Tag Archives: coping strategies

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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Feeling Broken

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

I’m broken. Broken beyond repair. A failure. A burden. Useless. Worthless.

I’ve been trying to move forward. Make progress. I’m being proactive. I’m making plans. Signing myself up to things. Exercising. Taking my medication. But what’s the point when I just go backwards.

Tonight is a little paradoxical. I’m feeling like a failure not because I self harmed deeply but because to me it wasn’t “good enough”. I’m in pain and feeling not good enough. Therefore I’ve sunk further. All the thoughts of my inadequacy have come to the forefront. People, friends (though why they bother with me I do not know) tell me I’m not what I think but I can see the evidence. How can they not? Or are they just too kind to agree?

I’m nothing. A waste of space. Someone to be hurt. Someone with so little worth that it doesn’t matter what others do to me. I should just take it. Even hurt myself. That’s what life has told me.

Sometimes I forget these things. I feel good. Then I remember. That’s the hardest.

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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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Am I Happy?

I’ve been feeling good which has been an unusual feeling, especially as last week I was nearly admitted to a psychiatric ward. But is it happiness I’m feeling? What else could it be?

There are many different definitions of happiness. These include phrases such as feeling joy or contentment. These definitions all seem very abstract to me. How do I know from this if what I feel is happiness?

DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) teaches us how to identify emotions as part of emotional regulation. I guess the idea being that in order to regulate your emotions, you first need to know what you’re feeling. Identifying feelings/emotions has always been a weak point of mine. Most of the time I can say an emotion is either good or bad. I might be able to describe what it feels like in my body but not always successfully. It is something I’ve been trying to work on and DBT has some skills that are useful to help with this.

As part of my DBT skills therapy we were given a booklet of about 10 pages identifying the core emotions and how to recognise them. It covers different ways of identifying the feelings from looking at physical reactions to situations where it has arisen. It is a useful guide but very chunky and not ideal for carrying around with you. This means working out how to react at the time is difficult.

But back to whether what I’m feeling is happiness. It’s hard to tell. It seems to start out as a feeling of great energy. I feel I can do what I want to do and nothing will stop this. I have energy. My appetite fluctuates. I’m trying hard to make jokes and make people smile. I’m trying desperately to look after people. And then it becomes irritable.

In my mind this isn’t happiness. It doesn’t seem to fit with the feelings that are linked to happiness. There are no obvious events linked to these feelings. None of it fits. So what is this?

Some people would call this a kind of mania. There are similarities. But to me it is a high. It might be fleeting or it may last longer. This time it’s lasted a few days and is dwindling. The irritability has definitely kicking in. For someone with BPD this can happen. A huge mood change, from one extreme to another. It can be exhausting to live with.

For help with identifying emotions these worksheets may help. It’s a skill that can be worked on and is definitely something I am still working on.

To discuss further please use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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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