Tag Archives: fear

You Want To Know What It’s Like? (BPD)

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.

I’d love to hear your views. Feel free to use the comments or share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lost In Lockdown

So it seems like the world has been shut down for forever. Everyone is finding it tough. People are losing loved ones or being kept away from them at least. Life is restricted. Unfortunately my mental illness has decided to take advantage of this situation to cause ultimate unpleasantness.

I know this lockdown is not fun for anyone. I’m not pretending that I’m the only one negatively effected. Everyone seems to be in the same boat. But unfortunately that doesn’t help make it easier. In fact it’s making it harder. I feel guilty that I need support. I feel like a burden when I know so many are struggling to deal with this. I hate myself for being able to access support yet still feel on the edge.

The thing is I know I would tell any of my friends who are mentally ill and struggling that it’s OK and mental illness doesn’t make it easier but harder. That it will impact you more as you have to work harder than everyone else to stay well. I’ve even said these words to others. But I can’t apply it to me.

I think also that as things that help keep me more stable have been removed temporarily due to the lockdown this is going to make it harder. I’ve been lucky that my mental health team have given me permission to exercise more than once a day. This is allowed for medical reasons. (For more information click here.) But there are other things I’m missing that I’d not even realised I needed.

Social contact for me has always been exhausting and something I need a break after. I thought I’d be OK without it as I still can contact friends and others through social media or WhatsApp. But it turns out I need to physically see people. I need hugs. I need to be closer to them. I miss them. Yes I may need quiet time after but I still need the contact.

While we can all say lockdown is not our ideal situation I have found some things that are helping keep me a little bit saner (never completely sane, that ship sailed long ago). I’ve rediscovered things I liked doing. I’ve discovered I’m more skilled in them than I thought and that they can help others feel better. Drawing has been a major one for me, with me drawing animals and characters for others and children.

I’ve also found it useful to set myself projects. I’ve put together things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, I’ve built Lego I’d been meaning to make or made friendship bracelets for others. Focusing on this one thing has helped me keep moving and not dropping into deep despair.

The thing is it’s not always helpful. I seem to have a regular Friday night meltdown at the moment. I just disintegrate. My anxiety at times is so high it gives me chronic chest pain. I’ve got an almost constant headache. These are things that I’m struggling to manage. I’ve had a lot of anxiety that I’m going to infect my family. Hair pulling and skin picking have increased along with self harm. Things are not ideal.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to make this go quicker but we can help each other. Just checking in is helpful. And we need to ask for support when we need it. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to have some normality soon.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Learning To Live With It

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.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Kindness In A Crisis

We are living through a crisis at the moment. Everyone is dealing with an unprecedented situation and it can feel overwhelming. At this time what we all need is some kindness. This can seem even more difficult when we are either keeping our distance from others or isolating. I thought I’d share a few ideas to spread a bit of kindness. As things may change these might not all be appropriate so please take the most recent advice.

1. Message people

The most special thing to most people is a bit of social contact. Sending a message to others to remind them they are thought of and that they matter to you will hopefully make them feel better. If you feel able to offer support do but don’t put pressure on yourself. You deserve kindness too.

2. Make a card/write a letter

I think everyone loves getting mail. Maybe write one for a neighbour who is isolated or to send to a friend. If you’re self isolating though remember to keep you and others safe.

3. Send a present from online

If you have money to spare (and I know not everyone does so please don’t put yourself in a difficult position) then it might be nice to send a present to a friend. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It might just be something that would be useful.

4. Share a music play list to brighten people’s day

It might seem silly but anything that might brighten someone’s day is a great thing to do. And this can be done from at home. And it might brighten your day too.

5. Offer your services if you can

Again if it is safe to do so and if you feel able to then offer to do something for someone else. Mine has been offering my teaching skills to help those with children at home. Your’s might be shopping or something else.

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you all have many more ideas so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Cancer Scare: Results

I wrote before about waiting for results from tests for a lump I found in my breast. Today February 21st 2020 I got the those results. I don’t have breast cancer. They believe I have a condition called granulomatous mastitis. This has meant I have had to have further biopsies to find the cause before treatment can be started.

I’m obviously pleased that it’s not breast cancer. I’m pleased I won’t have to deal with the treatment for that. But I’m still struggling. I feel bad about this. Everyone is so happy it isn’t breast cancer. And I totally understand that. But they don’t seem to of taken on board that there is still something wrong that will involve treatment that I’m concerned about.

With granulomatous mastitis the treatment is a course of steroids for up to six months. It doesn’t sound that bad but there are significant possible side effects. I know I may not get them but the possibility is there. Included in the possible side effects are mood swings, depression and anxiety. Welcome to my world already. But what if it makes things worse? I struggle everyday as it is. The thought of a dip even further is terrifying. I just don’t think I’d cope or survive.

There is also a possible side effect of weight gain. I’m already fighting hard to lose weight gained from years of psychiatric medication. I do not want to put it and more back on. I hate myself and my body as it is.

I know I’m jumping the gun a bit. Today I’ve had to have more biopsies to look for a possible cause that may involve other treatment before the treatment for the granulomatous mastitis itself. It feels overwhelming and again it’s a loss of control which is a huge trigger for me. I feel so alone with this. I feel if I show I’m down over this people will think I’m disappointed it’s not cancer and that’s not the case. It’s just there is still a lot going on and to go through. It doesn’t help I’m in pain from the biopsies.

Anyway that’s where I’m at, at the moment. Again not sure when this will be shared and where I’ll be when that is shared. To stay in touch with me feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. For more information on any health condition check out nhs.uk

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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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Shutting Down

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

I’m starting to shut myself down. I’m pushing away my emotions. I’m pushing away people. I’m pushing away the question about how I am. It’s easier than you think. I’m putting on the mask of coping. I’m filling up my days. I’m doing everything I should and more. I’m not asking for help. This feels like a safety mechanism.

If you met me in my teens I would appear a misfit. I didn’t like what others did. I didn’t have that special friend. I had people I hung out with but I felt different. But the one major thing was I never told people how I was. Not truly. I might say I was good or fine. I might pretend to like a boy or be excited to find out a piece of gossip. I wasn’t. My brain was occupied by other things. By an emptiness. By a feeling of not being normal. But I shut it all down for years telling no one how I felt.

After my second suicide attempt I was referred to a psychiatrist in the CAMHs young person service that existed at the time for those aged 16-25. She noticed how shut down I was. How expressing myself was hard. That I couldn’t identify feelings or explain what I felt. I was diagnosed with “emotional developmental delay”. To this day that’s all I know about it. It wasn’t explained. I was rushed to start art therapy. Its aim was to get me talking and communicating. It was to get me to explore feelings. It was to make me feel. Issues with social skills were identified and worked on. It was the most useful therapy for me.

The problem though was that, that outlet was ripped away. I only had my friend’s to express all these new feelings to, that I still didn’t fully understand. I splurged on people not understanding the social cues. I got needy. I feared people leaving. Relationships went haywire. Crying became the norm. Every feeling was now released and overwhelming. Welcome to the world of BPD.

I was in the opposite of what I was comfortable with. I tried to put it all back in the box they’d made me open but it didn’t want to go back in, like when you take a duvet out of a bag and it never wants to go back in the same space. The emotions were released and wild. They were in control not me anymore. I hated it.

This has gone on a long time now. The extreme emotions. And now I’m finding the strength to get that duvet back in the bag. I’m shutting down my emotions, firstly to others, and then hopefully to myself. Yes self harm is part of the deal but it feels necessary as professional help is starting to be withdrawn. As I feel people have got saturated by having me in their lives. I don’t want to feel anymore so they don’t have to feel me too. It may be unhealthy but it’s what I feel I’m being forced to do to cope.

How do you deal with emotions? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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