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!

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The truth about: living in pain.

Pain can take many forms. Most people will be acquainted with physical pain, but there is mental pain too, and phantom pain. I am writing this because I live in pain. It is constant. I have both mental and physical pain.

The problem with pain is that it starts of a cycle. I am living in so much physical pain that it starts to hurt mentally. You start trying to find ways to cope with the pain… and when hot baths and morphine don’t help where can you turn? If you are me, you turn to cutting*. Mentally, you start to get really, really fed up with the pain. You ask “why me? What did I do?”. You wonder how you can cope with another day in so much pain. The physical pain makes the metal pain worse. The mental pain makes you less able to cope with the physical pain, which feels even worse.

The truth about chronic pain is that it destroys lives. I can’t do the things I want to with my daughter. I am confined to my bed often. I sit and cry because I don’t know what else I can do to cope. It is pushing me right to the edge and there is nothing I can do about it. The pain isn’t going to get better. There is no end in sight. THAT is what chronic pain does to someone.

So next time someone  you know lashes out a bit, next time you get fed up of someone moaning about pain yet again, please try to imagine what it is like to go through. Imagine how happy you would feel when you hurt constantly. In some people, the pain will be obvious. In others, they may look perfectly normal to you. But you don’t know the struggle they go through.

Friends and family of those with chronic pain can feel quite helpless… after all, there is no magic wand to make it all better. The truth is chronic pain isn’t something you can imagine easily. That makes it harder to empathise. We get that. The truth is if someone you love is struggling with pain, they need  you more than ever. Make the effort to give us a hug. Make the effort to go over and talk to us since we may not be able to get to you. Don’t abandon us because we never come out any more. You may never know just how close to the edge we are.. and your kind words may help us cope.

The truth is pain isolates you. You feel alone… like no one understands. We have more time than most to sit and think… which inevitably leads to us to hating ourselves for not being able to do much. There is nothing you could say to make us feel worse, so your opportunity is to make use feel better. It doesn’t take much, but a few kind words can mean the world.

 

*If you feel like self harming, please refer to my crisis box! xxx

 

Clinging on!

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So it is nearly 4am, I can’t sleep, I am in pain… so where else would I be?? 🙂 I thought I would write a positive post for once. As the readers that have been with me for a while will know, my birthday is coming up (17th April). This time of year, I usually have a dip in my mental health. I am not sure why, but I think it is because I get fed up that I have had to fight for another year. It gets me down and wears me out.

This year, however, I am not doing too badly. Whilst I can feel my mental health dipping a little, normally I would be in the gutter by now, and I am not. This is fantastic news!! When I was younger, my mood swings used to be much more frequent, and I would go up for a few weeks then down for a few. Over the years, the gaps between my dips have gradually gotten larger, and now I tend to dip in April and August. It makes sense, as both of them are anniversaries. I have hope, however, that the fact I haven’t dipped QUITE so far yet means the time between dips is once again expanding.

I still suffer with nightmares that make me wake up screaming, and I still struggle with anxiety… but the fact that I am coping a little better each year gives me hope that this battle wont be so hard forever. Of course, I could be completely wrong. It could just be that last years August dip was SO bad that my mind feels it has done its work for a while.

Either way, I am counting my blessings and enjoying it. After all, I don’t know how long this will last so I have to make the most of it while it is here.

It is hard sometimes when you are climbing a particularly tricky mountain to take the time to look down at how far you have come rather than up and how far you have to go. When I look down, it is like looking into an abyss. It is dark, and ever lasting, and miserable, and impossible. If I gaze up a little, I can see the beauty around me. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by so many beautiful people it is sometimes a wonder how I manage to feel sad at all!

So here is my advice to you… if you are reading this and have mental health problems, no matter how bad things seem right now take a second to look back. If it helps, do what I did. Set up a private Facebook group that only you have access to. Write in it all the good memories you have, all the good days you have, all the people you love and everything that makes you feel good. When you are in your darkest moments, you have a good read of that page, and remember the good times. If you do that, you will start to see the beauty around you and you will start to look at how far you have come and what you have got, not the fact that you can’t even see the top of the mountain yet because it is covered by a huge black cloud. And just think, when that cloud clears and you have reached the top…what a view you will have!!!!

That journey will have made you empathetic, sympathetic, a wealth of advice, and your muscles (strength) will be phenomenal. It doesn’t matter if you hit an icy patch and slide down the mountain a bit, because if you do it gives you the opportunity to see that view again. And that is what will help you up.

It helps, of course, if you have a guide to help you navigate and some friends to help egg you on when you get lost. You may lose some of them along the way but you know the ones that are with you when you reach the top will be with you forever. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The more people you bring with you the easier it will be. And despite what you think, you will never be alone if you don’t want to be.

Everyone has someone

Now is the time to ask for help. Be that from your best friend, your parents, your GP, your MH support worker, the crisis team or Samaritans, there is ALWAYS someone who will be willing to talk to you and who will want to help. And why not talk to other people in the same boat? After all, some will be able to help you and pull you up, and others you will be able to help, which also gives you a boost up. So what’s your excuse! Get going!

As always, my inbox is always open and I will reply to every message, though it may take a day or two as I get so many. If you feel alone, you have a friend in me!

Exciting news!

So, ladies and gentlemen, it has been just over a year since I started this blog. I could never have imagined how successful it would become. It just goes to show how many people are affected across the globe by the problems I write about.

I wanted to write briefly today about some exciting news I got recently. I have been invited by a very well-known publisher for an informal chat about the possibility of me writing a book. This is a dream of mine, and without you all it would never have happened. Should this book happen I can’t wait to take you all on this adventure with me, but for now just knowing that people like reading what I write so much is an honour.

It has been a very tough year. I have always tried to write honestly about the struggles I face, and it hasn’t always been easy. Shame and embarrassment often cross my mind when I write. But I don’t feel like I could be as successful as I am without being brutally honest. There is a lot of information about mental health problems on the list, but like I have been told in many an email there aren’t so many true-to-life accounts like mine around. Living with mental health problems is hard, but this blog has given me a channel to vent on, a way to process what is going on and the opportunity to help others, even in a small way.

People have questioned the success of the blog given the few number of comments I get. But in my opinion the number of comments was always going to be small, mental health is something most people want to keep private, so ‘lurkers’ are most welcome here. The emails of thanks I get are more than enough to keep me going.

I keep saying ‘my blog’… but that isn’t really true any more. This is OUR blog, where we can discuss things many people shy away from. And without its readers, this blog  wouldn’t mean very much. So thank you! Thank you for your support, your kind words, and for keeping me going when I wanted to give up. If this blog helps just one person I can go to sleep happy each night.

Thank you again!!!!!

Dealing with loss

 

Dealing with loss is one of the most painful emotions we can feel. It attacks our whole body until we go numb. It lasts far longer than most emotions too – lasting years in some cases.

Because of how long the effects of experiencing loss last,  many people find it impacting heavily on their lives. Keeping a job can become difficult, particularly during the ‘numb’ stage – at that point you are unable to care about anything, including your job, your bills and keeping up with your friends and family.

The good news is that the despair we feel when we lose someone (or something) will fade in time. The bad news is that everything sucks until it does.

When dealing with loss it is important to set goals, little things to look forward to. Instead of seeing each day as another day you are in pain, see it as another day closer to feeling yourself again. Unfortunately, all of us will experience loss multiple times throughout our lives, so learning how to cope is a vital skill for everyone.

A good tip is to try to remember the good times, not the loss itself. Never lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. And know that as much as it hurts, you will be okay and you will be able to move on given enough time.

Mindfulness is another decent tip. It encourages you to notice everything in a given moment. Noticing the way you feel, the way your body feels, the way your lungs inflate and deflate as you breathe, the coffee mug you have next to you, the sound of the kids playing outside etc… it is used as part of many therapies and is very useful. Distractions are good too, dwelling too much on the pain wont help you move on. The most important thing of all, however, is to look after yourself. Pampering yourself is vital… sometimes a bit of TLC is the only thing that can bring some sort of relief.

People are different, some want to talk about it and some don’t… but however you cope, know that you have friends, you have support, you have people who love you and things will be okay again.

I had a special and personal reason for writing this today, I had some people in mind, and I am sure you did too. I just hope the next time you have to face something like this, this blog helps a little. Keep strong… it’s what they would want.

Here are some previous blog entries of mine that you may find helpful:

A rolling stone gathers no moss

Surviving Rock Bottom

Post Traumatic Growth

Holding On To The Pain

What Does Surviving Mean?

Holding on to the pain.

 

Letting go of something hurtful is really difficult. When we are in pain we need time to process what has happened, and we need time to come to terms with it. However, it is often harder than it looks. Talking does help people process what happens, and bottling things up only leads to more pain.

There is a point when talking about it does more harm than good. It sounds contradictory I know. Talking about it gets you sympathy from your friends and family… but if you refuse to let it go when it is time, the only thing you will get is more pain. We can upset ourselves by constantly bringing it up and thinking of it. By doing that we don’t allow ourselves to move on. Holding on to anger, upset, pain and bad memories leaves you constantly in a highly emotional state.

We have emotions to help us cope with the bad bits, to help us prepare for fight or flight moments, let us know how much we love someone. They are only meant to be temporary, otherwise we couldn’t cope with anything. Holding on to negative emotions has an effect on the whole body. Stress can be very dangerous if you hold on to it for too long. It can even cause heart attacks.  As hard as it is, people that let go of their emotions are able to return to normal. Holding on to them leaves you upsetting yourself  instead of loving and looking after yourself.

Here is list of a few emotions and how they help:

LOVE: Love keeps us from murdering our children when they cry for the 14th time that night and you need to be up early. Love is bearing the worst bits of your partner just so you can see the best bits.

ANGER: Anger protects us by getting the adrenalin going and helping you with your fight or flight situation. It also keeps our moral compass pointing in the right direction.

FEAR: It might not feel very nice but fear is a very helpful emotion. It helps you keep yourself safe via hyper-vigilance… meaning you make sure you are aware of everything that is going on around you… that way there are no surprises.

GUILT: Guilt is another important emotion. It shows both our conscience and our moral compass are working, and making you feel bad for whatever you did means you wont do it again. It is like a disciplinary emotion that makes you want to do the right thing.

EMPATHY: Empathy is a lovely emotion. It helps create a strong bond and can help lots of people. Being able to understand what someone has been through can drag up some bad memories, but it can also reassure people that it does get better in time and they will be okay. Sometimes that is all they need to hear.

CONTENT: This has got to be the best emotion out there. Feeling content really is a blessing. When you feel good enough to want things to carry on exactly as they are, you are content.

That’s all for now, I will do a more comprehensive list later.

This blog entry is a tribute to my gorgeous sister, who is struggling to let go at the moment. I sincerely hope she is able to let go, move on, and create the life she always wanted. She is stronger than she thinks and moving on will allow her to continue with her wedding plans and focus on that rather than the emotions.

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?