Tag Archives: Body image

You Want To Know What It’s Like? (BPD)

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

People always want to know what it’s like to have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They want to know how I live with it and what’s going on in my head. They want to know what is me and what’s the illness. So I thought I’d try to put into words some of these things and few other bits. It may not be succinct or always easy to follow but that probably says as much about this disorder than anything else.

I hate being in my head. Life is exhausting. I second guess myself all the time. I know there is something wrong with me. For years now people have officially known that doctors see my personality as screwed up. Thanks!

The thing is I’ve thought I’m screwed up for a long time. I’ve always felt on the outside. I’ve never felt a part of the group and for years it’s bothered me. I couldn’t work out how people made friends so easily and even more how they kept friendships without coming across as totally needy and to be called “a sheep”. Believe me it’s happened.

To begin with I tried my best to fit in. I rejected things I liked in favour of what others liked. This included music and television shows. It included the way I behaved with others. I just wanted to be “cool”. It didn’t work. I was seriously unhappy and it was totally unnatural. I hated myself. And I lost myself.

That’s part of BPD, lack of a sense of self. Knowing what I like and who I am is hard. Do I like something or is it just because someone else says they like it? Obsessions come and go often depending on other people’s feelings towards them. With age there has been a bit more stability in this area but it can still fall apart. I will allow myself to like things that others close to me don’t now. It’s quite freeing but hard as I fear my likes will make others dislike me.

The fear of being disliked is strong. The fear people will hate you and leave you very much in evidence. This can lead to desperate behaviour. This is where the term “manipulative” comes out. We can appear manipulative because we are desperate to hold on to people so can make what appear as threats of harming ourselves. But we don’t use it in a manipulative manner. We are scared. We don’t know how to keep our fear under control (and this fear is strong and terrifying) so we want to hurt ourselves as we can’t imagine being without the other person and we are hurting so much. We don’t want to hurt you really. We want to stop the pain. However we can learn to deal with this better but it takes time. And the fear doesn’t seem to ever leave. At least that’s my experience.

I talked about overwhelming fear above. All our emotions though can be overwhelming. I can feel physically sick with fear over something others would feel vaguely scared about. If something apparently trivial goes wrong that can lead to suicidal thoughts taking over. It may seem silly and overdramatic to you but to me these are my real feelings. Saying they’re silly and overdramatic to me just invalidates me. I already do this to myself. I know it sounds silly to you. I know I sound overdramatic. But it’s how I feel and it takes me time to work out if that’s justified and change the feeling. For most people this is an automatic process. For me and others with BPD it takes using therapy skills and many checks. We may even have to get notes or a book out to help us deal with it.

Self harm and suicidal thoughts can be a daily occurrence. For me they definitely are. I wake up wanting to die and go to bed wanting to die. I can be smiling but planning my suicide inside. I can be making plans for the future while wondering if I’ll be alive for them. Self harm feels like my main coping mechanism. It’s been there most of my life now. Losing it in favour of other skills is hard work. Self harm works for me in a way they don’t. It’s easier than going through multiple skills or sitting with the feelings. And when feelings are overwhelming it can feel like you want to be rid of them as fast as possible. I’d rather feel the pain physically than sit with an emotion that is painful.

Another reason sitting with emotions or dealing with emotions is hard for me is that I struggle to identify my emotions. I can maybe go as far as good or bad emotion but finding other words is more challenging. It’s frustrating not being able to express yourself and how you feel. To only be able to guess at an emotion. I want to tell you how I really feel but how? What. Words do I use? Will you truly understand how I feel? What if you don’t and it all gets confused and taken out of context? How do I sort this mess? Easier to keep it inside and deal with it how I normally do. It’s nothing personal. I promise.

There’s a lot of things from the past I’ve expressed here. The thing is they all build on each other until it becomes a complicated web. Untangling it by using different skills takes an awful lot of time. I want to make it so these skills are second nature and I don’t have to sit up with a big manual so I can discuss and deal with emotions, or interact with others, or stop myself trying to kill myself. I feel an idiot.

The thing is I feel a screw up but it is an illness. It’s the illness that makes me feel that way all the time. That’s the main thing that’s hard living with it. The self hatred. The constant need to apologise. It’s hard to break down these walls.

So that’s a small insight into what is going through my head a lot of the time. It can all be in there. There is also probably a lot more that adds in too. It won’t make you feel like I feel. No one can do that for anyone else fully. Even others with BPD will have different experiences. But this is me.

I’d love to hear your views. Feel free to use the comments or share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Cancer Scare: Results

I wrote before about waiting for results from tests for a lump I found in my breast. Today February 21st 2020 I got the those results. I don’t have breast cancer. They believe I have a condition called granulomatous mastitis. This has meant I have had to have further biopsies to find the cause before treatment can be started.

I’m obviously pleased that it’s not breast cancer. I’m pleased I won’t have to deal with the treatment for that. But I’m still struggling. I feel bad about this. Everyone is so happy it isn’t breast cancer. And I totally understand that. But they don’t seem to of taken on board that there is still something wrong that will involve treatment that I’m concerned about.

With granulomatous mastitis the treatment is a course of steroids for up to six months. It doesn’t sound that bad but there are significant possible side effects. I know I may not get them but the possibility is there. Included in the possible side effects are mood swings, depression and anxiety. Welcome to my world already. But what if it makes things worse? I struggle everyday as it is. The thought of a dip even further is terrifying. I just don’t think I’d cope or survive.

There is also a possible side effect of weight gain. I’m already fighting hard to lose weight gained from years of psychiatric medication. I do not want to put it and more back on. I hate myself and my body as it is.

I know I’m jumping the gun a bit. Today I’ve had to have more biopsies to look for a possible cause that may involve other treatment before the treatment for the granulomatous mastitis itself. It feels overwhelming and again it’s a loss of control which is a huge trigger for me. I feel so alone with this. I feel if I show I’m down over this people will think I’m disappointed it’s not cancer and that’s not the case. It’s just there is still a lot going on and to go through. It doesn’t help I’m in pain from the biopsies.

Anyway that’s where I’m at, at the moment. Again not sure when this will be shared and where I’ll be when that is shared. To stay in touch with me feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. For more information on any health condition check out nhs.uk

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Control

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

Control is the thing I crave most in my life. I’ve known it for a while but it’s taken a while to admit it. A lot of what I do is about trying to retain some control in a life that constantly feels out of control. It’s also about managing the feelings of being out of control. The problem is I’ve gone down what people would call negative routes to deal with this.

The reason I think I need the control is that so many people have taken away any control I should have had. People have taken away control of my body and my life. Little decisions don’t feel like mine to make. My life doesn’t feel like mine.

The things I use to feel in control include self harm and hair pulling. They are not the only things I have used or do use. These are just the most regular. Food has been something I’ve used to feel in control (I do not have an eating disorder nor been diagnosed with one, this was just a period of restriction). Alcohol was another thing until it took control of me. I also feel some of my suicide attempts have been an attempt to be in control of when my life ends among other reasons.

I also can see my need to be in control in other situations. When I sit in a room with others I try to be first in to choose a seat that I feel safe in. I’m constantly early. I plan things meticulously. If I’m creating things I find others input hard to deal with. Relinquishing control on things and allowing others in is hard. I’d much rather do things myself. It’s things I’m trying to work on.

So what are your tips to deal with the need for control? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Dear GP

There is an amazing account on Twitter called Dear GP where people write letters to their GP about their encounters with mental health professionals in the same way mental health professionals write letters about their patients to their GP. You cam visit the website here. I thought I would have my own go at this below after an encounter with a member of staff who is no longer involved with my care.

Dear GP

Today I met with care coordinator P. She was casually dressed in jeans and trainers. She seemed disorientated and unsure about what was happening. She did not know where she had to be and was indecisive of her next steps. She appeared very disorganised and had not booked a room or remembered that she was meant to be attending my psychiatrist appointment.

Before the psychiatrist appointment, P appeared to disappear and it soon became apparent she was making secretive actions with the psychiatrist. She made no eye contact when I entered the room and was distracted and on her phone throughout the appointment.

P made some abstract comments that only just related to the conversation between me and the psychiatrist. She was keen to please the psychiatrist and back up his treatment plan despite knowing the issues with this way forward, which had been discussed previously. P then showed that she had been trying to rid herself of responsibility and discharge herself from my care with no input from myself. This was overruled by the psychiatrist. She seemed disappointed in this course of action and did not make anymore conversation and avoided eye contact for the rest of the appointment.

At the end of the appointment, P decided to arrange another appointment but was inflexible in this leading to no date being set and no forward treatment plan being set.

I thank you for sending P to see me but I think that going forward there may be no working relationship unless her behaviour becomes more open.

Regards

Jo

To share your own experiences feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Alcohol And Me

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

Alcohol is something we hear a lot about. There are many arguments about whether it is a problem or just something to use to relax. Overall alcohol can be fine if used in moderation. The problems come when it becomes more than just the odd glass.

My relationship with alcohol has always been complicated. Most children don’t experience alcohol until later on in their teens. I first experienced alcohol at two years old. To me it was normal for me to be given a glass of wine when we met my parents friends for dinner which happened fairly often. I even began to acquire a taste for certain wines, leading to a melt down at three years old in M&S because they weren’t buying the wine I liked. I think the thinking behind giving me alcohol at a young age was to give me a healthy relationship with alcohol as I grew up. This didn’t completely work though I was less bothered about going out drinking as an early teenager as I already had access to alcohol at home. Why sit cold in a park when you can drink in your own home?

The real problems began when I went away to university. There was noone to monitor my drinking so I went all out. Why should I care about the effects? I didn’t like myself and this made me feel less anxious. It gave me confidence. I could forget the events of my past and approach guys. I was fun and attractive to them. What they probably saw though was a desperate girl throwing herself at them? A girl who didn’t care.

I’d often drink myself into dangerous situations. I’d end up with a strange guy somewhere I didn’t know. I’d walk around the town on my own, falling asleep in different places, waking up to continue my journey home, arriving not knowing how I’d got there or what had happened on the way. I’d give my card and pin number to friends loudly without worry about someone stealing my money (though as a student they’d have been disappointed). I didn’t care though. In my head I was being that fun friend. I was just living the crazy student life like everyone else. But I wasn’t.

There was another side to the drinking as well. As it got more out of control I’d become depressed after drinking. One little event on the way home would trigger me into sitting in the middle of the road waiting for a car to hit me. Or I’d try climbing out of a first floor window, having others pulling me back in. I’d down two litres of cider in an hour and pass out. I began drinking cans of cider on my own in my room on the nights we didn’t go out. I thought it was the perfect accompiament to essay writing.

Soon people started to worry and I was referred to the campus nurse who also happened to be a trained mental health nurse. My suicidal thoughts had peaked. I’d made threats to end my life. Things had deteriorated so much in three months. My mental health had been poor before I’d started to university but this was the biggest deterioration since my first suicide attempt at fifteen. I was told I needed to stop drinking. That alcohol was worsening my mental health. I was to go back in a month to review how things had gone.

I never kept that appointment. I tried stopping drinking but it didn’t make much difference so I didn’t see the point in continuing and I began drinking again. Depression and anxiety overtook me and I realised I couldn’t stay at university on my own anymore. I made my request to transfer to one nearer home. This didn’t reduce my drinking for the rest of the year and there was many more drinking escapades and me waking up in states that I never imagined I would.

Once I moved home I decided I needed to get a handle on my drinking. It helped I was so busy working and going to university that it didn’t leave much time for alcohol. I also didn’t have the same connections to go out drinking. This helped a lot. I reduced my drinking but didn’t stop at that point. This meant that drinking still had an impact on me though less severe. I’d be drinking at home and just getting depressed with everything. It was only after another suicide attempt that I decided no alcohol was the way to go for me.

No alcohol sounds simple. You surely just don’t drink. I wish I found it that easy. I found myself craving alcohol. If something bad happened I’d want to turn to alcohol. The thought of being drunk and away from the situation was still appealing. But I tried hard. I did slip up repeatedly but in the end I managed it. I’m currently eight years sober. It’s still a struggle. I still get the urge to drink and have to fight it.

I’m not saying alcohol is all bad but it can be hard when it overtakes your life. I’m not saying people shouldn’t drink but I just want people to be aware of why they drink and when it may be becoming a problem. If you need help with alcohol issues you can find information here.

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

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If You’re Feeling Suicidal, This Is For You

If you’re reading this you are probably in a really difficult place. It’s one of the hardest feelings to deal with, but I have hope for you because you are reading this (don’t worry I’m not saying I can solve all your problems in a blog post, I know that’s unrealistic).

Great, you’re still reading, thank you. I know with how your feeling it can be hard to hear that things will improve. At the moment it probably feels impossible that anything can change. The world feels overwhelming. It feels like the only option is to end your life. But you are worth more. You are worth love and support.

I know you may not believe me and I understand that. I’ve been there. I still go there at times. But I believe you have value. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing this. There is someone who would be lost without you.

Still reading? Awesome. Now let’s think about some things you might be able to do to help yourself in the immediate future. If you can try and do one of these things it might help put some distance between yourself and your thoughts:

Talk to someone: This is a huge step I know but it could be the most important thing you could do. It doesnt even have to be about how you are feeling, it could be about a TV show or anything that will help you distract for the time being. Of course if you can say how you’re feeling that would be great but I know it’s a big step. It doesn’t even have to be someone you know, you could call one of the crisis lines here.

Take a walk: Sometimes putting some distance between ourselves and where we are staying can be a good thing. If you feel you can keep yourself safe then a walk may help you to feel a bit better. If you can let someone know you’re going that can help you to make sure you are safe.

Do something you’re good at: There is something you are good at. It may be something creative, it may be some sport or it may just be a computer game. Whatever it is do it. It may help you to see you’re not worthless; you can achieve something.

Hopefully there is one thing there that you can do. Or you may think of something else that may help you distract from the thoughts that you are having.

If you’re still reading that’s great. You’ve achieved something just by getting this far. If I was with you I would give you a hug. I can’t take away your pain but please know someone cares; I care. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you, I would not wish these feelings on anyone and want you to be safe. I’m sure there are others who care too.

This is where I leave you. But you are not alone. I hope I’ve helped in someway. If you want to get in contact feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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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.