Category Archives: choice

Can I have a do-over?

Or at least that’s what I text my friend the other day.

These last….six months have been relentless. I haven’t been able to catch my breath from one moment to the next. And that has been exhausting.

For someone who requires stability and routine in order to function from one day to the next….the last few months have left me spinning. My very own waltzers have been increasing in momentum….my homing beacon isn’t only just switched off…it’s in a different universe from what I can tell…my swans wings have been flapping almost as hard as my feet have been paddling and still…..the war of attrition has sucked me back in.

I’ve changed jobs, to one that whilst…requires less hours…it requires much more head space and much more mask wearing. I’m on my own for great swathes of the day. That’s a long time to be with my own thoughts.

My very own Everest has beaten me for now. I could see the summit…and then I slipped back too far to reach it this year.

Childcare has been a nightmare, I get that having kids and going to work was my choice. And I did it for all the right reasons. But its a minefield. And mines are detonating everywhere I turn.

There’s been a bereavement…which I found out about…by accident it would appear. Actually there is no appear about it. That’s exactly how I found out.

I’ve had to meet loads of new people. In fact its a prerequisite of my job – forming relationships. The irony of someone like me having to form and build relationships for a job. That’s hilarious.

And perhaps most concerning….I’ve come off my antidepressant.

Not my anti psychotic. We increased the dose of that and removed the antidepressant. At first it was accidentally. In the maelstrom of changing jobs and all the drama that ensued with the big green kitchen company….I forgot to take it. My sleep didn’t change, I woke up in a good mood….so I ran with it…..

The first month was amazing. Everything was fantastic. No withdrawal….no sleep issues…I was happier and more content…awesome right?

Then the second month happened…the nightmares came back, the insomnia came back. I was so tired I cried in a car park because someone snapped at me…I felt physically ill with exhaustion. My bones hurt. I was so tired….but I just couldn’t sleep….and when I did sleep….back to the beginning…back to the violence of past relationships, back to seeing my girls die before my eyes….back to waking up screaming and drenched in sweat…there was just no respite.

Then the third month came….the nightmares are less. I still dream. I still have exhausting dreams, but the antipsychs are keeping me….well sane I guess. My sleep pattern is some bizarre version of fucked up. I’ll sleep for 10 hours one night and not at all two nights later. I’m assuming it’s just my body trying to work out its own thing….I’ll ride it out. I don’t want to go back on the anti depressants.

Not because I have anything against them….but because…the benefits of not being on them are now outweighing the benefits of taking them. And thats part of taking control of my own health….learning when I need the boost and when I can manage on my own….

But in saying this….it’s not been all bad.

It’s kept me on my voyage of learning who I am.

I swapped jobs to another role within an international company…and I love it. It pushes me, it engages me…this could be a career. So I’m passionate about it….the big green company job is another post entirely. And one I will be writing, and one I will tag them in. Because that was a soulless,destroying company and hell will rain down on the heads of the management before I’m through with them…..

I’ve maintained some good relationships with people I thought I’d lose over the natural course of time. But now it’s like, because we don’t have work binding us together…we have to make the effort….and that’s nice. It’s reinforcing the lack of scarlet in me at the moment.

The bereavement…I genuinely…I don’t care. And thats not my BPD. It sounds horrible, but the woman who died….she hadn’t engaged with me for years prior to that, and her son – my father, well he was no better. So finding out by accident was a bit cruel, but hey….so what?

 

So overall, no I don’t want a do over. I’ve learnt lots about myself in the last 6 months. I’ve learnt how resillient I am. How strong I am. How I can adapt as needed.

I’ve learnt that actually, I really am in control of my BPD. And that, that’s amazing. Thats real progress. I really love some aspects of my mental health illness… I still love the empathy I have because of it. I really love how it means I can help people. I love the way I see sounds and taste words. I’m fascinated by the way my mind works.

 

I hate the way I don’t have that much control over my emotions. So I’ve taught myself to control how I react to my emotions. Thats a life skill, even neurotypical people struggle with.

 

So fuck it, overall…I’m still winning this battle. Or at least…I’m keeping from being overthrown. And for now. That’ll do.

This kid’s not alright.

So young. Sat on a bench, her short legs just hanging there listlessly, unable to reach the ground. But without engergy enough to swing. Her scuffed shoes just there. 

All encompassing, pervading every facet of my being. Darker than the blackest black. The stuff emo kids can only dream off. So thick it’s a relative forcefield around me. Ironically the one thing keeping me together was the same thing that was destroying me.

Loneliness.

Not the kind that a text from a friend, or a smile from a stranger can help stave off. But the kind where you know you’ll never be free of it. The type where you’re surrounded by people, quite literally, but no one can reach you and, most crucially, you can’t reach any one.

It’s only now, in my stronger self, with my new learnt techniques and medication, that I can look back on my darker times and start pinpointing what the emotions I had were.  I can identify fear well now, that was an emotion I only really felt in my mid to late teens, other periods of my  life seem to be conspicuous in the absence of fear. Sadness, I was never sad, I was always…..melancholy. Sad implies a cause and therefore a solution. Acceptance, not from people, or even myself, but acceptance of the way I was/am (interchangeable at times). Etcetera…I felt happy at times…like on journeys with my step dad to watch the football, or getting a good mark on a piece of work I’d really worked on, or when I completed prose that I felt told the story….

I’m painting the picture of a very unhappy child, but I wasn’t. I was certainly grumpy or crabby or mardy. Now it’s pretty obvious that actually it could have all been avoided pretty easily.

No, I wasn’t unhappy. That darkness I was speaking of? That’s loneliness.

It is only with time and hindsight I have learnt that. It’s still something I battle with now. Which is tedious given the fact from the minute I wake til the minute I sleep I’m with people. And even when asleep, I’m not alone. I’ve got the good old night mares to keep me company.

We all know my back story, I’m 27, had 5 different psychiatrists, 6 different counsellors, 3 psychologists, 2 overdoses, 5 different anti-depressants, 2 anti-anxiety drugs, and now a lovely cocktail of happy pills and none crazy pills, 4 diagnosis’ (Depression, General Anxiety Disorder, Chronic  Anxiety and now Borderline Personality disorder with an addition of dissociative and schizophrenia behaviours thrown in for good measure).

So what does that have to do with the price of fish?

Simple really. As a child, I couldn’t name my emotions. I didn’t understand them. Even now as an adult, I have to focus to see what the cause behind the emotion is. I mean, happiness is easy to determine, as is melancholy. But anything beyond those two, well thats harder. I feel anger, immense anger. But only temporarily, very fleetingly. The only emotions that seem to take hold and stay are loneliness and melancholy.

But admitting to that, isn’t allowed. How can I be lonely when I’m married and surrounded by friends?

Well I’ve figured it out now.

How can you not be lonely, when you don’t like being alone?

Which sounds absurd, because I love alone time. But never silence. I can’t sit in silence. Which is difficult, because too much noise overstimulates me and makes me cranky. But when I’m alone, I have to have music. Always music. It acts as a dampener to my thoughts. I can’t think too much when I’m concentrating on lyrics can I?

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Loads of people can identify with the feeling of being alone when at a party.

My problem is, I can’t take being alone for what it is.

I have to over analyse. I have to over think. The ball of neuroris that is my brain can’t tolerate too long without input from other sources. Otherwise it takes off at a tangent and colours everything green.

Remember, everything has a taste, colour or sound. Thursdays taste of bacon, my teeth itch, lonliness is green.

Back to that kid. That young girl on the bench in her playground. She was eight. Eight. One year younger than my eldest is now. I still remember it. Clearly. As if it was frozen in time, an image I get to replay every day. That young kid. She wanted it all to stop. All to go away.  Her heart hurt, her brain hurt. All she wanted was for it to stop. To stop and end for ever ever.

See, I’ve been battling this for longer than I can’t remember.

I’m okay now. But acutely aware of the fact I’m still in this war of attrition. Knowing that I’m only okay because my medication stop me being anything else. Knowing that too long without the tablets and it all comes back. Knowing that I still don’t have the energy to fight it again. Not yet. I don’t think I ever will.

I don’t have the energy to fight and still be a good mother. To fight and still be a good friend. A good wife. A good person.

But that’s fine. At least I’m honest about my crutch. I’m honest that I need the pills. I’m all talked out. All lessons learnt. All opposing thoughts done. I’ve done the years of therapy, and psychiatry. Time served. I’ve spent over half my life in therapy. Therapy can’t change who I am.

And I am that neurotic mess who hides behind a face of makeup, hard walls, sarcasm and apathy. I am that person who will say something cutting just because she can. I am that person who will always be there for my friends. I am that person who will burst into tears because her hot bread has been toasted too much. I am that person who will learn, learn and learn some more. I will set myself unachievable targets and hate myself for failing. I will always be my harshest critic. I will always be battling my own brain.

Because I have no choice. I can’t be anything but who I am. I can’t be that happy, easy going person I want to be. I can’t wake up in a good mood when I’m coming round from a drug induced sleep. I can’t be that person who always has a kind word. I can’t be that person that other people gravitate to, because she makes them feel good.

 

I’ll forever be that person, that makes most people feel slightly uncomfortable, despite them not even knowing why. I’ll forever be that person who’s more spikey than cuddly. I’ll always be that person, who people think is joking because no one can be that mean.

But, I’ll also always be that person, who is the first to help. The first to offer solace and comfort. The first to empathise. The first, and last, to stop caring.

Me and my resting bitch face, may be unapproachable. We may make people feel uncomfortable.

 

But, something I’ve learnt over the years? That’s usually because in me, they see parts of themselves they don’t like. They see in me, the chance of the battle they will have to face. And no one likes that. No one wants to admit that mental health illness can, and will, attack anyone. They want to think its only the weak. It’s only the lazy.

.

And in me, they see that unfortunately, its indiscriminate. It will take anyone it desires. It will render even the strongest, warmest, move loving of people. And turn them into a shell. It will make them feel that lonliness I live with. It will make them feel like no one around them wants them or needs them. It will twist your own brain so much you can’t trust it. So by extension, you don’t trust anyone.

 

 

Oh. And I’m a total bitch…..

BPD and me…my new realisations.

I appear to be writing more frequently about my BPD at the minute. I’m not having a relapse, but I am acutely aware of it at the moment.

I’m tentatively telling people about it again. Mainly because I’ve been seeing flashes of the scarlet me coming through. But also, because every so often I gain a new level of insight. It’s like all the time my subconscious is working on it, trying to unravel the thread and help me. Help me to know just exactly what is going on inside my head.

Recently I became aware of how even missing a single dose of quetiapine will spark my absurd behaviours and brain whimsy.

My BPD causes me to suffer with dissociation. This means that I have a constant “out of body” experience on my life. Like I’m looking down on whats going on, but I’m not really there. The quetiapine and mirtazpine mean that for the last 18 months that hasn’t happened. Well. Not as bad as it was. See, I have great swathes of my life that I don’t really remember. The mundane things, the day trips to castles, the grocery shopping, passing my driving test….these things happened through a curtain. I could see, smell and taste. But I couldn’t engage properly. It means my recollection of these things is hazy. It’s why I’m in the habit of documenting life through photographs.

My grasp on what I actually look like hasn’t improved. I’m still surprised when I look in the mirror. I still see my self as that ugly sewer rat. I’m sure other people do too. I know, logically, that I’m perfectly average looking. But I can’t believe that. So I cover up the insecurity and low self esteem with makeup and bravado. It’s a tool in my armoury that gets me through.

My paranoia is at an all time low. Unless I miss a dose of the Quetiapine. Luckily, I have a close friend I can rely on to give it to me straight. She soon tells me if my reaction to a situation is within normal parameters or not.

My control over my emotions…well. I’m there. I’ve grasped it sort of. I know how to present a neutral face. I’m still the swan paddling furiously, serene to everyone but hectic underneath, and I still don’t have a homing beacon. But I’ve learnt to put a facade on. “If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. I get described as “cold”. Which I’m fine with. I’m not. I’m about the most loving, spirited person I know. I’m legitimately batshit mental, I laugh so hard I cry, I get so angry I can’t see, I love so hard my heart hurts. But each, and every single time. “Are you ok” or variations there of, always, without fail get answered with “yeah I’m good thanks”. Because, not only do people not want the legitimate answer, but I don’t know how to give it. How do you respond to “are you ok” with “I’m seeing and tasting words, my thoughts are too loud and I’m over stimulated” which is what my “Im good thanks” translates to. You can’t. You can’t give people that answer.

Which brings me nicely to … yes, I still see words. I still taste them. I see sounds…not in the cool way with colours, but in shapes and patterns. Remember old alacetel phones? The ring tones on them were little red cuboids with rounded corners. Thursday still tastes of bacon.

My self esteem is largely the same. I still use bluff and bluster to get me through most situations. I have a telephone voice I use with nearly everyone. I still ignore most phonecalls. And most social situations. Unless it’s a random spur of the thing. I just can’t handle it.

So have I really come that far in two years? If I still avoid situations? If I still wake up screaming in the night? If I still feel like I’m on the waltzers and want to get off? If I still question everything…why did they say that, why did they look at me like that, are they laughing at me, what do they want from me? I still lie in bed and feel like the words in my thoughts are too loud  and too bright…like I’m hurtling head first into the back of a truck.

I have. I’ve come a long way. I’ve had a job for the last 18months, I’ve maintained a couple of friendships, I’ve helped people. I’ve been good and kind, just because I can. Not because I know it’s the normal thing to do. I’ve stopped getting stuck in the memories that I wish I could rip out of my mind and pour bleach onto.

But I’ve also become quite numb. Things that should devastate me…well I can switch off to them. That’s brilliant. I don’t obsess over the negative now. I’ve learnt that my emotions are fleeting. And something that hurts in that second, well, in the next second I’ll probably have moved on from it. Because thats what I do. Ultimately, afterall, BPD is defined by being unable to regulate emotions. Now I’ve learnt thats why I can’t…I’ve stopped hating myself for it. And instead I’ve educated myself on suitable responses to normal , everyday situations.

Have I forgiven the people that have contributed to making me this way? No. I never will. Have I forgotten them? No. Does it consume me still? No.

 

And thats that. That’s why whilst it doesn’t seem like I’ve come far…I have. I’ve come miles. I’m still on a journey with no destination….but now the journey isn’t horrible

 

 

Why I am who I am and not who I’m not.

It’s been a while since I posted. As ever, life took over. University, work, children….all take over and I get caught playing catch up with little time to think of posting or anything else.

But recently, I’ve felt more and more compelled to. I fought the urge for a while, wanting to be able to define where the desire to write about my mental health was coming from. Now I think I know.

Recently, I’ve watched two close friends struggle with their mental health. Quite run of the mill disorders (not saying they aren’t as bad, just emphasising for a reason). Both of them resisted treatment and help.

As usual my trusted line came out. You’d go to to the doctor for an ear infection, why not a mental health problem? Both of them went. And I’ve full faith that both of them will recover and become well again. I’ve talked with them, one at length, about how important self care is. How we need to put plans in place to help us recover, and remain recovered. Explaining that I see mental health like cancer, you’re in remission, but it’s never truly gone.

My own mental health is holding up strongly. The medication is keeping me nice and even and my moods are stable.

So why am I here now? Because I want to explain why I’m proud of myself. Why I allow my BPD to define me.

 

See, for years I struggled with my illness, before it was diagnosed and after. I felt ashamed. Like I had a big secret, that people would turn against me for. Then I stood up, squared my shoulders and took control.

BPD, causes extreme ranges in emotion, massive insecurity, paranoia, to name but a few things. Without my medication I can’t trust my own brain. I become my own worst enemy, and hurt people around me and systematically and wholly destroy who I am. The scarlet shows through the beige.

So now, every night before bed. I take three little pills. Sleep soundly and know I’m probably going to be crabby when I wake up. A small price to pay to keep me in remission.

 

I’m proud of where I am, of how much I’ve achieved. Even now I still want to cut my losses and run. I want to throw in the towel with university, thinking I’ll expose myself as a fraud. I’m just not intelligent enough for a degree. Thats my biggest thing. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever attempted. It’s my Everest. I won’t quit. I’ll keep going. Keep plugging away. Keep studying too late, and pushing myself harder and harder until I’ve done it though. It’s becoming integral to my well-being. If I fail at this…..well then I hope my coping mechanisms are strong enough to keep me well…

My BPD is on my shoulder and in my ear though, whispering lunatic ramblings about how I’m not good enough, how I’m just winging it, how everyone is laughing behind their hands at “poor old Beth, thinks she can actually do it”. I ignore her you know. I ignore the bitch on my shoulder.

 

So why do I let it define me? Because it IS me. I don’t know who I am without it. And I don’t want to. Because BPD also brings me empathy, understanding, compassion. It brings me loyalty. Even in my darkest of times she’s been there. Ironically, she’s put me there to begin with after all.

BPD is my longest standing friend and enemy. She colours my thoughts, my tastes, my words. She clouds my outlook, which pushes me to look deeper in to things. Pushes me to further my knowledge.

 

Also, because it’s lead me to this point. After years of struggling, it’s given me the experience and tools I need to help others. It’s driven me into studying a subject that will get me to be able to professionaly help people. It’s gotten me to a stage where my friends can open up to me.

Which, from my own experience. I know is invaluable. When I needed someone, no one was around that could understand my random witterings, my catastrophising. No one could understand why I woke up screaming in the night. Or why I’d watch the same show or film on repeat for 12 hours at a time.

 

But it allows me to be there for people and to help them in the way I need it.

 

So yes. BPD defines me. It’s a massive part of me. So fuck you to the people that don’t understand me. And to anyone that needs a helping hand, a sympathising ear….I’m here. Help is out there.

 

You’re not alone now, and never will you be.

Are women the worst thing to happen to women’s rights?

I ask this after a few weeks of perusing the internet and seeing some of the most sexist and painful remarks I’ve seen in a long time.

Mothers who turn themselves into martyrs because they’ve had children. Women who slag off other women for going out to work with children at home. Women who bitch and back stab another woman just because of the way they do something.

Is that why men seem to get along better in life? Because they accept and acknowledge that having children isn’t a reason to stop being a person with their own desires, loves, hobbies? Because they don’t bitch and moan and whine about pointless crap?

A quick look on mumsnet/netmums/ukbride etc etc (all predominantly female based) will soon show you that women seem to be their own worst enemy.

It’s starting to feel to me like true, unilateral, equality isn’t happening  because women won’t let it? And are in many cases sexist towards men?

I can read 100 times in an hour about how someones partner/husband/cocklodger has forgotten their birthday/locked them out the house because they got too drunk/generally been a bit of a tit (I’m NOT talking about domestic abuse hear, just lackadaisical attitudes) and the first thing out of fellow forumites mouths (fingers?) is “lose the bastard” “he’s abusive” “aw he’s just a man”…..How is that furthering equality?

We “let men get away with” many things: forgetting birthdays (and then leaving it up to their partners) (a headnod to a certain person in my life!) not getting the kids ready before they go out somewhere, sulks, moods, inane hobbies etc, instead of just saying “oi! you over there, we’re going out, lets get the kids ready”

We seem to be perpetuating the cycle of near equality but not full eqaulity by just allowing ourselves to take on the full burden of house hold tasks and chores, kids stuff , family stuff. And then we’re “grateful” when they take the kids out for an hour…why do do this? (I’m one of the mums who has a husband who is hands on with the kids, at weekends its 50-50 predominantly so I’m not slating my husband here!)

We accept less than adequate support in terms of family life, friends say to friends “oh you’re so lucky he cooks for you sometimes” …why? how is that lucky? Surely if you both work full time hours, you take it in turns to cook? It’s not lucky its common fucking decency. 

How can we claim we want equality but do nothing to further the cause in our immediate personal lives? Sure there is a glass ceiling in place, even more so if you take time out of your career to have children, but there is no hope of that shattering in its entirety whilst we treat men like infants/accept paltry offerings of “domestic support”. Sure equality on a grand scale can now only be achieved by accepting nothing less than equality in our own homes? Which includes women not belittling men (they can look after baby just as well as you, or remember birthdays too) and demanding … more. More support, help, understanding, co-operation.

We reap what we sow after all.

So instead of moaning to your friends of how he’s forgotten your birthday and how hurt you are, why not just remind him a couple of weeks in advance and then if he forgets just tell him how it made you feel…instead of slagging him off and belittling him.

Instead of being a martyr and doing all the domestic chores and getting stroppy about it or feeling put upon, sit down and write a rota with him, or tell him to get up and help.

I guess my point is, if we want equality on a broad spectrum (in work, home, politics, etc) we first need to demand it from the men nearest and dearest to us. And in turn offer them what you want to receive.

I can’t help but feel people have lost the way a little bit and are too busy shouting “omg all men are cunts” to just go “that’s not acceptable. sort it out by doing x y or z” ….

Don’t forget, even those without children usually have a role to play in a childs life, so we should model for them what we want. I want equality, so in my house we have it. There for our daughters see it and accept it as normal, so won’t accept any less, if we had sons it would be the same way, so when they grow up they’ll be contributing to gender equality.

I know I’ve rambled a bit, but I think people have forgotten the first part in sexual equality is respect and choice. You can choose whether to accept sexism through apathy, ignorance, and giving it back (reverse sexism is a thing!) or you can choose to exercise your right to respect and equality by design.

It’s that time of year….how to get through it?

And so the season of enforced socialisation and merriment has rolled around again.

And there is a reason this is a difficult time of year for many, not just the depressed and the psychologically ill. We return home to our families, are put in situations which many find difficult and drink liquid depression and eat way to much.

Don’t get me wrong I absolutely love and adore Christmas and all it brings. But there are parts that I do find unendurable, and in past years have just dreaded. Luckily now as an adult I am in control of what Christmas entails, and I can partake (or not) as much as I want. But this isn’t about my love of tat and adorning my house with a large plastic plant covered in garish colours, gorging guilt free on chocolate and free things, this is about how to get through what is one large, glittered trigger. And get through with good grace and love for those I surround myself with.

So to any one who may stumble over this. Here’s to an action plan!

Firstly, if returning home to the family is one that fills you with dread, or even just a mild anxiety, then youre probably just like countless others. Returning home to the family is a misnomer. Look at is as visiting relations. There is this societal view that home is where we grew up surrounded by people attached to us by no more than shared genetics. I know for me, home is not where I grew up. Where I grew up is a place filled with unhappy memories, where I felt alone, its a permanent reminder of many things I’d rather forget. Home to me, is where my children, husband and friends are. So try this: accept that your family are your friends, not the people who you share DNA with. I have first hand experience of knowing that blood actually means sweet fuck all in the reality of life. Family should be the people with whom we share our joy and sadness, our fear and hope, and all those other emotions. Not the people who we are told they are. So your family are actually your friends, maybe even some of your bloodline. So in essence, your family are the people you choose to have around you, not the people whom you occasionally call out of duty, not out of choice. Home is where you are happy and secure. Where you feel you belong.

Secondly, don’t feel you have to partake in anything you don’t want to. For me personally, I don’t want to drink to excess, or have forced jollity, or watch crap t.v. I want to drink as and when I choose (this has been an issue in the past with people thinking I was being unsociable by not partaking) enjoy the bits I choose to (cooking for my family, presents with the children, cuddles with husband), seeing the family at times I choose for example, and watch good t.v (hello black mirror!) So decide what you want to do, and do it. Even if it’s just for half an hour a day, even just 30 minutes of doing what you want will help you keep a grasp on a good mental state. If that half an hour is just sitting in a dark room on your own thats OK!

Thirdly, look after yourself. This time of year we eat too much, of unhealthy food, sleep brokenly and too little and skip our routine. I know for me this is the hardest bit. I don’t cope with change or with broken routine. So I’m going to keep some routine. Just the bits I know I can manage, I’m going to take time to do my make up, I’m going to listen to music, paint my nails and eat something healthy at some point. This will help me keep my mind focussed and not drift off into the very very dangerous ether. Look after number 1 (or three in my case!) and take some time out to treat your body and mind well.

Thats it pretty much. Seems simple doesn’t it? But I’m not a qualified person. If times get really hard, contact the samaritans, reach out to someone. Even if just by text or email if you can’t face talking vocally. Don’t feel youre alone or stuck doing things you don’t want to do. You’re allowed to say no, and you’re allowed to not feel guilty.

Take care of yourselves. Be kind to yourself. And if you have to do something you really don’t want to do, to preserve the feelings of someone you genuinely care about, when it’s done come back and be extra kind to yourself and reach out to someone.