Category Archives: mental

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

 

 

If it’s not the dreams it’s the reality.

Screams rent the stillness of the night. Blackness surrounds, a crushing weight lays on her chest. Wrapped in a prison of sheets, her legs kick as the sweat trickles down her back. The screams stop, the panting begins….on her feet looking for her nearest exit…her mouth tastes of pre-vomit acid, her stomach roiling against the images her mind conjures for her. Memories, half embellished, half true to life…horror movies playing relentlessly whenever she sleeps.
At night, the fears and anxieties she manages to gloss over during the day: they fight back. Whilst she lies sleeping, her conscious mind switches off….none of her defences are there. The armed guards have stood down for the duration. The deflective humour, the scathing sarcasm, the self-deprecation…is all gone. All that is left is her imagination…an imagination that appears to be determined to do what her illness couldn’t: send her insane.
For her dreams, some: they’re just memories. 1080P HD images of her worst times, on an endless loop. Other times; well they’re tricks her own brain plays on her. Her own brain becomes her tormentor (not unlike it is during the day). It plays terrifying fiction videos of half buried bodies down the side of the mountain, each face being someone she loves…Pup 1 …Pup 2….Mum….Sister…and on and on….all the way to the bottom where she’s greeted by a masked man ….. or sometimes, perhaps worse…the dreams….they’re so real she can taste them…and it’s just fear after fear being realised. How many times must she watch her children die?
See, even when I’m sleeping my BPD is against me. Right now, surrounded by trigger after trigger….I’m wondering how I manage to get through it. How I manage to stay one step ahead of the battle and one step ahead of my own mind that is working tirelessly, relentlessly against me. It’s like I’m in a whole other world where I can smell the food….but can’t touch the silver wear.
I fight all the time, especially at the moment…the weather…work…university…everything seems like an uphill fight. I’ll win. I always do. But I can see my behaviours starting to manifest again…keeping exits to my back, or standing in the corner, making hot drinks just for something to occupy my hands, black humour, procrastination…all my little coping mechanisms. And sure they make me odd…but they do something to stem the tide of noise and sensory overload.
Do you know what it’s like to lay in bed with your eyes closed, waiting for sleep and suddenly feel dizzyingly sick as in your mind’s eye your rushing into the back of an articulated lorry and you’ve no way to stop? An adrenaline rush as I lay there doing nothing more than practising mindfulness?
It’s funny really. All my plates are still spinning, yet I can hear them crashing to the ground. The panic is raw in my throat, the blood pounding in my ears…yet still…I’m fine. I’m always fine. Like a swan gliding effortlessly on the surface, beneath it…my feet are paddling madly and my internal GPS system is switched off. I have no homing beacon, so I’ll keep paddling away aimlessly until I happen upon where I’m meant to be. And when I reach there; I’ll take a breath. I’ll stop. I’ll stop to smell the roses.
But in the meantime, my resting bitch face is in situe, I’ll be quiet around people I don’t know, and exuberant with people I do. But all the while my mind is like the waltzers that have been spinning too long and too fast. I’m dizzy and I want to get off.
But as ever this is a journey I’ll never finish, an end I’ll never see. And whilst most of the time, it’s fun and exciting, because hey! Who doesn’t like to be surprised by themselves? At the moment, I’m wading through mud in flip flops.