Tag Archives: Psychosis

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.

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.

Supporting Others Who Are Isolated

We are in a really rubbish time at the moment. Lots of people are isolated, either on their own or with immediate family. Both situations have their own difficulties. So what can we do to support others who are isolated and may not be able to get out? I’ve put together a few ideas, not just the practical but some to brighten others days.

1. Shopping

This may be obvious but offering to do some shopping and deliver to their doorstep may help them a lot. Obviously keep to the guidelines of social distancing but you may even be able to have a quick chat from a distance.

2. Write them a letter

This is something I’ve done for a few people. I wanted them to know I was thinking of them and how awesome they are. I could of sent a text message but I wanted them to be able to keep it to read to remind themselves in tough times. Also getting post can be really cool. I got a card from a friend and it made my day. I’ve also been making friendship bracelets so I added one into each letter in colours they like. The feedback was lovely. I’ve also used the Touchnote App (not an ad I promise) to send postcards with pictures on to my grandmother. She’s loved them.

3. Give them a phonecall

If you can, phone them. Sometimes it’s nice just to hear a different voice. I’m lucky in that my local mind is doing welfare calls so I get to hear someone else’s voice each week. I’m not the greatest with using the phone but I’ve realised hearing someone else makes me feel a bit better.

4. Just check in

If you can’t phone then that’s fine but maybe just send a message to see how they are. Let them moan if they need to (obviously look after yourself too). A text takes a few seconds to send.

5. Share something for them

Another thing I’ve been doing is doing drawings for different people and then sharing on social media. Not only has it occupied my time, it seems to have brought joy to others. I’ve also done them for my friends’ children to enjoy too. I have had some lovely comments about how it’s lifted people’s mood and that they’ve been waiting each day to see what I’ve drawn. Obviously it doesn’t have to be drawing but sharing something each day for others may lift someone’s mood.



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

Picture from Pinterest

Grounding Techniques

Anxiety can be high when things are different or there is a major event that is hurting many going on. Therefore I thought I’d put some grounding techniques together. They can also be useful for people dissociating.

5,4,3,2,1

This technique gets you to focus on your senses. First think of five things they can see. Then four things you can touch. Three things you can hear. Two things you can smell. One thing you can taste. Try and focus on each fully.

Alphabet Lists

For this one it is useful to have pen and paper but not essential. The idea is to choose a topic, for example animals, and find one whose name begins with each letter of the alphabet. This can give you a new focus especially with the more difficult letters.

Item Focus

Choose an interesting item. It is good if it can fit in your hand but not essential. Focus fully on the item, describing it to yourself. You can do this in your mind, out loud or writing it down, whatever suits you. Focus on how it looks and feels. What do you notice about it? Does it change colour in the light? Is it smooth or rough? Are the edges straight?

Drawing Around Your Foot

This might sound a bit odd but try to imagine drawing around your foot. Think how you’d move your pencil around each part. How would it feel if the pencil touched your foot? What would it look like when it was done? What shapes to your foot had you not noticed before?

Listen To Music

This isn’t about the piece of music you choose. Listen to the music fully. If it has lyrics focus fully on what they are. Listen to see what different instruments are being used. Does it get louder or quieter in different places?

These are just a few grounding techniques I have learnt from various people and places. Not all of these may be helpful to you. It’s about finding what works for you. I hope there is something useful for you there. If you have other techniques feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Keeping Busy At Home

Being trapped at home for whatever reason can take its toll on us mentally. Sometimes we need to think of things we can do in the house or garden that will help us mentally. It may not be specific to our mental health but something that will distract us from what’s keeping us at home. Here are a few ideas of mine. I will try to make a mix of things and include things that are cheap or free. Hope it helps some of you.

Self Care

1. A bath

A bath can help relax us. If we have some nice smelly stuff to put in it, all the better. Make the bathroom a relaxing room. You’re worth it.

2. Sit in the sun ☀

Yep, it may be a fleeting visit by the sun but getting the feel of it on your face will hopefully help. Even if you just sit on the doorstep for a few moments. Some kind of fresh air should be helpful.

3. Mindfulness

I know it’s a huge buzzword at the moment but it can help. And it doesn’t have to be all about the breathing or sitting quietly. It’s about being in the moment and concentrating on what you’re doing. Take those moments for yourself.

4. Some kind of exercise

I know it may be the last thing you want to do but getting our bodies moving, if we can, can help us feel better by releasing endorphins. It doesn’t need to be strenuous. Do what you feel capable of doing and that’s enjoyable.

5. Contact someone

Keep talking, messaging, whatsapping or whatever it is the youngsters are doing these days (yep being 30 I’m no longer cool 😎). It’s isolating enough being stuck at home so help each other by keeping in contact. There are also professional services you can contact too.

Distractions

1. Drawing

This has become my new past time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just doodle if it helps.

2. Pick up an old past time

If there’s something you used to do that you’ve lost touch with why not restart it. Mine has been drawing. And I have a few others I’m going to try.

3. Lego

I’m a huge advocate of the power of Lego. It’s something I love. It’s not just for the children. Enjoy!

4. Make something

Big or small. Creating can be cool. It doesn’t have to be art. I’ve seen instructions for making a cardboard dome which looks awesome. Click here for the dome! I also put together something I’ve been meaning to do for over a year.

5. Watch a film or favourite TV show

Something less taxing and maybe more relaxing. It can be a real distraction. A Netflix binge is totally appropriate too. Go for it.

Other stuff

1. Music

Listen or make. Just go for it. I’m sure your neighbours will appreciate it 😜.

2. Do a job you’ve been meaning to do

It seems a good time to catch up on those jobs that we mean to do but are always to busy to do. Or don’t. No pressure.

3. Write some letters

Let people know they’re thought of. Or write letters to yourself.

4. Start your own blog, YouTube channel or website

Take a dive into the world of the Internet. Show people what you like. Create content for others to enjoy. Do you!

I am sure you have many more ideas than I do but I hope there is something that you can do. It’s a tough time being stuck inside. But you are tough to. Feel free to share ideas and connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest