Category Archives: Psychology

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.

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.

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.

Grab your whips, grab your chains…its HERE!

And so the countdown has begun. It’s T minus 4 days until the release of the eagerly awaited release of the first of the 50 Shades films. With the date looming ever closer we are being subjected to :Hilarious Memo”. from some companies, and also pleas from :;Womens Aid”. for us to reject the films and the books.

And that naturally leads to me blogging about it!

From the opposition we have the argument that the books portray an abusive (sexually, physically, mentally, financially and verbally) relationship. And that reading it and watching it endorses the  view that this type of relationship is OK. They’re also worried about the impact this could have on viewers, it could be triggering, it could encourage them to stay in abusive relationships (a blockbuster says that what they’re darling partner is doing is fine and normal!), could reaffirm the abusers belief that they’re right, or that maybe young people with less experience could deem this as a normal relationship. It’s understandable why the advocates of Womans Rights movements, and women refuges are claiming these things. Really it is. It’s their job to be concerned. And out of context yes the relationship is abusive. And the first time I read the books I was appalled at what I was reading. (Quite aside from the appalling repetition and grammar!) Out of context whipping your partner is not okay, calling them names is not okay, choosing their clothes is not okay.

So to clarify, as individual items, not in the context of the book, yes it’s abusive. No its not Okay. If you feel you may, or a loved one may, be experiencing an abusive relationship please see the links at the bottom.

But here’s the clincher.

In context? They’re typical of BDSM relationships. The leading lady entered the relationship knowing what parameters she would be accepting, and chose, of her own volition with no undue coercion used, to enter into a relationship of this nature.
Wiki’s take on BDSM. And you must remember, that she used the safe word, and the safe word worked.

Now I have two strong processes of thought on this. So firstly, lets take the stance that watching these films could lead to what Womens Aid and many others have said is possibly going to happen.

Firstly, there is no evidence to support this idea. And there has been ongoing research into the effect of films/videogames/books on people and their actions. Whilst it could be linked, in the general population of neurotypical adolescents and adults whom fall within a typical IQ range, the results of psychological testing show that actually….its inconclusive as to whether exposure to this nature of thing leads people to act in that way. Done. Dusted. End of discussion no?

Because by this merit, playing GTA would increase your likelihood of killing prostitutes, or watching documentaries on war are more likely to make your warhungry. This just isn’t the case. Some people are predetermined to have that mindset. There just isn’t enough evidence to prove (or in fairness disprove) the theory.

So by extension, reading the books or watching the films isn’t more/less likely to make you an abuser or become a victim of abuse.

Furthermore, no one has only the books and the films as their sphere of reference. They have friends, family, colleagues, teachers, books, t.v shows etcetc all of which helps shape their understanding of how relationships should work. So to claim that one film will undo everything else these people know to be accurate, is to make the film more than it is.

Simalirly, I can’t help but think that to think that, is to also imply there is some blame on the victim for being abused. That somehow they’re making a choice to stay in an abusive relationship, despite knowing it’s bad for them, because some stranger who can barely write from America deems abusive relationships to be okay. That’s victim blaming, dangerous and wrong. I can’t marry the two in my mind, “it’s never the victims fault” to “watching this film will make the victim think its okay and normal” if a victim thinks what they’re experiencing is okay and normal, I’d lay my last penny on the fact it’s because they’ve been brainwashed over a long period of time to think so (even as far back as formative years, relationships we witness shape the type of relationships we will go on to have).

To finish that particular thought process, I can’t help but think that people are quite happily ignoring the fact that all the way through Ana is choosing to be in the relationship. Of her own free will. He told her he wasn’t right for her, he gave her written conditions and clauses, in the form of a contract, as to what the relationship will entail. In my experience, that isn’t how abusive relationships work. So that’s very far removed from the reality of abusive relationships.

So like I say, in context it’s not abusive. Out of context it is abusive.

My other thought process?

The book is fiction, it’s fantasy.  Simple.

And the chances of ever meeting a real life Mr Grey is slim to none. There just aren’t that many playboy billionaires swanning around falling head over heals with virgins. There just aren’t.

People don’t like the book because of the BDSM content. They like the romance (who doesn’t want to be spoilt and worshipped? Really?!) the fantasy. When they’re thinking of Mr Grey they aren’t thinking of his controlling possessiveness. They’re thinking of the way he cherishes her, loves her, spoils her. They’re thinking of what life would be like to just that rich.

So to say people can’t separate fantasy from reality is to call them dumb. And that’s just not cool. People can, and do, do this every day.

Would I be comfortable with my 14yr old cousin seeing this? Eh, depends how graphic the sex scenes are. I don’t really want to think of her growing up tbh. Makes me feel old. My one and only concern, is of her seeing a *whisper* penis. Not of her seeing the rest of it. Because I have the confidence in her, and most “vulnerable” people being able to establish what is and isn’t okay. As it is she’s too young, so she’d better wait a year 😉

So in conclusion? People are smart enough to not think the film means abuse is okay.

Now those links:

If you think you are, or someone you love, may be being abused in ANY way please seek help using one of the links, talk to some one. There is help there for those who need it.

http://www.freedomprogramme.co.uk/

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/?gclid=CK_F9Mqk2MMCFQXnwgodcHwANw

http://www.refuge.org.uk/

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm

and for the men

http://www.mankind.org.uk/