Tag Archives: Happiness

A Letter To My Best Friend

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

Dear M,

You have stuck by me for a very long time. 13 years we have known each other and in my mind we just seemed to click straight away. You made joining a new university in my second year, when everyone has already made good friends, less daunting. You didn’t mind me sitting with you. You were awesome.

I feel our friendship cemented itself quickly and more so when we worked together on the project away from uni. You made me laugh a lot. We seem to have a very similar style of humour. Working together seemed easy. It was definitely the best paired work I’ve done and the most enjoyable.

When you left uni soon after, I missed you a lot. I was determined to keep this friendship. It meant, and still does, a lot to me. I loved that we messaged each other nearly everyday. It was/is so easy to talk to you and I always look forward to seeing you.

You were the main person to encourage me to get help for my mental health. You were so supportive and made yourself available at all times even when you weren’t doing the best yourself. I’m forever grateful for this. You even stuck by me after the suicide attempt. You’ve dealt with so many of my attempts to end my life.

You’ve also been my biggest cheerleader. Helping me push through to finish my degree, helping me do something special for my 21st, and celebrating me graduating. There’s been many milestones since as well and you are always the first person I want to, and normally do, tell. You push me to do what you know I’m good at. You can see my potential.

I’ve loved being a part of your milestones too. Going to your hen party was a high. Seeing you get married was special. And meeting your children has been one of my favourite things. Plus graduating on top of working and being a mum. It may not of been my right but I felt so proud of you, as I still do.

You are an amazing person. You are kind, caring and supportive. You make yourself available to me even with everything in your life. Your family has been amazing to me too and that must be to do with you. I feel comfortable with you, something that doesn’t come easy to me with people. You are special. You always know just what to say and that includes you saying you don’t know what to say. You’re honest with me. I trust you.

So the main point of this is to say thank you. Thank you for being part of my life and allowing me to be part of yours. Thank you for being there and supporting me. The last time I was in A&E you text me the whole time even though you must of been busy and that meant so much to me. I know I’m not the easiest person to be friends with and I’ve worried you repeatedly (I’m so sorry for this) but you’ve stuck by me again and again.

You were the person I wanted with all the news of mum’s cancer. Lockdown has made me miss you like crazy but you’ve shown me our friendship can last through time and distance. I hope you feel the same.

I know I may not be your best friend but you are certainly mine. I would not be here without you. Thank you for being you.

Love Jo x

Being Invalidated

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

“To invalidate means to cancel something or make it void, as if it never happened. In invalidate you see the word valid which means true or correct. When you invalidate something you are making it less true, less official, or less correct.” (vocabulary.com, March 2021).

The meaning above can be applied to things you experience. It can be caused by other people and events. It can make you question your thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences and reactions. It can make you feel awful. And people sometimes don’t even realise they are doing this to you.

When you tell someone that what they feel isn’t justified or to just stop feeling that way, then you are invalidating the way they feel. You are telling them what they are feeling is not true and not correct. Yes, you may not have felt that way in that situation but everyone is different and that doesn’t mean that what that person is feeling is invalid.

It’s important we think before we speak. It’s what might feel like silly things that can have an effect on other people and cause them to feel invalidated and it can start when we are children. What we are saying may to us sound reassuring but it ccam invalidate the child. Saying to a child who is nervous about an exam that they shouldn’t be is invalidating. Instead saying you understand why they feel that way but you feel like they are well prepared so it should go well is acknowledging their feelings as valid while reassuring at the same time.

Some mental health professionals could also do with understanding the power of invalidation. Telling someone that what they are experiencing is minimal or not that bad can have lasting effects on everyone and especially those with a mental illness. It can cause them to deteriorate further. On my write ups from the psychiatrist appointments it would often say my self harm was superficial and it would make me try to cause myself more harm as I felt they weren’t taking me seriously. I’ve also heard of people with eating disorders who are told they are not thin enough being made sicker.

I know that although having a diagnosis can be a burden I felt it a validation for what I was/am experiencing. It made me feel that someone could see that something was wrong and I needed help. However this means professionals need to be careful about removing diagnoses from patients as it can add to invalidation. You are taking away the validation you gave them. There needs to be a conversation and careful explanation.

It is possible also to invalidate yourself as well. This is harder to stop doing, I know I do it a lot. It’s important for us to try and allow ourselves to experience our feelings and acknowledge them. This is easier said than done though.

So when speaking to anyone try to consider their feelings and not cancelling them out. We all need to think of how our words and actions impact on others.

Breaking Up A Toxic Relationship

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care 💚

The fourteenth of February is a day everyone remembers and relates to their relationship with their partner. I’m no different except for me it marks the day I broke up my relationship with my ex, let’s call him J. It’s a bittersweet day and complicated in so many ways by the mix of thoughts in my mind.

My relationship with J was not a good one. We were introduced by a mutual friend. He was five years older, which doesn’t sound a lot but as I was seventeen and he was twenty two it did feel quite big. We had many laughs when we first met. To say there wasn’t a connection would be wrong, however much it now pains me. We quickly became an item and that’s when the issues started.

He very much wanted our relationship to become physical straight away. I didn’t due to some past issues. I tried explaining and he seemed understanding when we were talking via text. In person it was quite different. He made me many promises. Within a week they were broken and so was I.

I should of left him then. It sounds so easy so early on in a relationship. But I’d told him things I’d told noone else and boy did he know how to use that to get his way. And if that didn’t work then humiliation and force were his tools.

Now he wasn’t all bad. It sounds like I’m defending him but honestly there were things about him I liked and still do. He could be charming. He showed me a vulnerable side that liked to do cross-stitch which his nan had taught him. He loved his nephew. He could be funny. These things made me want to be with him. They made me feel lucky. Especially when he chose to open up about things to me. Maybe it was all manipulation but some at least felt genuine.

However there were areas where we clashed. Areas where he forced his will on me. Where he took away my choices. He told me I made him do this. I forced him to force me. Do I believe it? Yes, it still feels like I’m to blame a lot of the time. There may be small doubts but they are often erased.

During our time together my self confidence, what little I had as I was already mentally unwell at the time, was eroded. Any form of self respect was gone. He terrified me but I needed him. When he tried to persuade my friends to sleep with him I knew it was my fault. I’d pushed him to it. They showed me his messages. I still thought it was ok.

Eventually nine months in I had a sudden burst of feeling I couldn’t do this relationship anymore and when it came out he’d been successful in one of his conquests with another woman I saw it as an excuse to end the relationship. So on the fourteenth of February I ended it. I couldn’t do it face to face through fear. But I did it. I got all sorts of threats from him. I knew I would and I had my doubts over what I’d done. Noone else would ever love me, right?

I wish I could say he was out of my life after then. He wasn’t. He reappeared a number of times in different ways. He treated me in different ways from deep caring to painful incidents. He humiliated me many times and forced me to put myself in his control to avoid a friend getting hurt. It would be my fault if they did. He has periodically turned up over the last eleven years. I have very mixed thoughts about him.

So why have I written this piece? Because I know deep down this was not a good relationship. It hurt me a lot whether that was my fault or his remains to be seen though many say it was him. But I did end it. Somehow I found the words to say it was over. But it wasn’t a simple break up. And I think with many toxic relationships that is the same. The idea people can just walk away from these relationships is wrong. So much is tied up in them. Many thoughts go through your head. So if a relationship isn’t looking right please don’t think it’s simple for one person to leave the other. There is much more to it and sometimes one partner won’t let it go and can be threatening and manipulative. Please understand this.

For help and support with similar issues then you can check out Refuge in the UK. I’m sure there are similar charities around the world too.

N.B. Some people have called my relationship abusive. As you may have noticed I chose the term toxic. Maybe it was abusive. At times I say that. But my head hasn’t got around this relationship entirely. I know I’d call it abusive if anyone else experienced what I had.

Positives From Lockdown

Lockdown has been a hard time for so many people, myself included but I’ve also found some positive things have come from lockdown too. Therefore I thought I’d look at my positives.

1. A lockdown birthday

I had my birthday in June when everything was still pretty much shut and we could barely see anyone. It was one of my favourite birthdays. I went for a picnic and a walk and then went home and did what I wanted. No pressure whatsoever. So I reckon on my birthday we should have a lockdown each year.

Birthday walk and picnic

2. The 2 metre rule

Yep it’s been the bane of so many people but I want to keep this forever. I now have a reason to tell people to get out of my personal space or to move away from them without appearing rude. Long may it continue with people we don’t want to be near.

Picture from Pinterest

3. Wildlife returning

During my walks I have had great pleasure in spotting different wildlife that has returned to our local park. We had a regular heron (named Herbert by me and adopted by others). We also had some Little Egrets. We also got to see the regular geese, ducks and coots have their offspring. I got particularly involved with one pait of coots who had a tragedy when their nest was destroyed. Wildlife is amazing.

Herbert

4. Finding new hobbies

I have taken up drawing again. It’s something I’ve not done in years but I seem to of improved over the lockdown period. I’ve enjoyed extending my range and developed some confidence in this area. I even set up Facebook and Instagram pages for my art. I’ve also managed to do more Lego building, which I love but just could never find the time for. I’ve adapted my routines to incorporate these things.

A drawing of mine

5. Getting things done

I have managed to get so many jobs done. Things I’ve always put off as I’ve been to busy or tired to do them. I’ve enjoyed them too. It’s not just been the mundane daily life jobs but things I wouldn’t normally get to do. I built my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 for her which I’d been meaning to do since she received it.

Making Mum’s Christmas present from 2018

Overall lockdown has been tough for me and many others. It has by no means been a positive experience fully but there are positive bits in there. Sometimes we forget these among all the talk of death and failing businesses. What have been your positives? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Helping Me Through Life In Lockdown

Getting through lockdown has been tough but it has meant I have had to find things to help me through. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

1. My Local Mind

My local Mind has been amazing (Mind BLMK). I’ve had welfare calls at least once a week so that I can discuss any issues. They’ve set up zoom groups of their regular groups. They’ve just been amazing. I’ve always been grateful for them but more so now than ever.

2. Drawing

I’ve got back into drawing and kind of discovered a bit of talent for it. I even started doing them for others as a way to maybe help cheer them up. But it really helped my mental health and got me to focus on something other than what has been happening. I have now set up an Instagram and Facebook page for my art.

One of my drawings

3. Friends

My friends are amazing. They’ve been so supportive. I’ve had cards from them. I had presents for my birthday. We’ve messaged regularly. They’ve given me space when I’ve needed it. I love and miss them lots.

4. Finding Projects To Do

From the start off lockdown I decided to set myself little projects. Most of them were things I’d meant to do since before lockdown, like putting together my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 😳. This kept me a bit saner as it gave me a focus.

5. Lego

Lego has helped me a lot and links in with the making myself projects. I love focusing on making the models. It’s really helped me concentrate on something other than what’s happening.

One Lego creation

6. Avoiding News App

Since the lockdown started I have not gone on the news app on my phone at all. It was getting overwhelming for me so I decided I didn’t need to keep checking it. And it’s been great. I do keep up with what’s going on but in my own way and not an overwhelming one.

7. Social Media/Phone Breaks

I’ve started making sure I have time away from my phone, and social media in particular. Being so connected and everyone being in there all the time was too much for me so I took a step back. I try and have at least an hour in the afternoon without my phone if not more. Its eased my anxiety a lot.

8. Pets

I can’t forget my pets. They’ve been great. Walking the dog has definitely helped and we’ve been spotting wildlife a long the way. The cats have also been great for cuddles and entertainment during zoom calls (Why my cat always chooses the mindfulness exercise to leap on the keyboard I do not know).

Spice: one of my three pets.

So those are some of the things that have helped me most during lockdown. What’s helped you? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Birthday Lament

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.

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.

Kindness At A Higher Level

We live in a society that is often far from kind. I’m not talking about individuals, I’m talking about policy and societal norms. Being individually kind is important but we need kindness as a society to make a larger change.

Unfortunately we live in a world led my money rather than kindness and what is best for people. I can understand this. Money is finite and so we have to spend with care and this can mean cuts that are the opposite of kindness. We see this in mental health services all the time. People are turned away as not sick enough or not enough resources. People are sent miles from home when unwell and needing the kindness of family close by. There are some changes that really need to be made and cutting more and more is doing the opposite of kindness and therefore worsening mental health issues at times.

Also as a society we are far from kind to those who attempt to end their life. Many are labelled attention seeking and selfish. Many a person has been heard on a train that has hit a person berating them for ending their life and delaying people. The kindness that this person needed appears to of been absent in their life and their death. Instead of asking what could of been done to help them before this event they are condemned for seeing no other way out.

Society is also cruel in its use of social media. While social media can be great there are the trolls and the nasties who are far from kind. They band together to bring cruelty to one person. They push people over the edge as they can’t show kindness. They condemn people as guilty before hearing the full story. They forgot that a little kindness could improve the world and keep people alive.

By changing our outlook from the top down we could prevent so many deaths. By acting as a society we could improve life for many. It’s time to unite to be kind as well as individual acts of kindness.

I’d love to hear your views so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Self-kindness

Being kind to others is important but there is someone we tend to overlook when we are sharing kindness and that is ourselves. We deserve to be kind to ourselves however alien it may be and how little we feel we deserve it. Believe me I’m the first to admit I’m far from kind to myself with negative self talk and lack of care for myself. But there are some ways we can all be kind to ourselves and I thought I’d share a few.

1. Getting sleep

Our sleep routine is really important to our mental health. By getting sleep we are being kind to ourselves. Staying awake to get things done can feel like what we need to do but if we show ourselves kindness by at least trying to get some good sleep then we will be more productive.

2. Eating well

We’ve all heard this one I’m sure. But it is true that it makes you feel better and allows you to fight other illnesses more effectively. This is showing a real kindness to yourself.

3. Exercise

Again we’ve heard it lots but it can really help our mood to stay active. I’m not saying run a marathon (believe me I can barely run a mile) but just a short walk can help. It is kind to ourselves although it may not feel like it before we start.

4. Positive self talk

This is a huge one linked to kindness. It’s also one I struggle with on a huge scale. If we are kinder in the way we talk to ourselves it can improve our mood and motivation. But boy is it hard. Everyone has told me to either imagine talking to a friend or to the child I was. Would you say the mean things you say to yourself to them? Like I said I really struggle with this one. Maybe we can start by saying one kind thing to ourselves a day.

5. Showers/baths

As well as keeping you clean they can be relaxing. Show yourself some kindness by giving yourself some time to look after your body. Make it feel nice. Embrace it.

6. Treating yourself

This is the kindness that a lot of us can’t allow ourselves but we are allowed nice things. We are allowed that bar of chocolate or that new book. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to make ourselves feel OK or to treat ourselves.

Being kind to ourselves is alien. Society has made us think it makes us selfish. It’s not. It’s self care. It’s looking after yourself which in turn helps you look after others.

What ideas for self kindness do you have? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

The How To Guide To Kindness

Step 1: How are you feeling? Are you able to look after yourself as well as offering kindness? A self check-in is important.

Step 2: What kindness is needed? Is it straight away in the form of a listening ear or a smile? Or can it be planned, like a letter or card?

Step 3: Offer kindness. It may be that at this time it is not wanted. That’s OK. Save it for later. By offering that’s a kindness in itself.

Step 4: Do you feel OK after the act of kindness? Is there anything that it has brought up in you that you need to deal with? This especially important when listening to others. Also do you need to carry out some self care if the kindness has taken from you? That’s OK. Do it.

Step 5: There is no need share the act of kindness on social media. These acts are a personal thing for the other person.

Step 6: Be proud of yourself for being kind. Know you have done something for another person and made the world that much better.

Random acts of kindness are also a lovely thing. You might not know if someone needs a particular type of kindness so be kind anyway. Make the world that bit better.