Tag Archives: what not to say

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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Kindness In A Crisis

We are living through a crisis at the moment. Everyone is dealing with an unprecedented situation and it can feel overwhelming. At this time what we all need is some kindness. This can seem even more difficult when we are either keeping our distance from others or isolating. I thought I’d share a few ideas to spread a bit of kindness. As things may change these might not all be appropriate so please take the most recent advice.

1. Message people

The most special thing to most people is a bit of social contact. Sending a message to others to remind them they are thought of and that they matter to you will hopefully make them feel better. If you feel able to offer support do but don’t put pressure on yourself. You deserve kindness too.

2. Make a card/write a letter

I think everyone loves getting mail. Maybe write one for a neighbour who is isolated or to send to a friend. If you’re self isolating though remember to keep you and others safe.

3. Send a present from online

If you have money to spare (and I know not everyone does so please don’t put yourself in a difficult position) then it might be nice to send a present to a friend. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It might just be something that would be useful.

4. Share a music play list to brighten people’s day

It might seem silly but anything that might brighten someone’s day is a great thing to do. And this can be done from at home. And it might brighten your day too.

5. Offer your services if you can

Again if it is safe to do so and if you feel able to then offer to do something for someone else. Mine has been offering my teaching skills to help those with children at home. Your’s might be shopping or something else.

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

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Self Harm: A Decision?

Please be aware this post will be discussing self harm so some content may be triggering.

There is a lot of thought about whether self harm is a decision or not. I know it’s a highly controversial topic and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. As someone who self harms it can be a difficult thing to consider.

The definition of self harm is deliberately hurting yourself. This suggests that self harm is a choice but how much is that true? When we consider self harm as a symptom of a mental illness is it really a choice?

If you had an illness like cancer would you consider your symptoms your choice? Quite obviously the answer would be no. So is self harm any different? If you ask anyone with self harm about what happens when they need to harm most will say its an uncontrollable urge. It is something they feel forced to do. This is especially common as you go deeper down the self harm hole.

The urge to self harm, for many, is intense. It takes over. It’s hard to think clearly. The urge is made stronger by the fact that many who self harm have low self esteem and don’t feel deserving of care. Whatever has been a trigger will bring up all sorts of feelings that are hard to deal with. Everything can feel overwhelming. Sometimes we are not totally there, maybe dissociated. Then it’s not really a choice is it?

But in some ways it can be a choice. We decide to inflict the harm, don’t we? I honestly don’t know. This is where I’m hugely torn. And why I’m torn is based on how I see others and how I see myself. For others, and this is probably the most important part, I don’t think it is a true choice. There is a lot leading or pushing you in that direction. It is a symptom of an illness so is never a true choice. Then I look at myself and berate myself for choosing to hurt myself in the first place.

I don’t give myself a break on the decision making idea. I blame myself for self harming every time. I blame myself for making that “choice”. I see myself as truly being the reason I’m hurting myself. Even the name makes it seem like that. Especially when medical staff call it deliberate self harm.

And this is where the issue becomes more apparent. We are treated by medical staff, including in mental health teams, who see it as a choice rather than a symptom. Yes I may pick up the blade etc but there is something pushing me to that. I am unwell. My choices are not truly my own always. It’s not an excuse but an explanation. I’ve been told I’ve made the choice to hurt myself. This in a time when I was so distressed I couldn’t see any other choice. So surely it isn’t a true choice?

There is hope with this though and this is where it gets more into the dodgy area of being a choice. Learning through therapy of other ways to cope instead of self harming means we do start to have a choice between self harm or using our new coping methods. I start to see why they say its a choice. They’ve given us other options and we’ve gone for self harm. What they don’t seem to realise is we probably chose their new methods first but it takes time for them to be an effective choice for us. It’s all about time.

So these are just my views on self harm as a choice, I’d love to hear yours. Feel free to connect in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Shutting Down

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

I’m starting to shut myself down. I’m pushing away my emotions. I’m pushing away people. I’m pushing away the question about how I am. It’s easier than you think. I’m putting on the mask of coping. I’m filling up my days. I’m doing everything I should and more. I’m not asking for help. This feels like a safety mechanism.

If you met me in my teens I would appear a misfit. I didn’t like what others did. I didn’t have that special friend. I had people I hung out with but I felt different. But the one major thing was I never told people how I was. Not truly. I might say I was good or fine. I might pretend to like a boy or be excited to find out a piece of gossip. I wasn’t. My brain was occupied by other things. By an emptiness. By a feeling of not being normal. But I shut it all down for years telling no one how I felt.

After my second suicide attempt I was referred to a psychiatrist in the CAMHs young person service that existed at the time for those aged 16-25. She noticed how shut down I was. How expressing myself was hard. That I couldn’t identify feelings or explain what I felt. I was diagnosed with “emotional developmental delay”. To this day that’s all I know about it. It wasn’t explained. I was rushed to start art therapy. Its aim was to get me talking and communicating. It was to get me to explore feelings. It was to make me feel. Issues with social skills were identified and worked on. It was the most useful therapy for me.

The problem though was that, that outlet was ripped away. I only had my friend’s to express all these new feelings to, that I still didn’t fully understand. I splurged on people not understanding the social cues. I got needy. I feared people leaving. Relationships went haywire. Crying became the norm. Every feeling was now released and overwhelming. Welcome to the world of BPD.

I was in the opposite of what I was comfortable with. I tried to put it all back in the box they’d made me open but it didn’t want to go back in, like when you take a duvet out of a bag and it never wants to go back in the same space. The emotions were released and wild. They were in control not me anymore. I hated it.

This has gone on a long time now. The extreme emotions. And now I’m finding the strength to get that duvet back in the bag. I’m shutting down my emotions, firstly to others, and then hopefully to myself. Yes self harm is part of the deal but it feels necessary as professional help is starting to be withdrawn. As I feel people have got saturated by having me in their lives. I don’t want to feel anymore so they don’t have to feel me too. It may be unhealthy but it’s what I feel I’m being forced to do to cope.

How do you deal with emotions? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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New Year, New You?

So it’s that time of year: New Year. Ugh. I hate it. There is so much out there about New Year, New You, and I hate it. Why must the new year signal a major change? Why must we put pressure on everyone to do more and change who they are?

The thing is I do get why people choose a new year to make a change to their lifestyle. It’s a good marker. And actually I have no problem with that part. My issue is with the advertising companies and the social media influencers. We should not be pushing people to make a change. If they want to that’s fine but putting pressure on makes people feel inadequate. It may also have a backwards effect as if they’re not ready to change it will be forgotten within a couple of weeks.

Another reason I think it’s a bad thing to push people to change is that it can make people feel like a failure. If you’re bombarded with all these things you should change you start to think you’re not good enough. That somehow you’ve failed as a person and the only way people will like you is if you change everything. This is just not true. Yes there may be small things you might want to do to feel better about yourself but that’s it, you should only be doing it for you, not because some advert has told you to.

A major part of the New Year, New You dynamic is based on losing weight. It’s the time of year when adverts for gyms and dieting are prominent. You’re made to feel fat and bad for enjoying food over Christmas. This can really effect people with distorted views around the way they look and food. They see it as a sign they need to lose weight even though they may already be under weight. It can retrigger eating disorder behaviours. Or start them off. It lowers people’s self esteem.

A lot of this New Year, New You malarkey is just there to make people feel bad. To put pressure on to be someone society sees as acceptable. To quash individuality. It’s not about your happiness in the eyes of the companies pushing it. It’s about making you spend money.

I also want to tackle here another part that is linked to the New Year, New You philosophy. This is the fact that we are encouraged to look back and reminisce over the last 12 months (and in 2019 it seems the last decade as well). I know I’m not alone in hating this. I don’t want to look back at all my failures. Yes it could help me change things but it also is likely to make me depressed and feel awful. I know many people are looking at achievements but when I’ve had a year where I have been very ill mentally it is hard. I feel like a failure and end up comparing myself to others. It feels like a minefield.

So what can we do?

My advice is to just treat New Year as any other time of the year. It is just a date. Just a marking of time. It is no more significant than any other if we don’t want it to be. If you want to make a change then do, but don’t feel you have to. It’s not a necessity. Block the diet and “lifestyle” ads. Treat yourself with kindness. You are amazing to get to this point. What will be, will be. There is no pressure to put goals in place for the long term if all you can manage is the next hour or even five minutes.

If you have tips to help with dealing with the New Year pressures then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Christmas Eve 2019

It’s Christmas eve evening. I’m sat after doing all the usual Christmas eve things. I’ve seen family and sorted out some things. I’ve walked the dog twice. I’m wearing a Christmas jumper. And I couldn’t feel less festive.

Everything feels like such an effort. If I could sleep through the day I think I would. My mood feels like it’s dropped as far as it could. I can feel in the depths of me something isn’t right. I can’t identify what the actual feeling is. And I’m not sure I want to. I know I could do opposite action but I actually don’t think I have the time to or the energy. I’m exhausted.

The thing is I don’t want to ruin the day for others so I’m fighting the feeling to appear happy and involved. I’m telling jokes and taking part in games. I don’t want to let them down. The pressure is overwhelming. I feel lonely as I don’t feel I can reach out and say I’m struggling. Especially as everyone is so busy.

The thing that we all need to understand is that mental illness doesn’t disappear for the holidays. My illness doesn’t see the advent calendar countdown and go “oo, I’ll stop being a pain now and let her enjoy things”. If only. The thing is we need family and friends to understand too. If we feel we can say we’re struggling and that we’re not ruining everything by saying it, then that is huge. We can start this off by showing others they can say it until we feel we can say it. Let’s lead by example.

Also let’s ask people if they are doing OK. Let’s tell them we don’t mind if the answer is no. We need to make the world a more accepting place. Especially at these times of the year.

So I hope if you can you talk to someone. You’re all amazing. Big hugs to all. Feel free to connect on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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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