Tag Archives: campaign

All I Want For Christmas

I was thinking about things I’d really like for Christmas. Obviously there are the materialistic items (🤞Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire illustrated edition) but also there are some huge things I would love to see happen personally and more for mental health in our society. Therefore I thought I’d share some of my wishes (though I’m aware with just 2 and a half weeks to Christmas (at time of writing) these are unlikely to happen, maybe 2020).

1. No suicidal thoughts

This is personal, although I wish it for everyone. I’d just like to be like others and not be wanting to die on a near constant basis. It feels impossible at the moment when my first thought on waking is I wish I wasn’t alive. It would be nice to have at least a break from the overwhelming thoughts of dying.

2. Shorter waiting times

This is one for everyone in mental health services. Often we wait forever for support. It can be from weeks to months to years. It’s really not good enough. I’ve been referred for therapy again and been told if the referral is accepted I could be waiting up to two years. We need real change in this area to stop people falling through the gaps.

3. Continuity of care

This is huge to me and so many others. Seeing the same person is essential in all areas of health but the turnover of staff in mental health is huge. This means we often are faced with new staff at our most vulnerable who know nothing about us. I’ve lost count of the number of psychiatrists I’ve seen in the last two years. It is nearly always someone new. I’m on my fifth care coordinator of the year. The changes effect my mental health massively. We need to retain staff.

4. More money for mental health research

Mental health is one of the least funded areas of research in medicine. Yet again it is the poor relation in health care. It is also one of the least understood areas. This needs to change when it effects so many people. It would also help other areas of health care as helping people with their mental health aids them looking after their physical health too.

5. Better self esteem.

This is a personal one. I hate myself. It’s not a secret. I have no feeling of self worth. I put myself down constantly. It needs to change but it’s a struggle so if I could get it magically fixed for Christmas that would be great.

6. My friends to be well

My final wish is that all my friends have good mental health. That they feel better. I want so much for them to see their worth. That they are awesome. In fact I want it for all of you. You are all fabulous. Thank you for being amazing.

Feel free to share your own Christmas wishes in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

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.

Picture from Pinterest

1000 Days Of Self Care

As many of you know, especially if you follow me on Twitter, I have been doing the #365daysofselfcare challenge created by The Blurt Foundation. This involves trying to do some form of self care each day. Recently I managed to reach 1000 days. Therefore I thought I’d reflect a little and discuss self care again.

First of all let’s totally go over the point that self care isn’t selfish. It is the act of looking after and treating yourself with respect. People may interpret it as looking out for number one but really it’s bigger than that. By treating yourself with kindness you are helping those that you care about too. In order to be the most effective friend, parent, son, daughter, carer or partner you need to be in a fit state yourself. Self care is important.

Why did I take up the challenge?

The reason I started #365daysofselfcare was because I knew things needed to change. Mentally and physically I was a mess and I had no respect for myself. I felt worthless. Then I saw that The Blurt Foundation had started this challenge. I’d never really considered self care before; why would I when I felt so rubbish about myself? I decided to read about it and discovered it didn’t have to be big gestures but instead could be simple things that meant I was looking after myself. I thought I’d give it a go, after all what harm could it do?

What do I do for self care?

As I’ve already said self care isn’t all about spa days or trips to the cinema (although they obviously do count as self care and are great if you can do them). Sometimes self care is a nap, getting dressed, having a shower, clean pyjamas or just eating and drinking. It might sound boring but self care doesn’t have to be exciting. It’s just important that you are looking after you.

What’s been tough?

Doing some form of self care every day is not always easy. To begin with it was really strange deliberately doing something each day to look after myself. It was a totally alien concept and I felt like I didn’t deserve to look after myself (and quite often I still feel this way). There were many days where I didn’t feel I had done anything that constituted self care. I learnt though through talking to others that I was actually engaging in self care without realising it. Doing it as part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge actually made it easier, especially at the beginning, as I felt I was doing it for other people rather than me which spurred me on when I felt worthless. Also having the support of The Blurt Foundation team, as well as other people taking part, made things easier too.

Overall I would highly recommend trying to incorporate some form of self care into each day. It helps me be a little more respectful of myself. It makes it easier for me to be there for others and feel less of a hypocrite when telling others to look after themselves. Even if you just start small it is just as important as the big things, maybe more so.

If you want more info on self care you can check out my blogs on the subject here or check out this information from The Blurt Foundation. A very big thank you to Jayne Hardy and the whole The Blurt Foundation team. If you want to follow me on the #365daysofselfcare challenge then head over to my Twitter. You can also keep connected on Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks to Jayne Hardy and The Blurt team for the pin.

My BPD Story

I originally wrote this post for the Break The Stigma campaign that is run by Ben who works for my local Mental Health Trust, East London Foundation Trust. You can find the campaign on Facebook or Twitter. For the original post click here.

“Hello, my name is Jo and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.” These are the words that I wish it was easy to say out loud. But it’s not. The reason I don’t feel able to share my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) easily is the huge amount of stigma that the condition carries. This is something I desperately want to change.

When I was diagnosed with BPD, about six years ago, I struggled to deal with my diagnosis. I found out I had this diagnosis by reading it on my copy of the letters sent to my GP. At the time I didn’t know what BPD was and so I worked up the courage to ask my psychiatrist what this diagnosis was and how she had come to this conclusion. She was very good and went through the criteria with me. I was shocked. She then suggested I read a book written by a psychiatrist about the condition. I agreed. This was a mistake.

The book I was given went into detail about why people with BPD were difficult patients and how they were all trying to manipulate those around them. It listed a number of bad things about people with BPD. I was horrified and immediately went into denial. Even though the psychiatrist had shown how I met the criteria, I did not want to believe I had this illness. I was definitely not going to tell many people I had it either. I did not want them to think I was these bad things.

My denial went on for quite a while. I told very few people my diagnosis. Even my parents didn’t know. Then I met and talked to some other people with the same diagnosis and I realised they were none of the bad things I had heard about BPD. These people were lovely, they just struggled with certain things like I did. This led me to being more open about my diagnosis and even telling my parents.

There is still a lot of stigma out there surrounding BPD and personality disorders in general. People still think we are manipulative and all the same but we are people with an illness, just like if we had cancer or diabetes. I’ve experienced stigma even from a psychiatrist who told me I couldn’t be treated. This is untrue. Therapy is the main treatment for BPD and medication can help manage some symptoms.

It is important to challenge the stigma surrounding BPD, and all mental illnesses, so that people can access the help that they need and deserve. At the moment 10% of those diagnosed with BPD will die as a result of suicide. This number is far too high. With help hopefully this can be reduced. Even one life lost is too many, and stigma feeds into these statistics. Reducing stigma will save lives and help those with mental illness to lead a better life.

Having BPD doesn’t make people scary or manipulative. They just have an illness like everyone else.”

To find out more information on Borderline Personality Disorder click here or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.