Tag Archives: Stigma

Therapy 2020: Session 3

Date of session: 16/09/2020

Please be aware some content may be triggering. This post will be discussing self harm. Though I will try to avoid discussing methods it may become apparent with other things mentioned. Please take care. 💚

Today’s therapy session has left me feeling annoyed and frustrated. If I’m honest there is also a bit of resentment in there too I think. I feel like I’m repeating everything from my assessment and it has become obvious that this is because the psychologist has not read the background mentioned in the assessment. I understand have to explain a little but when she said she had no awareness of my living situation or my issues at home this annoyed me. Why did I bother with the assessment? Surely it’s there to help them know something about me before it is discussed. Like I said I understand going through some things but the basics at least should be noted.

I also feel I’m getting no new methods to help me. Everything is a repeat of things I already know and understand. For example today when asked at the beginning I mentioned my issue with sleep. She then asked if I knew about and used sleep hygiene to which I responded that yes I did know about and use it. We then spent nearly fifteen minutes going through each item of sleep hygiene to find out I’m doing it all, which I’d already said, and that it was not something we should focus on. When a session is limited to 50ish minutes and there are a finite number of sessions this feels wasteful.

We also discussedy self harm. This was also documented in my assessment but seemed to be a revelation to her. We discussed the seriousness of the current level of self harm. We looked at how things could go wrong with the self harm I am doing and how even a slight mistake could end my life. In all honesty I think she was expecting this to bother me. It didn’t. With my current mood that would be a blessing. She asked me how important stopping was to me and the honest answer is that at this time it doesn’t bother me that I’m self harming. Then I think she wanted to make me bothered by telling me we would definitely not be doing trauma therapy with this level of self harm. I’m angry about this as the assessment knew all this and still recommended trauma therapy. Plus my psychiatrist believes without trauma therapy the things they want to be better for me to do it won’t get better without it.

With regard to the self harm we also discussed about the use of DBT skills to help, in particular distress tolerance skills. I was able to explain that I find this unhelpful as my self harm is not impulsive which is what these skills seem to be aimed at. I was grateful that the psychologist agreed with me on this matter. I’ve not had much support with this idea elsewhere.

Currently I’m feeling trapped in a cycle which I don’t know how I can get out of. I feel like noone is taking into account what needs to happen to move things on or it is not being discussed between professionals. It’s making me lose hope. It’s making me wonder if there is any point to anything. We shall see how it goes I guess.

Technology was an issue again today with us being cut off but I did receive a phone call after this.

I was lucky that straight after I was able to have cat cuddles to help me calm myself.

Suicide Talk

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

When I feel suicidal I know that my answers to questions and what I say in general change. How I act may also seem to differ from “normal”. Here I thought I’d discuss some of my tells and some I have learnt about from others. Being aware of when someone is feeling suicidal means we have a better chance of helping them before we lose them. Everyone is different but hopefully this may help us identify the signs and give us the courage to ask these people “are you feeling suicidal?” and get them the help and support they require.

1. I’m fine/I’m tired

A huge thing is that when I’m doing really bad I say I’m doing good. Or I say I’m tired. It’s a sign my mood is rapidly dropping. I might not be at the suicidal zone yet but I’m heading that way most of the time. There are other phrases I’ve heard other people use that are signs they’re struggling which have included “not too bad”, “plodding along” or “up and down”. Obviously people use this when they aren’t heading into the suicidal area but it’s worth being alert.

2. Withdrawing

This is a huge tell of mine. In my head I’m thinking that I’m helping people get used to me not being around and showing them they don’t need me in their lives. I convince myself it’s for the best. It takes a lot to drag me back from this without me making an attpt although that has become less frequent in the last couple of years.

3. Suicide memes/quotes

I may start to spend a lot of time on Tumblr looking at the suicide hashtag. It’s normally something I will do without others being aware so not always a sign but occasionally I will share one or two of these.

4. Googling methods

Again this is something I may do on the quiet so not always obvious but I may admit it to others. It may be that other people don’t hide it as much and it is a sign to look out for.

5. Being really happy after being really low

Sometimes I will go to the total opposite. I will desperately try to hide behind humour. I will try and be really bright and help everyone and not answer when they ask how I am. I become really generous and do lots.

6. I don’t answer how I am

Yep I hid one in above. Did you notice it? See how easy it is to miss? Sometimes the signs are so hard to see. I dont always see them. I’ve had a friend make an attempt later the same evening I’ve been talking to them and never twigged how awful they were feeling. It brings its own guilt but it is not your fault.

There are other signs I have written about before but I thought these would give an insight into the less well known. And ones I’ve experienced. For others please look at my other blog post here.

If you have anything to add feel free to use the comments or you can find me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you are feeling suicidal you can contact the Samaritans in the UK or go to the page called crisis lines in the menu for help in other counntries.

Therapy Fear

Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.

On Wednesday I start a new lot of therapy. I’m terrified. I’m always nervous about starting therapy (this will be my fourth crack at it) but this time the fear is hitting me more. I think possibly because in the assessment I’ve been the most honest ever and laid everything on the table without holding back. This means that they have decided that the best therapy this time will be individual trauma focused therapy.

I don’t talk an awful lot about everything that’s happened to me on here. I choose not too for a number of reasons including that it’s all my fault. This was my major reason for pushing for this therapy. It’s even on my assessment. I want to clear it up once and for all. People tell me it’s not my fault, that it’s the people I’ve encountered along the way that have hurt me and that’s down to them. I’m not so sure so I want this therapy to see who is right. To make sense of everything.

But it’s going to be hard dealing with the past. To go back to events that hurt so badly. I’m terrified. I feel sick to my stomach. Bits are turning up in nightmares again already. Tactile flashbacks linger longer. The voice reminds me that it’s silly when I know it’s my fault already. But I need to be sure. People are too nice to me.

Something that is bothering me is that this therapy is going to be done via video link similar to zoom. I will be sitting in my bedroom going through this stuff (some of which happened there). It won’t be a safe, separate space. I know I’m lucky to get therapy at this time but this was why I was so reluctant to do it via video link. How can I separate it from my home space? I want to be able to leave at least some of it behind but I think this will make it harder. Maybe I’m being silly. I don’t know.

Something else that makes me fearful is how unwell mentally I became last time I did any therapy and not having the support network I had then to put crisis plans in to action. Therapy is by its nature very tough. It brings up a lot and I find that hard to cope with alone. Often it increases my level of self harm and my suicidal thoughts. Last time I did therapy my self harm escalated dramatically, I was under the crisis team at times, I had extra appointments with my care coordinator and I made a suicide attempt. The thought of not having the same level of support this time scares me. I no longer have a care coordinator who can intervene to make me safe. It’s pretty much down to me. And I’m not always reliable at looking after myself especially when it means I actually have to ask for help rather than its just noticed I’m going down hill. I also find crisis services difficult to access. I’m hoping things don’t get too bad.

Anyway that’s just a few thoughts on starting therapy. I’m sure I’m not alone being terrified with these things and if you’re starting therapy and feeling this way, you’re not alone either. You’re stronger than you realise. You deserve help and are worthy of it.

I will probably do updates on my social media channels which are available on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you have any advice feel free to share on these or in the comments.

Do They Talk To You?

This is a kind of poem I wrote a while ago. Please be aware the content may be triggering and looks at hearing voices and what they say to me.

Do they talk to you?
Are they in your head too?
Do they remind you?
Do they make sure?

I should be dead
They say it loud
Convince me
You don’t want me around.

Hurt yourself
That will make it right
End everything
Improve peoples lives

Shouting loud
Making themselves heard
Killing me
With the words

Die they say
I see their point
I screw up the world
I disappoint

Death is close
The end is near
Die you idiot
Forget the fear

Losing Someone To Suicide

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. I will not mention methods of suicide or self harm.

I rarely talk about this but someone I knew who had a huge impact on my life ended their own life. I don’t talk about it much as he wasn’t a friend or family member but he was still a positive part of my life and very helpful to me. He was my sixth form psychology tutor.

I’d left sixth form by the time this happened but we’d kept in sporadic contact while I was in university as he was very supportive about my mental health. He was the first adult I chose to tell about my mental health problems. And I’m glad I did. He made me see I had nothing to be ashamed of. That I could tell people and ask for help and it would be OK. He helped me get to talk to someone more qualified and when it came to going to university he made all sorts of calls and emails to ask about support for me and my mental health. He also showed faith in my abilities. I got a U (Ungraded) on the first exam I did for psychology but he didn’t write me off. By the time it came to predicting my final grade he went with an A (the highest grade at the time). Although I didn’t achieve that it felt good he thought I could.

The first I knew something was wrong was when a friend from sixth form sent me a message saying he had gone missing. Everyone was looking for him and there was concern for his safety due to some news he’d received. The sickening feeling will remain with me forever. I was 20 by then. We’d had less contact as I’d gone into my second and third years of university. I’d had my own mental health issues deepen by then. I hoped he would be found at aa friend’s house or just away for a few days.

The news came soon after that his body had been found. That it had been suicide. I wasn’t in contact with many people from my psychology class by then but some of my friends had also been taught by him. One in particular stayed in contact and we were shocked together. As more information came through it became more shocking. I was in contact with another teacher from sixth form and had a short email conversation with her about what had happened. It appeared no-one had seen it coming, even his partner.

Later on there was a memorial service at the sixth form for him. I’d arranged to attend but in the end couldn’t face going. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to shut it out. And that’s what I did for years. Occasionally it would come into my consciousness what had happened. But I always pushed it away. I thought it couldn’t have an effect on me as I wasn’t that close to him. I wasn’t friend or family. What right did I have to be effected by it?

But that’s the thing. Suicide does effect more people than you realise. I’m not saying this to make people feel guilty. I’ve tried to end my life since then and my thought always is that people are better off without me. I still feel that way even though I know how it feels to be a person left behind. The reason I’m writing this is because it does impact you. It does hurt and it can be hard to realise that person wasn’t being selfish. I know now more than ever he would never want to hurt anyone else and having had the opportunity to read more about it since I can see that more than ever. It’s something I wish everyone could see in those they lose to suicide.

Another thing that I think I’ve learnt from losing him to suicide is that even the best people have their demons. Everyone can struggle but still put on a positive front. We should never take that mask for granted and we should always be kind as we don’t know if we could make a difference to how that person feels. Also if you lose someone, however distantly, it’s OK to struggle with it and talk about it. Your grief is still valid. Death by suicide is particularly hard to process and it’s important to look after yourself too.

If you’ve lost someone to suicide there are places you can talk about it. The Mind website has some useful information. If you’d like to share anything feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Please be careful if posting anything triggering and add a warning if necessary.

Image from Pinterest

This post is dedicated to CR. You were a positive in my life and many others. You reached more people than you know and made a major difference to our lives. Thank you. X

Mask Anxiety

This is a tricky post to write as I’m sure I’m going to get very mixed responses. All I ask is that you be kind and respect others.

What I want to talk about comes in light of the new guidance on face masks and the rule in the UK that they are compulsory in shops except for those who are exempt from wearing them. The topic is the anxiety that comes with wearing a mask.

I know I’m not alone in having anxiety when wearing a mask. I’ve shared about this on Twitter and had responses from others who are having similar difficulties. There are many reasons for the anxiety I have with wearing a mask.

My first reason for anxiety is that I feel I’m suffocating in the mask. I know this is not the case but it is the feeling I get. I’ve always had difficulties with things around my face or neck. I can just about manage a loose scarf in winter and at school I cut the top buttons of my shirts so they couldn’t make me do them up. It feels almost like a form of claustrophobia. I feel trapped and like I can’t breathe even though I know it is not the case. This leads to panic which makes it harder still to breathe and a cycle is created.

Another reason for my anxiety with wearing a mask is other people’s behaviour. I have noticed that masks seem to make people feel they are invincible and less likely to social distance even though that is still necessary. As well as this people seem to struggle with using them correctly or fail to carry out other hygiene routines. This makes me feel that the risk is higher and I’m terrified of people I care about getting ill.

I understand the reasoning behind mask wearing and appreciate that it’s for everyone’s benefit but there are people who are exempt from wearing a mask and that includes people with mental illnesses especially anxiety. However I know people who are truly struggling with wearing a mask but are scared not to due to the comments people have been making about those who don’t wear them, calling them selfish. Until it was made compulsory I was not wearing a mask. I took all other precautions but I just couldnt bring myself to do it due to the above feelings. I read all the comments from others about how awful people who didn’t wear masks were and I felt awful about myself. The thing is although it seems selfish it’s actually self care and a benefit to others. If you have someone have panic attacks in shops that is not going to help the situation. As long as people are still taking precautions and using good hygiene practices they are not being selfish.

If you are in aa shop and see someone who is not wearing a mask, it is not your role to have a go at them or ask why they are not wearing one. Be kind. You do not know what they are going through. If you are struggling with wearing a mask please look after yourself. You are not selfish. Here is information about wearing face masks and there is a link on there to exemption card templates if you feel this would help you to have on you. This information is by the UK government.

Remember you are not alone. Take care. 💚

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.

Will I Recover?

“Will I recover?” is often the first question you think when you get ill. You wonder whether things will ever be the same again. You wonder what the future holds. This is the same whether it is a physical or mental illness, but it seems less clear cut when the illness is mental (though I know many physical illnesses carry the same ambiguity).

I have a mental illness for a long time. In fact in my head I don’t ever remember feeling OK mentally. This has meant recovery to me has always felt unclear. The major thing with the question “will I recover?” is defining recovery. This is tricky in mental illness, maybe more so than physical illness, where the lines aren’t always obvious.

Recovery for everyone is defined differently. For me the definition below is what I feel I aspire to most.

My reason for identifying with this most of all is that it is not about going to a state where my mental illness is completely gone to be “better”. My recovery will be about managing my condition.

However… I have still gone through the “Will I recover?” question looking for the answer that says my illness will be completely gone. I think that’s what a lot of people want. It doesn’t seem fair that managing a condition is all we can hope for. It’s not like the broken leg that is often used in the analogy of getting treatment for a physical illness versus a mental illness. It is not clear cut. It takes a lot to feel well with a mental illness.

This is still a complicated idea as recovery is still what is aimed for in some mental illnesses like depression where complete recovery is possible in some cases. I’ve even been told that those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may be classed as recovered as we won’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis with time and treatment. However for many of us it will be about management more than being completely better so for us this is our recovery.

So back to our main question “will I recover?”. There is no simple answer. Will we ever be how we were before our illness? Probably not as it changes us and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will we be able to live a decent life? Yes. It won’t be easy but there is hope. Its not easy to see in the midst of mental illness. I struggle with this most days and even as I write this it’s something I’m struggling to believe but I’ve seen others manage so that’s my hope. Hope for recovery, in whatever form, is what we need to keep. We may just have to adjust our thoughts on what recovery is for us.

I’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

N.B. Since writing this post I have come to dislike the word recovery with a passion. I’ve decided it is not the word for me and I don’t wish to use it in relation to dealing with my mental illnesses. I know this is a personal choice and I respect other people’s choice to use the word recovery.

My Saturday Night

Trigger warning: please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. There is discussion of self harm.

It’s Saturday night and I feel awful. Current time at writing is 22.53 and I’m laying in bed. I hate myself. That’s what I can identify. Pure hatred. I hate myself so much it hurts.

The evening involved trying to be positive. Or rather not admitting the negativity. I messaged some friends. I asked them how they were and they reciprocated. The thing is I just ignored the question. I diverted the conversation to discuss them or other things. And to be honest all I could say is I feel bad.

Emotions aren’t my strong point. Identifying them seems impossible and it’s bothering me more and more at the moment. I want to make people understand me and I can’t when I can’t understand me. The feeling is that I’m trapped alone. I’m trying to work on it but it feels scary and I feel like I should of done this as a little kid not as a 31 year old.

Since I’ve come to bed, I’ve self harmed. I tried a new area on top of the usual and felt a failure when I couldn’t do what I needed to achieve. My thoughts spiralled again and what I was trying to escape intensified. The hatred for myself at my failure is immense. I just wanted to destroy myself. Self destruction seemed a good option.

The voice is back as well. We’ll it’s never really left just subsided slightly. Not over the last few days or tonight. It’s telling me people hate me and want me dead. People are fed up of me and want me to die. I should do them all a favour.

So yeah that’s Saturday night. A night of mental illness taking over. A night where I hate my existence. And tomorrow will be another day the same. Waking up with blood on your hands will do that.

I’m sorry to anyone reading. Take care.

Picture from Pinterest

Mania

Unedited. Trigger warning just in case.

Currently having experiences of some form of mania on a regular basis. It can be part of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as well as bipolar. Tonight it’s awful. I can’t keep still. My thoughts are racing. I’m irritable. I want quiet but I want noise. I want to move but I want to lay here. I want to do things. But I don’t. Nothing is keeping my attention long. Everything is either very amusing and causing me to try and make things seem funnier to everyone else or I’m apologising profusely for being a pain. I hate this. It’s exhausting but I can’t sleep. Typing is hard. Words are in my brain but typing them out they have extra letters or are spelt wrong or put together in a way that I thought made sense but doesn’t. Luckily autocorrect is a thing and I can still see where I’m making mistakes and change them as I go but it’s frustrating me. I know my writing is probably rubbish. My swearing barrier is also less of a thing though I’m trying to restrain myself from swearing here. I’ve been trying to calm all evening. Doing calming activities but it’s all rubbish and I feel rubbish and frustrated. Nothing works. I’m trying so hard. The mania I have now is linked to a course of steroids I’m on for a physical health issue. I’ve not had mania like this in years. I realise I’m using the term mania a lot and it’s not like with bipolar I don’t think. It doesn’t last solidly. It comes and goes. Normally my mood stabiliser keeps me more stable with dips into depression. I forgot how exhausting this is. And I’m not a teenager anymore. People don’t expect this. As a teenager it could be hidden as just a teenage thing to many. Just someone who was passionate and had lots of ideas and a screwed up sleep pattern. Now as an adult it’s not so easy. My mum notices it. She put it to good use this afternoon moving soil and emptying pots. She saw I couldn’t settle to anything or think for myself so she provided a little routine. It helped. I felt less frustrated. But it’s back and I will go to bed soon to try and keep a routine but I’m not hopeful. The scariest thing though isn’t being out of control (though I hate that feeling) but the thought that what goes up must come downand this applies to my mood too. I will crash. Its inevitable. And I know it will hurt.

My art from trying to calm myself.