people are misdiagnosed. I know that it carries a lot of stigma. But it has value.

When your world is in turmoil and you find yourself dipping repeatedly into crisis and your relationships are unstable, when you don’t know who you are or what you really like because you pick up on other people’s mannerisms and likes, it feels awful. You feel like you are made wrong. You feel like you are weak. You hate yourself so much for not being “normal”. You are scared. Now imagine someone tells you there is a reason you feel this way and it’s not your fault. There is some feeling of relief and enlightenment. Maybe your life isn’t over just yet. Maybe your life can be worth living. That’s what it can be like getting a BPD diagnosis. I imagine it feels like that for any mental health diagnosis.

The problem with the BPD diagnosis is not the people with the diagnosis but the stigma that surrounds the name. It’s the interpretation that some people attribute to it that doesn’t help. Whatever you call it, it is the same illness with the same symptoms. It is a valid illness and those who deal with it everyday will still have to deal with it whether you take away that diagnosis or not. What you do though, if you take away the diagnosis, is isolate people who are suffering with these confusing symptoms. You take away the hope that they can get treatment and stop them accessing the peer support available in the BPD community. As with any mental illness, other people who are dealing with the same thing are a lifeline and show more understanding than anyone else. To take away the diagnosis, removes this opportunity for us.

So before you say our diagnosis is invalid or just a misdiagnosis, please take into account those of us who see it as an explanation for what we are pdealing with and as an opportunity to get treatment and support. (I know that there are some people who are misdiagnosed and for them yes it is appropriate to question the diagnosis but I am responding to a general statement about people with BPD just being misdiagnosed.)

A side note

I know some people will say a BPD diagnosis is unhelpful. I have written another post where I discuss why a BPD diagnosis is useful which you can find here.

Picture from Pinterest.