The curse of borderline personality disorder

The curse of borderline personality disorder

From the day I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, I have felt my life slipping out of my hands. The more I read about my illness, the more distressed I get. I have been experienced suicidal ideation since before I was teenager and as soon as I reached the point where I was willing to accept help and consider staying alive as a viable option, I get given a diagnosis that has given me very little but slammed door after slammed door in my face.

It doesn’t seem fair that I have been suffering for such a long time, that I had all the supposed ‘best years of life’ taken away from me, and all I get in return is the confirmation of what I have always thought: I am a bad person, this is my fault, and I have to ‘take responsibility’ and deal with it.

I understand that professionals fear PD patients. They fear the almost inevitable failure of treatment. They are uncertain. PD patients are difficult. But the attitude that patients often get faced with is so devoid of the kindness and understanding needed that it reinforces the problem itself.

Here’s what I know about my mental health:

  • I feel awful, all the time.
  • I can’t reach out to anyone to tell them how awful I feel because I feel like I’ll either a) annoy them, or b) come across as ‘attention seeking’.
  • I constantly feel guilty and ashamed.
  • What might seem like just a bit an off comment or a funny look to someone else, will have me crying behind closed doors.
  • I feel like people are talking about me, in a bad way, all the time.
  • I don’t really know who I am and I can’t remember what my own face looks like without looking in the mirror. I have very little attachment to actual pictures of me.
  • My memories don’t feel like my own.
  • I self-harm in many different ways.
  • I am scared to die but being alive is painful and exhausting and I feel like this illness is eventually going to just take me because I am weak and I can’t cope with it.
  • I have been suffering for a long time.

What mental health professionals seem to think about me in relation to my diagnosis of a personality disorder:

  • That I can’t possibly actually want to die, I’m just doing it for attention, that my brain hasn’t processed what dying actually is and I don’t ‘mean it’.
  • That I must be manipulative and deceitful in some way, especially as I am at a top university and I have always achieved good grades.
  • That I am hysterical and aren’t able to understanding how I’m feeling. This is quite the opposite, as I have pretty good insight into my own struggles.
  • That they can’t really help me.

I don’t want much from mental health professionals. More than anything, kindness goes a long way. Believing me, listening to me. Stepping away from the diagnosis and treating me as a person rather than a bundle of stigma that is still utterly embedded even into the professional mental health system. I just want to be told that it’s not my fault, that things get better, that the traumatic roots of my illness are valid, that I deserve help.

Sufferers of BPD are vulnerable. We are our own worst enemies. Everyday is so, so difficult.

Six years of fighting depression

Six years of fighting depression

Thirteen

Depression for me started off as a realisation that everything in my life was fragile. That everyone was going to die, everyone was eventually going to leave in some way. That there’s no ‘happy ending’, no magic reunions. That we have this one life and horrible things happen to good people for absolutely no reason and that there’s nothing I can do to protect the people who I love from the bleakness of our own existence.

Fourteen

And then, the question why. Why am I here? Why do I have to stay here? I suddenly start thinking that actually, I don’t want to be alive, and actually, I want to do something about it. A body that doesn’t feel like mine, a mind that convinces me that it’s always going to be like this. The constant guilt that I deserved what happened to me. The nagging voice in the back of my head saying there’s no other way. Sitting in a Physics lesson dreaming about suicide.

Fifteen

The isolation. Minimise the casualties in the havoc that I felt was coming. Build my walls up so high that nobody can ever get in again. I don’t want to be better. I hate myself for still being here. Suddenly, the self-harm that has slowly spread across my body is no longer enough. I can’t withstand the thoughts anymore. And then suddenly I’m fifteen and I’m being rushed to the emergency department and having my insides pumped when I should be hanging out over the park or whatever it was that normal teenagers got up to that I never did.

Sixteen

A blur. Flashing blue lights and empty medicine cabinets and blood everywhere. My boyfriend screaming at me that I’m not only ruining my own life but I’m also ruining his and he can’t take it anymore. Awkward silences in waiting rooms full of other kids with those vacant eyes and heavy hearts. Breaking things and running away. Fighting to live vs. fighting to die. Crying myself to sleep every single night. Wondering how on earth things ever got like this when I had so much ‘promise’ as a kid.

Seventeen

Being so close to death that I can actually feel it. All willingness to live leaving my body. Complete peacefulness washing over me. And then, the anger. The anger of still being alive. Of being forced to stay. Anger with myself for not even being good enough at this one thing that could set me free. Mental health act assessments and being restrained by sweaty members of staff and being sedated and waking up in the middle of the night into a panic attack because for a moment you forgot that you must have two members of staff sat by your bedside in case you try to kill yourself. Again. Sometimes I feel like I might actually be dead and I’m just stuck in hell.

Eighteen

Acceptance for the first time in my life. That I’m unwell, that I have depression, that I’m young and I have things to live for. It’s always there, under the surface, but I’m resisting it. I take my medication, go to my appointments, try to tell myself that it’s alright to stay. Sometimes it snaps and all I want to do is just disappear. I get to university and it isn’t what I thought it would be. I didn’t make friends straight away. People aren’t as understanding about mental health as the friends that knew me ‘before’ were. I still feel lonely and I end up hurting myself worse than ever before and being dragged back into hospital but also falling in love and meeting my best friend in the entire world and having those nights where I just feel so fucking alive. I feel electric.

Nineteen

I still have depression. I struggle with it everyday, more than anyone probably knows. I think about suicide a lot and I dwell on shit that I need to let go and I make silly mistakes a lot of the time because I have this horrific attitude of ‘I’m not going to be around that much longer anyway’. I cry because this isn’t how things should be in ‘recovery’ and I cry because other people can’t deal with my illness, and I cry because I am just hurting all the fucking time.

But I’m more than depression, and I’m not going anywhere. No matter how hard things get, I’m still breathing and I’m still surviving, and I’m still fighting. I’m a daughter, a sister, a grand-daughter, a niece, a cousin, a friend. I’m someone’s first kiss, someone’s first love, someone who is integral to the memories of all the lives I’ve been involved with. And there are so many things I am and am yet to be, but lost to suicide is not one of them.

 

Breaking the attachment

Breaking the attachment

‘It’s not that you’re not a lovely person, you’re just very intense’ 

‘You can’t be messaging me constantly. You need to move on’ 

‘I’m sorry. You’re just not the kind of person anyone would have a stable relationship with’ 

Clingy. Needy. Dramatic. Emotional. Embarrassing. Obsessive. Crazy. Since I was 13 I’ve been called all of these names. My ‘love life’ (or rather, absence of it) has been defined by a series of debilitating attachments to partners who could tolerate me in the short-term, but soon became tired of my struggle to control my mental health issues.

It’s difficult for me to say this because I don’t fully believe it, but I’m going to say it anyway. This isn’t my fault. 

My adolescent and teenage years have been largely blurred into one fog of severe depression and self-hatred. As a kid, I was bullied for being ‘nerdy’ and unattractive. I had funny round glasses and curly hair and I wore matching clothes with my siblings literally until I was in secondary school. I felt like I was always on the outside of friendship groups, always a squeaky voice trying to get a word in edge ways, and always being elbowed out of the picture.

When I was in Year 5 (so 9 or 10 years old), I started having frequent panic attacks about dying. I would be staring into space and suddenly, for the first time, be so aware of my own mortality. That this was it. That one day it’s going to be nothing. That there’s no back-up plan, and I’m essentially alone. I remember crying in bed with my sister on the lower bunk and me on the top and me saying ‘If there is another life after this, do you think we would ever see each other again?’.

Around this age I also had a close friend who had come to live in Nottingham for a few months whilst his parents worked here. He was from Sweden and he couldn’t speak English very well, and I spent almost all of my time at school with him when he was there. When he left, I was really upset. I realised that I would probably never see him again. I began to worry about when the ‘last time’ I would speak to each of the important people in my life would be.

And then of course, comes the worst parts. The parts that I try not to remember, but sometimes hit me when I’m about to fall asleep, or I’ve just woken up, or I’m walking alone and suddenly my thoughts go into overdrive.

How is it possible to know how to have a healthy relationship, when your whole adult knowledge of ‘love’ has been based on the objectification of your own body?

It would be easy to hate the people who treated me so badly. It would be easy to blame them for what I’ve become. But it would be pointless. From the older ‘boyfriend’ who pressured me into having sex when I hadn’t even started my period and had no idea how sex even worked, to the friends that spread round the school that I was a ‘slag’ for coming to them in distress about this. The casual assault in the classroom with teenage boys putting their hands up my skirt and groping my behind and asking me questions I was too young to know the answers to. A male ‘friend’ slapping my arse whilst doing cross-country, only for the PE teacher to tell me when I’m complained that ‘boys will be boys’. To the person who took advantage and humiliated me whilst I was blind drunk, to those who tried to blackmail me into sending inappropriate pictures, to the random man who followed me home from school three times in a row.

Even now, it’s still happening. And sometimes I’m letting it happen. My body doesn’t feel like mine because for me, it never has been.

And it just means that when someone doesn’t treat me like shit, doesn’t force me into sleeping with them, or turn abusive when I assert my own voice, I find it incredibly difficult to let go. Even when after the ‘honeymoon period’ of a new partner being all lovely, they start turning out like all the others. It’s something I’m working on. I know I deserve better.

My favourite quote of all time is ‘It is both a blessing a curse to feel everything so very deeply’, and I think it describes my attachment issues related to emotionally unstable personality disorder really well. I can get attached to people. It breaks my heart that not everyone in our lives is here to stay. But we all play our part, and this works alongside the revived love I constantly feel towards so many people. Relationships on all levels are complicated for me, but they mean something really important. They mean that I’m not alone and I’m more than a sad story.

 

 

My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning

My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning

I have scars from years of self-harming. I have scars in places that are always covered, I also have scars in other places that are almost impossible to hide. My body is covered in these red, purple, pink lines. Some are fat, some are thin. Some I can remember the exact moment when it happened, others have just disappeared into the blur of an adolescence filled to the brim with depression and self-hatred.

I don’t like having scars. It’s horrible. It isn’t beautiful and it isn’t romantic. It’s a shitty reality of attempting to reclaim my body in the worst possible way. Splitting the skin open to wash everything away, to get back what someone else took from me. To prove that it’s mine to love, but mine to destroy.

Except, it still isn’t mine. It still doesn’t feel like it’s mine. People think that because I have these marks on my skin, they can tell me what to do with my body. That I am suddenly weighed down with this responsibility to cater to everyone else’s expectations. That it’s not socially acceptable for my skin, my skin, to be acknowledged in public. If they don’t see it, they can pretend that it doesn’t exist.

It’s understandably difficult for some people to understand why someone would self-harm. It’s also difficult for those who have struggled, to see the marks on someone else’s skin and be reminded of their own suffering. It’s alright to be upset by scars. It is confusing and distressing to try to comprehend. But it’s not alright to inflict your own upset or confusion right back at someone.

My life isn’t an Instagram post. My body doesn’t come with a trigger warning. I have an illness and these are the marks that my illness have left on me. To cover up or not, it’s my own choice.

The truth about high functioning depression

The truth about high functioning depression

I’m at university. I live away from home. I can cook for myself and wash myself and do most ‘normal’ things. I’m not actively trying to kill myself. So, I guess you could come to the conclusion that at the moment, I have high functioning depression. I am depressed, but I am coping.

The reality is that for me, giving up is the easy part. It’s easy for me to give up, to let go. To take depression and suicidal ideation and everything else by the hand as my old friend. To listen to and feed those thoughts the forefront of my mind, rather than pushing it aside as the nagging little voice at the back of my mind. Because once I drop to a certain point, everything else comes naturally. It is a slippery slope.

Giving in is easy. It’s fighting every single day to hold onto the little life that I have worked so hard for that’s the hard part. Recovery is a greater battle than any relapse I have ever had. It’s exhausting and it’s relentless and it feels like it could slip through my fingers at any second.

I am tired every single hour of the day. Even when I’m happy, even when I’m out with friends, it’s always there. It never goes away. Overthinking one harsh word from someone or taking one tiny little thing as a sign, and I begin to think well, what is the point?

I know in many senses, I’m a lot better than I have been in previous years. But just because I look fine and act fine and even tell other people that I’m fine, doesn’t mean that I actually am fine. Because behind closed doors I’m still thinking about how I could make my death look like an accident so my family wouldn’t hate me for giving in.

I’m giving it all I’ve got, but sometimes I just need to acknowledge the fact that it’s not normal to feel the way that I do, and just because I am coping in some ways doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to cut myself some lack and realise that I have an illness. 

 

Suicide Awareness Month 2017

Suicide Awareness Month 2017

I want to talk about suicide and I want to talk about it now. By the time you’ve clicked on this link and read this sentence, another person in this world will have taken their own life. So many more will be thinking about it. It takes a lot of pain to make the decision that there’s nothing better than death, and it’s a decision that plays on the minds of a staggering amount of people worldwide everyday. It’s a decision that often ends in tragedy.

People think suicide is selfish. I think this is bullshit. ‘Selfish’ suggests that you’re caring about yourself and yourself only. When you’re suicidal, you care about yourself so little that you’re wishing yourself into non-existence. And often, you do care about the other people around you. You care about them so much that you feel like a burden on them, like the best thing would be for you to disappear. How can someone leave their family, leave their friends, leave everything? It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been suicidal, but the fact that these people have and love these things and yet still feel compelled to leave it all behind is so heartbreaking.

It’s thought that over 90% of people who committed suicide had a mental illness. Most will have had some contact with mental health services at some point before their death. Most will probably have felt uncertain about their decision at some point. I believe all of their lives could have been saved.

I asked over 230 people who do or have struggled with suicidal ideation questions about their own experiences. I hope you will find this really insightful and I hope that it can help you to understand it from the inside perspective.

Information about the participants 

  • 70% of the participants were aged between 18 and 25, however 16% of the participants were over 35 and 3% were under the age of 15.
  • The majority of the participants were female, however a number of participants were also gender fluid or non-binary, as well as a number of males.
  • The reason why the survey consisted of so many females is probably because not only is my social media base largely female, but because of social conditioning from an early age, men may be less willing to talk about suicide even when the answers are anonymous. This should be taken into account whilst reading the results of the survey.
  • 86% of participants reported suffering from depression, however most selected having multiple diagnoses. The other three most common illnesses noted were an anxiety disorder, a personality disorder, or an eating disorder. This is in line with what would be expected from a sample of sufferers of mental illness as these illnesses are more common with around 7% of the population suffering from depression.
  • When asked which of their illnesses they thought contributed most to suicidal ideation, the most commonly selected illnesses were depression, borderline personality disorder and PTSD. However, across the board there was variety with perceptions that any mental illness severe or untreated could lead to suicide.

Exposure to suicide

  • 75% of participants informed the survey that they had first become aware of what suicide was when they were under the age of 12. 45% of these were under 10, with 7% of those being under the age of 7. 7% reported not being aware of what suicide was until they were over the age of 15.
  • Common reasons why an individual had been exposed to the idea of suicide included: the media (particularly the news but also TV shows, films, songs and books), the social media website Tumblr, lessons at school and the suicide of someone who the individual knew. A large number of participants commented how they struggled with suicidal thoughts and wanting to die as their first memory associated with suicide.
  • A large number of participants reported having lost someone to suicide. This was in most instances an online friend (39%), a friend (37%), another child at their school (34%), a close friend (25%) and someone met whilst being cared for in inpatient treatment (24%). 21% had lost a member of family to suicide, with 9% having lost a member of immediate family.

How did the loss of this person make you feel?

When asked how they felt after losing someone to suicide, these were some of the answers:

  • Heartbroken and just clinging onto the hope that they’re in a better place.
  • Devastated for their family. 
  • Suicidal – I wanted to be with them and felt ashamed that my attempt had failed. 
  • I felt completely numb and empty. I couldn’t believe they were gone. 
  • Confused because I saw no warning signs and didn’t understand.
  • It broke me but eventually made me want to help others who have been at that point in their lives where they want to give up. 
  • Guilty because I felt like I could have done more. I felt like I was to blame and there was something I could have done to save them. 
  • Shocked and angry that nobody helped them, that services didn’t help them, that people are killing themselves as a way out because mental health services are so awful. 

If you could speak to this person now, what would you say?

  • I love you. Please don’t do it. It gets better.
  • My darling I miss you so much and I’m so sorry.
  • Please speak to me. You’re not alone. 
  • It’s not the answer.
  • I miss you and I love you so much. 
  • You are enough and will get through this pain. We can do it together. 
  • I am so proud of you and you will never understand how much I valued you.
  • I still love you and I always will. 
  • I’m so sorry. I should have done more. 
  • I’d tell them that they have the most beautiful baby girl they never even knew was going to be here. 
  • There’s always something better around the corner. 

Personal experiences of suicidal ideation 

  • Of the 230 participants, 18% were under the age of 10 when they first started getting thoughts about suicide. This really goes to show how CAMHS need to work on early intervention, especially with vulnerable children. This could save lives. 30% were between the age of 11 and 12 and 26% were either 13 or 14. This means that 76% had thought about suicide before they had even gone through puberty.
  • Common reasons listed for first having these thoughts included: bullying, traumatic events, the death of a family member, divorce, sexual abuse, being neglected, figuring out sexuality, difficulties in the home environment and a generally unstable childhood.
  • 90% of participants said that they did not tell anyone when they first started getting these thoughts.

Personal experience of acting on suicidal ideation 

  • 92% of participants had made an attempt to take their own life, with 67% having tried prior to this to tell someone how awful they were feeling and how much they were struggling. Please listen.

Perception of contributing factors towards suicidal ideation 

  1. Severe depression (84%)
  2. Untreated mental illness (74%)
  3. Being bullied or isolated (73%)
  4. Emotional abuse (72%)
  5. Pressure of exams (52%)
  6. Sexual abuse (46%)
  7. The loss of a loved one (40%)
  8. Physical abuse (40%)
  9. One or more psychotic episode (30%)
  10. Adverse effect of mental health medication (29%)
  11. Pressure of work (28%)
  12. Exposure to the suicidal ideation of others (27%)
  13. Financial difficulties (22%)
  14. Misuse of drugs or alcohol (20%)
  15. Parental neglect (19%)
  16. Being unemployed (18%)
  17. Prejudice faced for being in a minority group (13%)

Why did you feel like suicide was your only option?

  • I couldn’t think of anything else.
  • Lack of support from mental health services leading me to think that there was no hope.
  • I lost my best friend and couldn’t cope without her. 
  • I felt no joy in being alive and I felt like it was too hard.
  • I felt like everyone else was better off without me and that I was a burden. 
  • The pain was just too much. 
  • I didn’t know how to kill the mental illness without killing myself.
  • I was so exhausted and tired and I didn’t want to try any longer.
  • I was too scared to continue my life as it was. 
  • I had already lost everything worth living for. 

If professionals were involved after an attempt, what care did they put into place?

  • 80% said that mental health services were involved after they attempted suicide, meaning that 20% did not even have a risk assessment.
  • Many patients said that they were either sectioned or admitted to an inpatient ward informally, however a large number of others commented on how their life was put at risk multiple times before they were taken seriously and admitted. A considerable number of participants said that they received no help after, despite mental health services being involved.
  • Other treatment options were access to the crisis team/home treatment team, a referral to CAMHS or Community Mental Health Services, or being placed on medication.
  • 75% of participants said they had received psychiatric medication as a treatment to help reduce suicidal ideation. This was almost on par with therapy, which 74% had received in some form.
  • 62% of participants were or had been under an outpatient team and 61% had intervention from the crisis team at some point.
  • 57% of participants had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital at some point for their suicidal ideation. 2% said they had never had one appointment with mental health services, despite being in general for an attempt.
  • Participants voted therapy as the most helpful treatment for suicidal ideation, with inpatient treatment second and medication third. Many commented that no treatment so far had been helpful.

Why is there so much stigma against suicide?

  • People don’t understand. 
  • People don’t expect them to succeed.
  • People joke about it all the time. 
  • Because there are so many attempts for every completed so people think it will never work. 
  • They think if you confide in them they you won’t actually do it. 
  • People think that it’s selfish or attention seeking. 
  • They don’t know how to help so they just brush it to the side.
  • They think if you really were suicidal, you would have just done it. 
  • Some use suicide as an empty threat. 
  • From the outside, it often looks like they have nothing to be ‘sad’ about. 
  • Generally people don’t know what to say. 
  • People get confused between non-suicidal self-harm and suicide attempts. 
  • Others are more comfortable believing that no one is capable of taking their own life. 

How have family reacted to your suicidal ideation?

  • They were sad but not surprised. 
  • They were shocked and really angry.
  • My Mum was devastated.
  • They were really confused and kept asking me why. 
  • They were dismissive and almost tried to deny it. They couldn’t believe it. 
  • They called me selfish. 
  • Just went on like normal and pretended that nothing happened. 
  • They didn’t get it because I was high functioning. 
  • My parents threatened to kick me out. 
  • They didn’t know and they still don’t know now. 

How have friends reacted to your suicidal ideation?

  • It really upset them. 
  • Confused, worried, but supportive.
  • They didn’t know and it took me a long time to finally talk about my past.
  • They didn’t know what to do so they just stopped talking and hanging out with me. 
  • I didn’t have any friends at the time. 
  • They felt like I was being a negative influence so their parents kept them away from me. 
  • They seemed upset but also that they didn’t really care because it hadn’t worked.
  • Some blamed themselves and wished they had known how to help. 
  • They thought it was for attention or that I was being over the top. 

What things should you never say to someone who is suicidal?

  • Other people have it worse.
  • Suicide is selfish.
  • Just get over it.
  • Snap out of it.
  • If you wanted to do it you would have done by now.
  • You don’t actually want to die.
  • You have a life other people would be grateful for. 
  • You’re attention seeking. 
  • I would never forgive you if you did that. 

What things have been helpful for you to hear when you have been suicidal?

  • ‘I love you. I’m here for you. It’s going to get better’
  • ‘You’re loved and valued’
  • People listening without judgement. 
  • Others stories who serve as proof that things can get better.
  • ‘You are not alone in this’ 
  • ‘You’re important, please hold on’ 
  • ‘I’ll be here for you no matter what happens. I’m not leaving’ 
  • ‘The feeling will pass. You’re alive and you’re wanted’ 
  • ‘You’re at rock bottom. It only gets better from here’ 

What do you wish that other people understood about being suicidal?

  • Just because I am still here and still alive doesn’t mean I’m not struggling with it everyday. 
  • It’s not selfish and it’s not easy. 
  • It’s not something that you can just get over.
  • I am in so much pain and your ignorance is making it worse.
  • This is the point where I really, really need help. 
  • It’s not all inpatient admissions, it’s being turned away by services because nobody takes you seriously.
  • I don’t necessarily want to die, I’m just tired of living. 
  • Please do not shame me for trying to get the help that I need to stay alive.
  • This is a heavy load to carry around. 
  • It is a symptom of a treatable illness, and I will get better.
  • It isn’t easy and it’s not something that I’ve ever wished for. It’s torture. 
  • You never know what is going on in someone else’s head. 
  • We need help, and reassurance, and support.
  • I am terrified to die, but my illness also makes me terrified to live. 

What warning signs should loved ones look out for?

  1. Actively looking for ways to seriously hurt themselves e.g. stockpiling tablets
  2. Talking about death, both in a negative and a positive way
  3. Becoming increasingly withdrawn from friends and family
  4. Making threats to harm or kill themselves
  5. Complaints of feelings of hopelessness
  6. Lack of concern about the consequences of any actions
  7. Increased self-harm
  8. Losing interest in things previously enjoyed

How do you think that mental health services can help improve care for people who are observed to have suicidal ideation?

  • Support them and check in on them on a regular basis. 
  • Offer them the option of an admission. 
  • Set up support for points of crisis before they actually happen. 
  • Keeping them safe in hospital if there is any uncertainty. 
  • Providing a healthy medium where inpatient assessments are done more thoroughly so that patients aren’t institutionalised to the point where they can’t cope on their own, but also that they aren’t left with no help when they need it the most.
  • Regular support from a key worker. 
  • Having a 24/7 text service as many people struggle to phone crisis teams, or don’t have access to them. 

How do you keep yourself safe now?

  • I realised that my life is important and started actively looking after it. 
  • Keeping myself surrounded by other people. 
  • Using the crisis team as much as I can when I’m struggling. 
  • Distraction techniques.
  • Using PRN medication to calm down. 
  • Keeping regular appointments with services and frequently checking in with my GP. 
  • I try to keep my house a safe place with as little danger objects as possible.
  • Practising self-care routines.
  • Keeping busy so that I don’t have the time or energy to act on these thoughts. 
  • I’ve learned to recognise my own triggers.

And finally. The most important question. What are your reasons for staying alive?

  • My pets.
  • My partner and my family. They don’t deserve to lose me. 
  • Hope for the future.
  • To prove everyone else wrong.
  • To get my degree and carry on making victories against the odds.
  • Christmas, birthdays, nice meals out, nights out. 
  • Because I believe that happiness is waiting for me somewhere. 
  • To not let my little sister grow up without me. 
  • Seeing the sunset/sunrise. 
  • Beautiful views, hot summers, cosy winters, parties, graduation. 
  • Finding my own place on this Earth. 
  • Yummy food I still need to try!
  • I’m not going to let the abusers win. 
  • New reasons of my favourite shows and new books by my favourite authors being released. 
  • To eventually help others. 
  • To carry on learning and growing as a person. 
  • The prospect of so many opportunities.
  • Ice creams, hot tubs, face masks, bath bombs, bubble baths, crappy TV shows… 
  • Belief that things can always get better.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me to put together this post. It’s definitely been the hardest thing I’ve ever put on my blog, and I hope that it is insightful. We need to talk about suicide and we need to pull together to change attitudes and save lives.

If you have been personally affected by suicide or feel distressed, please contact Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 (UK). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving into a new student house

Moving into a new student house

I’m not going to lie. This probably won’t seem like a massive deal to other people. I have moved out of my home in Nottingham, to a different place in the city, into my student house. It’s not far from home and I could get two buses and be back to my parents within an hour.

But it is a big deal for me.

Living in halls last year was a humongous step from being on high observations in a CAMHS PICU for until just a couple of months before I started my degree last September. On the unit, the lowest level of observations I had been on was 5 minutes. 5 minute observations felt like freedom at the time. In the 5 minutes between someone checking me, I could go to the toilet without someone watching. I could wash my hair. I could start tidying my room. For the majority of my admission, I was on 1:1 in all isolated areas (my bedroom, the bathroom, any other rooms with no patients or staff in).

But living in halls was still a very protected space, especially as the Warden and Tutor team knew me very well and understood my mental health issues. The Tutor for my block would come and knock on my door whenever she was on night shift just to check that I was alright. I had regular meetings and there were multiple times where I had to be taken to the emergency department. Luckily, I’m doing a lot better now.

In my new student house, there’s no Warden looking out for me. There will be no professionals checking up on me, nobody reminding me to take my medication. Nobody insisting that I need to be taken to my mental health advisory centre appointments. There could be times (hopefully not many) where the other girls in my house are all away, and I’m home alone. This is a step that I’m taking.

At this moment in time my mental health has never been better. I’m motivated and I’m on the whole, happy. I’m on medication that actually works. I am super excited to get back to university and see my amazing friends and get on with the second year. I am being positive and looking after myself. It’s what I have to do. I see my CPN regularly, I will (try my best to) comply with the university mental health team, and I have access to Crisis/Home Treatment Team if need be.

It’s still scary, but I know that I can do this.

My house is really, really nice and the girls that I am sharing with (some of my close friends) are really lovely. It’s going to be really good to live with girls who all already know each other and get along really well. We all do the same subject so if nothing else, we have that common ground.

Here are my challenges for the next year living in this house:

  • To walk to university. It takes less than half an hour, and there’s no way that I’m paying for bus fare when the student price has just gone up (cheers, NCT).
  • To actually feed myself. When I was living in halls I struggled to use the dining room (anxiety) and struggle going to the shops (anxiety) so I didn’t eat much, lost a lot of weight, and struggled with concentration.
  • To actually take my medication. I don’t know why my brain suddenly convinces itself that taking medication is a Massive Effort™ but it gets me every single time.
  • Not to isolate myself when I’m feeling like shit, because there’s really no excuse. My friends are in the same house, my best friend is a two-minute walk away, my Mum and Dad just a few buses.
  • To try my best to attend university. Last year I kind of got into the pattern of ‘Well, I had a panic attack in that lecture hall’ or ‘That seminar tutor doesn’t like me’ so I just avoided it in the future. I managed to do well last year, but I know that I could have done better had I not been reinforcing my own anxiety so much.

 

I’ve already faced a few minor challenges in the house (a TV remote that doesn’t work, a broken toaster that blew the fuse and left me and Cora devoid of electricity, a clogged up dishwasher) but the real issue this year is of course going to be my own mental health. I’m determined however that this is going to be a brilliant year and I’m so excited to see what it holds.