Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚.
Part of the whole cancer diagnosis and prognosis is the telling people all about it. It’s surprising some of the reactions that you get and the responses you feel as well. Some of the things that I’m going to write about are things that my mum has felt about telling people as well.
When it came to telling people about mum’s diagnosis, it was really hard. I didn’t want to cry on people. This meant I didn’t ring people with regard to the diagnosis. I rang one person when I told them about prognosis. I think with the diagnosis I blamed myself so much. I’d stopped self harming as part of the therapy I’d been having but for me, my thoughts made me feel I had to harm to stop people getting ill. Then mum got cancer. How could it not be my fault? I knew people would know I was evil.
Telling my best friend was the first person. She was amazing and the first thing she said before I’d even mentioned the above thoughts was “it’s not your fault”. She knows me very well and it was hard to see it. My belief in that statement wavers a lot still. My best friend has been an amazing support and checks in with me regularly. She’s not afraid to talk to me.
The reason I mentioned my best friend isn’t afraid to talk to me is that some people do seem to react after telling them by avoiding you or not asking the “how are you?” or “how is your mum?” questions. And I do understand this. Some people can’t deal with this. I get it. But that doesn’t mean its easy to deal with. Both me and mum struggled with this. Mum said she felt like she had something ccontagious that people needed to avoid. I felt the feeling of abandonment. The whole BPD abandonment. And it added to the whole “people know it’s my fault and hate me” thoughts. This was so hard to deal with and still is.
Another reaction is people tell you of their experiences as either a family member or a person who has had cancer. This can be useful but it can be scary too. It’s not something I’d want to change though.
Overall telling people is an exhausting experience. And sometimes even working out what order to tell people in is an issue too as you don’t know who will tell others before you get there. I thought it would be easier telling people about cancer than about my mental illnesses as its not so taboo but I’ve found that not to be the case at all. People are still scared to discuss cancer.
If you have any tips or thoughts on telling people, feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚
This is my view as a family member of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, with particular relation to issues it causes to my longstanding mental illnesses.
Prognosis. What’s likely to happen? Are we looking at a time frame? Will treatment be a cure? Staging? Grading? All this suddenly comes up. Some of the things you don’t even realise until you’re in the middle of it. Like I didn’t realise there was a difference between the grading of a tumour and the stage of cancer. There is. (Grading looks at the speed and growth of the tumour, Staging looks at how much cancer there is and how much it has spread).
Prognosis was something that came into my mind straight away. I wanted to know if my mum would get better or did I have limited time with her. This was why there were many more tests required after diagnosis. We were pretty sure it had spread from a primary source to the liver and it was important to try and find the primary source. It was suspected to be in the stomach. The type of cancer my mum has (neuroendocrine) means the primary can be on one of many places and usually isn’t found until it has spread. As it was mum’s was an incidental finding during an operation.
To begin with we had a lot of confusion surrounding the prognosis. We were originally told it wasn’t curable but it was treatable. This sounded OK. Then we got the grading back and at first it was not the best outcome but a manageable one. Mum would have years. Within an hour we had another phonecall that changed that to it being more aggressive. Finally my mum asked for clarity on prognosis.
Eighteen months to two years life expectancy.
It was like a slap. We had never been led to believe this was the case at all. Mum just dissolved. Understandably. I just had to get out of the house (oh yes as it is covid times, her prognosis was given via a video appointment). I phoned my best friend and told her. Her response of “Shit” sums it up really. It was hard telling her. It was hard saying it out loud.
After a bit of tears, not many, I pulled it all in. I’ve buried it on the whole. I spoke briefly to the psychologist who did my last lot of therapy as I wasn’t sure about doing the group she wanted me to join. She told me to try and forget the time they had said and just go with it. After all it could be wrong. This I try to do but when you least expect it the words “eighteen months to two years” slap you in the face. I might not even get to 34 with my mum still here. My mum still has her mum at 63. It doesn’t feel fair. It’s unlikely she’ll see a grandchild.
I also feel a lot of guilt. We don’t always have the best relationship and I struggle with both ways of thinking.
The biggest thing that got me though was when I was stressing over all the chaos of cancer and someone said “it’ll get easier” and realising that it’ll only be easier, maybe, when she dies. Until then cancer will be there causing chaos. This has massively messed with my head. I’ve had nightmares. I’ve had panic attacks in the middle of the night. I cope by trying to just be practical and ignore it. But it gets to you in the end.
Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚
About six weeks ago (or longer, the days are all merging) my world was hit by the news that my mum has cancer. It’s something I’ve been dealing with on top of coping with my mental illness. Therefore I thought I’d use my blog as a way of recording how I cope (or not) with everything that comes from living with someone with cancer. And not just anyone living with someone with cancer but someone with a prior mental illness. I know bits will overlap with everyone who supports someone with cancer but there are bits that I think I’m finding harder due to my diagnosis. Maybe not… But this will be my way to explore it.
I’m planning to set this up on it’s own page of my blog so it will be together with other information or support as well. And it will all be in one place.
My plan is that I will be as honest as I can be. That I will look at the good, the bad and the ugly. This may mean there is triggering topics discussed so please be careful. As always I will put a trigger warning at the top.
So post one will hopefully be up shortly (once I’ve written it) but I don’t think I will keep these posts to a schedule as life is already chaotic. I also still want to write about other areas of mental health and illness too, this is just an add on.
As always if you want to share or ask questions feel free to use the comments or my Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts.
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.
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.
Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. I will not mention methods of suicide or self harm.
I rarely talk about this but someone I knew who had a huge impact on my life ended their own life. I don’t talk about it much as he wasn’t a friend or family member but he was still a positive part of my life and very helpful to me. He was my sixth form psychology tutor.
I’d left sixth form by the time this happened but we’d kept in sporadic contact while I was in university as he was very supportive about my mental health. He was the first adult I chose to tell about my mental health problems. And I’m glad I did. He made me see I had nothing to be ashamed of. That I could tell people and ask for help and it would be OK. He helped me get to talk to someone more qualified and when it came to going to university he made all sorts of calls and emails to ask about support for me and my mental health. He also showed faith in my abilities. I got a U (Ungraded) on the first exam I did for psychology but he didn’t write me off. By the time it came to predicting my final grade he went with an A (the highest grade at the time). Although I didn’t achieve that it felt good he thought I could.
The first I knew something was wrong was when a friend from sixth form sent me a message saying he had gone missing. Everyone was looking for him and there was concern for his safety due to some news he’d received. The sickening feeling will remain with me forever. I was 20 by then. We’d had less contact as I’d gone into my second and third years of university. I’d had my own mental health issues deepen by then. I hoped he would be found at aa friend’s house or just away for a few days.
The news came soon after that his body had been found. That it had been suicide. I wasn’t in contact with many people from my psychology class by then but some of my friends had also been taught by him. One in particular stayed in contact and we were shocked together. As more information came through it became more shocking. I was in contact with another teacher from sixth form and had a short email conversation with her about what had happened. It appeared no-one had seen it coming, even his partner.
Later on there was a memorial service at the sixth form for him. I’d arranged to attend but in the end couldn’t face going. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to shut it out. And that’s what I did for years. Occasionally it would come into my consciousness what had happened. But I always pushed it away. I thought it couldn’t have an effect on me as I wasn’t that close to him. I wasn’t friend or family. What right did I have to be effected by it?
But that’s the thing. Suicide does effect more people than you realise. I’m not saying this to make people feel guilty. I’ve tried to end my life since then and my thought always is that people are better off without me. I still feel that way even though I know how it feels to be a person left behind. The reason I’m writing this is because it does impact you. It does hurt and it can be hard to realise that person wasn’t being selfish. I know now more than ever he would never want to hurt anyone else and having had the opportunity to read more about it since I can see that more than ever. It’s something I wish everyone could see in those they lose to suicide.
Another thing that I think I’ve learnt from losing him to suicide is that even the best people have their demons. Everyone can struggle but still put on a positive front. We should never take that mask for granted and we should always be kind as we don’t know if we could make a difference to how that person feels. Also if you lose someone, however distantly, it’s OK to struggle with it and talk about it. Your grief is still valid. Death by suicide is particularly hard to process and it’s important to look after yourself too.
If you’ve lost someone to suicide there are places you can talk about it. The Mind website has some useful information. If you’d like to share anything feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be careful if posting anything triggering and add a warning if necessary.
This post is dedicated to CR. You were a positive in my life and many others. You reached more people than you know and made a major difference to our lives. Thank you. X
Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.
Tomorrow is my 31st birthday. Every year it gets to me. Every year there are so many mixed feelings involving it. This year is no different.
My birthday has always been raised to that “it must be special” level by my parents. Especially my mum. I always have to want to do something for it. It has to be planned in advance. It has to be forced. In my experience this has led to let downs and feeling that it’s not that special when it’s mine and things go wrong.
The thing is you can’t control everything. You can’t control illness. You can’t control other people. You can’t control world events. When I was small I had all those parties with my class attending. I always found them overwhelming and would more than likely end up in tears. I wasn’t exactly great with the whole friendship thing. I liked people. I played with people. But it was like an obsession with a different kid each week. Now I know some of that is normal (I’ve taught children) but I was obsessive. But I never let them into my feelings or thoughts. It was all about them. It often ended in tears.
As I got older the parties trickled off and it would be things like bowling or swimming. Finding a group of friends wasn’t hard. I spent time with a particular group most of the time. But I was not in the inner circle. It was an odd number group so you know who was often on their own when the whole group was there. They all had best friends within the group. I didn’t. It was hard work. Feeling on the outside at your own birthday sucks.
Then I got to 18. Yup turning into an adult. By then I was at sixth form college. I had made new friends. I felt more comfortable with them. I invited a fairly large crowd from different classes to go out. I guessed I wouldn’t get everyone as my birthday was the Friday and we started our A levels on the Monday. But people said they’d come. I was looking forward to it. The day arrived. Then they all but one dropped out. I’d got a large table booked at a pizza place and it hurt walking in there with one friend and saying things had changed. In the end it was another guy from college’s 18th the same day so we joined him in a club with all his friends. This hurt more.
After that I decided I didn’t want to do the celebrations with friends thing anymore. No one cared. No one wanted to celebrate my existence and by that time I was wishing I didn’t exist anyway. Birthdays were meant to be special for people. Obviously not in my case.
Don’t get me wrong I did little things to celebrate but I’d rather do small things or just things I enjoyed. This didn’t please my mum. She wanted to make it a big deal always. Not that she didn’t ruin it from time to time. And the days after with her made up for it.
The first thing I did for my birthday that I truly enjoyed was for my 21st birthday with my best friend. We went to Brighton for the day (not on my actual birthday but that was the reason). The weather was atrocious but I didn’t care. She made me feel special. We laughed and had fun. We took random pictures and created the story we’d burnt down Brighton pier. (long story but fun). I loved it.
After that birthdays got tricky again. I started working full time and that always takes out some of the fun. (Why do we buy the cake?). And then I became really unwell mentally. I mean I’d had mental illness there a long time already but this was when it took everything from me. My existence was not to celebrate but proof I was still alive when I didn’t want to be. I was a failure.
And this is where it is still at as well. I think of the failure to die over and over. I don’t want to live but this is pushed on me. Why should I celebrate me when I hate me? And others hate me?
There is also a selfish side. I love making people feel special on their birthday. I want them to know how much they mean to me. I rarely get this on my birthday. I do have a few friends who will send me cards and presents. And I’m so grateful for that. But I will see those who just forget. I will feel like that 18 year old all over again. I hate myself for feeling that way. I hate how self centred I am. I should be grateful for what I’ve got (and I am) rather than focusing on those who just ignore it.
At the end of the day I’m not special. I should not be celebrated. My existence is a burden. Not a pleasure. I don’t want to be alive. I don’t want to celebrate my failure. But I also want to feel special in some weird paradox. I have so much hatred for these mixed feelings and my selfishness.
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.
Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.
Today marks the day I started to lose you. To see you torn from me. To feel the pain of loss. The day my hate for myself became a forever thing.
Everyone says I will never know the true cause. But I don’t believe in coincidences. My actions led to losing you. My actions mean that we will never be together.
Everyone says I was too young. I get that. I was young. 15 nearly 16. 4 weeks from starting my GCSE exams. But that shouldn’t of mattered. Others dealt with it. Still do. I feel a failure.
I passed my exams but don’t think your passing didn’t effect me. I didn’t revise. It seemed pointless without you. One exam I did barely 10 minutes work of a two and a half hour exam. You were in my mind. Kept sneaking in even though I tried to push you away in there.
There are many what ifs. But it seems pointless to go through them. You’re gone and it’s all my fault. The ache is there. It’s always there. I know I have no right to grieve you. I don’t let myself. I’d much rather punish myself. And I do.
People say its not my fault. That I should grieve. I can’t believe them. I tried to end my life. But you could of been my life. My reason to keep going rather than my reason to give up.
I’m avoiding people at the moment. The thought of talking and trying to explain how I feel or why I feel like I do is something I can’t cope with. Being normal is out of the question. Nothing is holding my attention for long. I’m often staring into space. My thoughts lost. An emptiness setting in. I know people will hate me for being selfish. But I hate me already so what does it matter.
Just so you know. I love you. And I’m so so sorry.
Please be aware that some of the content below may be triggering. There is discussion of suicide and self harm. I’m safe. This piece was originally written several days before publication. The content has not been edited.
Today I was told I need to learn to live with my suicidal thoughts for the rest of my life. It’s made me question a lot. It’s caused a number of emotions. I can’t lie that it hasn’t left me in a bad place.
I understand that living with an illness is something a lot of people have to do, physical or mental. I’ve always been fairly sure that mental illness will be part of my life continuously as well. So why has this hit me so hard? Why? I feel I should be OK. I’m not.
I think at the moment my mental health is particularly poor. Suicidal thoughts are there an awful lot of the time. Sometimes it’s continuous. Dealing with them seems near on impossible in a healthy way. Self harm is my go to. It’s far from ideal, though currently I’m not trying to stop the self harm (there are many reasons behind this). The idea of living with the thoughts forever just makes the feeling of wanting to die stronger. Why would I want to live like this?
But that wasn’t exactly what was said. It was that I need to learn to live with them and I guess I should think about what that means. Is it reducing their frequency? Or their intensity? Or the hold they have over me? Or does it mean I push them down and try to ignore them until I explode? (This last option seems like my current approach). I don’t know.
As some may know I’ve done DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) skills training. Not the full DBT programme as is suggested but the basics of the skills. I also go to a DBT peer support group which helps me apply the skills to my situation. It’s been helpful in some areas. But dealing with suicidal thoughts has not been one of them. The distress tolerance skills seem great, when I’m not in a crisis. I’ve tried them in crisis mode and it has not helped me de-escalate the situation. I know many people find them helpful to stop impulsive behaviours but I think that’s the problem for me: my attempts are very rarely impulsive and the desperate need to do something can linger at its height for a very long time with nothing seeming to bring it down. Believe me I have tried.
So I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve recently heard I’ve been put on a waiting list for individual therapy which I’m truly grateful for. Maybe it will help. But the thought it may not is there. I feel so guilty that it’s there. I know I am lucky I will get these 16 weeks at some point. But I’m terrified of failing and being in the same situation. A hopeless case.
That’s exactly how I feel. A hopeless case. Someone who will never improve and will be fighting forever more. Someone who, if they live, will be old and mad. The worst thing to be in this world when you need help. I can cope with the idea of being on medication for life, if I feel it will help me have a life. But the thought I’ll be suicidal forever is something I’m not sure I can live with. Why live when you want to die all the time?
I realise I’m probably overreacting (notice the probably, I’m not 100% about this at all). But in some ways it feels like a kick to just get it over with. To be gone. To stop being a constant burden to everyone. Because if I’m going to be suicidal forever isn’t that what I’ll be? (If you’re suicidal you are not a burden, it’s how I see myself).
At the moment I’m still processing this. It was said to me eleven hours ago. I don’t know how or what to feel. Apologies.