Tag Archives: Intrusive Thoughts

True Peer Support

I’ve recently started going to a DBT skills peer support group. I’ve only done about three sessions but already I’m seeing the effect of true peer support. And yes it is positive.

I’ve come across peer support before; both online and in real life, as they say. I’ve had mixed experiences. Some have been extremely positive where as others seemed to drag me further down into my suffering.

My first experience of peer support was on an online forum for people who self harm. At the time I had no diagnosis and no one in my everyday life knew what was happening. Reaching out on this forum felt positive. It felt like a place where people understood me. It also gave me advice on what to do next. It was great. I made some really good friends who I’ve since met and they are still in my life over ten years later. There is a group of us who quite often meet up. We’ve seen marriages and children born. Most of us have graduated through university. We are all a similar age so I think that is why we’ve clicked. We also talk about other things than our mental health but the option to talk about it is always there. This is all positive but there was a darker side to the forum. Things seemed to become competitive for some users. I felt myself being dragged downwards. People were comparing who had it worse or seemed to one up people. It started to become a toxic place for me. Therefore I removed myself from the forum. I still keep in contact with the friends I have made through it though and in that way I still have peer support.

Another place I did peer support was through a local charity. They offered a recovery course run by people with their own experience of mental illness. It was a useful place and much was discussed about mental health and what we all found useful or not. There was a sense of comaradery among us. We bonded and shared many laughs. Again I made friends who are still in my life now.

A major place for peer support that I have found is the Twitter mental health community. Everyone is so supportive of others and it is a great place to get information about many different aspects of mental health and mental illnesses. There can be trolls on Twitter so you have to be careful but the block button is there for a reason. I have made great connections with people on there and found it a great sounding board and a place I can ask questions when I’m unsure.

My latest foray into the world of peer support has been through my local Mind charity. I started by attending the young person’s group and although we don’t really discuss our mental illnesses it is nice to know we all understand when someone is having a tough time and we work together to make the time fun. It is also a chance to be creative and work as a team. I’ve also started attending the DBT peer support group recently, which I mentioned at the beginning. The people have been so lovely and supportive. I’m so grateful for them. I feel I’m making some great friends there.

Overall my experience of peer support has been positive. Of course, as with anything, there have been negative experiences but I believe it has a vital role in helping us learn about our mental health and mental illnesses. However it should not be used in place of professional support, as can be the case, but alongside it.

For more information on peer support you can look on the Mind website here.

If you have any experiences or questions about peer support feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Feeling Broken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Suicide On The Rise

This post discusses suicide so please be aware content may be triggering. No methods will be discussed.

So the stats are in for 2018 and for the first time in ten years the rate of suicide in the UK has gone up. And it’s not a small increase. The rate has increased by 11.8%. So why suddenly are we having an about turn, with suicide once again on the rise?

There are obviously many theories to the increase and of course we can never be a hundred per cent sure why more people are dying by suicide, but here are a few things I feel may be contributing to the increase. Of course I’m not an expert and this is just my opinion.

One of the groups most effected by the increase in suicides was the under 25s. The rate of suicide for this age group increased by 23.7%. Why is there such an increase in this age group? Obviously the big thing that people will say is that it’s down to social media and I understand this in that if young people are bullied it’s constant and doesn’t go away when they get home. But it’s not the full answer. There is a lot of pressure on young people to achieve in exams and go to university and get a high powered job as well as living a wonderful lifestyle. That’s not going to help. If you feel like you’re failing it’s going to impact on your mental health. The main reason though, that I feel is to blame, is the lack of funding in mental health services for children. Yes we are identifying mental illnesses in children and young people more than ever before but what good is that when we can’t support them with it. Being told something is wrong with you but you’re not ill enough to get help hurts. It can cause further drops in your health and make you feel worthless. It’s all very well encouraging people to talk but what happens when there is noone there to listen?

With every age group there are problems with access to mental health care. We simply have more need than resources can meet. People are slipping through the net. And even if you do get to see a mental health professional they are so busy that they can not always give the care that is needed. More money and more access to talking therapies would be a great start to helping reduce the suicide rate.

Men are again the most likely group to die by suicide. This hasn’t changed. This is worrying considering the amount of effort that has been put into trying to help men seek help. This can only mean there is more to do. We still keep hearing the phrase “man up” a lot and men being put down for talking about their feelings. Why is such a bad thing for a man to feel something and discuss it? At the end of the day they are human too. Humans need support. It is not a bad thing. It does not make you weaker than anyone else, in fact it is a strong thing to admit you need help.

This leads to another big issue that surely cannot be helping the suicide rate and that is stigma. Yes it still exists and not just with the general population but within mental health services too. Yes, we seem to have a greater understanding of depression and anxiety but other mental illnesses are overlooked. My personal experience with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is that because my mental illness is different it isn’t always understood, even by mental health professionals. This leads to stigma. Stigma grows in lack of knowledge. Therefore maybe we need to be educating people more in the different mental illnesses so they are understood and people are able to offer help before it’s too late.

Overall we need to look at many different aspects to get the suicide rate going down again. It is an issue for the whole of society. We all have a part to play. For more information on the suicide rate statistics check out the Samaritans website. They can also offer support if you are feeling suicidal. You can also check out the crisis lines in the menu at the top. Feel free to comment your thoughts here or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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They’re Not All Bad

I realise I’m quite often pretty scathing about mental health professionals but some of them are OK. Some do an amazing job and are let down by their colleagues. Quite often our bad experiences overshadow the good and we get into a negative view of all professionals, which is understandable.

I’ve had a few good experiences with different professionals. The negatives with these professionals only come when they are let down by the system they work within, otherwise they are amazing and make all the difference. When someone is caring and takes time with you it makes you feel valued and has a positive effect.

The first professional I found that was great was my art therapist. This was the first major mental health professional I worked with. At the time she was part of the young person’s service which was part of CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and worked with those aged 16-25. I was 20 when I started working with her. She treated me on a level with her. I was training to be a teacher and she treated me like a professional as well as a patient. She didn’t patronise me and went at my pace. Her main work was to get me to communicate and she did well with this but at my pace. She made herself available between sessions if I needed to leave a message or write a letter to help with the next session. She’d talk me through situations. She tried to teach me it wasn’t all my fault and at times I almost believed her. The main thing that sticks with me though is that the young person’s service was disbanded so all over 18 were to be taken on by adult services meaning I’d lose my therapy. However she fought for me and told them it ws totally the wrong time to take it away from me and that she needed to continue her work with me. This led to me having a further 18 months with her. Leaving her was hard and I miss her a lot. I still have the card she gave me at the end of therapy.

Another mental health professional that gave a good impression was a psychiatrist I had in adult services. She is the one that diagnosed me with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). She always valued my opinion and explained things when asked. She wasn’t perfect in that she didn’t discuss my diagnosis with me before it appeared on my notes but she was happy to go through it after. She was also a consistent presence for nearly a year before she moved on. This makes a difference.

The next professional who I had a good relationship was a care coordinator of mine, L. L was very proactive in my care and worked hard to get things sorted for me, not only with my mental health but my physical health too, even spending ages on the phone to a hospital trying to sort an appointment for me. She didn’t make me feel like our time was limited, it was always as long as I needed to talk. She took an active role. It was sad when she moved on.

My current care coordinator is also great. She’s not been involved in my care for long but has already shown me how great she is in that she gave me direct contact details for her and allows me to text rather than talk on the phone. She doesn’t mind me messaging between sessions and is quick to reply even if it is to tell me she’ll get back to me properly later. She’s also always on time or early for appointments which makes all the difference. I’ve kind of thrown her in at the deep end with my crisis but she hasn’t made me feel bad about it. I hope we can work together for a while.

Unfortunately these professionals are the exception rather than the rule. It shows as these are four out of many professionals that I have encountered. Hopefully things will improve and we will get more professionals that want to help rather than make us feel like an inconvenience or stigmatise us more. If we can be part of the education of professionals I think it would help them to be more empathetic and understand us more.

Have you had any good experiences? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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If You’re Feeling Suicidal, This Is For You

If you’re reading this you are probably in a really difficult place. It’s one of the hardest feelings to deal with, but I have hope for you because you are reading this (don’t worry I’m not saying I can solve all your problems in a blog post, I know that’s unrealistic).

Great, you’re still reading, thank you. I know with how your feeling it can be hard to hear that things will improve. At the moment it probably feels impossible that anything can change. The world feels overwhelming. It feels like the only option is to end your life. But you are worth more. You are worth love and support.

I know you may not believe me and I understand that. I’ve been there. I still go there at times. But I believe you have value. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing this. There is someone who would be lost without you.

Still reading? Awesome. Now let’s think about some things you might be able to do to help yourself in the immediate future. If you can try and do one of these things it might help put some distance between yourself and your thoughts:

Talk to someone: This is a huge step I know but it could be the most important thing you could do. It doesnt even have to be about how you are feeling, it could be about a TV show or anything that will help you distract for the time being. Of course if you can say how you’re feeling that would be great but I know it’s a big step. It doesn’t even have to be someone you know, you could call one of the crisis lines here.

Take a walk: Sometimes putting some distance between ourselves and where we are staying can be a good thing. If you feel you can keep yourself safe then a walk may help you to feel a bit better. If you can let someone know you’re going that can help you to make sure you are safe.

Do something you’re good at: There is something you are good at. It may be something creative, it may be some sport or it may just be a computer game. Whatever it is do it. It may help you to see you’re not worthless; you can achieve something.

Hopefully there is one thing there that you can do. Or you may think of something else that may help you distract from the thoughts that you are having.

If you’re still reading that’s great. You’ve achieved something just by getting this far. If I was with you I would give you a hug. I can’t take away your pain but please know someone cares; I care. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know you, I would not wish these feelings on anyone and want you to be safe. I’m sure there are others who care too.

This is where I leave you. But you are not alone. I hope I’ve helped in someway. If you want to get in contact feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Am I Happy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Screwing Up

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

I have screwed up majorly. I have pushed people away and withdrawn from others. I didn’t mean to. I just am either too much or not enough. There is no balance. I warn people and they say they can’t see it and then when it happens they recoil in horror. I tell them they need to tell me as I’m not skilled at picking up social cues but they don’t and just ignore me. I know it’s my fault but it hurts.

All that is going through my head is how much I must of hurt these people. I hate myself for it. I’m not excusing my behaviour but I don’t always realise when I’m doing or saying something wrong. If people let me know I could try and talk to them and make things right but I don’t always get the chance. I understand that maybe they get too hurt by it but when they just ignore me without telling me I’ve hurt them I feel worse. I know that’s selfish as it’s not really about me but it would help others too as I could learn what I’m doing wrong instead of just guessing. Also I really want them to know how sorry I am and I dont get the opportunity to let them know.

People say I’m being paranoid. That I need to understand that people might be busy or not well. I understand this I do but I can’t help going through everything I’ve said and done to the point I make myself sick. It makes me push away further if they do come back. It also makes me try to not get too close to new people. Though I fail at this massively. I get caught up in it all too quickly. My feelings for people go to an extreme and I’m desperate to talk to them and help them. It all becomes too much again and again people ignore and hate me.

I want to ask what is wrong with me but we all know. I’m just not cut out for friendship. I deserve to be alone.

It’s not just friendships I screw up though. It seems I destroy my support systems and the help I’m being provided. I reach crisis point and they say its too much. They can’t help me. I trust them and ask for help and it backfires. I’m pushed further away when what I need is reassurance. They wonder why people don’t talk when they’re suicidal but what other option is there when you’re scared you’ll lose everything anyway. Why try to make yourself better? For people that say they are good at working with people with BPD they seem to forget the fear of abandonment part that can cause further crisis. It feels like they’ve helped me hit self destruct again. But then at the end of the day it is my fault. I should never of asked for help instead of acting on the thoughts I was having.

So there you have it. Why I’m a screw up. Don’t worry I hate myself more than anyone else.

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