I’m not getting ‘better’ I’m getting stronger

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There’s no such thing as being ‘better’ when you have a long-term mental health condition – you get stronger and I AM.

I’m getting stronger and I’m trying not to let it beat me anymore. I’m still early on in my recovery, with over a year of therapy left but I know I can do it no matter how hard it still feels.

There are days when my ‘shadow’ as I call it, wraps around me so tightly that my chest hurts and I become detached from myself. There are other days now where the light shines in and my shadow flinches from the light to the point where I feel like a normal person and days like that are such a relief.

I now catch myself laughing heartily – a genuine belly laugh or I smile without my face aching from faking it. These glimpses of the good things in life keep me going when the shadow tells me to give up.

I still get the really bad days and I can accept now that I probably always will but I’m welcoming this new kind of day that I’m experiencing too – I guess it’s what it feels to be content although I’m not sure as I’ve never experienced it before. I feel more motivated and I’m getting less distracted in unhealthy ways.

I’m experiencing a range of new emotions from my intense therapy and it can be really overwhelming but it’s better than putting a wall up or avoiding my feelings – I’m learning that crying can be healthy and sadness is better than being numb. It’s so good to be part of a therapy support group of other people who are just like me – I don’t feel alone anymore.

I really wish I could go back to this time last year and just tell myself to hang on, it’s going to get better – believe what everyone is telling you, but you have to find out for yourself.

I feel like my hard exterior has been smashed open through working through stuff and at the minute everything is pouring out and I’m trying to make sense of it all – it’s exhausting but healthy – I’m never going back to who I was before – I’m stronger now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Borderline in a COVID-19 world

 

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Well…erm…a lot has changed since my last blog post – on a global scale!

I feel like we’re all living in a Stephen King novel…minus the pig’s blood and telekinetic powers…for now anyway. But sheesh, it’s bad enough without.

So, I (as well as others) expected to have a complete relapse in my mental health when lockdown kicked in but it’s just been weird instead. I haven’t been rocking in a corner crying my eyes out (if you have though, I’m not judging). Instead, my brain has just shut off from all things COVID. I do not want to take it in, so I’m just avoiding it.

This whole situation has positives and negatives for everyone. Mine in a nutshell are:

The positives

  • I already have Anxiety Disorder so I appear fine, as everyone else is also at my anxiety level
  • I have more tools than others to deal with a crisis through my therapy (thank f*$ing god I started this pre covid)
  • I’m an introvert anyway so staying in with my own company isn’t too bad
  • I’m feeling like everyone can relate to each other which is good in a way

The negatives

  • I’m probably going to freak out when things get a bit more ‘normal’ again as this is my ‘anxious’ – at the minute I have less triggers so I’m scared it’s just going to hit me out of nowhere
  • Avoiding the problem means that I’m feeling quite numb and sometimes really depressed when I start thinking about it
  • There’s been change that I’ve struggled to deal with
  • My therapy has changed to virtual and group therapy has paused which absolutely sucks as this will probably go on long term

If you’re feeling really overwhelmed right now I’d really recommend writing out some positives about this really crappy situation or a list of how things can change for the better for you after this – trust me, it will make you feel even slightly better – there’s always a positive. Then try and focus on that thought when you start to feel anxious.

My mind always looks for the worst case scenario and the fact that it can now say ‘ha! told you so!’ just means I’ve been more prepared than most. I’m used to crisis so therefore appear calmer through this.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a struggle and it’s a horrific time for a lot of people and their families but my brain is just refusing to register this.

Work has actually been a god send throughout this period and being able to be in the office gives me the routine and structure that is so important for me – one of my symptoms of Borderline is that if I don’t have routine everyday, this is when everything becomes a bit mad for me and I get really ill again. Weirdly, I’ve been more productive than ever at work. I think it’s the quiet office and I’m not as anxious. In a way it feels more structured to me than ever before.

Going through my mental health recovery journey during this national crisis has certainly made it interesting and testing as I can’t practise skills in any normal scenario but it’s also made me realise that I CAN do this and I’m so much more stronger than what I thought I was.

I’ve got a way to go but I’m slowly starting to see glimpses of what it could feel like being able to cope with life in a more healthy fulfilling way.

Sending you all positive thoughts during this wacky uncertain time xxx

 

 

Only 47 days till Spring…

As much as I love spring and summer as it gets brighter and generally everyone is a bit more upbeat, there’s something comforting about winter – you can hide, whether you’re hiding away at home or you’re hiding in chunky knits.

I feel so much more secure, hiding a body I’m not happy with and retreating away from everyone inside.

There’s another reason why I love winter and it’s the same for many others with a specific mental illness symptom (I’ll leave you to guess as I don’t like writing it).

You can cover up without people asking “wow you must be roasting in that jumper” and “would you not feel better taking your cardi off?”

As it’s now February, spring seems reachable. I’m writing this inconspicuous blog post to remind people to please don’t comment on whether someone is wearing long sleeves. Whether they just feel the cold (which I do as well!) or whether it’s something else, people can feel self conscious and someone even asking a simple question like that can cause anxiety.

I’m proud of my battle scars and this year I’m not hiding away when the weather gets warmer. They’re a part of who I am and a journey I’m facing.

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It’s a long journey but I’m getting there – as are many others. Don’t judge.

I can’t find the On switch

 

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt myself slowly getting sucked down into the black hole that I’ve been trying to cling to the top of for a while. I feel like I’m stuck on a plateau with my therapy at the minute and I’m pretty much in a relapse stage (which is apparently normal). I’ve turned off my emotion switch due to so much going on right now but I just feel numb now and I can’t seem to find the On switch. Right now it just feels like I’m not going to get better.

I’m trying to learn new, healthy skills but I just keep reverting back to what I know will work as it’s the only thing I’ve known until recently. I feel extremely lost and I’m literally living each day as it comes until bed time. Rinse and repeat.

Intense therapy is overwhelming. It’s not just talking to someone for an hour a week about how you feel. It’s way more structured than that and my therapist really challenges my thoughts and never lets me off lightly! We focus on a different topic each week and talk about how it can be put into practice. Some are easier than others and there’s always a sh*t tonne of homework. There’s so many new theories to learn and use…and remember! I think the NHS have killed a good few trees to help me with all of my handouts. There’s no lying down on a chair and sharing your deepest, darkest secrets and there’s no feeling sorry for yourself allowed either! It’s nothing like how it’s made out to be. It’s hard work but it’s good.

I’m working a lot at the minute on learning to identify my emotions as I really struggle with this. It’s apparently common in people who are diagnosed with BPD. One of the reasons my emotions are so intense is because I don’t understand them, meaning I don’t know how to deal with them. I’m learning about them in the style of the Pixar film, Inside Out, going into depth about each emotion, whether it’s fear, sadness, happiness, envy or disgust.

One positive is that at least I’m aware of the new skills I’m trying to learn. It’s hopeful knowing that one day I might use them without having to think about it.

Anxiety the horror movie

Starring Lyndsey Spark

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I’m writing this post not for attention or sympathy but to talk about something that isn’t really discussed, well not properly anyway. Anxiety is seen as this really fashionable thing to have these days and it’s really pissing me off because if those people knew what it really feels like, they really wouldn’t want it as a ‘brand’ for themselves. Luckily I don’t personally know anyone like that but it’s out there in the media, on TV, etc. It’s something I’ve dealt with for years. I get obsessive thoughts and my mind races to the point where I feel physically sick so I can’t leave the house. I itch my hands to the point where they mark or blister with friction burns just to stay seated in public, I’ve hit my head against walls to stop intrusive thoughts, I believe people are conspiring against me, I stop trusting people and I excessively worry about others. I get anxiety ‘hangovers’ with splitting headaches as it drains me so much. It’s ruling who I am at the minute and it’s been so bad over the past week. I know there are so many like me where it controls your whole day and I’m sick of it being described as this cute fluffy thing to have. The only rest you get is when you eventually fall asleep and that fantastic 2 seconds when you wake up before you realise who you are. It’s not always like this, it’s a bit like a rollercoaster but this is how bad it gets. I’m starting to work on my anxiety monster and hopefully can learn how to turn the volume down and get on with life more.

I just needed to get that off my chest 🙂

F**k the Festivities

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Yes, I’m going to be a Grinch and yes, I’m going to feel sorry for myself because you know what? I’m entitled to!

Christmas can be really hard for people for a lot of different reasons and I’m not by all means saying I have it worse than some, but people telling me that other people are also having a bad time does not make it any easier for me at all.

I’m starting to pull apart my life traumas and experiences in my weekly therapy sessions, walking out of my appointment to be greeted by a geet massive inflatable santa (yes, that’s legit) in the building. There’s no need man. In the past I’d probably smile at it but this year I imagine myself screaming and running at it, tackling it to the floor.

So not really in the mood to celebrate as it feels like I’m reliving a lot of past trauma right now and not a lot of people fully understand.

I know everyone isn’t happy 24/7 but the expectation to be festive and to appear merry on the surface is just too much for me right now. I’ve retreated away from events, avoided people and I’ve not included myself in stuff so that my misery doesn’t affect others this Christmas.

I’ve been through a lot this year and it’s still very tough, so the festivities can appear as really overwhelming to me. It’s all go and it’s out of my normal routine which freaks me out.

New year always gives me anxiety because instead of thinking “I wonder what amazing things this year will bring” I’m thinking, “crap, another year of things to go wrong.”

This is the first year (apart from last year as I was on long-term sick) that I’m working through Christmas. I need that distraction and my family aren’t really doing Christmas this year so what’s the point of being at home feeling crap. Two days are going to be bad enough, taking myself away from everyone, as I know that’s what’s going to happen.

I do have a week off in January which I’m going to spend sorting out my life in mini steps using a scrapbook as it’s an actual mess right now in my brain.

People keep saying 2020 can only get better. I’m not so sure really. I’m not doing the whole ‘new year new me’ crap. I’m just going to take each day as it comes…

Merry Christmas everyone and remember, you can feel sorry for yourself if you want to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobbing around the fish bowl of life

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Dear Brain, I really wish we could get on and agree more on things. I know who I want to be and you just won’t listen. Our arguments give me a splitting headache and then I give in. Can we move on and start again?

I’m having a 24/7 argument with my brain. I want to function ‘normally’ so bad and no matter how hard I try, my brain isn’t having any of it. If it was under warrantee I’d be taking it back!

As I’m receiving treatment/therapy and I’m starting to deal with stuff, I’ve found myself dissociating more. This is when you feel ‘spaced out’ like you’re in a fish bowl or like you don’t really exist – a bit like that scene in Scrooge where the ghosts take ebineezer to visit his former self, no one can see him.

Imagine that feeling when you have a bad cold and you get a fluffy head – that’s what it’s like. It’s so bad sometimes I actually think “who the F**k am I?” I can totally loose the plot for a moment…it’s scary.

I think this is happening as stuff I have buried for years and forgotten is resurfacing and it’s my mind’s way of not wanting to deal with it as it’s too much. It just switches off like a defence mechanism. This can happen at any time…inconveniently at work most of the time when I’m not even consciously thinking about anything.

I haven’t written on here for ages since I’ve been back at work. It’s been a struggle and continues to be but I’m trying so hard as it’s a massive positive in my life right now. I need some routine. It’s something to think about other than how crazy I feel!

I feel like myself and my diagnosis are two different people. There’s a part of me that registers as ‘normal’. I know what a correct reaction to something is and I know what is rational but there’s a stronger shadow part of me that isn’t budging and no matter how much I try and focus on the ‘normal’ part of me, my shadow just pushes them away.

I’m trying to learn to be less hard on myself and that I’m not a bad person, it’s just my brain is wired a bit differently to most people and I need to work on fiddling on with the wires more often than other people to learn about my emotions and maintain them. I find it really hard to identify how I feel, other than it feels negative. Things like sadness, anger, mental pain all feel bad but I can’t tell which one it is. Learning to identify them is the rewiring part.

Right now, I’m not feeling at all sociable. I have no energy and I feel like a dementor from Harry Potter, sucking positivity from people so I’ve hidden myself away for a while. This ‘recovery’ malarky really takes it out of you. I still feel ‘unhelp-able’ but a little part of me is rooting for me to keep going. I just wish it would speak up a bit louder somedays.

It’s exhausting to think I’ve barely begun the process of getting well again…

I’ve started seeing an Occupational Therapist who is quite open about the fact that he has been diagnosed with a similar condition to me. It’s so nice speaking to a professional who totally gets it.

It has really inspired me and I can’t help but think maybe one day this could be me helping someone who is going through what I am experiencing right now…who knows?

 

 

 

 

Feeling alone in my head

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Heads up, so this is a bit of a depressing rant so if you don’t want to read, stop now.

So last month I went back to work after being off sick with my mental health for 8 months. I’ve made progress, but I’ve still got a way to go yet on getting better.

In a way, I’m happy to be back at work. It’s giving me some purpose in my life and it’s nice to be around people again. It’s really tiring though and it is a struggle most days, (and to get in on time thanks to anxiety and being sleepy!) but I’m sure I’ll get there. Just need the brain fog to disperse!

You would think that the community mental health team would be offering me more support to help me cope now I’m back at work, but no, it’s the total opposite. I haven’t had an NHS therapy appointment now for three weeks as my therapist is off sick, not that is was reliable before that either. Every time I ring up they don’t tell me anything, or when I’m likely to get an appointment either.

At a time when I really need support, I’ve never felt so alone and let down. I don’t mean alone as in not being around friends etc. but alone with my mental health. I feel like I’m just barely propping myself up right now, with no-one to talk to. So as well as the long waiting lists being crap, it’s not much better once you actually access the service either.

When I’m better and in a few years time, if things haven’t improved with the system, I am definitely going to stand as an advocate for this appalling mental health service in the UK. I think nearly all NHS staff are amazing and I’m so grateful to have a free health service but the Government have absolutely no idea what it is like to be a service user, waiting for months, ready to give up when a service has no funding.

 

 

 

 

Deers and Dying Plants

NHS windowsills are uninspiring

When your therapist asks you if you are having dark thoughts you realise that you mustn’t look particularly great. I’d been staring into space for a while not listening to the words coming out of her mouth. All I could think about was why had they bothered to put a plant in the room if it was just going to be left for dead on the windowsill.

The room has no positive energy so I think the plant has probably given up on life. Every week when I stare at it, it seems to have died inside a bit more. I don’t blame it, having to sit there and absorb everyone’s problems.

I day dream quite a lot in my sessions. When I zone back in and get asked what I was thinking about, I don’t mention the plant.

A bit of light reading in the waiting room. At least it’s a change from OK magazine…

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I’m experiencing an assault course with my emotions.

Everyone’s mood goes up and down throughout the day, whether a number comes up on your phone that you don’t want to answer or your lunch gets squished in your bag and now you have warm, flat cheese sandwiches. It’s normal for moods to change throughout the day…

…but my moods do this thing where everything is heightened and I can’t control how I feel and behave. I react badly to changes which then sets me off on a downward spiral for the rest of the day, where I’m either so anxious and worried or I just want to hide away and burrito wrap myself in a blanket, maybe not over something as drastic as a squished cheese sandwich but you get the idea!

I describe living with BPD like having Bipolar but on speed. Although, I’m now being told to keep a mood diary so my emotions can be monitored as apparently ‘a diagnosis can change.’ At this point, whether it’s BPD or Bipolar, I don’t really care. I just want to get back into having a routine and getting on with my life very soon!

I am trying as much as I can. I go to meditation, the gym (occasionally), I go for walks and I try and get creative with crafts. It’s a bit of light relief from my mind for a couple of hours as I have to concentrate on not burning myself with a glue gun or tripping over my own trainer at the gym (yes, this has happened).

I’ve had some good experiences over the past week though. I had a special moment with a deer at Plessey Woods and I’ve finally opened my own Etsy page to sell my craft stuff.

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I have a bit of anxiety around selling my stuff as I never believe it’s good enough to sell.

I wish the stuff that I enjoy doing and am reasonably good at would pay the bills, but it doesn’t!

I am struggling to see anything past the next day at the minute as it’s a bit overwhelming, but I will get there!

I want to dump my anxiety via text

It’s not working out.

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My head is currently spinning so I feel like I need to write something to try and ground myself. I was fine this morning and then *BAM*. It hit me early afternoon. It’s always one thought that then makes my head spiral out of control.

Anxiety and I have had a complex relationship for years. It never leaves my side and keeps bickering away in my head, like a tired whinging child.

It feels like that noise the computer used to make when it dialled up an internet connection. I have one million intrusive thoughts but at the same time I cannot think and it’s really noisy and muffled in my head.

I think the worst part of it is the feeling of dissociation. I know I’m here sitting at my keyboard writing but my head feels like it’s in a fish bowl. I feel like crying as it’s so debhilitating but I know I just have to ride this out until I calm down again and my anxiety decides it needs a break.

I wish I could dump my anxiety, preferably by text as that’s all it deserves, or by just ghosting it. The more I try and stop it, the worse it gets.

I know I’ll never fully ‘get over’ anxiety – it’s like we’ve got a blood pact or something, but I want to be able to turn the volume down on it for a while.

Anxiety, if you’re listening – you’re dumped!!