Tag Archives: diagnosis

Cancer Scare: Waiting For Diagnosis

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

The date today as I write this is 15th February 2020. Three weeks ago I found a lump in my breast. I regularly check mine but this one was actually brought to my attention by my cat kneading my chest as she loves to do and it not feeling right. So I checked it out and it felt sizeable. It had been 2 weeks at most since I’d last checked.

I kept checking it over the weekend just to make sure it wasn’t just some lumpiness that would go away. Then the following week I tried repeatedly to get a GP appointment, finally managing to get one on the Thursday. Luckily it was a GP I know well and trust as with my history of sexual abuse it was raising anxiety. When he checked he said he thought it was about 5cm. He referred me on the two week wait cancer initiative.

My appointment came through for 12th February 2020. I went along with more apprehension of facing the tests than the results. It started with an ultrasound of the breast. This seemed to confuse them and another person was brought in to look. Then it was decided I needed both a mammogram and biopsies. Normally someone my age would not be given a mammogram as it may not show anything. But mine showed the lump clearly.

The biopsy process was painless due to local anaesthetic. I was still just thinking it was a normal part of the process and they would be like it’s all fine but we just have to know what it is. That was not the case.

After the biopsy I was asked to wait in a room. My mum was with me. We got called back in and I was faced with a number of people which put me on edge. They explained that they were concerned about the lump. That I was going to have to return for another appointment to get the results of the biopsies and find out the next steps. That they were pretty sure surgery would be needed whatever.

One of the people in the room was a breast care nurse. She had been assigned to my case and would be my point of contact. She was lovely. She took me and mum off into another room. We discussed a few things and she sorted out the appointment. Her comment that there was a lot that they can do to treat cancer made me feel they know already but I can’t be sure. I’m in a state of not knowing.

So I’m sat here having a mixture of thoughts. I’ve been through so many emotions in the last few days. From the incredibly calm to the extremely anxious to suicidal. I’ve been showing others the calm side. I’ve been pushing my emotions down. A few people have heard some of the worry but not the full extent. Not the thoughts that have been going through my head that make me ashamed of myself.

There is a part of me that feels IF it is cancer then I don’t want to go through the treatment. The thought of dealing with being unwell and making it worse to get better scares me. The thought of trying to live when mentally I want to die all the time seems hypocritical. In fact it feels like it could be my way out which is a terrible thought isn’t it? But I know others will want me to go through it all. I know I will have to do it for them.

Obviously at this stage I have no definite answers. But this doesn’t stop the thoughts. Google is not my friend at the moment and the late night Google searches are not a good idea (other search engines still available?). I feel so much guilt over my thoughts. I’m just trying to push all the feelings down. I don’t want the pity. I don’t want to be treated as delicate. I don’t want people thinking I’m brave and strong. I’m not. I’m a mess. Not because I care about me but because of those around me. I don’t want to cause them anymore suffering.

So yeah that is where I’m at as I write this. I don’t know anything definite. If I publish this I may know more by then. I will keep people updated. Feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. For more information and support about cancer click here.

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We Need To Talk About… Psychosis

Psychosis! What do you think it means? Does it mean schizophrenia? Does it mean being locked up? Does it mean there is no hope? These things are things I thought before I experienced psychosis and I know many still think this way. This is why we need to talk about psychosis.

So what is psychosis?

Psychosis is made up of many different symptoms. Some people will have many, some only one. They include:

  • Hallucinations (these may be visual, auditory, tactile or related to smell and taste)
  • Delusions (having strong beliefs not shared by others, for example, people are going to hurt you)

Does everyone with psychosis have schizophrenia?

It’s a common assumption that the only people that experience psychosis are those with schizophrenia. This simply isn’t the case. Many mental illnesses may cause a person to experience psychosis. These include bipolar, depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Psychosis can also be a result of physical illness or trauma.

Will someone with psychosis recover?

There is hope for those with psychosis. Many people will only have one episode of psychosis. Psychosis can also be managed with medication. There is a variety of antipsychotics. Of course as with any medication there can be side effects but these often are often outweighed by the benefits. It can also be a process of finding what works for you. Sometimes, when the psychosis is caused by trauma, psychosis can be helped by therapy.

What does someone with psychosis look like?

There is no specific way that someone who experiences psychosis looks. The term “psychotic look” which is often used to describe a way someone is looking is a work of fiction. Those with psychosis look like everyone else. The signs are more likely to be in their behaviour.

A last thought

People with psychosis experience extreme stigma. We are made out to be “crazy” and someone to be feared. In fact we are more likely to be a danger to ourselves or be at risk from others. It can be scary to see someone dealing with psychosis but remember they are probably scared too.

For more information about psychosis click here.

To share your experience feel free to use the comments or 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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BPD Awareness Month Round Up

May is BPD Awareness Month so throughout the month of May I shared facts and information about the illness on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But I thought I would share them all on the blog as a round up.

1st May

This was my introductory post to announce that I would be sharing information about Borderline Personality Disorder.

2nd May

I thought it was important to share what BPD is and this seemed like a good explanation.

3rd May

Many people mix up BPD and Bipolar disorder. They are have similarities (mood switching, intensity of moods) but are two separate illnesses. For more info check out Mind’s website.

4th May

BPD can be diagnosed when at least 5 of 9 criteria are met (see image for the 9). There are many different combinations and each criteria is on a spectrum.

5th May

This was just to give people an overview of some yes’s and no’s.

6th May

A lot of people say BPD isn’t a real mental illness but it is. There are a lot of theories about what causes BPD, but this doesn’t make it less real.

7th May

A lot of people think that people with BPD are manipulative. We are not and this image explains why. All the people I know with BPD are awesome.

8th May

BPD is exhausting. Unstable moods are a major part of this illness and don’t just change daily but even from 1 minute to the next.

9th May

This further explains the extreme moods that we go through.

10th May

Just a letter many people with BPD would like to write.

11th May

A lot of people think that people with BPD are sensitive. In some ways we are but there are reasons for it. We notice every little thing and if something is wrong we blame ourselves and wait to be abandoned. This makes any kind of relationship hard.

12th May

Many people with BPD have their feelings invalidated because people can’t understand the extreme nature of our emotions. We know to you it may not be a big deal but saying we shouldn’t feel that way makes us feel worse.

13th May

We shouldn’t lie to people in general but lying to someone with BPD can be catastrophic. It can fuel all sorts of thoughts, generally against ourselves. We start doubting everything. Everyone feels unsafe.

14th May

Little things can cause a big reaction for people with BPD but we also know that people will not understand why we have reacted as we have so we tend to hide our feelings. This can result in using negative coping strategies such as self harm or eventually exploding at someone.

15th May

Self harm is one of the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. There are misconceptions about why people with BPD self harm but it is not to be manipulative or for attention generally.

16th May

Some people doubt the seriousness of BPD but it has a suicide rate of 10%. 70% of people with BPD attempt suicide.

17th May

This is my medication that I take in a month. Most of it is for my mental illness. There is no medication that is made for treatment of BPD but it can help us deal with some of the symptoms. Each day I take two antidepressants, one mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic. I also have a medication I can take when my anxiety is overwhelming.

18th May

This statement may sound a little reactive but it has some truth. People with BPD don’t only feel negative emotions strongly, we feel positive ones just as intensely. This means we may come across as quite intense in relationships. But we genuinely love you lots.

19th May

Anger can be a problem for those of us with #BPD. With the intensity of emotions, our anger can be an explosion of rage. It can burn for a long time even after the other person/situation is over it. It will play on our mind. We may do or say things we regret. Sometimes we will turn it inwards.

20th May

I hate this about myself. People with BPD do get jealous of friends hanging out with other friends but we do not do this because we feel you should only hang out with us. We actually feel we are not good enough for you and are scared you will leave us.

21st May

People with BPD are very aware that they are responsible for their actions. Maybe too aware as they are constantly judging their words and actions. But sometimes, and we are not using it as excuse more an explanation, our illness causes us to act in certain ways that are difficult to deal with for others and ourselves.

22nd May

Quite often people with BPD have trouble naming their emotions, which when you feel them so intensely and act out on them can be a problem in getting others to understand you. It is also frustrating as we wish we had the words for what we’re experiencing so we can get support.

23rd May

This is something that is currently hitting me quite hard as I turn 30 in just over a week. This isn’t exclusive to BPD as many people who have a mental illness but I just wanted to share what kind of impact BPD can have. It is a serious illness.

24th May

People with BPD struggle with their sense of self. Part of that is taking on things from other people and our sense of worth often comes from other people too. This means we do our best to be liked so we feel worth. We also put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect and is part of why when we make a mistake we take it so hard.

25th May

People with BPD may struggle with a se se of self. In response to this they take on bits of other people depending on who they’re with. Therefore when they are without someone it can be a struggle to know who they are so they cling to people and may appear needy.

26th May

Living with BPD for me makes me feel like I don’t belong. I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. The world feels like something I can’t navigate while others seem to just get through. Little things are big. Relationships feel like a huge effort. Even simple socialising is a huge minefield waiting to explode in our faces so everything gets analysed.

27th May

It is a myth that people with BPD are all abusive. In fact we are quite likely to be the victims of abuse and get stuck in abusive situations as even when someone is toxic we are scared of being left by them.

28th May

I’ve talked about the struggles of BPD a lot because they are a huge part of the illness but these same traits can have some positivity. We are passionate and empathetic among other things.

29th May

Apparently BPD gets easier to deal with, with age. And in some ways I’ve seen this myself. My mood swings when I was younger were much stronger and I was more reactive. I think things have got easier in some ways because I’ve learnt about myself and ways to cope. I’m not saying it’s easy, and there are times when it really catches me by surprise but it can be manageable.

30th May

The main treatment for BPD is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). The full course involves group and individual therapy. It focuses on dealing with the symptoms of BPD to make life easier. It is hard work.

31st May

I’ve shared a lot about BPD and the difficulties and differences it can make, but people with BPD are more than a mental illness although it can be hard to distinguish the lines. Please remember that the person who tells you about their diagnosis is the same person they were before they told you.

I hope this has been useful. For more information on BPD check out Mind website. You can keep up with me via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

BPD Q&A

There is a lot of misinformation out there about BPD and many people don’t have a good understanding of the illness. It can be very confusing, even for those of us who are dealing with the disorder. Therefore I thought I would answer some common(ish) questions. Obviously I only have my experiences to draw on but I hope it is still helpful.

What is BPD?

BPD stands for Borderline Personality Disorder. It may also be known by the name EUPD or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It is a mental illness classified in the DSM-V (the manual of all mental illnesses). There are a variety of symptoms including relationship difficulties, fear of abandonment, suicidal ideation, self harm, impulsive behaviour, lack of a sense of self and extreme emotions which switch rapidly. To be diagnosed with BPD you need to match five points of a criteria of nine. This means that everyone with BPD is unique as each criteria is also on a spectrum.

What causes BPD?

There are many different theories as to what causes BPD. It is widely agreed that trauma in childhood is a big cause but not everyone who has BPD experiences trauma. There has also been research into changes in brain structure and genetics. However nothing has been conclusive.

What does having BPD feel like?

Everyone with BPD is different so I can only talk about what BPD is like from my point of view. Personally it feels like I’m an alien in this world that seems to be out of my control. And the lack of control reaches even inside me. I also feel constantly scared that people won’t like me or will leave me. I also feel like everything is too much.

What treatment is there for BPD?

The main treatment for BPD is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). This is a therapy that is mindfulness based and proper DBT consists of both group and individual therapy to learn skills to deal with distress, relationships and emotions. However it is not always available. People with BPD may also take medication though no medication is suggested for BPD. It can however help with symptoms and other illnesses that people with BPD are likely to have.

What is BPD rage?

BPD rage is the extreme anger that some people with BPD feel. Like all our emotions it is incredibly intense. It can also last a long time after the triggering event is over and when other people have forgotten about it. It also may seem disproportionate to the triggering event. Sometimes we turn the rage inwards and this can lead to self harm and suicidal behaviour.

Can people with BPD get psychosis?

Yes. It is a lesser known symptom of BPD but it can happen. It is more common in times of stress but can be there long term too.

Is BPD serious?

Yes there BPD is serious. It has a suicide rate of 10%. 70% of people with BPD attempt suicide. Self harm is common. Alcohol and substance abuse are also common. It effects everyday life.

Are people with BPD dangerous?

No people with BPD are not dangerous. In fact people with BPD are more likely to be victims of abuse than perpetrators. We are also more likely to hurt ourselves than other people.

So that is a few questions about BPD. I hope it helps with some understanding of the illness. For more information on BPD check out the Mind website. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments or on 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.

Please Stop Hating A BPD Diagnosis

I have seen a lot of tweets absolutely rubbishing the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) diagnosis. I’ve seen tweets saying the diagnosis isnt valid or that it is a misdiagnosis of another mental illness. This has upset me a lot as someone with a BPD diagnosis.

As someone with BPD, I recognise that it is not always an appropriate diagnosis. I know that some people are misdiagnosed. I know that it carries a lot of stigma. But it has value.

When your world is in turmoil and you find yourself dipping repeatedly into crisis and your relationships are unstable, when you don’t know who you are or what you really like because you pick up on other people’s mannerisms and likes, it feels awful. You feel like you are made wrong. You feel like you are weak. You hate yourself so much for not being “normal”. You are scared. Now imagine someone tells you there is a reason you feel this way and it’s not your fault. There is some feeling of relief and enlightenment. Maybe your life isn’t over just yet. Maybe your life can be worth living. That’s what it can be like getting a BPD diagnosis. I imagine it feels like that for any mental health diagnosis.

The problem with the BPD diagnosis is not the people with the diagnosis but the stigma that surrounds the name. It’s the interpretation that some people attribute to it that doesn’t help. Whatever you call it, it is the same illness with the same symptoms. It is a valid illness and those who deal with it everyday will still have to deal with it whether you take away that diagnosis or not. What you do though, if you take away the diagnosis, is isolate people who are suffering with these confusing symptoms. You take away the hope that they can get treatment and stop them accessing the peer support available in the BPD community. As with any mental illness, other people who are dealing with the same thing are a lifeline and show more understanding than anyone else. To take away the diagnosis, removes this opportunity for us.

So before you say our diagnosis is invalid or just a misdiagnosis, please take into account those of us who see it as an explanation for what we are pdealing with and as an opportunity to get treatment and support. (I know that there are some people who are misdiagnosed and for them yes it is appropriate to question the diagnosis but I am responding to a general statement about people with BPD just being misdiagnosed.)

A side note

I know some people will say a BPD diagnosis is unhelpful. I have written another post where I discuss why a BPD diagnosis is useful which you can find here.

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