Tag Archives: attention seekers

When Emotions Overwhelm

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Last week after a while of not feeling anything or pushing emotions down I was suddenly overwhelmed with them. It is an experience I know many people with a mental illness feel at times, especially those who have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

I don’t understand my emotions most of the time. Identifying them is an extremely difficult thing for me. When they overwhelm me this is harder to do and harder to deal with as well. People will ask what’s wrong or what you’re feeling and not being able to explain it is so hard to deal with and seems to add something into the emotions that makes it all the worse. I feel I just want to be a “normal” person for a while.

Those with a BPD diagnosis find emotions are heightened. They are often described as being emotionally like third degree burns victims without an emotional skin. It’s like touching wounds when we feel emotions. The pain of them is strong and this can be felt physically in the body. And by god is it painful at the extremes. When most people would have a small emotional response, ours tends to be more intense or bigger. Therefore when a person without the diagnosis has an event that causes them extreme emotional pain, well for those who have a diagnosis of BPD it is just unbearable.

When the emotions overwhelmed me I just wanted to tear my skin off. I wanted to hurt myself to an extreme extent. I wanted to escape it all. Death felt like the best idea but I felt trapped as it wasn’t an option. This added to the distress. The hatred for myself is strong. It’s always strong but in that moment it was extreme. It was unbearable and I could not even work out what I was feeling.

This happens more often than people realise. A lot of the time I just hide away. My friends cope with a lot. I feel sorry for them. I hate what I do to them. They deserve better. I try my hardest to not inflict myself on them but in the moment it’s harder. This isn’t the healthiest way to cope.

I don’t have much advice for coping. Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) offers some skills for dealing with distress. These include the TIPP skills and STOP skills that are detailed in the images below. However it can be hard to remember to do this when the emotions are so high. It’s like they are blinding. It could be useful to let someone close to you know about the skills so they can remind you of them.

If you have any other tips for coping with overwhelming emotions then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

So It’s Been A Year…

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

It’s been roughly a year since the UK went into a restricted state. We’ve been in and out of lockdown. Many things have never been back. Therefore I thought I’d reflect a little on the last year. Some things will be linked to mental health, others more general.

What I’ve Learnt

The whole situation has been a learning curve. I think everyone has learnt something about themselves and others as well as maybe other skills. Here are mine:

1. I need social contact

I’ve always found social contact difficult and overwhelming. I’ve always pushed myself to do things socially and I’m exhausted afterwards. But I’ve found I do need it. I have missed seeing people. Having the hugs. Being with my friends. Just hearing their voices (I struggle still with phone conversations). I can’t wait to meet them.

2. I need alone time

I’ve known this for a while but it has been confirmed with being stuck with the people I live with All! The! Time! I need quiet. I need to get away. It’s tiring being with other people. I think everyone needs alone time really, we all just differ on how much.

3. I can draw

Turns out I can draw. And actually practice does improve it.

4. Phone/video appointments aren’t a substitute for face to face

Obviously a lot of appointments changed to being either online or via phone. I’ve found these so hard. I feel like I can’t get things across as well as I do face to face (and I don’t feel I do that very well anyway). I feel people lose the ability to understand people as well when you take away the physicalness of being in the same room. Also technology has a habit of not working and making it all more stressful. (Although being able to have my cat with me during therapy was a positive).

5. You can’t make eye contact on Zoom

Someone pointed this out to me and its bugged me ever since because its true and no matter what I try I can’t change that. I hate eye contact most of the time but I also try really hard to make some as I know it’s expected. I should be happy therefore that I don’t have to make eye contact but instead it’s annoyed me. Yes, I’m a paradox.

What Scares Me

Along with learning many things, this whole situation has created many fears within me for the present and the future.

1. Fear people will get ill

I’ve always been scared of people in my life getting ill. It’s out of my control although I have gonw through many things that I believe have given me control. Logically it’s not true, mentally I feel to blame when people get sick. This was heightened once we really got into the reduction of social contact and lockdown (before that coronavirus didn’t bother me, odd I know). I was often in tears that something I had or hadn’t done was going to make those close to me ill. I was so strict with cleaning and washing hands, more than usual. I was terrified. I still am.

2. Going outside or into shops

I’ve always found being out and about anxiety inducing, especially on my own. I’m now able to walk the dog just me and him but otherwise I struggle. This has been heightened in these times even though I was forced to shop for my parents on my own. My anxiety was through the roof. Now the thought of going back in to shops without anyone or any restrictions in the future terrifies me.

3. The lack of restrictions

There will come a time when restrictions are gone. Yes it will be a positive in many ways but I don’t feel anywhere near ready for this to happen and I don’t think I will be for some time. Each time a restriction is eased I feel such a state of anxiety that I have panic attacks over it. The thought of things being “normal” is something I can’t comprehend yet.

Where am I at?

So overall I’m struggling mentally with everything. There is a lot of change currently and it’s left me unsettled. Large parts of lockdown have been a struggle but other parts have played into my comfort zones of hiding away from people. I’m very much a home body. People keep talking about holidays and that’s the last thing I want to do. Not going on holiday was a plus for me and now I have no excuse to stay home. I both want things to come back but others I want to stay as they are.

What are your thoughts on your current situation, wherever you are? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Being Invalidated

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

“To invalidate means to cancel something or make it void, as if it never happened. In invalidate you see the word valid which means true or correct. When you invalidate something you are making it less true, less official, or less correct.” (vocabulary.com, March 2021).

The meaning above can be applied to things you experience. It can be caused by other people and events. It can make you question your thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences and reactions. It can make you feel awful. And people sometimes don’t even realise they are doing this to you.

When you tell someone that what they feel isn’t justified or to just stop feeling that way, then you are invalidating the way they feel. You are telling them what they are feeling is not true and not correct. Yes, you may not have felt that way in that situation but everyone is different and that doesn’t mean that what that person is feeling is invalid.

It’s important we think before we speak. It’s what might feel like silly things that can have an effect on other people and cause them to feel invalidated and it can start when we are children. What we are saying may to us sound reassuring but it ccam invalidate the child. Saying to a child who is nervous about an exam that they shouldn’t be is invalidating. Instead saying you understand why they feel that way but you feel like they are well prepared so it should go well is acknowledging their feelings as valid while reassuring at the same time.

Some mental health professionals could also do with understanding the power of invalidation. Telling someone that what they are experiencing is minimal or not that bad can have lasting effects on everyone and especially those with a mental illness. It can cause them to deteriorate further. On my write ups from the psychiatrist appointments it would often say my self harm was superficial and it would make me try to cause myself more harm as I felt they weren’t taking me seriously. I’ve also heard of people with eating disorders who are told they are not thin enough being made sicker.

I know that although having a diagnosis can be a burden I felt it a validation for what I was/am experiencing. It made me feel that someone could see that something was wrong and I needed help. However this means professionals need to be careful about removing diagnoses from patients as it can add to invalidation. You are taking away the validation you gave them. There needs to be a conversation and careful explanation.

It is possible also to invalidate yourself as well. This is harder to stop doing, I know I do it a lot. It’s important for us to try and allow ourselves to experience our feelings and acknowledge them. This is easier said than done though.

So when speaking to anyone try to consider their feelings and not cancelling them out. We all need to think of how our words and actions impact on others.

Breaking Up A Toxic Relationship

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

The fourteenth of February is a day everyone remembers and relates to their relationship with their partner. I’m no different except for me it marks the day I broke up my relationship with my ex, let’s call him J. It’s a bittersweet day and complicated in so many ways by the mix of thoughts in my mind.

My relationship with J was not a good one. We were introduced by a mutual friend. He was five years older, which doesn’t sound a lot but as I was seventeen and he was twenty two it did feel quite big. We had many laughs when we first met. To say there wasn’t a connection would be wrong, however much it now pains me. We quickly became an item and that’s when the issues started.

He very much wanted our relationship to become physical straight away. I didn’t due to some past issues. I tried explaining and he seemed understanding when we were talking via text. In person it was quite different. He made me many promises. Within a week they were broken and so was I.

I should of left him then. It sounds so easy so early on in a relationship. But I’d told him things I’d told noone else and boy did he know how to use that to get his way. And if that didn’t work then humiliation and force were his tools.

Now he wasn’t all bad. It sounds like I’m defending him but honestly there were things about him I liked and still do. He could be charming. He showed me a vulnerable side that liked to do cross-stitch which his nan had taught him. He loved his nephew. He could be funny. These things made me want to be with him. They made me feel lucky. Especially when he chose to open up about things to me. Maybe it was all manipulation but some at least felt genuine.

However there were areas where we clashed. Areas where he forced his will on me. Where he took away my choices. He told me I made him do this. I forced him to force me. Do I believe it? Yes, it still feels like I’m to blame a lot of the time. There may be small doubts but they are often erased.

During our time together my self confidence, what little I had as I was already mentally unwell at the time, was eroded. Any form of self respect was gone. He terrified me but I needed him. When he tried to persuade my friends to sleep with him I knew it was my fault. I’d pushed him to it. They showed me his messages. I still thought it was ok.

Eventually nine months in I had a sudden burst of feeling I couldn’t do this relationship anymore and when it came out he’d been successful in one of his conquests with another woman I saw it as an excuse to end the relationship. So on the fourteenth of February I ended it. I couldn’t do it face to face through fear. But I did it. I got all sorts of threats from him. I knew I would and I had my doubts over what I’d done. Noone else would ever love me, right?

I wish I could say he was out of my life after then. He wasn’t. He reappeared a number of times in different ways. He treated me in different ways from deep caring to painful incidents. He humiliated me many times and forced me to put myself in his control to avoid a friend getting hurt. It would be my fault if they did. He has periodically turned up over the last eleven years. I have very mixed thoughts about him.

So why have I written this piece? Because I know deep down this was not a good relationship. It hurt me a lot whether that was my fault or his remains to be seen though many say it was him. But I did end it. Somehow I found the words to say it was over. But it wasn’t a simple break up. And I think with many toxic relationships that is the same. The idea people can just walk away from these relationships is wrong. So much is tied up in them. Many thoughts go through your head. So if a relationship isn’t looking right please don’t think it’s simple for one person to leave the other. There is much more to it and sometimes one partner won’t let it go and can be threatening and manipulative. Please understand this.

For help and support with similar issues then you can check out Refuge in the UK. I’m sure there are similar charities around the world too.

N.B. Some people have called my relationship abusive. As you may have noticed I chose the term toxic. Maybe it was abusive. At times I say that. But my head hasn’t got around this relationship entirely. I know I’d call it abusive if anyone else experienced what I had.

Therapy 2020: Session 15

Date of session: 09/12/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

In this session we discussed my self harm. It’s the barrier to me gettting proper trauma therapy. I had a decision to make whether to just carry on self harming and forfeit trauma work or give giving up a go.

Before the session I’d tried to write down some questions and thoughts linked to this. It started off OK but I spiralled down into self doubt and hatred. Please see the image for my thoughts.

In the session I discussed some of these thoughts. We talked about how the intention to try needed to be sincere but trying to give it up could continue alongside some prepatory work for trauma therapy. This means that in the new year I will have another four sessions at least and see where we go from there.

This has made me feel all sorts of things about myself. Hatred is very much in there, towards myself. I’m defensive of the self harm even though I know it isn’t healthy. I have discussed some reasons behind it with therapist.

We also looked at the year and a bit I managed to have without self harm and how that happened. We went through if there was anything significant at the time. We discussed some behaviours and thoughts and I was told it very much sounded like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is something I’ve tried to discuss before with professionals and been dismissed over so it was validating to have it recognised.

This is where we brought the session to an end as we’d already gone over the fifty minutes by half an hour. Next week is my last session of the year. It will probably be a crucial point. We shall see.

Therapy 2020: Session 8

Date of session: 21/10/2020

Please be aware that some content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š

Another difficult session. Each week I dread this 50 minute period of time. And it’s taking longer and longer each week to sort myself out. I know that this week, again, will take me time to deal with. Writing it out is the start of the process.

We started by discussing how I’d been the last week. I was honest and said I had been low in mood. I didn’t get far enough to mention the suicidal thoughts and melt down I had during the week. She asked if I knew why I felt low and we discussed some of what we had last week and challenging the thoughts.

We also looked at what other feelings I had been having and came up with guilt and anger. We worked through whether these matched the facts and whether they could be acted on. In some cases this wasn’t the case so the need was to act opposite. (Apparently when they ask what the opposite to acting by repairing for guilt, they do not want the answer destruction.).

We then explored the anger about aa certain situation in more detail and tried to separate my anger at the other person and my anger at myself. This was difficult to work through and some things that were said have upset me quite a lot and have me doubting myself more than ever. A friend who I discussed it with doesn’t agree with what was said about the situation and this has left me in utter confusion.

I’m hoping that I can get through all this. At the moment my head feels full to the point I can’t think about anything as nothing can move. There are people I desperately want to talk it through with but feel unable to do so. I feel more and more like a burden. I almost feel at this point that this therapy could kill me. We are halfway through the allocated number of sessions and I have no idea if in 8 weeks I’m going to be able to cope any better.

Why I Hate The Term “Mental Resilliance”

“Mental resilliance” is a phrase that keeps cropping up. But it is a phrase I have come to hate with a passion, especially with the way it is being used. It’s connotations make me uncomfortable and I cannot accept it.

First of all I think we need a definition of the word resilience. I’ve found a definition of it in psychology:
“The ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, and even significant sources of stress.” Better Help, 2019

This doesn’t sound too bad. It suggests that we can learn how to get over issues more quickly. However this has led to people taking the phrase and believing that people with a mental illness should be more able to get over a mental illness quicker if they are resilient or even not suffer in the first place. This has been shown by comments made by prominent people in the media.

The problem with these comments is that they imply that if you get ill mentally you are not resilient enough. It gives a sense of failure and that you are not a strong person. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite often people with mental illnesses are strong and resilient for too long. They don’t seek help straight away as they feel they should be able to deal with it. This talk of resilience reinforces it.

So what should we be doing?

I’m not saying there is no place for teaching skills to help with mental resilience as it is useful to deal with stressful situations in the short term. However we need to make the narrative clear that mental resilience is not a concrete prevention against mental illness. It is still possible to become unwell even if you are resilient. It does not mean you are weak if you become unwell. Mental illnesses are often caused by things outside our control and for that we need treatment.

Instead, as well as teaching true mental resilience, we need to be saying that it’s OK to talk about our feelings in times of distress. It does not make us a “whiny snowflake”. It is a strong thing to do and will help with our resilience in the future. We need to be helping each other. Just because your younger and suffering does not mean you are less resilient than someone older. All it shows is that I’m the past people couldn’t speak about mental illness and now they can. That is resilience but in a different way.

I think what we need to do is reclaim the term mental resilience and educate people on what it means. We need to take on these people who seek a generational divide about living with a mental illness. We need to change the language we use.

So my question today is what do you think we should be teaching in terms of mental resilience? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Therapy 2020: Session 6

Date of session: 07/10/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care πŸ’š.

Today’s therapy session was hard. I mean really hard. I felt sick less than halfway in. My head has been thumping since and felt so full that it feels like nothing can move in it.

After last week’s statement that I made that I was worthless, it was decided to look at my core beliefs and challenging them using a form which had a name I cannot remember. It has a number of sections to work through.

The first section to consider was early experiences that could have created the core beliefs. This was where I found things the hardest. In particular hearing the word victim used for me. I’ve never associated that word with myself and I don’t think I want to anymore.

We then moved on to look at my core beliefs about me, other people, the future and the world. I had to think of three adjectives for my view of each. As seen below.

It was noted that most of my views were negative apart from those of other people. This was seen as a little odd considering the early experiences I’d been through. We discussed this slightly and it seemed to be the case as I say its my fault. This is something we plan to look at more. I’m not using logic it seems.

I’m also finding the technology for the sessions frustrating as we keep getting cut off in the middle of conversations, sometimes mid sentence, and although she calls me it stops me a little.

After the session I was a mess. I’ve struggled most of the afternoon and have had to work hard to get through it. Hopefully things will improve.

Suicide Talk

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care.

When I feel suicidal I know that my answers to questions and what I say in general change. How I act may also seem to differ from “normal”. Here I thought I’d discuss some of my tells and some I have learnt about from others. Being aware of when someone is feeling suicidal means we have a better chance of helping them before we lose them. Everyone is different but hopefully this may help us identify the signs and give us the courage to ask these people “are you feeling suicidal?” and get them the help and support they require.

1. I’m fine/I’m tired

A huge thing is that when I’m doing really bad I say I’m doing good. Or I say I’m tired. It’s a sign my mood is rapidly dropping. I might not be at the suicidal zone yet but I’m heading that way most of the time. There are other phrases I’ve heard other people use that are signs they’re struggling which have included “not too bad”, “plodding along” or “up and down”. Obviously people use this when they aren’t heading into the suicidal area but it’s worth being alert.

2. Withdrawing

This is a huge tell of mine. In my head I’m thinking that I’m helping people get used to me not being around and showing them they don’t need me in their lives. I convince myself it’s for the best. It takes a lot to drag me back from this without me making an attpt although that has become less frequent in the last couple of years.

3. Suicide memes/quotes

I may start to spend a lot of time on Tumblr looking at the suicide hashtag. It’s normally something I will do without others being aware so not always a sign but occasionally I will share one or two of these.

4. Googling methods

Again this is something I may do on the quiet so not always obvious but I may admit it to others. It may be that other people don’t hide it as much and it is a sign to look out for.

5. Being really happy after being really low

Sometimes I will go to the total opposite. I will desperately try to hide behind humour. I will try and be really bright and help everyone and not answer when they ask how I am. I become really generous and do lots.

6. I don’t answer how I am

Yep I hid one in above. Did you notice it? See how easy it is to miss? Sometimes the signs are so hard to see. I dont always see them. I’ve had a friend make an attempt later the same evening I’ve been talking to them and never twigged how awful they were feeling. It brings its own guilt but it is not your fault.

There are other signs I have written about before but I thought these would give an insight into the less well known. And ones I’ve experienced. For others please look at my other blog post here.

If you have anything to add feel free to use the comments or you can find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you are feeling suicidal you can contact the Samaritans in the UK or go to the page called crisis lines in the menu for help in other counntries.

Sorry

I’ve worried people. I’ve been selfish but for unselfish reasons (it will make sense). I hate myself. I’m sorry.

The last week I stopped talking to people. My personal social medias became empty. My others became sparse. Emails went unreplied to as did other forms of messages.

I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t deal with my head and everybody else. I couldn’t cope with the voice being there 24/7. I couldn’t reply to people it was telling me I was burdening due to the wave of depression that has hit me. And it is depression. I recognise it all too well. It’s not just a BPD mood swing. This is more substantial. It’s the utter flatness. The true feeling of detachment from everything. Nothing is enjoyable. Words are hard. Doubt has grown.

Also having had the first therapy session didn’t help. I desperately wanted to talk to someone about it. But I couldn’t. Depression robbed me of that. As did the voice. The utter shame I’ve felt since the session hasn’t helped either. I’m in a complete pit of self loathing andd I don’t want to burden people with these things.

The depression is very much still there. Self harm has increased. Suicidal thoughts have too. No plans though as that would take too much effort. Self care has taken a knock. A shower is now a big occasion. Every little thing feels like I’m wading through treacle to do. It’s less than ideal when I’m having to take on more responsibilities at home.

So I’m sorry to anyone I’ve hurt. I’m sorry to anyone I’ve worried. I’m sorry for anyone who has got caught in the fallout. And I’m sorry that I know this will probably not be the last time. I understand if you want to leave me. I understand if it’s too much to cope with. I’m sorry.