Tag Archives: break the stigma

True Peer Support

I’ve recently started going to a DBT skills peer support group. I’ve only done about three sessions but already I’m seeing the effect of true peer support. And yes it is positive.

I’ve come across peer support before; both online and in real life, as they say. I’ve had mixed experiences. Some have been extremely positive where as others seemed to drag me further down into my suffering.

My first experience of peer support was on an online forum for people who self harm. At the time I had no diagnosis and no one in my everyday life knew what was happening. Reaching out on this forum felt positive. It felt like a place where people understood me. It also gave me advice on what to do next. It was great. I made some really good friends who I’ve since met and they are still in my life over ten years later. There is a group of us who quite often meet up. We’ve seen marriages and children born. Most of us have graduated through university. We are all a similar age so I think that is why we’ve clicked. We also talk about other things than our mental health but the option to talk about it is always there. This is all positive but there was a darker side to the forum. Things seemed to become competitive for some users. I felt myself being dragged downwards. People were comparing who had it worse or seemed to one up people. It started to become a toxic place for me. Therefore I removed myself from the forum. I still keep in contact with the friends I have made through it though and in that way I still have peer support.

Another place I did peer support was through a local charity. They offered a recovery course run by people with their own experience of mental illness. It was a useful place and much was discussed about mental health and what we all found useful or not. There was a sense of comaradery among us. We bonded and shared many laughs. Again I made friends who are still in my life now.

A major place for peer support that I have found is the Twitter mental health community. Everyone is so supportive of others and it is a great place to get information about many different aspects of mental health and mental illnesses. There can be trolls on Twitter so you have to be careful but the block button is there for a reason. I have made great connections with people on there and found it a great sounding board and a place I can ask questions when I’m unsure.

My latest foray into the world of peer support has been through my local Mind charity. I started by attending the young person’s group and although we don’t really discuss our mental illnesses it is nice to know we all understand when someone is having a tough time and we work together to make the time fun. It is also a chance to be creative and work as a team. I’ve also started attending the DBT peer support group recently, which I mentioned at the beginning. The people have been so lovely and supportive. I’m so grateful for them. I feel I’m making some great friends there.

Overall my experience of peer support has been positive. Of course, as with anything, there have been negative experiences but I believe it has a vital role in helping us learn about our mental health and mental illnesses. However it should not be used in place of professional support, as can be the case, but alongside it.

For more information on peer support you can look on the Mind website here.

If you have any experiences or questions about peer support feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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They’re Not All Bad

I realise I’m quite often pretty scathing about mental health professionals but some of them are OK. Some do an amazing job and are let down by their colleagues. Quite often our bad experiences overshadow the good and we get into a negative view of all professionals, which is understandable.

I’ve had a few good experiences with different professionals. The negatives with these professionals only come when they are let down by the system they work within, otherwise they are amazing and make all the difference. When someone is caring and takes time with you it makes you feel valued and has a positive effect.

The first professional I found that was great was my art therapist. This was the first major mental health professional I worked with. At the time she was part of the young person’s service which was part of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and worked with those aged 16-25. I was 20 when I started working with her. She treated me on a level with her. I was training to be a teacher and she treated me like a professional as well as a patient. She didn’t patronise me and went at my pace. Her main work was to get me to communicate and she did well with this but at my pace. She made herself available between sessions if I needed to leave a message or write a letter to help with the next session. She’d talk me through situations. She tried to teach me it wasn’t all my fault and at times I almost believed her. The main thing that sticks with me though is that the young person’s service was disbanded so all over 18 were to be taken on by adult services meaning I’d lose my therapy. However she fought for me and told them it ws totally the wrong time to take it away from me and that she needed to continue her work with me. This led to me having a further 18 months with her. Leaving her was hard and I miss her a lot. I still have the card she gave me at the end of therapy.

Another mental health professional that gave a good impression was a psychiatrist I had in adult services. She is the one that diagnosed me with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). She always valued my opinion and explained things when asked. She wasn’t perfect in that she didn’t discuss my diagnosis with me before it appeared on my notes but she was happy to go through it after. She was also a consistent presence for nearly a year before she moved on. This makes a difference.

The next professional who I had a good relationship was a care coordinator of mine, L. L was very proactive in my care and worked hard to get things sorted for me, not only with my mental health but my physical health too, even spending ages on the phone to a hospital trying to sort an appointment for me. She didn’t make me feel like our time was limited, it was always as long as I needed to talk. She took an active role. It was sad when she moved on.

My current care coordinator is also great. She’s not been involved in my care for long but has already shown me how great she is in that she gave me direct contact details for her and allows me to text rather than talk on the phone. She doesn’t mind me messaging between sessions and is quick to reply even if it is to tell me she’ll get back to me properly later. She’s also always on time or early for appointments which makes all the difference. I’ve kind of thrown her in at the deep end with my crisis but she hasn’t made me feel bad about it. I hope we can work together for a while.

Unfortunately these professionals are the exception rather than the rule. It shows as these are four out of many professionals that I have encountered. Hopefully things will improve and we will get more professionals that want to help rather than make us feel like an inconvenience or stigmatise us more. If we can be part of the education of professionals I think it would help them to be more empathetic and understand us more.

Have you had any good experiences? Feel free to share in the comments or on 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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Screwing Up

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

I have screwed up majorly. I have pushed people away and withdrawn from others. I didn’t mean to. I just am either too much or not enough. There is no balance. I warn people and they say they can’t see it and then when it happens they recoil in horror. I tell them they need to tell me as I’m not skilled at picking up social cues but they don’t and just ignore me. I know it’s my fault but it hurts.

All that is going through my head is how much I must of hurt these people. I hate myself for it. I’m not excusing my behaviour but I don’t always realise when I’m doing or saying something wrong. If people let me know I could try and talk to them and make things right but I don’t always get the chance. I understand that maybe they get too hurt by it but when they just ignore me without telling me I’ve hurt them I feel worse. I know that’s selfish as it’s not really about me but it would help others too as I could learn what I’m doing wrong instead of just guessing. Also I really want them to know how sorry I am and I dont get the opportunity to let them know.

People say I’m being paranoid. That I need to understand that people might be busy or not well. I understand this I do but I can’t help going through everything I’ve said and done to the point I make myself sick. It makes me push away further if they do come back. It also makes me try to not get too close to new people. Though I fail at this massively. I get caught up in it all too quickly. My feelings for people go to an extreme and I’m desperate to talk to them and help them. It all becomes too much again and again people ignore and hate me.

I want to ask what is wrong with me but we all know. I’m just not cut out for friendship. I deserve to be alone.

It’s not just friendships I screw up though. It seems I destroy my support systems and the help I’m being provided. I reach crisis point and they say its too much. They can’t help me. I trust them and ask for help and it backfires. I’m pushed further away when what I need is reassurance. They wonder why people don’t talk when they’re suicidal but what other option is there when you’re scared you’ll lose everything anyway. Why try to make yourself better? For people that say they are good at working with people with BPD they seem to forget the fear of abandonment part that can cause further crisis. It feels like they’ve helped me hit self destruct again. But then at the end of the day it is my fault. I should never of asked for help instead of acting on the thoughts I was having.

So there you have it. Why I’m a screw up. Don’t worry I hate myself more than anyone else.

For further comments please use the comments, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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I Want To Die

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering. I have sought professional help.

I want to die. That is my overbearing thought at the moment. Its there when I wake up until I go to bed. My thoughts go to how I could do it. The voice tells me how much better for everyone it would be and how useless I am that I am still alive.

My body is something I’ve lost respect for again. I feel its failing me again. It’s not doing what it should. It’s a constant trigger at the moment. I hate that I can’t fully get the help I need with it because of what has happened in the past stopping me managing the tests I need. I hate that where I have tried to sort things they are not going to plan. Why should I care about something that has let me down in the past by reacting when I didn’t want it to react? I hate it. I want it gone.

The memories at the moment are overwhelming. I always try to push them down but sometimes they just rise again and again. I hate that they effect me when I know they shouldn’t. I should be over it all. I try and believe people that it’s not my fault but then the logical side kicks in and shows the evidence of why it is my fault. I know people are just trying to be kind to me but I don’t deserve it. I’m a horrible person.

Stress at the moment is also high. Home life is hard. I feel that whatever I do isn’t good enough. Nothing I say is right. If I try to help I’m wrong. If I don’t I’m wrong. I feel guilty constantly and like I’m letting them down. I’m trying to help but it’s getting on top of me and I don’t know how to respond without upsetting people. Noone cares how it effects me. But then I know I’m not worth anything. I’m just a burden.

I feel guilty for asking for support. I feel I take too much. I don’t want to take away from other people but I fail at that. Again a lack of control makes this worse. I don’t want to cry or get emotional in front of others. It’s not me. I don’t want to make them worry. I’m not worth worrying about. Therefore if I’m gone it would be for the best.

My life is pointless. I have no potential. I fail at everything. I try and then things get in the way. I suck. I’m a burden to those around me. Why would they want this useless mess in their lives? They are too kind to say otherwise but I know I shouldn’t be here as it would make their lives easier. They could focus on the important people who deserve help.

I should die. I need to die. I want to die.

If you are feeling suicidal the Samaritans are there to listen or if you are from another country you can find a list of crisis lines around the world in the menu. Feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to share your thoughts.

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Ashamed

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

Today I had a melt down. Not just a little one but a major, uncontrollable show of emotion. I was in the DBT peer support group that I’ve started attending and I got triggered and that was it. My mind started turning over everything. Memories came back with full force. The voice started. It was overwhelming. I started by sitting quietly with tears going down my face. We were doing an exercise and everyone was focused and I just couldn’t ask for help. Then someone noticed me. They asked if I was OK and I got asked if I wanted to take a moment. That’s when things just nose dived.

I practically ran out the room. I wanted to slam the door behind me but couldn’t do it. This infuriated me and I hit the wall and ran to the stairs. At that point I just sobbed and emotion overtook me. There were so much emotion that I have no idea what it was I was feeling. All I know is it was horrible. In that moment I wanted to die. Everything was so intense. It felt unmanageable. I felt nothing was going to be OK again.

Luckily the peer support facilitator followed me. She was amazing. She got down to my level. I think she grabbed my arms. It’s a little hazy. I can’t remember what she said. All I know is she got someone else to go in with the group and took me somewhere quiet.

When we got in the office I just wanted to curl up small and hurt myself. I hated my reaction as well as still feeling the heightened emotions. Also everything was still going through my head. I couldn’t look at her. I was so ashamed of myself for so many reasons. For my reaction. For my feelings. For the thoughts of what had happened in the past. For what the voice was telling me. I started to hit myself as I was asked to stop. I hadn’t even realised I was. Things were hazy. It was like being in two different places.

The facilitator started talking to me. The conversation is a little bit of a blur. But it started to calm me. She got me to focus on my breathing to bring me back to the moment. She then had to leave me to go back to the group but someone else sat with me. They talked to me about nothing in particular but it helped. I started to be able to respond and the tears seemed to stop. The intensity of the emotions slowly eased.

When the facilitator came back we decided to have another talk. I opened up about a lot of things from my past. It all kind of blurted out. There were things I had never really spoken about. It just felt, well not easy but, OK to talk about. I felt listened to. I felt understood. I felt I mattered. But this was also contradicted by other feelings of shame (of what had happened in the past and of needing to ask for help), of being selfish, of guilt. I hated myself. As much as I was told it was OK I couldn’t believe it. I was (and am) an awful person. I couldn’t stop apologising.

Eventually I left, apologising as I went and promising to email her and contact my care coordinator. I decided to text my friend. She was the only one I wanted. I explained to some extent what had happened and she was concerned about me. Immediately guilt started to escalate again. But I kept talking (still apologising). She kept me calm. She was great. I’m so grateful for her. I’m so grateful for the facilitator too.

When I got home I got into trouble for being home late. It started as soon as I walked in. Immediately all the negative emotions started to rise again. I tried to explain I had a melt down and the questions started. They were things I found difficult to discuss but they wouldn’t leave it alone. Even when out walking with mum she brought it up and told me I just need to get over it. Maybe she is right but it added to how bad I’m feeling. Shame came forward again.

Since then things have been hard. My mind has been going over things. The voice has played its role. I’m trying hard to stay afloat. But its tough. I hate myself.

If you have any suggestions on dealing with shame feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Things To Say To Someone Who Is Suicidal

When someone is suicidal it can be difficult to know what to say. You can be scared that something will make the person feel worse and even push them over the edge. However talking to someone who is suicidal is so important. It can make such a difference and can be so helpful. Below are a few things that may be helpful to say.

1. “I care if you’re here or not”

This simple phrase means a lot as when feeling suicidal it can feel like noone cares whether you are around or not. You feel useless and a burden and just think that it’s for the best of everyone if you are gone. Hearing that people care can hit deep and although it may be hard for us to believe it is still good to hear.

2. “You deserve love and support”

When you’re feeling suicidal you can feel like you deserve nothing but to be gone. You most likely don’t feel worthy of love and support so being reminded we are can be important. It may also help us to reach out further if we feel like maybe it is OK for us to ask for help.

3. “You are good at…”

When feeling suicidal it can be impossible to believe you are good at anything. Telling someone they are good at something and if possible providing evidence of how good they are at it can really help. They may not accept the compliment easily or at all but it will quite possibly stick in their mind when they are thinking the worst of themselves.

4. “I will stick by you”

Knowing we have someone by our side is really important. Feeling suicidal can feel really lonely. We may feel totally on our own. We also may feel that we are upsetting people by the way we feel and they might leave us. This can make us feel worse and like life is even less worth living. Knowing we do have someone offers hope.

5. “I don’t know what to say but I will listen”

It’s OK to say if you don’t know what to say and rather than pretending you do know it’s OK to say you don’t know. What is more important is that you are there to listen and support and that we know you’re there.

If you are trying to support someone who is feeling suicidal it is important that you take care of yourself as well. You are important too.

For more support you can contact the Samaritans or the crisis lines in the menu. Or you can contact a health professional.

If you have more ideas of things to say to someone who is feeling suicidal then please share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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