A rose by any other name

It’s such shit that the CMHT refuse to see me. The Crisis Team refuse to work with me. Well, fuck all of them! I’m stronger without their bullshit ‘take this pill and you’ll get better in six weeks and if you don’t get better then it’s bye bye, we can’t help you.’

My mental illness doesn’t work like that. It’s chronic, yes, but I have very bad acute episodes sometimes, episodes that need TREATING, not DISMISSING. I deserve respect, my illness deserves respect. To them, I’m a hanger-on, a problem statistic that needs clearing off their books.

So what if I have BPD? That’s just a stupid label that dehumanises and devalues me. That makes me feel worthless and invalidated because of the way (most) mental health professionals treat it. I am more than that.

The private psychiatrist doesn’t want to diagnose my mood swings, but says that I have an ‘element of Bipolaity.’ She says I definitely have an ’emotionally unstable personality type’. Whatever the fuck is wrong with me I DON’T CARE! I am through with labels. I am through from boxes.

I am through with being reduced to nothing but my illness. I am through with being judged. I am through of being treated like shit. EUPD, Eating Disorder, Bipolar, Depression, PTSD, OCD, Anxiety… What the fuck does it matter which one they write on their letters, on their files.

I am a HUMAN BEING who HURTS. I have been through HELL. I have SUFFERED. But y’know what? I HAVE SURVIVED. I am becoming a NEW PERSON. I will never forget the old me, the little girl that was afraid, the teenager that was assaulted, the girl that cried and cut and burnt and puked and starved and tried to kill herself. She is still a part of me but she no longer CONSUMES me.

I am worth more than their names, more than my past, more that my mental illness. I am finding my own way through this, accessing all the alternative treatment/support I can. The NHS is through with me but I’M NOT THROUGH WITH ME.

I’m committed to my recovery. I am determined to make the most of my life. Sure, I’ll never be ‘normal’, but I don’t have to constantly suffer, I can level out. I can achieve and strife and succeed. My mental illness is for life, but my life is not my mental illness.

A rose by any other name

When I was seventeen, a group of friends (including my ex boyfriend)
wnet out for drinks. We always went out for drinking picnics in the
park and it was the summer holidays.We drank all day and late
afternoon he offered to take me and a friend back to one of this
friend’s houses. I agreed.
The whole day he can been trying to get me alone, to kiss me, but it
wasn’t the first time he’d been like that towards me and I thought I
could handle it. Usually, I wemt home by myself or with a friend but
this night me and my friend went back to this other place with him.
We were all drunk and we carried on drinking, and he carried on trying
to get me alone and corner me. One of the times I got away from him,
my sleeve rolled back and he saw my self-harm scars/ He totally lost
it, swearing and shouting in my face, demanding why, he was so drunk
and so angry and I was afraid. He grabbed me by the wrist and dragged
me back into the kitchen where everyone else was, a room full of
strangers, and he asked them all the feel my scars and tell me I was
stupid.  It made me feel sick.
I didn’t want to be around anyone after that, so I took myself off
into one of the bedrooms and lied down on the floor without turning
the light on. I think there were sleeping bags on the floor and I
found something to sleep on. I hadn’t brought anything to change into
so I slept in my clothes, black cargos and one of those ‘goth’ shirts
with offensive words on, bitch slut whore etc. I don’t know why I
decided to wear it. Obviously, I was asking for it. Offering it.
I can still hear the others in the kitchen as I fall asleep. I realise
suddenly that I don’t know where I am. The house, The street, Even the
town. I start to feel stranded and trapped. I want to go home but I
can’t so I have to stay there.
I’d been asleep and the sound of someone else coming into the room
wakes me up. I turn and in the light I see it’s him. I close my eyes
and turn back to sleep. He comes over to me and shakes me awake. He
starts whispering into my ear. He’s incredibly drunk and stinks of
vodka. I still feel drunk myself and I’m still upset from earlier and
I just want to sleep.
He kneels down next to my face and tries to kiss me. I turn away
again. He starts to touch me on top of my clothes and I know he wants
to have sex with me so I turn and tell him ‘I don’t want sex with
you’. I can hear him taking his clothes off, he’s pissed and clumsy
and tells me he can’t get it up but that it’s okay because we can do
other things. I tell him again to leave me alone.
My clothes are too big for me and he pulls them down easily, I hardly
notice feeling colder, but then I feel his hands inside me and asks
#do you like that’ I don’t speak. I just try to move away. But I don’t
know what to do. He’s somehow paralysed me with fear. I feel his hands
again, his mouth, the smell of vodka. I will myself to pass out and
shut off. The room is in darkness and yet it is topo light. I forget
what’s real and what’s not. Like being in a nightmare that you can’t
wake up from or act out.  I feel him on stop of me and the rest is
darkness. I am stuck there, frozen. I could have pushed him off but I
didn’t./ I could have screamed and shouted byt I didn’t. I could have
locked the door bit I didn’t.
He got off me, rearranged my clothes and left without saying anything.
I went to sleep and when I woke up I found the others around him,
kicking him because he wouldn’t wake. His sister started to yell at
me, telling me it was my fault he was so drunk. I found the friend I
came with and who’s dad could give us a lift home. My body hurt, I was
in pain, I tried to block it all out but my body hurt despite it.
Everything felt like a dream, a blur, strange, and that hasn’t changed
till this day. I still feel that dreamy disconnection with the world.
When I arrived home, I showered and my mum said she could smell vodka
on me. I smelt of him. I went to my own bed and slept for days.
I put it down to a drunken mistake. My own fault more than his. And
then I got a voicemail on my phone from him where he said he was sorry
and couldn’t live with what he’d done and was going to kill himself. I
thought it was my fault. I couldn’t do anything. He stopped answering
calls. A year later, he sent me an email that said he’d moved on with
his life and that the past was in the past. I’d been blaming myself
thinking he’s killed himself, I’d been blaming myself about what he
did to me and Ihated myself. It was all my fault.

I Am Just Me

I should be surrounded by candles and soft music but I’m not and have I no intention to be. I’m doing what I always do, watching a favourite TV show that makes me smile and drinking a cup of tea. The light is bright because I don’t want to sit in the dark. I don’t need to sit in the dark anymore. I’ve sat in the dark for a long, long time and it’s suffocating, it’s toxic and consuming. I have no reason to sit in the dark about this. I have nothing to hide there. I have nothing to shy away from. I have nothing to bury.
So, let’s get this out of the way right now; I was raped. Whoa, hang on a second, I know I should be a little less blunt but it’s only a word and the word doesn’t scare me anymore, it shouldn’t scare you to read it. It’s a fact and I can’t change it. It’s a fact for millions of other people. Not saying rape doesn’t stop people being raped so why not take some of the power back from that word. Why not stop using it to scare and subdue? Why not stop using it to oppress those who have already be oppressed by the actions of another human being.  I am not proud of it, but I have absolutely no reason to be ashamed of it.
For the longest time, I wouldn’t use the word, but that didn’t change a fucking thing about what had happened and instead I was locked up tighter than ever, scared to say the wrong thing, to name the wrong thing. What does rape mean, then? It’s pretty simple, despite the legalities of the word and its subsequent punishments throughout the world, on a human and emotional level it all means the same thing – if you have (any kind of) sex, under (any influence of alcohol or drugs, perceived or actual threat) by anyone you don’t want then it is rape. That’s all the word means. You had sexual contact with someone you didn’t want to have sexual contact with. Pretty simple, right?
For years I tore myself apart over the word, I analyzed it constantly, I checked legal dictionary against English dictionary, story against story, myth after myth and fact after fact. Many years later, I am able to say it – I was raped.

But what does it really mean? What does it really mean to me? On the one hand, quite a lot, on the other hand, not very much.
I was already seventeen and fucked up. I already had an eating disorder and I already ‘dabbled’ in self-harming. I was depressed and drank too much. Did it change any of that? No. Did it make any of that worse? Yes. Would I have still been so mentally ill if I’d never been raped? I think so. I had always hated my body; this was just another reason to attack it. I had already harmed by body, this was just another reason to keep doing it. I was already sad, it just made me sadder.

The things it did change didn’t change for a long time; it was years before I had identifiable ‘symptoms’ of any kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. I didn’t have an obvious mental breakdown as a result of it, although I am sure that it what people expect. For the most part, I lived my life with mental illness, and it was hard, but the rape wasn’t something I connected to and it wasn’t something that day to day upset me so much.

When it did finally hit me, it was ugly and horrific and I was very, very ill for a few years. I was in hospitals, in psych wards, in emergency departments, I did the ‘crazy rounds’ and I lost myself in sickness. I became the girl in casualty that the doctors knew by name and then, when the internal storm broke through the numerous stitches in my arm, I became the girl who got raped.
I have had to break through that, though, and become myself again. It has been hard, and I don’t know if I am out of the other side yet.

I had to go back into the past and reclaim that night.  I had to go back and feel, and be there, and go through it again (and again and again) until I was finally able to say, ‘there is nothing I could have done differently and nothing I could have done to prevent it’. This was one of the hardest things, because I had a list of all the things I thought I could have changed if I’d only been ‘less stupid’ at the time. I have had to learn to say;

‘I cannot go back and make myself sober’ and eventually to say that it doesn’t matter if I was sober or not, being drunk does not make it okay or my fault, because everyone gets drunk (especially when they are seventeen) and yet not every drunk person gets raped. Therefore, the only thing I did wrong was to get drunk around a rapist, and how the Hell do you know what a rapist is or looks like (because believe me, they do not look like the monsters you see on television and glaring from newspapers)

I have had to learn to say;

‘I cannot go back and lock the bedroom door’ because most people don’t have locks and their bedroom doors and they definitely don’t expect to be in trouble in a house surrounded by people they know. Locking the door would have made no difference because if someone had knocked, I would have opened it anyway, and then I’d be sitting here writing exactly the same thing about how I should have known not to open the door.

Have you noticed the circles yet? All your thoughts become circles, endless cycles of ‘I should have’ or ‘I shouldn’t have’. You get so tired of the sound of your own voice in your head constantly arguing and yelling, and sometimes other people are yelling at you, out of newspapers or films, and your head is comparing and feeling guilty and vile and disgusting and like you will never have a day free from it for the rest of your life.

That is all bullshit.

I have had to learn to say, quietly, then louder, and then louder again – IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. I have had to learn to not just say it, but to mean it and believe it with every bone in my body and it rips away at your skin and it can be a constant fight for power between affirmation and self-blame and it is exhausting but you have to keep at it, you have to keep saying – IT WAS NOT MY FAULT.

Ever since I started to reclaim that night, ever since I have started to be kinder to myself, to accept that I wasn’t perfect, but that it was still the responsibility and choice of another person to rape me, ever since I accepted my faults that night and forgave myself in spite of them, I have regained the power that I thought I lost. The power in the words I chose to talk about it with, the power of blaming another for their own actions, and not hating yourself for your own, and above all else, the power to say, this happened to me, and it was awful, and my life was shit for a long time because of it BUT I am NOT what HAPPENED to me, I am not the girl who got raped, or a victim of rape or even a survivor of it.

I am just me.

I Am Just Me

To My Younger Self

Dear 17 year old me,

I know that you want to hate yourself for what happened. I know that blaming yourself is easier than facing up to the fact that you were powerless and not in control. I know that you think that you caused all of his problems, that he wouldn’t have ended up being the person that he was without you but it’s not true. You can’t turn someone into an alcoholic. He bought your drinks. He encouraged you to be like him.

I know that you think that there are things you could have done that night to prevent what happened, but you can’t go back and change what you didn’t do, you can’t go back and make yourself sober, you can’t go back and lock the door, you can’t go back and make yourself less vulberable. You couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen and you can’t beat yourself up because of that.

You were really unwell. You existed on booze. You were physically and emotionally weak. That doesn’t mean that you were to blame, either. It’s not your fault that you were sick and that by being sick you maybe weren’t able to protect yourself as much as someone who was well. Maybe if you were in the same position now things would be different but you can’t live your life thinking of what might have been. You can only be who you were at the time and being sick isn’t an excuse for someone to hurt you.

Rape can happen to anyone, anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you know the attacker or not. Did you know that most victimes know their attacker beforehand? Being friends with someone, even being their ex-girlfriend, doesn’t make any difference. It can happen at night or in the middle of the day. It can happen in a park or a car. It can happen in your own house. It can happen in your friend’s house.

What happened to you was real and you’re allowed to be upset about it, you’re even allowed to be angry about it, you’re allowed to hate him, you’re allowed to be scared, you’re allowed to forgive yourself for all the thing you did or didn’t do, you’re allowed to speak out.

Someone told me once that keeping this stuff inside was infectious, that it poisoned you, and that it would eventually leak out. You can’t put the lid back on the can. You can’t run away from it just because it’s painful.

It’s time to stop blaming yourself. No-one is going to tell you to forgive and forget but if you talk to someone about it then maybe you can start to make some sense of it all and try to move on but you have to give talking about it a shot. Do you really think that it will make you feel worse than you do already? The only way is up.

I know that you feel guilty. That you feel that what happened wasn’t ‘that serious’ and that you’re making things up but think about it, why would you do that? Why would you be hurting over something that didn’t happen? The question isn’t was it real, because it’s real to you, the question is what you do about it.

The only person that is going to call you a liar is you.

It’s time to stop blaming yourself. You don’t have to be a victim. You can be a survivor.

It won’t hurt this much forever.

To My Younger Self

Habeas corpus

I’ve been going to the crisis centre for about two months. The first session we had was one of the hardest hours of my life, as I went into the details of who and where and when. I thought that I’d got the hardest part out of the way but I was wrong. For the last couple of weeks we’ve started to talk through how I felt at the time I was raped, instead of the ‘what happened’ it’s now ‘how did that feel’ and that is so much harder to work through. I have dissociated myself from those feelings for so many years and through so many self-destructions. It’s hard for me to remember how I felt. So, what did I feel? Confusion mainly, I didn’t understand what was happening, I didn’t understand why saying ‘no’ to someone would be ignored. I felt powerless, hopeless, you grow up believing that you inhabit your body, that it’s a space you truly own, and that gets harshly shattered when someone else inhabits your space, without you wanting them there, when they are invading you (physically) and hurting you. I felt a loss of control and I felt scared, so fucking scared. I told my counsellor that I felt too scared to move or scream or fight back, which had bothered me for a long time, but she reassured me that that’s okay and normal to be ‘paralysed’  and that not doing anything doesn’t mean it was my fault. We’re working on guilt, she wants me to get past my guilt, past my self blame. She says ‘it happens’, she says ‘it wasn’t your fault’, and I listen to her and try to believe her. I think I’m nearer the point of completely letting go of my guilt and shame than I’ve ever been before and while that would be wonderful, it would be completely terrifying. I’ve carried this with me for over a decade and it’s familiar, it’s almost ‘easier’, but I am determined to keep talking, keep changing my perceptions, to challenge myself. I had a realisation a few days ago; I lived before this and I can live beyond it. I can grow. I can be a better person because of it. It can make me better because of it. I’m discovering new ways of grounding myself, without anyone specifically telling me what to do. I am handling triggers much better. The flashbacks can still be awful but their intensity has lessened. I still dissociate a lot, *a lot*, but during my last session, even though it was painful, I didn’t dissociate, I hooked myself to the sleeve of reality. I am discovering I can make my own choices. I am discovering what feels right for me and learning to let go of what doesn’t. Rape is a complete loss of power and control, but when we take back that control and articulate ourselves to others who want to help us heal, when we shed even the thinnest layer of damaged skin, we take back some of that power. With the help of my counsellor, and my own late night reflections, I am, slowly, jaggedly, blindly taking back a bit of that power.

Habeas corpus

I’m not trying hard enough. I could do more. Yet, at the same time, I’m completely exhausted from trying a little bit and I don’t know how to push myself any further. I seem to be in a constant state of needing distraction. I can’t put my phone down. I’m plagued with thoughts of ‘it was your fault’ and ‘you’re making it up’ regarding the rapes and therapy isn’t helping me process those feelings. I’m turning to food as a comfort but that’s just making me fatter. I just feel so isolated and stranded and lost. All these horrible memories and images are flooding my brain and I can’t process them. I don’t know how to bring it up in my therapy sessions but I’m going to have to find a way. I’m coping, in the sense that I’m not using behaviours and I’m functioning (albeit at a low level compared to ‘normal’ people, but at a good level for me) but my thoughts are just so negative and intense. I know, rationally and logically, that being raped was *not* my fault. But emotionally I can’t make the same conclusion. I didn’t fight back. I wore a shirt with the word slut on. I didn’t scream. I just fucking lay there and let him get on with it. I know I said to him ‘I don’t want sex with you’ . I said that. Clearly. I can remember it. Vividly. The main memory I struggle with is him going down on me and asking me if I liked it. It makes my skin crawl. It makes me want to tear my skin off. But did I like it? Did I *enjoy* it, physically? Emotionally, no, I hated it and wanted to die but physically I’m not so sure. I hear him, as clear as I can hear a television, saying that to me. I’m nearly throwing up just writing this. I just want rid of these intense memories, these flashbacks where I’m back there and it’s happening all over again, the sick feeling when anyone talks about sex in front of me, the outright terror when a strange man innocently touches me. I want to be able to deal with my triggers without throwing up over myself. I want to be able to deal with the scary, big wide world. I don’t want to be frightened anymore. I want to feel like I’ve SURVIVED those awful nights. To not doubt and blame myself. To live without shame. Why should I feel ashamed? Why should I direct my anger at myself instead of at the fucking rapists. They’re the ones that deserve my rage, not me. I was innocent. So why can’t I believe it with my whole heart and soul? Why am I stuck in denial and self blame? From now on, I’m going to cut myself some slack. Accept that what happened, happened. Stop blaming myself. Stop doubting my own feelings and memories. I’ve taken so many positive steps recently and I just need to keep going with them. Keep walking this road. Let go of the feelings that plague me. Push through it. Stay strong. I can do this and I *will* be okay. Maybe not every day, but most days, I will be okay.

A design for life

When you’re sick and/or disabled every single day is a hurdle you have to jump over just to get to the next hurdle. Welfare is meant, at it’s most basic level, to protect us from poverty. It is for food, warmth and shelter. Ideally, It is also meant to make our life easier. To pay for the medication that we need to take in order to stay alive. To pay for the extra care we need. To help us fund multiple hospital visits. To give mobility to those of us that are able to drive, and to pay for taxi’s/trains for those of us who can’t.

This government wants to demolish this financially support, and with it our independence, health and dignity.

Being poor is not a choice. Being too ill or disabled to work is not a choice. Having to have antipsychotics injected into my arse regularly is NOT A CHOICE. It is not a lifestyle choice, easy way to get out of having to work. People think we don’t work for our benefits but that’s a lie, we fucking work our arses to the bone. We work like Hell not to commit suicide on a weekly basis. We work like Hell to get out of bed every day. We work like Hell to bathe regularly. We work like Hell to eat regularly. We work like Hell to fight off our paranoia and delusions. We work like Hell in therapy, going into every detail of our rape/domestic violence/abusive childhood. Sometimes we have to PAY for that therapy, because whilst all this is happening, the NHS is also being dismantled. We work like Hell to survive. I’m sorry I can’t hold down a job, Dave, I’m just too busy trying not to kill myself.

The government wants us to work or die, without giving a flying fuck which way we go. We can sign petitions but we need your help, we need the voice of all humanity (if it still exists) to say this isn’t fair. To strike back even if it doesn’t effect you. We need you to shout for us, to shout with us, because we are fucking drowning,

A design for life

EDAW 2016

If you saw me now, you probably wouldn’t believe I ever had a problem with food. But for me, every day and every meal can still be a battle.

I started to develop an Eating Disorder around the age of fourteen, although I had been unhappy with my weight for most of my childhood. It started with the small things, like skipping lunch at school or eating less fat. But soon it became all consuming. I was losing weight, and losing weight became something I was good at. I was good at hiding it, too. I was a brilliant liar.

During my final year at school, I became severely anorexic. I limited myself to one low calorie meal a day, exercised loads and weighed and recorded myself obsessively. I did really badly in my A Levels (in hindsight I can see that it was because I had stopped feeding my brain) and that pushed me to rock bottom. The feelings of inadequacy took hold. I felt like a failure and that fuelled my illness into being something I was successful at. I started to push the Anorexia further and as I did so, my family started to get concerned. Their daughter/sister/aunt was starving to death and they couldn’t do a thing to stop it.  I was taken to the GP against my will, who referred me to a psychiatrist, but by this point, the pathetically small meal plan she suggested was too much.

I kept starving myself, I kept lying, my weight plummeted and for an entire month I didn’t eat a thing. Eventually, I was hospitalised and received specialist treatment, but it took several years before I approached any sort of recovery.

What *is* recovery? For me, it was a small spark of a feeling, that maybe life doesn’t have to be all about food and weight, that grew the more I nurtured it. It’s learning to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. It’s about not punishing yourself anymore for the things you can’t change or control. Mostly though, it’s about a lust and love for life. You cannot have a life and an ED. Eventually, you have to choice which one you want more.

I have done some terrible things in the name of my Eating Disorder. I have stolen food and laxatives, I’ve imported illegal diet pills from the States, I have shouted and screamed and lied and deceived.

There is so much stigma and misconceptions surrounding Eating Disorders. The perception that they’re about how you look rather than how you feel. They’re not about that. They’re about control and anxiety. They’re about trying to succeed at something, even if that something is starving to death. They’re about the fears we all have, amplified.

We all need to start seeing Eating Disorders for what they are and what they do to our minds, rather than how they look and what they do to our bodies.

EDAW 2016

Being Borderline

The other night I did a live Twitter ‘thing’ as part of my reaction to BBC’s In The Mind season. I hoped to spread awareness of my own mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD for short.

This was the culmination of the bitterness and anger I have felt over the last couple of months, in which I have been told twice, whilst in ‘crisis’, by two separate mental health professionals that Personality Disorders are not ‘serious mental illnesses’.

So, I took to Facebook and Twitter to vent about how serious ALL mental illnesses are and to try to help put an end to what I have called The Hierarchy of Mental Illness. So much stigma still surrounds Personality Disorders, it’s the huge elephant in the room of mental health. A lot of people simply do not understand.

So, BPD, what’s all that about? Basically it’s a set of nine symptoms, which occur in individuals to varying levels of severity, and in various combinations. To be diagnosed, you must suffer from five of the nine symptoms.

Let’s tackle the diagnostic criteria head on. (Remember, people are INDIVIDUALS and not EXAMPLES!)

1. You feel very worried about people abandoning you, yet you push people away. You find it very hard to trust people.

2. You have intense, unpredictable moods and emotions. Your mood can go from depression to hypomania and back again, usually very rapidly and without warning. Your self-esteem fluctuates accordingly. You can go from feeling invincible and amazing one minutes and completely worthless the next.

3. You don’t have a strong sense of who you are. You are a ‘social chameleon’. You adapt to fit into the situation you’re in. You may find that your goals and ambitions change frequently. Sometimes this results in severe depersonalisation. That’s when you feel like you don’t exist, or you’re in a movie, or you’re ‘spaced out’.

4. You find it very hard to make and keep stable relationships. Often because of past abuse. This can result in idolising someone one day and hating them the next. You may find your relationships with people are very intense and often end quickly.

5. You’re reckless and impulsive and do things that could potentially harm you. Such as excessive spending, binge eating or substance abuse. You take big risks and can get into dangerous situations.

6. You have frequent and severe suicidal ideation and/or you self harm. Often your self harm becomes worse over time because you need to inflict more damage to yourself in order to get the same sense of relief. One in ten people with BPD will successively commit suicide, many more attempt suicide.

7. You feel hollow and empty. Nothing fills you up. You feel intensely lonely.

8. You get very angry. Or, you don’t process your anger properly and ‘blow up’ over small things.

9. You suffer from paranoia, dissociation and psychotic episodes, including hallucinations such as hearing voices.

So, what causes BPD. There are a number of theories, both environmental and genetic, although very often BPD is linked to childhood trauma, such as neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse or losing someone close. The most important thing I can stress is that having a diagnosis of BPD DOES NOT mean that your personality is ‘bad’ or that you are a ‘bad person’. It’s an ILLNESS. An illness that completely destroys you life, your happiness and your ability to function normally. Some people think having BPD makes you manipulative. This is simply not true. You experience real and severe emotional pain, which effects how you behave. You’re desperate and hurting and you don’t have the skills to express this appropriately. Some people say Borderlines are abusive, although to that the above also applies and, contrarily, individuals with BPD are 99% of the time abuse SURVIVORS. It’s really inappropriate to call the abusive when they’re simply hurting and unable to deal or process it effectively.

So, can it be treated? Definitely. It can seem like a life sentence, and to some extent that’s true, but there are definitely treatments out there that can help manage the severity of your symptoms. I can only tell you what has helped me.

The first thing that has helped me is PILLS! Pills are great. I would recommend pills. First of all, antidepressants. Currently, I take 45mg of Mirtazapine and 50mg of Paroxetine. They help ease my depression, my anxiety and my co-morbid OCD. It took me a long time to find the right ADs. I tried pretty much EVERY AD at pretty much EVERY dosage before my brain settled down on this combination. Mood stabilisers are also very helpful. They help control the intense mood swings and impulsivity, currently I take 200mg of Lamictal and it works really well. Finally, anti psychotics can be helpful. I struggle with the psychotic symptoms of BPD much more than the other symptoms, so AP’s have been crucial to keeping me out of hospital. I tried a lot before settling on a depot injection of 75mg of Haldol once a fortnight. I’ve been on this for nearly a year and it has transformed my life. This combination works really well for me (although I still have struggles) and so yes, anyone who says meds don’t help with BPD is an idiot.

Secondly, therapy. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Because BPD is so often caused by painful events in the past & they need processing, and even if there is no trauma, you will need to work to change your thought patterns and regulate your emotions. The ‘go to’ therapy for BPD is called DBT. This is given in both a group and individual setting and works primarily in controlling emotions, mindfulness skills, interpersonal skills and distress tolerance. Personally, I never found it overly helpful but it works really well for a lot of people. For me, ‘talking’ (otherwise known as Psychodynamic) therapy is where the real benefit has been found. This involves ‘opening up’ about your experiences and finding ways of processing them in a way that allows you to grow. However, with any therapy, you have to make a big commitment and often you’re going to feel worse before you feel better. For me, the combination of the right medication and the right therapist have been life saving.

BPD ruined my life, for someone to say it’s not ‘serious’ is idiotic and invalidating. I have taken countless overdoses, self harmed thousands of times, often to the point of needing medical attention, I have hallucinated terrifying visions and voices and had episodes of depression so severe I’ve been unable to get out of bed and I’ve been admitted to psychiatric hospital many times. For someone to invalidate my experiences is downright WRONG. I have fucking SUFFERED, through the childhood abuse and rapes that lead to my illness, to the diagnosis and subsequent mistreatment of the mental health profession.

In writing this, I am hoping that people will be more aware of BapD, and that the stigma that still surrounds it can be shifted.

Being Borderline

Have you ever confused a dream with life?

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported and been kind to me over the last couple of days. It really, truly means a lot to know that I have people behind me. So, thanks.

This is going to be a weird blog, because I don’t normally write when I’m like this and struggling to form coherent thoughts. But I’m going to give it a go.

I guess I should start by saying that I suffer from psychotic episodes. Since my last hospitalisation last February, I have been on antipsychotic depot injections once a fortnight. For about eight months it was brilliant, I improved so much, my auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) virtually stopped. Then, a couple of months ago, I had another episode. Fortunately, I’ve become really good at asking for help. I reach out much, much sooner than I did before because if I don’t, if I ignore it and let it escalate, I would probably be hospitalised again. So, I caught it early, got on a higher dose of my medication and that sorted me out again. Until now.

In the last couple of days, things have become more confused. I start to notice myself living more in my head, of not being able to look people in the eye. My concentration goes. My ability to focus on a task. Even simple things like watching television become extremely difficult.

The voices are repetitive, and I find it very hard to repeat what they say. I’m going to try;

‘The TV is sending you messages. You mustn’t watch it. It can control you.’

‘You need to burn yourself.’

‘Drink cleaning fluid, your insides are dirty.’

‘X is dead, or dying, and it’s your fault.’

‘You have a parasite growing in your brain.’

‘There are bugs under your skin. Cut them out.’

‘Everyone around you is an actor. You are not real. You don’t exist.’

Etc etc etc.

These voices and paranoid thoughts are really distressing. They cause me to feel suicidal. They isolate me. They make me unsure of what is real and what is not. Of what and who I can trust.

Now, I’m not stupid. I know that this episode has been triggered by starting to talk a bit about the abuse, but that realisation doesn’t mean much when everything is so chaotic and frightening and I’m consumed by relentless paranoia. Knowing what causes it is one thing, being able to stop or control it is quite another.

There is a very small window between knowing these thoughts are irrational and false, and 100% believing everything they’re telling you. In that small window of time is when I have to seek help. Because once you start fully believing, and acting on paranoid delusions, you really are in A Bad Place.

I’m trying to keep that window of time open for as long as possible. I contacted the Crisis Team and they’ve agreed to see me tomorrow. I don’t know what the course of action will be. That scares me. But if I don’t act now, then there really is only one place I’m going to end up, and I’m trying my hardest to avoid that.

Have you ever confused a dream with life?