My Family, My Rocks.

 

As you travel though life, there is little as important as your family. Family doesn’t always mean genetically related, but whether you are lucky enough to have your own genes supporting you, or you are lucky enough to be able to have picked your own family (or variations thereof)… life would be almost impossible without them.

I have touched upon the support I get from my family quite a lot on this blog. That is for two reasons. Firstly to show how much I appreciate them and the love they show, but secondly and perhaps most importantly because I would never have been in a position to share my story without them.

My mental health issues can make me feel alone sometimes… and since I live on my own I do get lonely from time to time. But I am fortunate enough never to have been in a position where there was truly no one I could call for help, no matter how alone I felt. My crisis box has a big list of numbers of people who I can call on in a crisis. Family doesn’t mean never feeling alone, or never being lonely. Family means never *being* alone. Family is the people who support you no matter what, that offer their hands to help you get back up when you fall (even if they laugh first!) and who love you for who you are.

My family has been through a lot with me. They have seen me fall pretty hard. They have been frustrated beyond words with me, spent sleepless nights worrying about me, wasted petrol and time coming to help me out, or take me to appointments, or take me shopping. They have been genuinely scared by my actions, worried I wouldn’t be there the next morning. They have had to clean up my messes. They have had to offer me a shoulder to cry on even when they were angry with me. They have stood by me even when walking away would have been easier. And they love me despite knowing I will hurt them again. They have had to re-evaluate all their priorities and put their own lives on hold, at great personal cost. It certainly hasn’t been easy. But that is what true love is…. it is weathering the storms the best you can, because the rainbows and sunshine after it are worth it.

I have never been a perfect daughter, sister, mother, friend, niece or cousin. I never will be. And that is okay. Because the reward for dealing with me at my worst is seeing me at my best. I know my strength has carried people through difficult times. I know that I am 100% there for my family too. I know that the bad times are gradually becoming further apart and less severe. And that means the good times are coming. And most importantly I know I am capable of doing great things.

I have been feeling quite down recently. I have been having issues with my neighbours (I will post about that soon), my mental health hasn’t been great, and finding the right medication and therapy combination is proving particularly difficult right now. And then out of the blue a couple of weeks ago my dad asked me to go on a mini-holiday with him (and my daughter <3). He decided to take the time out and spend it with me. We are only going for a long weekend (in the week lol) because that is all the time he had spare. And despite that he chose to spend it with me. If that isn’t love, I am not sure what is. More than that, I was supposed to be doing something with my best friend on one of those days. When I talked to her about it she didn’t even hesitate for a second before telling me to go and have fun. That is despite the fact she could have used me there. Again, that is love.

Families don’t keep score. Don’t get me wrong, they will bring stuff up at the worst possible moments, they will laugh at you as well as cry with you and they don’t always make the right move… and they will bring up your past without question… but they don’t hold it against you.

You… you reading this. You have family. Probably a lot more family than you know really. Make sure you appreciate them, and thank them for being your Number 1 fans. They are special, and a little recognition is never a bad thing. Having family also means the tables are turned and you are their family too. So everything they do for you, you do for them.

They say love makes the world go round. Well of course it does! People stomping away after arguments with their loved ones make the Earth spin and so do all those doors that are slamming shut!

Suicide doesn’t stop love… and why we should fight stigma.

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Today marks 8 years since a young lady, just a teenager, decided to end her own life. She was beautiful, popular, funny, intelligent, and talented. She had a smile for everyone. And yet, inside, she must have felt so alone. She either decided that we wouldn’t care, or that we would be better off without her.

I understand feeling like that. I have been there. What she never knew was just how much love there was for her in this world.

She is one of the reasons I started this blog. In my own small way, I wanted to make sure that people know they are not alone, and offer guidance and support, along with details about how to access more direct help. I didn’t have anything like this when I was first diagnosed with mental health issues. Me and my family had to stumble through in the dark without out dated and unhelpful information. It left us sorely unprepared for the realities. With this blog, I aim to help ensure no one else feels that alone.

But I can’t do it alone. I need your help. I hope once you realise you are not alone yourself, you can help make sure none of your friends are feeling isolated. A simple message saying “Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and hope you are okay” can transform someone’s day. It takes a few seconds to do.

Mental health issues don’t care if you are rich or poor, what colour your skin is, what post code you grew up in, how old you are or what your job is. At least a quarter of us will suffer some form of mental health problem in our life time. ALL of us know someone who has had, has, or will have a mental health issue. And to be honest most of us know a lot more than just one.

This is a shared problem that affects every single person on this planet. So it is time to stop the stigma. Stop the naivety. Stop the prejudice, the discrimination, the hate just because people are scared. It is time to educate people about the realities of mental illness, thereby enabling even more people to get help rather than trying to face it alone.

I find people often get stuck on what to say when they find out someone has mental health issues. The best advice I can give is to start with ‘Hello’…. or “Howdy” if you are feeling really adventurous! We don’t tend to explode without warning you know. We don’t bite! (Well….most of us anyway) We don’t want to make you feel awkward. What we do want is to be treated like human beings and not like problems. If we can get rid of the stigma, maybe we can help our friends, family and loved ones before they get to the point where they can’t see a way out.

By writing this blog, I hope I can help a few people. What I really want, though, is for YOU to help a few people. Then those people to help a few more. The only way things will ever change is if we get the issues out in the open. And if you are reading this thinking it doesn’t apply to you? Well I am afraid you are mistaken. xxx

Check out this if you are ever in a crisis situation. And this if you ever feel you are at rock bottom.

If you need help and don’t know where to turn, check out this link.

The police just woke me up at 3am by banging on my door!

 

I am annoyed. I am tired. I am scared. I am bloody pissed off. I just had 4 policemen show up at my door. I wake up to hear them literally banging on the door, threatening to ‘break in by force if necessary’. Unfortunately this is now the third time this has happened.

I am not a drug dealer. I am not involved in anything illegal. I was there alone, and asleep. And yet I get  treated like a criminal and they barge in to my HOME to have a look around. Why? Apparently because I was screaming again. That is what happens when you have PTSD. You get flash backs. And apparently my neighbours thought I was being murdered. Again.

It  is absolutely terrifying, and, to be perfectly honest, I really, really need a cuddle. The police didn’t do anything wrong. They settled down when I told them what happened and they made me a cup of tea. They managed to calm me down a little, though I am still in shock. I am an idiot. I didn’t even check for ID, I just let them barge in without so much as a word. Don’t get me wrong, they were legit, but they don’t take into account that people are not as vigilant when they have just been woken up.

I have to put up with these flash backs quite often. My daughter lives with my parents at the moment, and this is partly why. When she is here, I stay awake, all night, because I am terrified I will have an ‘episode’ while she is there. So I just sit there quietly all night.

Apparently, the police have to report this to my landlord and someone else I can’t remember. According to them, if I continue ‘disturbing the peace’ like this my tenancy could be in jeopardy. They said they were sorry they had to tell me that. Now I need someone to tell me what on earth I can do to stop this from happening again. How am I supposed to stop it?

Nightmares are awful. Night terrors are horrific. But flash backs? A flash back is reliving the worst things that ever happened to you over and over again. It is so real you can smell, touch and feel everything that is going on. It is exactly like it is happening again. Those who have never had a flash back can’t understand what it is like, and I hope they never have to find out.

I am shaking, and crying. I feel weak. I feel vulnerable. And if I am being perfectly honest I have a very strong urge to cut. I feel lost, and I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to fix me.

Just to kick me when I am way down, my BPD is making me feel everything 100x more than ‘normal’ people do. My depression is consuming me. My anxiety disorder is pushing me on the verge of a panic attack and I am trying to write to calm myself down. I am trying not to go into a dissociative state. I am fighting no less than SIX separate mental health problems at once. You tell me. How am I supposed to win?

Self Harming…. *Trigger Warning!*

 

I have been quiet for the last few weeks, and I apologise for that. I haven’t been doing very well. When I started writing this blog, I promised to share the good and the bad. It is important to me that I write about the REAL effects of living with mental health problems. I must warn you, this post contains triggers regarding self harm that could upset you. Please look away if you feel it will hurt you.

For 10 years, my self harm method of choice was always overdosing. Unfortunately, after a while, your body can’t cope with it any more. Because of that, I have cirrhosis of the liver. Half of it is dead, and it can’t repair itself as the damage was just too much.

Recently, I have been under immense pressure, that was added on to the usual massive dip in mood that happens around April and August each year. Basically, I was feeling helpless and lost. I knew I couldn’t overdose again, because genuinely I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to damage my liver even further. But I still needed a release, so I started cutting.

Yes, it was stupid. I know. But there you  have it… that is what happens when you need a release and nothing else works. I should mention that I raided my crisis box and phoned my local crisis team before cutting, and I was very helpfully told to go to bed!! Absolute joke… they are supposed to be the people who help when you are in crisis mode!

My experiences about cutting have in the past has been talking to those that have done it, in an attempt to gain a better understanding of it. I have heard them say watching the blood flow feels like you are letting the bad bits out. I have also heard people say it helps them feel in control, and that the pain helps them feel alive again. I am not sure what my experiences are yet… I just enjoy watching the blood build up.

I never thought I would write a blog like this, and it is a shame I lost the battle with my mind for a little while. But having spoken to various mental health professionals who have said that while cutting is not good, it is better than overdosing considering my liver status. I was given these tips, and I shall pass them on. Before I do, however, I need you to know I don’t condone cutting. I hope you manage to find better ways of coping, and I hope you look at my crisis box post for coping tips. I sincerely hope you never need these tips. But knowing that cutting is NOT a suicide attempt, and is simply a coping technique for when things get bad, means it is better to be safe that sorry.

  • Contact a mental health professional. This should ALWAYS be something you do before you self harm in any way. If you don’t have your own mental health nurse or other professional you can talk to, don’t forget there are still people you can talk to. Here are some useful numbers and websites.
  • Go through your crisis box. If you haven’t got one, please have a look at this page and create one. If you are stuck, let me know, I have been helping people put them together. These are distraction techniques that can be amazingly helpful!
  • Practice mindfulness… tips can be found here, here, here, or in any Google search.  It helps calm you down, and brings you back into the present moment.
  • If you must cut, keep it safe. Use sterile blades at all times (you can either buy sterile blades, or sterilise the ones  you have in sterilising fluid or even putting them in boiling water. If you are using disposable blades, make sure you dispose of them safely. If you are re-using the same blade, be super careful and vigilant about keeping it sterile. That last thing you want to worry about is an infected wound.
  • Wash the area you will be cutting AND your hands thoroughly, I use an antibacterial scrub to help. Keeping everything clean reduces the risk of infection.
  • Once you have cut, keeping the area clean and dry is essential. If it is a small cut, you can use an antiseptic, but don’t do that in a deeper cut as it will just get into your blood stream and wont work.
  • Dress the wound appropriately. Make sure you have a suitable first aid kit with the right size dressings and bandages (if needed). Put the dressing on the cut, and if the blood comes through that dressing put another dressing over the top, and wrap a bandage round it. The bandage should be firmly on, but not tight enough to cut of circulation or be uncomfortable. After twenty  minutes or so, you can go back and redress the wound. If it is still bleeding, reapply the bandage. If after a further ten minutes you are still bleeding, it is time to get some help.
  • Keep wound closing strips (Steristrips for example) handy, wounds heal quicker if the skin is together (rather than a gaping wound  in the middle) and scaring is less evident.
  • LEAVE IT ALONE! Once you have cut, leave the wound alone. Don’t keep removing the dressing to stare at it, you will have plenty of time for that later. The more often you remove the dressing the higher the risk of infection.
  • If the cut does get infected, seek guidance from your GP. Leaving it to go away on its own can be dangerous, so always get it checked over.

I hope you never need that list. The important thing to remember is that there ARE other ways of coping. Use all the tools you have and maybe this time you wont need to do it. Cutting should never be the first thing you do when you ‘feel the urge’.

I am NOT a medical professional of any kind. My advice should never substitute that of someone qualified. However, should you ever need to talk, if you want some advice, or just a friendly ear, you can contact me at any time. You are not alone, you are strong enough to cope, and you WILL come through this. Just stay safe!

 

 

 

Crazy Me!

So this post is to let you into my head a little. It is surprisingly difficult to explain sometimes what I feel like. At the moment, I am going through a ‘odd patch’. I can feel my brain and body wanting to spiral down, and I am fighting them all the way. The result? I am exhausted! It is hard fighting every second of every day. Of course, it helps now  knowing that my coping method of choice will kill me rather than save me… it is a strong motivation not to overdose, after all, I already have cirrhosis of the liver as a result of the overdosing. I am well aware I have a lot to live for, even if it doesn’t feel like it all the time.

I have been rather emotional recently, a direct result of the BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and PTSD along with Depression no doubt. It is like a huge magnifying glass on every emotion you feel, making it more intense, sometimes overwhelmingly so.

I was lucky enough to be given a fish tank recently. In eagerness, I filled the tank half way, and unfortunately encountered several problems meaning I couldn’t go any further. Because the water was left in the tank for a few weeks I decided today to empty it. But the funny thing was, as I was emptying it, I felt really sad for the water. Knowing it was just going to fall down the drain into goodness knows what horrors upset me. In truth, there was probably something much deeper going on, but I must admit I was a little embarrassed at myself.

When watching programs, I have an emotional roller-coaster! I was watching Call The Midwife on Sunday, and honestly I cried one second and was laughing the next. Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel so deeply… it  is hard work. But it does pay off when you get the positive emotions magnified.

I spend the rest of the day contemplating how to tackle the various tasks that need doing, but I didn’t have the energy to do anything. What is worse, my pain is increasing, which is also draining me. I am fortunate though, I have an amazing Grandma who has said I can come and stay with her for a bit if I need to get away. Just knowing I have that option  has helped me avoid doing it, if that makes sense. It is comforting enough (for now at least) to help me through. I always tend to dip down massively in April, and the dip normally starts in November (I have a fairly regular ‘cycle’ where I dip badly twice a year) so actually I am doing really well.

The key for me has been to recognise quickly when things start to go down hill. It is very easy for it to creep up on you, so knowing yourself and what is ‘normal’ for you is vital. When I start to feel bad, I engage much stronger family support (spending more time with them or on the phone with them), I let the mental health professionals know what is going on, and we move on from there. It is amazing really. I just feel awful for those who have little support, or just need more help. That is why I advocate the crisis box so much… it really can save your life.

Sometimes, I can’t stop the tears from flowing. Sometimes, nothing sets it off and I just cry, silently (just tears rolling down my face) for up to 2 hours. It is very disconcerting. Crying makes me feel weak. Especially when I cry at the little things. But I bottled up so much for so long, I refuse to feel guilty about showing how hard I have had to fight to get here. Every tear is a triumph because I am here, and alive. Sometimes working hard (it isn’t easy) to put a positive spin on things makes a huge improvement in your recovery time and mental well-being.

Be proud of the scars you have, visible or otherwise. Use them as motivation because they are proof of how far you have come and what you have overcome along the way. Ha! I never thought I would say that. I guess  my Mum was right all along… as usual!

Surviving ‘Rock Bottom’.

Most of us reach that moment in life when you realise that it is impossible for you to fall any further. You are already impaled on rocks like those above, and the only thing you can do is contemplate what happened to bring you to that point.

For a lot of us, this will not be an event that happens just once. I have hit rock bottom 4 times now. And spent much more time just above rock bottom than I care to admit. It is amazing really, it is like flying, except there are strings holding you up.

In my experience, it is essential that a person hits that point (only if they are actually heading in that direction… not if they are doing fine!). Why would I wish such an awful thing on people? It is simple: we can be idiots. And more often than not, especially if this is our first time going down, we have no idea it’s happening. And it doesn’t matter how much we try to help them, they have to come to the conclusion that they need some help. They have to reach a point where beyond all reason and doubt they have to admit they are not in control of it.

For some people, that means suddenly realising you have lost all your friends, pushed your family away, and you are all alone. I have been there. It is a horrific feeling. Suddenly the colours have gone, nothing is fun, you lose motivation and you feel rather sorry for yourself. Without this realisation, however, no help will ever be able to help. They absolutely need to make the first step themselves. Telling someone.

I have been blessed greatly, because despite pushing my people away, they have always been there for me after. Many people will find their friends receptive to them again once they have admitted they need help and support.

Believe it or not, hitting rock bottom is a good thing. There is nothing that motivates a person more. The ONLY way from rock bottom is up. There simply isn’t any way things can get worse. And, although you wouldn’t know it at the time, it is actually comforting that this is as bad as it gets.

To survive rock bottom, you need support. You need people you can talk to honestly, people who can distract you, support from a care team (psychiatric care if needed), and people you can call at any time. This support usually comes from many different places, which reduces the amount of pressure on all of them as you are not relying on them alone for everything.

The type of rock bottom I have been talking about  above mainly refers to people who are having a so-called ‘break down’ or ‘mid-life crisis’ (I hate those phrases!). A lot of people will only have the one. But  there is another type, the type I have. That means I frequently go in ‘cycles’ (I tend to dip in April and August). That used to mean hitting rock bottom each time, and really, really struggling to get back up on my feet. It was during those times that I did the most self harm. I was overdosing once a week… or more in some cases. It was so bad that now I have cirrhosis of the liver as a result. However, it is possible to survive these significant dips too… I have made it my business to learn all I can about my illnesses, and especially how they affect me. And now I am able to recognise myself going downhill before I reach rock bottom, so I can get help quicker. Which is great, because the further you fall the further you have to climb back up.

I am still advocating my crisis box, because it is such a good distraction technique and can help in so many situations.

Guilt trips may just save someone’s life!

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Guilt trips are awful. We all use them from time to time, often when we shouldn’t. They can be extremely damaging. But used properly, you may just save someone’s life.

Sounds a little outrageous, I know. That is me for you! When you are in crisis, and speaking to a mental health professional, they often ask “So why haven’t you killed yourself?”. At the beginning, I thought they where asking me to get on with it. Eventually, I figured out the were asking about my ‘preventative factors’. These are the things that stop you from killing yourself. Mine includes my daughter, family, and the fact that I have had lost a friend to suicide and two to accidental suicides.

So, where does the guilt trip come in? Well, if you know someone showing suicidal behaviours, your little guilt trip could become one of their ‘preventative factors’. Saying something like ‘I would be so lost without you, I need you here’ could be the difference between self harm and suicide.

Of course, there is a harsh word of warning attached to this. It could have the opposite effect. People with suicidal tendencies are emotionally unstable. Said wrong, a guilt trip could leave them feeling worse about themselves increasing the chances of self harm. It is vital you think carefully before you speak, and word your comments in a way that shows love rather than trying to hurt someone. Words have such powerful effects on people, and can both build them up and tear them down again.

Showing someone you love them and want to support them is good. Telling them they have hurt you deeply with their actions may not be the best thing to do.

If you know someone who self harms, then I implore you again to read and then show them my blog about a crisis box. It has saved my life time and time again.

https://angel91baby.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/crisis-box/

It is amazing how much a listening and empathetic ear helps. You might find it hard, but if you are able, take a little time out to spend it with that person. People that commit suicide firmly believe the world would be better off without them. Show them that is not the case. Try not to shut them out of your life. Invite them out with you if a group of you are going to the cinema. Give them a phone call just to see how they are.

In the end, the more preventative factors someone has, the safer they are. Think of was to empower them. Make them feel more in control of their life. I found speaking out about my problems hugely helpful. I speak publicly, I write (and obviously blog :D), I write poems and I try my best to give out sound advice. There is little that can lift your mood more than helping someone else.

If you are nervous about using a guilt trip, why not ask them for their help with something. If you are decorating, see if they want to hold a roller. If you are cooking a meal, ask if they want to join you. The aim of the game at all times is to make them feel valued and safe. Showing them you wont run away because of how they feel will help tremendously.

And, I find myself repeating this a lot, get help for yourself too. Loving someone who does not love themselves is really hard work. And I know it devastates my family when I self harm. Getting support for you is vital to help you get through it. There are some brilliant charities out there that can help. I will be putting a page together with support numbers, but until then The Samaritans, Mind, Rethink and The Mental Health Helpline can all offer brilliant support. They should not have to deal with this alone, but neither should you!