There’s No Timescale to Getting Better

  
543 days.

543 days since I submitted my last blog post.

What a 543 days it’s been! 

I’m writing this, pleading with you to not lose hope. To not give up. I know how it feels to be absolutely certain you will never escape this, you will never get better; that you can’t. I’m not promising you you’ll be healed; I had all those feelings just last week. It gets easier, you just have to give it all you got; because what else do you have to lose? 

I completed my first year of my degree at university. I completed my intense course of DBT. I learnt how to live. I learnt living doesn’t mean every day is a good day. I began to breathe without it hurting.

I still have BPD, that isn’t ever going to go away. It isn’t ever going to ‘heal’. I just have to learn how to cope, how to exist with it being part of me; just like an annoying laugh or a shy disposition. 

I took part in a year course of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) it involved 2 and a half hours of group therapy and an hour of one to one therapy a week. It was very intense, time consuming and at times a drag. But I did it. I had to sign a contract at the beginning to say I would commit myself to every therapy session. At times it was extremely hard, I’d wake up at 8am and turn my alarm off 18 times before saying come on, you can do this & throwing myself out of bed.

In DBT you are taught a number, and by number I mean hundreds of ‘skills’:

  • Interpersonal skills, as BPD means losing or never even possessing your ability to express yourself and make friends. 
  • Emotional Regulation skills; this being the most important in my opinion. Having BPD means my emotions are as irratic, unexpected and unreasonable as a drunk man being refused his last beverage. 
  • Distress Tolerance skills; it’s thank to these I haven’t self harmed in over a year. It’s thanks to these that when I have an urge something tells me in my head not to act on it (well, it’s thanks to these skills and the overdose two years ago that I don’t, I can’t, it’s too great a risk).
  • Mindfulness.. finally there are an unbelievable amount of mindfulness skills and as difficult and ridiculous as it may seem, they work.

Out of these hundreds of skills, one has resonated with me an incredible amount and I’d like to share it with you. Now, as a BPD sufferer, if you are ever offered the opportunity of DBT; take it, grab it and embrace it with more than just both arms; your whole self. It will change your life. It will improve your life. It will save your life.

Back to the skill I learnt; it’s called ‘opposite action’. Not only is it the opposite action in my eyes, it’s the positive action. It means doing the opposite to whatever action your emotion is telling you to do. For example, when you are sad and just want to wrap up in your duvet and hide; go out, get up, shower, do something, anything. When you feel guilty and have that feeling of dread and discomfort in your stomach; tell someone, confess to someone you trust and love, and someone who reciprocates this. 

I can’t express how DBT has changed my life. I remember when I began over a year ago on my first day, I observed another member of the groups behaviour and actions. How confident, happy and a joy to be around she was. I sat there in silence, withdrawn, afraid and just admired this girl. I thought I’d never be her. On my last day a few months ago, I did most of the talking. I encouraged the others, the new members, I put myself forward to try anything and everything. I realised I had achieved what I thought impossible.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near ‘over’ BPD. I still struggle every day. My head is a constant battle. I’m persistently arguing with myself. Defending myself. Hating myself. But it’s all that little bit less and it’s that little bit less that gives me room to breathe, room to enjoy even a single moment, room to live.

I’m still working on myself. Working on my behaviours. Working on my mind. Working on my future. Working on my success’. Working on getting better. 

All you need in life is that little bit less, please, whatever it is; whether it be horse riding, therapy, singing, laughing, walking, reading.. find your little bit less. 

Love for the past 543 days, and always,

An Impartial Soul xo 

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I Live to Learn Whilst I Learn to Live

Apologies to my extremely supportive and loyal followers.. I’ve been rather quiet in the past 10 days. I can only hope my last post helped to explain this..

After a river of silence, I don’t quite want to hit you with a tsunami of self-pity and sadness. So instead, I’ll write my first post in a while about something positive; like my very own spring leading all the way to an ocean.

Although I only got diagnosed with mental illness a few years ago, and only received my ‘official’ diagnosis mere months ago; I and the people close to me believe I have suffered with mental illness for many years.

I believe it began during my third year of Secondary School. By Year 11, whilst I was taking my GCSE’s, my attendance was a poor 21%.. That being said, I still managed to gain 8 GCSE’s (6 B’s and 2 C’s). Now to me, that is so incredibly disappointing but that’s the BPD in me talking. I’m a perfectionist and all I can think even to this day, 5 years later, is ‘imagine what I could have achieved if I had been there 100%’. 

I will have to settle for my B’s and C’s and I can attempt to feel proud of them, although it takes an awful lot of attempting, as I can not rewrite history and I can not use Dr Who’s tardis.

Following Secondary School, I attempted to attend college to study for my A Levels. Now I must mention that at this time I was also rather physically ill so being depressed as well as that, my attendance once again suffered. The college didn’t even give me a chance. I was there a couple of months before they told me I would have to leave and no amount of A’s in my coursework would change that. 

A year later, I tried again. I had the lowest of self esteems and I still do to this day; so when I applied for the second time and they wouldn’t even entertain my application, I gave up completely. I fought through my interview, insisting my commitment to work hard was greater than ever.. And it was! I felt stronger and I felt more determined than I had ever felt. Their excuse was ‘nothing’s changed, we can’t take you back’.. Apparently being head strong and intelligent wasn’t enough.

As I stated, I gave up completely.

As the years went by, my health deteriorated both mentally and physically and I eventually had to give up work.

Four years had passed without gaining any more qualifications, when last year I decided to apply for University knowing it was virtually impossible as jumping from GCSE’s to degree level simply on an application was a unrealistic leap in anyone’s standards. 

.. I only went and got an interview!

I was so pleased but I had no faith in myself and I talked myself out of attending. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. A few weeks later I withdrew my application and continued to wollow in my self-pitying state. 

Now, I don’t know if I had some kind of epiphany after trying to commit suicide but I realised just how strong I was. I had overcome an overdose and I had built myself back up to being able to breathe again without it hurting. Without any medical/ professional help. (If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know how hopeless the NHS have been following my attempt to take my own life).

If others can get in to University; why the hell can’t I!?

Mental illness will not stop me. 

Other people will not stop me.

I am only stopping myself.

Not anymore.

I resubmitted my application and attended that interview to be told they were extremely impressed with my application. Following the interview I was offered a place on my BA (Hons) course at University.

I took it.

Yes, I am unbelievably petrified. Yes, I doubt myself. Yes, I doubt my health. Yes, there are days I think withdrawing my application is the best option.

I have always wanted to learn and nothing and no one can stop me but me.

I am preventing myself from learning, no one and nothing else.

I will graduate in four years time.

No, I’m not able to do the ‘conventional’ way of Uni and move away from home and study full time but I will be studying for a degree nonetheless.

It’ll take a year longer but I will have the same qualification as someone that has studied full time for a year less.

I will graduate and I will receive the best marks I am capable of.

Today, I feel strong. Tomorrow, I may feel weak. But my dreams will always remain the same and I will achieve them.

There’s no reason you can’t too!

Believe in yourself even if it’s just for a day. That day could change your life.

Love always,

An Impartial Soul xo 

Can Anybody Hear Me!? 

When I first started this blog my posts came as frequently as the bus you aren’t waiting for.. Lately they’ve become less frequent like the bus you are waiting for..

I just don’t feel like talking.

It’s funny because I see these psychiatrist’s and these counsellor’s and everything’s so terrible I should be chewing they’re ear off but I’m not.

The easiest thing to say when you don’t feel like talking? ‘I’m okay’.

Big mistake.

Everyone thinks I’m so much stronger and doing so well because I’m not portraying on the outside what’s happening on the inside.

I’m making out I’m this tough cookie that is facing everything head on and coping.

I’m not coping.

In fact, what’s happening is the complete opposite. 

I’m running away. That’s why I seem so strong and in control of everything. Because I’m ignoring it. I’m pushing it to the back of my mind and switching it off so that I don’t have to face it.

The problem with not facing it head on is that it’s slowly having an eroding affect on my coping mechanisms. I’m deteriorating and I feel like I’ve gone back in time.

I feel like I’m back at that place those mere months ago. 

I’m scared.

I’m well aware that I need to talk but I just can’t.

It’s like when you’re on your phone in bed at night and the volume is on mute.. I’m fumbling in the dark trying to switch it back on to loud but it feels impossible.

How do I turn my voice on?

I’m sure once I’ve hit rock bottom I’ll start talking again but I don’t want to hit rock bottom.

So for the first time in my blogs, I’m reaching out to my followers. Asking you for the answer in a mental health world where there usually are no answers.

Any tips on how I make myself heard again?

Love always,

An Impartial Soul xo

Compassion Paralysis 

The main issue I find with Borderline Personality Disorder is that I am overly sensitive (to everything!)

In fact, when I was diagnosed with BPD, it wasn’t presented to me as it’s well known name; it was presented as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. 

I couldn’t have said it better myself; I am emotionally unstable.

There is no between; I take everything personally.

Whether you’re being mean, inconsiderate or actually just trying to be nice and compliment me; I will manage to see the negative side and feel as though you are personally attacking me.

I know it’s irrational and as I shed my first few tears to you telling me you prefer my pink top to my blue; I think in my mind how ridiculous I am being.

That doesn’t stop the hurt or the upset nor the indirect stab I feel to me as a person. 

Being emotionally unstable doesn’t just affect my emotions when it comes to me; it also affects them when it comes to other people.

Even when I’m trying to be selfless, it still always manages to come back to me.

I think that’s what happens when you’re emotionally unstable. You can’t handle any kind of happiness or sadness even when you’re feeling it for other people.

It’s like your broken and when you try to support someone else your back and shoulders just aren’t strong enough. I mean, you can barely carry yourself with that spine; how are you meant to hold anyone else? 

Another fact about me, is that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I have a lot of love to give. I find that’s quite common when it comes to people with mental illness. Every mentally unwell individual I have ever met has a humungous heart, even though they usually tend to feel they are the worst person in the world – how unfair is that!?

Due to my social phobia and my inability to maintain relationships, purely because I’ve forgotten how, I only have a select few in my life. But my god, do I love them. I love those in my life right now, I love those in my past and I even care for those I barely even know. I think that’s why I hurt so easily.

The people I am directly close to such as my grandparents, my parents and my boyfriend are loved so deeply by myself. They’re probably not even aware of the lengths I would go for them. I aim to tell them every time I see or speak to them (okay, that is also down to my severe anxiety of losing them!! but they also deserve to be told as often as I can). 

When they experience any emotion, I experience too. I think that’s pretty normal though, right? When our loved ones are happy; we can’t help but smile and feel warm inside. When our loved ones do well; we feel proud. When our loved ones hurt; we’re upset and angry for them. As human beings it’s in our nature to make our loved ones feel exactly that, loved, through every one of their life experiences.

That’s why I feel so guilty.

When my loved ones are struggling or hurting; I can’t cope. When my loved ones are happy or doing well; I can’t cope.

Here’s a couple of examples..

When my Mum is upset, it absolutely kills me inside, I try and support her and empathise with her but all I can feel is it ripping my insides apart. Seeing her cry breaks my heart over and over again with every glistening tear that hits her beautiful cheek. I want to tell her I’m here for her and hold her and give her my strength. Within moments, I can actually feel her tears on my cheek, wait, no, they’re my tears. That doesn’t help. It doesn’t make her feel strong it makes her feel guilty for being sad. I’m not helping. It won’t stop. Within minutes she’s the one consoling me. My shoulder to cry on is broken, it doesn’t exist. 

All my supportive bones, emotions and words are paralysedAll I can feel is the anger at myself for taking her sad moment, for making it mine. I feel so guilty but it’s uncontrollable.

When my boyfriend does well, it makes me so utterly proud. He has a new job opportunity coming up and I am so excited for him. I can hear him telling me about this new venture and I can hear the excitement in his voice and for a moment I think I can start to hear it in mine too, but just like that, it’s gone. The excitement in my voice turns to a dis responsive murmur. As if I’m not interested. I am so interested. Why can’t I get it across? Why can’t I hear the excitement and interest? Speak. Speak! I’m not helping. I’m ruining his brilliant moment. Within minutes he’s asking me if I’m ok. He’s changing the subject because I don’t seem interested. All I can think about is the fact I’m holding him back with my illness. That he can’t have the life he deserves because I’m not quite there yet. I’m stuck and he deserves so much more. 

All my supportive bones, emotions and words are paralysed. All I can feel is the anger at myself for taking his happy moment, for making it mine. I feel so guilty but it’s uncontrollable.

At the beginning of this post I said my main issue with BPD and mental illness is that I’m overly sensitive..

My main issue with being overly sensitive is that I feel guilty about everything.

If I can control that guilt, I’ll start to feel better about not just others but mainly myself. 

I’ve learnt something recently in therapy. Counsellors always ask if I can justify my guilt. To be honest, no, I can’t in most cases, but how do I make it stop? 

I do love you, so much, my dear loved ones. I’m just so fragile and weak. I’m emotionally unstable and that makes me a bit wobbly on my feet. I’m not well balanced enough to hold you just yet; I’m struggling to carry myself.

My loved ones don’t want my guilt. They just want me to be better.

Love always,

An Impartial Soul xo

Dear Full Timer

Dear full time worker,

I think you believe I spend my days at leisure; soaking up benefits and enjoying my time off. 

I think you believe I have an easy life and I may even be known as a ‘bum’.

I think you believe you work far harder than I, am more tired than I, are even a better a person than I. 

I think you believe I’m lazy, I’m selfish, I’m a fake and I’m worthless.

I think you believe I want to live this way forever; that I’m care and worry free.

Most of all, I think you believe I choose this lifestyle.

Dear full time worker,

I spend my days in agony both physically and mentally. 

I live off pittance and desperately struggle to make ends meet. 

Yes, I claim benefits and yes, there are many ‘milking the system’, earning thousands.. I am not one of them. I am the average benefit claimer; earning very little and never having any spare for leisure activities.

I spend every day wishing I was at work. Wishing I could make money and support others so that they don’t have to support me. Wishing I could book fun activities and enjoy my life. Wishing I could buy a 50 pence chocolate bar without asking myself if it is really essential or necessary.

As for an easy life; I spend every day worrying about everything. Even the smallest of things. I worry about the near on impossible and I worry about all the possibilities all at the same time. I live in a state of anxiety because of how much I think. I’m petrified of everything and everyone. I feel physical, emotional pain that hurts more than that operation I had or the time I had my heart broken. I absolutely despise myself, it makes me feel physically sick to look in the mirror and I am disgusted by my personality. I am a social phobic and panic around people. I stay in most days and won’t leave the house alone. I look at the same walls day in and day out.

That’s just my mental difficulties. Physically, I suffer with Rumination Syndrome, I am sick every day. I find it near on impossible to keep any food down. I haven’t kept a meal down in 3 years now; imagine the impact that’s had on my body and my physical health.. I now have near to no muscle and an extreme lack of nutrients. My bones aren’t the correct size for my age and size. My muscles and my bones hurt every day; I can’t even dry my own hair. 

My mind and my body are drained, worn and tired. I work every day to better myself; I put all my energy and strength in to staying alive. I fight to be here. I fight to survive through the pain and the difficulties. I have to force myself through the despairing thoughts of suicide and the times my body wants to give up. I do every single thing I can to be here. I sit completely still for three hours after my meals to keep the nutrients down. I distract myself with literally anything I can to forget the negative thoughts. 

I have gone 7 months without any professional help; waiting for appointments. I have survived 7 months by myself and I am still here and still strong. I have worked and fought bloody hard to still be able to fake a smile. 

I still put others before myself and I do everything I possibly can to get myself better not only for myself but essentially for them. I’m not rude or cruel nor am I aggressive; my manners, morals and values are still intact. 

I struggle to do simple tasks like making my meals or washing myself but I still do them. It takes me double the time it would take someone else and sometimes it’s even dangerous but I take the risks. Everything I possibly can do and even that I can’t, I do. 

I don’t laze about in bed all day even though I probably should. I get up and I fight. 

I don’t sit around doing nothing all day. I don’t go out shopping and buy myself expensive things with my benefits. If I want to go away or buy myself something; I save. Just like you, in fact, it most likely takes me far longer than you. 

I don’t pretend I’m unwell and I’m not dramatic about my symptoms just so I don’t have to work and I can claim money for free. 

I spend every day wishing I was anywhere but where I am, even if that means being at work. To work is to be normal and I want to be normal oh so much. I’m restricted in life and I want to be able to do the simple, every day things like hold down on a job.

I’m not stupid, lazy or rude. I’m intelligent and I’m brave and I’m polite. I could have a decent job; I have in the past and I could do really well in that job. I have dreams and aspirations when it comes to my occupation just like you and my aim is to achieve them. 

I wish so desperately that I could be like you. If I had a choice I’d take those job opportunities I missed or gain those qualifications I desperately yearn for. I don’t choose this. 

Yes, I probably could work but the simple fact is I don’t want to kill myself doing that. I don’t want to be unfair on my colleagues by taking time off or being uncomfortable around them and coming across unfriendly and impolite. I don’t want to put myself in hospital and cause more worry to my family. 

I don’t want to make myself worse. I want to make myself better.

The quicker I get better, the quicker I’ll be off benefits and working my way to the top. So if you’re angry at benefit claimers for ‘taking your money’; don’t be. Be angry at the professionals and the government and the NHS’ ridiculous rules and requirements that are preventing them getting better and back in to the working world.

The doctor signed me off work and claimed me unfit for duties for a reason. 

When you’re unwell or down or sick; you take a few days off work and stay in bed the whole time. Imagine being unwell or down or sick every single day. I still don’t stay in bed.

Yours Sincerely,

An Impartial Soul xo 

Razors vs. Paintbrushes

Our main demon in mental illness goes without saying; it is our mind.

Our mind is extremely dangerous when it thinks.

Usually when you’re mentally unwell, you tend to think solely about the negatives in life and it is with this thinking that we tend to make dangerous, irrational decisions.

It is when we are thinking, that, for example, we self harm. 

We think of something truly distressing and then put all our energy, all our mind, in to self harming.

It releases our stress. It releases our worry. Most of all, it releases our frustration.

I understand why you self harm. I feel your suffering. I too, have self harmed in the past and I won’t be surprised if I do in the future.

You think and you worry and you become distressed and then to release all that hurt and frustration; you have to put all your focus in to something. 

Your intense concentration distracts you from your troubled thoughts and you force all that negativity in to self harming.

I get it.

I know many don’t..

In 1889 Vincent van Gogh created two extremely beautiful and famous pieces of art; ‘The Starry Night’ and ‘Irises’.

The year before that in 1888, van Gogh painted ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’ and ‘Cafe Terrace at Night’.

It must have taken extreme concentration to create such beautiful art work. The determination in finding something you love and putting all your energy in to it is inspiring. It must be an uplifting way to release all your stress, worries and torment.

In 1888, the same year van Gogh created two well known paintings; he cut off his own ear.

In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh created the incredible ‘Wheatfield with Crows’. In that same month he is thought to have committed suicide. 

It seems to me he made some extremely wise decisions and some extremely sad and foolish.

He most likely put the same amount of concentration and determination, if not more, in to his paintings as he did his self harm.

He had a beautiful, brave and intelligent mind that was tormented by mental illness.

Take from this what you will; I’m just saying..

Imagine what he could have created  if he had made a wise choice instead of a foolish one.

Imagine what he might have endured and suffered if he had made a foolish decision instead of the wise choice of painting ‘The Starry Night’.

Foolish decisions tend to be irreversible. 

Find something, anything, you love and channel yourself through it.

You may just save yourself from a foolish decision. 

   
 
Love always,

An Impartial Soul xo 

PS. If you can’t think of an activity you enjoy; here are some self harm alternatives..

• Draw/ write all over yourself in non-permenant felt tips.

• Cover the bathroom in removable bath chalks.

• Wear an elastic band/ hair band on your wrist and ping it.

• Hold ice in your hands.

• Dip your head in a bucket of ice cold water. 

Memory Like An Elephant Syndrome

I’m lost.

In a sea of overwhelming despair and judgement; I am drowning.

The judgement is mainly my own. My own judgement against myself. The judgement by others is my own too. I’m not even sure if it exists, I feel like it does, but I think realistically, it’s just in my head.

I’m anxious about everything. Anxious about being around people, even the ones I love the most. Anxious about being out around strangers. Anxious about being alone. I’m just anxious.

I feel like everyone is judging me. Maybe I’m just masking the judgement I’m issuing.

I hate me and everything I stand for. I hate my appearance, my illnesses, my personality. It’s not even anything in particular; it’s everything.

I feel like I’m a terrible person and that everyone else thinks it too.

There’s this thing I have, it’s a bit like memory-like-an-elephant-syndrome.. (I just made that up – but I definitely suffer from it!) 

I can remember every single negative comment anyone has ever said, as if I’ve written it down in a notebook. It doesn’t matter that I’ve heard 100x the negative comments in positive ones, I don’t remember the positive; just the negative.

It remains in my head. I can remember where I was when they said it, how they said it, what they said, how I felt. I have 10,000 scars from my memory-like-an-elephant-syndrome.

The thing is, I doubt they even remember! It was probably so flippant and jokey to them that it’s wiped from their memory. Not mine.

Here’s an example;

I was out shopping with my Stepdad once and he told me I should get the portioned boxes of cereal so that I don’t eat too much.

He didn’t mean anything by it. But that was about 14 months ago in B&M & I still think about it daily now.

I spend about 13 hours of my 24 hour day thinking about negative comments.

I group all these negative comments together and use them as evidence to myself to prove I am a terrible person and everyone hates me.

Yes, it’s irrational. But I am irrational. My mind is irrational. I wish everyone around me could understand and see that I am irrational. I am not rational. If you say something to me; I will take it irrationally.

So please before you say anything to me, think about the irrational side to what you’ve said. Then you’ll view it as I hear it. It’ll make you stop saying these things. It’ll make me like myself again.

I hate you, my irrational mind.

I hate you.

There’s no inspirational story today, no philosophical quotes.

Just a mentally ill girl, doing exactly that; being wrapped up in mental illness and hating herself.

One day I will be free of you and I’ll be able to smile, a real genuine smile.

God, I miss smiling. A free smile. A smile I don’t pay for in negativity later on.

Today is a bad day but I’ll get back up again tomorrow.

Love always,

An Impartial Soul xo