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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Guest Post- Mental Health and Me

I’ve been through a hell of a time with my mental health and still struggle with it on a daily basis. I’m lucky in the fact that I have improved over the years. 

At 14 I was raped, this caused me to try to commit suicide, I ended up in hospital on a children’s ward. After getting discharged things started to become crazy. I was suffering. 

I’m now 20 and I am diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. I’m also diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and Insomnia. Over the years I have seen many mental health professionals, took part in various day programmes for people with mental health, have had various therapies, seen the crisis team and had a community mental health social worker. 

Borderline Personality disorder is not talked about enough in my opinion. It needs much more awareness and often people don’t get diagnosed for a long time.  A few symptoms of borderline personality disorder and how they affect me and many other people are:
- Close bonds to people where you would do anything to stop yourself from losing that person even if it’s an unhealthy relationship. This could be relationships with your friends, parents, partner. 
- You feel very worried about people abandoning you and do anything to try and stop this happening.
- You have very strong and intense emotions that can last from a few hours to days and can change really quickly.
- You might struggle with knowing who you are as a person and you might act or behave differently around different sets of people.
- You find it hard to make and keep stable long term relationships with people.
- You act on impulse and might do things that could harm you (promiscuous, binge eating, drugs, alcohol the list could go on).
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
- You feel empty and lonely most of the time.
- You may struggle to control your anger and get very angry sometimes.
- You may have psychotic episodes such as seeing or hearing things other people cannot
- Feeling numb and dissociating (not remembering things that have happened).
- Black and White thinking – somethings either really good or really bad for example.
   
These are just a few of the symptoms of Borderline Personality disorder. My personal experience of Borderline Personality Disorder is that I have clung to relationships all my life and some were really unhealthy and bad for me. I use to go from relationship to relationship and they were always abusive and I’d be so scared to lose the person even though they treated me awfully. I believed it every time they said "I will change" and in my mind i couldn’t live without that person. This stopped when an ex of mine went too far one day and pushed me in front of van. I couldn’t believe I’d stayed with him so long and it had gone this far. He could have killed me that day. I think that really pushed me to confront the fact that I needed to stop unhealthy and abusive relationships where I was being hit or emotionally abused.  I’ve self-harmed and took overdoses and ended up in intensive care. At times I really wanted to die. I found my mental health overwhelming. I ended up in mental health hospitals and at the age of 18 I was constantly in and out. I have constant mood swings I can go from being really happy to really sad in just a few minutes. I’ve struggled with feelings of emptiness and hopelessness and I really thought I wanted to die. I’ve blanked out at times and lost periods of time before where people tell me I’ve been doing something and I have no memory of doing it.

The problem with mental health is all the stigma surrounding it. I have an invisible illness this does not mean I am crazy nor does it mean I am my illness. Borderline Personality Disorder needs more awareness so that people understand why we are how we are because we can’t help the way we react or respond to situations. Borderline Personality Disorder is not an excuse it is an explanation. The list of personal experiences could go on and on but the fact I’m trying to get across is let’s end the stigma of mental health illnesses and raise awareness of Borderline Personality Disorder and all other mental health illnesses. What I would like to say to anyone suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder is you are not alone! 1 in 100 people have Borderline Personality Disorder and there are many ways of accessing support. If you would like some support or someone to chat to please feel free to contact me through social media. 
You can follow Melissa's blog at www.borderlinepersonalitydisorder101.com or on Facebook via https://www.facebook.com/borderlinepersonalitydisorder101/  and there is also a Twitter page at https://twitter.com/BPD1011 
I would like to thank Melissa for her story and I hope that it helps shine a light on living with BPD. Anyone who can openly share their story and experiences is amazing for doing so and helping end stigma around mental illness.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Nasty Things We Tell Ourselves

Not Just Depressed has a Facebook group that you are all welcome to join. Just click on this link... Facebook Group Before writing my previous post 'Stop Bullying Yourself' I asked people whether they too told themselves hurtful things when they feel down. 
Here are the results of the poll...


Both men and women took part, some with a diagnosed mental illness and some without. It seems that no matter how mentally healthy you are we can all be our own worst critic. From time to time we all put ourselves down, doubt our abilities, see our flaws, dwell on the things we don't like about ourselves and a lot of the time believe things that just aren't true about ourselves. 

We can be infact very hard on ourselves and this can lead to being consumed by these beliefs we have, self loath and feel very negative about our self image. Our mind may tell us things that are untrue or exaggerated but why?

I personally feel that I do this when my mood is negative. I feel down and start to notice the bad in things, including myself. I believe negative things about myself. My anxiety kicks in and tells me something bad will happen or I will become ill. My depressed mind tells me I am ugly and a failure. I base this on facts but also on what other people have said and how others make me feel. My mood is foul and I am irritated and sensitive both mentally and physically. When in this state it's easier to be negative. When you're in pain or ill it's easier to say "my bodies useless" than "I'm a lovely person". It's easier to admit defeat but it's not the best idea for your mental health.

My biggest tip is whenever you feel yourself picking at yourself and your life you need to get yourself to a good state. Eat something, have a drink, take a deep breathe, have a rest or sleep, consider if you're too hot/cold or uncomfortable, take note of what your body is telling you and then empty your mind of thoughts for a moment. Give yourself time off from your mind. If you can meditate and meet your needs. Then see how you feel. The majority of the time. if your mental illness is not controlling you, you'll see things a little differently.

Remember: be kind to yourself, it's good for your health.

Much love,
Becky xx

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Stop Bullying Yourself

I've started to notice a pattern, something I've done since I was a teenager. When I start to feel down it always starts in the same way. I don't want to look in mirrors, I don't like my hair or face, I feel too fat in some places and too skinny in others. I don't feel comfortable in my skin. I feel awkward because I feel ugly.

This doesn't come from something a person has said or something that has changed about my appearance. It comes from my mind. It makes me feel down then puts in the boot by telling me "you're ugly, everyone can see that you're down, it shows on your face and it's not pretty".

I struggle in general with my looks. I've always been a little awkward and don't take a compliment too well. When I was bullied at highschool it was mainly linked to my looks. Whenever I'm sad or ill it really shows on me physically and yes I do an ugly cry. But why do I do this? 

I've mentioned it before but I think it's because negative thoughts and feelings spiral. Once you start feeling down you keep going lower and lower until you hit the breaking point. Sometimes that breaking point might be you have a cry or slam a few things around, sometimes you get your fight back and feel determined to change this state of mind and sometimes it gets to the point of depression or a break down.

I'm very conscious when the "I'm ugly" state happens for two reasons. The first because it hurts. It hurts in the same way the bullying did. It's not as humiliating or relentless but it's the fact I'm doing it to myself. The second reason is I can't just snap myself out of it and I start to worry I'll become depressed again. I don't think I'm 100% better but I wouldn't say I am depressed at this moment. I would say I'm in recovery if anything.

I deal with it by avoiding mirrors and ignore it the best I can but what really, REALLY hurts is what it does to my husband and my mum. I can see how upset my mum gets because she doesn't want me thinking like that or understand why I do. I can see my husband doubt himself as a partner when he asks if he doesn't compliment me enough. He only has to give me the "you're gorgeous" look for me to know what he thinks and he compliments me more than once a day without even thinking about it. It's nobody else that causes this, it's me. And I'm going to start telling myself off for it!

I'm going to tell myself that everyone has things they don't like about themselves but they don't let it consume them. I'm going to remind myself that I'm a carefree person. I'll tell myself that these body parts I'm hating are healthy and all work as they should and I am very lucky for that. I'll remind myself that my mum deserves her happy daughter back and that my husband deserves to see the confidence that he helped build in me.

Being beautiful IS NOT skin deep, your outside is a vessel for a beautiful soul and person. When you're happy and carefree it shines out of you like rays of beauty. So focus on being calm and content and the rest will follow.

Much love,
Becky xx

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Want To Be Happy?- The Journey To Happiness

"You just need to cheer up." "Why can't you just be happy?" "Try and be happier." "Don't be sad."

Argh!!! These sorts of phrases were the worst thing I could of heard while struggling with depression. It's not just other people either, I used to tell myself "I just want to be happy." But now I can look back I know I didn't want to be happy and I couldn't just become happy. This sounds negative but hear me out...

Depression is like being at zero, sometimes it feels subzero and happiness is like being at ten, it can even feel like it hits an 11. So how can I be a zero and go 0-10 just like that. It's like going from the start line to the finish line without running the race. As much as I thought I wanted to be happy, I didn't. As much as people thought I needed to be happy, I didn't. What I needed was to work my way up to happy.

At first I needed to feel something. Anything! I needed to be overwhelmed so that I knew my feelings were coming back to me. I needed to feel frightened to give me some fight. I had to feel pain to understand why I'd been at zero. It's sounds so strange but in the beginning I'd have given anything to feel sad. This is why I find it so hurtful when people associate depression with being sad. Sad would have been such an achievement and made sense to me, as I know that feeling. Sadness is a natural feeling and not a mental illness.

After reaching this point of overwhelming and hurtful emotions, I then needed to feel hopeful and wanting, even angsty would work. Something that made me understand that I needed to feel better than I am and fight for it. This would help me to be accepting of how I felt and know that I can be so much more than these feelings. They were not going to take me over and I could do this.

Once this determination and desire for emotional wellness kicks in I would shortly have a neutral feeling. Feeling calmer and more relaxed. Feeling a little more in control. Feeling stable. It's already been a long journey to get to a calm place but each of these steps were needed. 

Once I am neutral I am balanced. I am at a point where I am more in control of tipping the balance up or down. I feel easier about myself. I have reached an understanding and I am so grateful to be at this point. This point would be enough for me. It's almost blissful after the previous stages. It's a holiday for the mind. This is starting to feel like happiness.

I then begin to feel content and carefree as I am in charge of me and my emotions. I have ups and downs but know they are not as far down as I was. I am grateful and relaxed. Then and only then do I have the ability to feel true happiness.

So when someone is depressed remember we cannot "just be happy" and we don't need to "be happy". We need to feel something. We need to feel all emotions and relearn them. We have felt numbness of emotion in a way that made all emotions foreign to us. We have been overwhelmed by emotion and had to learn to control them again. We need to feel. Then we need to be OK. We need to take our time and work our way up, sometimes falling backwards several times, sometimes hitting zero harder than before but we need to journey. We can't be rushed or forced. We can't "just be happy" but we will get there.

Much love,
Becky xx

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Avoidant Personality Disorder

What is Avoidant Personality Disorder or AvPD? AvPD is a mood disorder that can be briefly summed up as someone who has a severe social anxiety; a shy person, someone scared of rejection, fearful of ridicule and causing herself/ himself embarrassment, lacking in confidence and who may feel inferior to others.

The way it affects everyday life is it makes you avoid social situations in an attempt to avoid feelings of rejection, this may extend to avoiding people in general. These people may be introverted and withdrawn when around others. These behaviours can make it hard to build friendships and then keep them. Because of the need to feel liked by others before you will interact with them or join in with an activity it can greatly affect relationships, recreation and careers. Things like a workplace meeting, joining a sports team, going out with a friend who's bringing someone else with them, asking for advice from a store assistant...

Imagine thinking about criticisms that you may get in advance and feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of what people think about you and that you may do something embarrassing or be ridiculed. Even though people with AvPD can feel distressed by other people's judgements it does not mean they don't want to be around others or try new things or start a relationship, it just means the thought of this can be intimidating and overwhelming.

Do you suffer from AvPD and would like a guest post to share your story? If so please contact me via Facebook Group or by leaving a comment below.

Much love,
Becky xx

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Speed Talking and Anxiety

Anxiety for me comes in different forms. It began with my breakdown where I was convinced I needed urgent medical attention and that I was dying. My body felt like it was shutting down and I had no control over myself. 

It then turned into being frozen, struggling for breath and feeling very frightened. I needed to stay where I was until it eventually passed and could hardly speak or hear while it happened. 

These panic attacks had the same beginnings; overheating, sweating, chest pains, shortness of breath, yawning excessively... I've talked about these panic attacks before in my blog. These were when they were at their worse. Then I started to control it a little better. First with medication, after a few months I had less panic attacks and was able to remain calm while they happened and passed but I still needed to stop what I was doing. I then got to the point where I felt terrible but could manage to continue what I was doing, all be it as a hot mess but this was a huge improvement.

I feel like they haven't happened in a while but I can still get very irritable and feel panicked. Now without medication I've started doing a old habit that I have always thought was just part of my personality. I was quite shy as a child and teenager. I still can be a little now, it depends on who and in what situation. Public speaking has never been my thing either. In fact sometimes speaking one-to-one in a conversation can make me nervous and I'm very conscious that I speak quietly and I'm often not heard but a lot of people. 

Have you experienced starting a conversation and then realised you can't get your words out or feel someone is looking at you a little strangely or judging what you're saying? I've noticed in this situation my speech really speeds up and I have no idea what's going to come out of my mouth! It's like I sound excited but inside I'm panicking and after I stop rambling on I feel embarrassed and will either go quiet or continue to talk about nothing while I'm telling myself "just stop talking!" I don't think this is a panic attack but I do think it is anxiety.

It's possible I've had anxiety longer than I knew or that I am naturally an anxious person. Although I can be quite laid back I've always been a worrier. I've always been socially awkward too! So it's hard to know whether mental illness has heightened my personality trait or whether I have developed anxiety. To be honest the label doesn't matter to me. I know I'm anxious and that is enough for me. It's irrelevant if I have anxiety, it's more important to know how I feel, what it affects in my daily life and what I can do about it. If it becomes uncontrollable I know that my medication helped but for now I'll just be the awkwardly, strange one in conversations.... afterall that is how people know me!

Much love,
Becky xx

Monday, July 04, 2016

Interviewing My Husband About My Mental Illness

Mental illness is not just a personal illness. It can affect the people around you too, in ways you may not realise. Your mind can tell you that the people closest to you don't understand or won't like you anymore. So I wanted to interview my husband and find out how he feels about my mental illness so far. As you can see he's quite a sweetheart but you can also see how it affected him and how this huge strain on the both of us hasn't ruined anything at all...

Since my first breakdown have I changed in anyway?
Yes. You can put yourself down and at first you was just like a zombie. You can still get like that and down but it was more intense then and I had to remind myself you were ill with how you spoke to me. I struggled when you could treat me like crap and I know I argued back, but I knew you were ill and it wasn't you.

Am I still the same now?
No, you're a little bit like that sometimes and still put yourself down. You're anxious but I think those things might always be there. You're more happier though and not like a zombie anymore. I've got my wife back now.

What's been the hardest thing since I was diagnosed?
Standing here doing nothing. It didn't feel like I could do anything. I felt the same as when my Uncle Steve passed away.

What are you most proud of that you've done to help me?
Patience! But I'm not proud of me because if I've done anything good then it's because you're my wife. I don't need a pat on the back. I married you for better or for worse. I'm proud of you for your blog and making people more aware. I've seen people confide in you and talk to you about their problems.

Have you learn't anything new about mental illness?
Yes. The strongest of people can get it, it can happen to anyone. I think there's that many people that don't know about mental health and I didn't have a clue. It taught me it's not just feeling down then taking some pills for it. Things might be stupid to me and stressful, like when you keep checking the door is locked but now it's passed onto me because you worry so much about it. I learn't that's your anxiety and depression makes you feel weak and not able to do anything, it's not just feeling down. I thought tablets would make you instantly better but they don't. I knew it was a big thing but not how big.

Has it changed the way you feel about me?
No. It's been hard but even though you were depressed you still had your personality deep down and still made me smile.

What advice would you give to loved ones of someone with a mental illness?
Try and get them as much help as possible and be there for them. Give them cuddles. There'll be times where you feel sick of them but be patient. Try and speak to other people for yourself and them too. They'll need to speak to someone who's been in the same situation because if you haven't had a mental illness you won't ever understand it properly.

Has anything good come from my mental illness?
I understand more about the illness and you've explained a few signs for me to look out for. When something like this happens it tests your relationship to see if you're strong enough to look after each other. We passed.

Much love,
Becky and Hubby

Friday, July 01, 2016

3 Things We Can Learn From Young Children

There's a common misconception that adults teach children, nah! After working with and studying young children they taught me so much and still teach me now. Although young children can scream, cry and tantrum they are generally happy little souls that live in a world full of wonder. I think we can learn so much from them. Here are 3 very important life lessons that children have taught me...

1. Don't be afraid to fail- I've seen children spend a huge amount of their time trying to climb a piece of equipment or thread string through a bead or put on a coat or make someone watch or listen to them whilst being in a room full of other children and adults. They don't worry about being judged, they don't give up, eventually they might ask for help, they might decide to move onto something else or they might even eventually do the thing they set out to do. They have a goal and they know they can't do it yet but that doesn't stop them. They give things a go and aren't afraid to try. You go guys!

2. Ask- young children aren't scared to ask questions. They'll admit they don't know the answers or don't understand. They want to find things out about other people and the world around them. As adults we can be scared of making ourselves look unintelligent or afraid of asking awkward questions but if you don't ask you'll never know.

3. Be you- any parent will tell you that their young child doesn't hold back expressing themselves! They show their emotions and interests openly. Some can be shy and a little reserved but that's their personality and what you see is what you get. Yes they can act differently around certain people but it's because they choose to do that and don't mind how that comes across to others. They don't test the water on topics they'll tell you "I love cats" or "my dinner is yuk". They might still be learning but they are pretty sure on who they are and what they do and don't like. They're not afraid to show it either.

So my advice for today.... act like a child!

Much love,
Becky xx