Category Archives: survival

Why do people never believe you when you say you’re crazy?

 

I’m allowed to say I’m crazy. You’re not. Lets start with that.

I keep being told that “you seem so normal” and “you don’t act like there is anything wrong with you”. Obviously, not out of the blue; that would be weird. And kind of offensive. But in the parameters of a conversation whereupon it is acceptable to make that kind of comment.

But the thing is, I am legitimately crazy. And people trying to rationalise my crazy with well meant, but ill informed, intentions with follow up comments such as “but everyone feels like that sometimes” pisses me off….because that’s the difference, everyone feels like it sometimes, but I feel like it all of the time.

I visited with my psychiatrist this week, for the first time in…too long to be frank. I’ve had the odd telephone conversation, where I’ve requested to come off of the antidepressant. Or where they’ve checked in with me because other, unrelated medication, has been added to my concoction. But I’ve not had a sit down, face to face appointment in too long. But last week I reached out and said, I’m not okay. 

Because, I wasn’t. And I am crazy.

In terms of life, I’ve had a hard, so hard, last 12 months. Half of it has been my doing, a quarter down to other people, and the other quarter, well that’s how life works isn’t it. I’m not saying I’ve had it harder than anyone else, not for one second. But for me, as I wrote ages ago, I’ve had my coping mechanisms tested, and some failed. The waltzers were getting faster, and I had no point of reference.  I had no sense of control. I had nothing but the pervasive feeling of dread and fear. I was running to stand still, but running through knee deep mud in the process.

My thoughts were, at best, haphazard, disjointed and never stopping. I couldn’t breathe. I knew everyone was going to see through the facade and to the fraud I am. I had no belief in myself, no confidence. I was paranoid that people that make decisions that affect my life, were lying to me about the decisions they were making, and indeed lying about how they were going to proceed with the decisions they’ve made. I’ve been insecure, in my looks and my personality. I’ve been convinced that everything around me is just stained glass and it’s all going to come shattering down, in the most beautiful but devastating way.

And I’ve had to go to work, family and friends, and have to convince everyone that I’m okay. Clearly, it was succeeding. No one could see the fact I couldn’t use language effectively, in fact just writing this has taken 14 attempts (it tells you when you hover over “status”). No one could see the obsessive thoughts starting. No one else could taste the metallic taste of fear on my tongue. No one else was witnessing the debilitating panic attacks. No one could see my brain calculating all possible exits, real and metaphorical.

And by no one, I include myself in most of that.

But then, in a rare moment of clarity, it did become clear to me. As I peered into a magnification mirror, pen in hand, ready to circle every flaw that was thrown up at me. It dawned on me. I wasn’t okay.  So it wasn’t the obsessing over the washing up (which was noticed and commented on) or the return to nightmares, or the failing of my Everest that prompted me into action. It was one, red biro pen.

And I fucking cried, I cried until my eyes were so sore it felt like I was blinking over sandpaper, my fingers itching to start nipping the tops of my arms until they bruised, my heart breaking because I’d failed. Me. The person who claims to control her illness, was being brought back into the fold by the devil and hadn’t even realised.

Thanks to all that is holy, that a passing cult leader didn’t notice me…..

 

Anyway.

 

I didn’t self harm. What I did was. I made a plan. I stopped avoiding. I called my psychiatrist and booked the appointment. I told my husband. I spoke to uni. I told a friend. I took my own advice and I reached out.

So now, here I sit. Re-referred to talking therapy. So much for 28 and all talked out. Self care plans back in place. Mindfulness being employed again (it’s a way of life and I forgot that).

I had to admit to the shrink, that I had failed. That me, the one who was determined to beat the statistics, had been so cruelly claimed by them. That my personal journey had taken me almost full circle.

And as I sat there, and told the good doctor about the last 12 months. As I poured my heart out, all the dirtiest secrets, my deepest shame….as he wrote it down, to keep forever in my ever growing file…two things happened.

I realised I was a goddamn hypocrite.

And the good doctor pointed out, that some things I was describing, that wasn’t even my illness, it was just me being a twat.

Both helped.

was being a hypocrite. I know what is wrong with me is incurable. I know that was is wrong with me means I need help and support. It means I have to be brave and strong even when I’m scared and weak. I know everything I have to do. I preach it. I breathe it. I live it.

But I’d stopped. I’d gotten so secure and so sure of myself, I’d stopped taking my own advice. I’d stopped being as honest as I had to be.

So here I am, dealing with the thing I hate most. The feeling of failure.

But, to fail, means we’ve succeeded before and we can do again.  So three days past appointment, I might be back at square one. But that’s fine. I know I can get out of this again. This is just a relapse. I will be okay.

And the other thing? It’s always good to be told you’re acting like a twat and you have no excuse, snaps you into being a better person.

 

So here I am. Terrified, tired, mind spinning, unable to utilize language correctly. Dreaming of the worst of the worse. Paranoid that at any minute I’m going to be exposed. Feeling like a fraud.

 

But, as with all things, this too shall pass.

So, here goes battle…..battle god knows what. But it’s still not beaten me.

 

Mental health illness is a cunt of the highest order. And fuck me I’m sick of it. But it’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.

 

And with that, I’m out. Remember, the first step to being okay, is admitting when you’re not.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.