Tag Archives: treatment

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.

Learning To Live With It

Please be aware that some of the content below may be triggering. There is discussion of suicide and self harm. I’m safe. This piece was originally written several days before publication. The content has not been edited.

Today I was told I need to learn to live with my suicidal thoughts for the rest of my life. It’s made me question a lot. It’s caused a number of emotions. I can’t lie that it hasn’t left me in a bad place.

I understand that living with an illness is something a lot of people have to do, physical or mental. I’ve always been fairly sure that mental illness will be part of my life continuously as well. So why has this hit me so hard? Why? I feel I should be OK. I’m not.

I think at the moment my mental health is particularly poor. Suicidal thoughts are there an awful lot of the time. Sometimes it’s continuous. Dealing with them seems near on impossible in a healthy way. Self harm is my go to. It’s far from ideal, though currently I’m not trying to stop the self harm (there are many reasons behind this). The idea of living with the thoughts forever just makes the feeling of wanting to die stronger. Why would I want to live like this?

But that wasn’t exactly what was said. It was that I need to learn to live with them and I guess I should think about what that means. Is it reducing their frequency? Or their intensity? Or the hold they have over me? Or does it mean I push them down and try to ignore them until I explode? (This last option seems like my current approach). I don’t know.

As some may know I’ve done DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) skills training. Not the full DBT programme as is suggested but the basics of the skills. I also go to a DBT peer support group which helps me apply the skills to my situation. It’s been helpful in some areas. But dealing with suicidal thoughts has not been one of them. The distress tolerance skills seem great, when I’m not in a crisis. I’ve tried them in crisis mode and it has not helped me de-escalate the situation. I know many people find them helpful to stop impulsive behaviours but I think that’s the problem for me: my attempts are very rarely impulsive and the desperate need to do something can linger at its height for a very long time with nothing seeming to bring it down. Believe me I have tried.

So I don’t know where to go from here. I’ve recently heard I’ve been put on a waiting list for individual therapy which I’m truly grateful for. Maybe it will help. But the thought it may not is there. I feel so guilty that it’s there. I know I am lucky I will get these 16 weeks at some point. But I’m terrified of failing and being in the same situation. A hopeless case.

That’s exactly how I feel. A hopeless case. Someone who will never improve and will be fighting forever more. Someone who, if they live, will be old and mad. The worst thing to be in this world when you need help. I can cope with the idea of being on medication for life, if I feel it will help me have a life. But the thought I’ll be suicidal forever is something I’m not sure I can live with. Why live when you want to die all the time?

I realise I’m probably overreacting (notice the probably, I’m not 100% about this at all). But in some ways it feels like a kick to just get it over with. To be gone. To stop being a constant burden to everyone. Because if I’m going to be suicidal forever isn’t that what I’ll be? (If you’re suicidal you are not a burden, it’s how I see myself).

At the moment I’m still processing this. It was said to me eleven hours ago. I don’t know how or what to feel. Apologies.

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

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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.

Cancer Scare: Results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Control

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

Control is the thing I crave most in my life. I’ve known it for a while but it’s taken a while to admit it. A lot of what I do is about trying to retain some control in a life that constantly feels out of control. It’s also about managing the feelings of being out of control. The problem is I’ve gone down what people would call negative routes to deal with this.

The reason I think I need the control is that so many people have taken away any control I should have had. People have taken away control of my body and my life. Little decisions don’t feel like mine to make. My life doesn’t feel like mine.

The things I use to feel in control include self harm and hair pulling. They are not the only things I have used or do use. These are just the most regular. Food has been something I’ve used to feel in control (I do not have an eating disorder nor been diagnosed with one, this was just a period of restriction). Alcohol was another thing until it took control of me. I also feel some of my suicide attempts have been an attempt to be in control of when my life ends among other reasons.

I also can see my need to be in control in other situations. When I sit in a room with others I try to be first in to choose a seat that I feel safe in. I’m constantly early. I plan things meticulously. If I’m creating things I find others input hard to deal with. Relinquishing control on things and allowing others in is hard. I’d much rather do things myself. It’s things I’m trying to work on.

So what are your tips to deal with the need for control? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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We Need To Talk About… Psychosis

Psychosis! What do you think it means? Does it mean schizophrenia? Does it mean being locked up? Does it mean there is no hope? These things are things I thought before I experienced psychosis and I know many still think this way. This is why we need to talk about psychosis.

So what is psychosis?

Psychosis is made up of many different symptoms. Some people will have many, some only one. They include:

  • Hallucinations (these may be visual, auditory, tactile or related to smell and taste)
  • Delusions (having strong beliefs not shared by others, for example, people are going to hurt you)

Does everyone with psychosis have schizophrenia?

It’s a common assumption that the only people that experience psychosis are those with schizophrenia. This simply isn’t the case. Many mental illnesses may cause a person to experience psychosis. These include bipolar, depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Psychosis can also be a result of physical illness or trauma.

Will someone with psychosis recover?

There is hope for those with psychosis. Many people will only have one episode of psychosis. Psychosis can also be managed with medication. There is a variety of antipsychotics. Of course as with any medication there can be side effects but these often are often outweighed by the benefits. It can also be a process of finding what works for you. Sometimes, when the psychosis is caused by trauma, psychosis can be helped by therapy.

What does someone with psychosis look like?

There is no specific way that someone who experiences psychosis looks. The term “psychotic look” which is often used to describe a way someone is looking is a work of fiction. Those with psychosis look like everyone else. The signs are more likely to be in their behaviour.

A last thought

People with psychosis experience extreme stigma. We are made out to be “crazy” and someone to be feared. In fact we are more likely to be a danger to ourselves or be at risk from others. It can be scary to see someone dealing with psychosis but remember they are probably scared too.

For more information about psychosis click here.

To share your experience feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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One Year From The End Of DBT

The 18th December 2019 marks one year since I finished DBT skills group. A whole year. It feels both not very long and forever. So I thought why not have a look back at how it has influenced me.

Since finishing DBT my mental health has been really up and down. My year was going well until August time. I still had major mood swings and was self harming but I was coping and building up my life. This all changed. The truth is I came off some of my medication by myself, no tapering, just cold turkey. I had my reasons. And these were accepted by the mental health team when they found out. However it led to a major crisis which was picked up, maybe ironically, by the facilitator of the DBT peer support group I started attending in August. But this really is unrelated to how I have been managing with the DBT skills. I just wanted to give a bit of background information on my mental state.

So as I mentioned, in August I started attending a DBT peer support group. It was set up with my local mind with the support of the NHS Trust that runs the mental health services in my area. It was designed to be the follow up to doing the DBT skills therapy group. Only people who had done DBT could join. I’ve found it amazing. I love the people. Even the facilitator has BPD and done the six months skills group. Everyone is on a level and so supportive of each other.

We use the time to discuss issues and how we can use DBT skills in those situations. This is what I find particularly helpful and what I needed in the first place. I’ve found that I’m definitely putting the skills to more use now I have the support of the group. Some situations have definitely improved and there is more of a chance I will use the skills or ask for help than self destruct. I’m not saying I’m perfect but I’ve definitely seen improvements and found myself embedding skills into life rather than having to think “which skill can I use now?”. It’s become a little bit more automatic. Hopefully this will continue.

One area I still really need to work on is identifying my emotions. This is something I still struggle with. I really need a pocket book I can carry to refer too until its a bit more automatic. This would then hopefully allow me to bring those emotions more under control. I won’t say “not great” or “fine” or “it’s been a bit difficult” when asked how I am and be able to express myself more easily. Well that’s the idea…

Another thing I need to work on is finding a way to reduce my self harming. The thing is at the moment I don’t feel I’m at a place to work on it properly. I also need to get over the fact my self harm is not impulsive so the distress tolerance skills don’t seem to work for me.

Overall I’m finding the skills more useful now and having the follow up has definitely helped me. I’m seeing the point of them. I’m seeing their potential. Hopefully it will help things to improve.

For more information about DBT, you can look here.

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