Today is World Mental Health Day, his year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.
It’s also a difficult time of year for me. This time 4 years ago I had just faced that dreaded court case and had been on the stand to testify against the man that abused me as a child. For the past week I have been thrown back to that time, having flashbacks and panic attacks. Remembering the waiting, feeling the pain, anxiety and worry about standing there, then being made out to be a liar by the defence, trying to rip me apart as I answered every question to the best of my knowledge, then again the waiting. The unknown. Will he be found guilty? Will it all be over soon?
He was found guilty, yet It is still not over, will it ever be? The relief I feel when he was found guilty was remarkable, but 4 years on, I’m now getting support and treatment to work on the secondary trauma, caused by the court case.
My life with BPD is a struggle every day, yet lately I have had so many stressful problems, that I’m finding it very difficult to cope. I have self harmed, I have felt like I can’t go on, I have cried myself to sleep, I feel frustrated and angry. Then the following day I feel ashamed, embarrassed, how can I keep losing control? What will my boyfriend be thinking? there they are..The paranoid thoughts. The insecurities.
What do I do? I put on my mask and I turn on my auto pilot on and I do my best to get on with my day, I smile as I have lots to smile about, I have a lovely home a loving relationship, a beautiful daughter, things to look forward to. I try and be positive, I have no other option. Yet inside I’m screaming, my head is spinning and I’m trying my best to contain it all.
Like a swan calmly gliding through life on the surface, but underneath I am chaotically paddling like hell!
What can you do if you are suffering from mental health issues?
Do not be afraid to seek professional help if you feel that you are no longer able to manage things on your own. Many people feel reluctant to seek help as they feel that it is an admission of failure. This is not the case and it is important to get help as soon as possible so you can begin to get better.
The first person to approach is your family doctor. He or she should be able to advise about treatment and may refer you to another local professional. Cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness-based approaches are known to help reduce stress. Perhaps you could google some distress tolerance and DBT. Do you research and put a self help plan in place. There are also a number of voluntary organisations which can help you to tackle the causes of stress and advise you about ways to get better.
What can you do to help someone you think may be suffering from mental health issues?
You don’t need to be an expert to talk about it. And it’s often the small things you do and say that can make a big difference to someone – like asking ‘How are you?’ or dropping them a text to say hello.
It will let them know you haven’t forgotten them and that your there if they need you.
If someone you know is experiencing mental health problems or needs urgent support, there are lots of services that you can go to for help.
Unanswered text messages. Declined invites. Missed calls. When you live with anxiety, sometimes little aspects of friendship can be hard. But that doesn’t mean people with anxiety can’t maintain friendships. And it doesn’t mean people with anxiety don’t care about their friends.
This image pretty much sums up how I’m feeling right now. I’ve been lost for a few weeks, in a cycle of episodes, up, down, around, hyper, confused, anxious, excited, It’s been a real Borderline Roller Coaster but I knew that soon enough I would have an epiphany.
This happens now and again after I have these cycles of mixed emotions and feel like I’m stuck in a rut. Now that I know myself better and how my episodes and mood swings work, I recognise the stages and I know that soon enough things will feel different.
It happened this morning, suddenly it all made sense and ideas and creativity were flowing, its been staring me in the face and I had been working towards my goals without even knowing they were my goals. I now feel excited, relieved to have found a solution to end my angst and my creative juices are flowing. I’m ready for new adventures and challenges and suddenly I know exactly what I need to do. I have found my path and realised what my next steps are to further my career.
It feels pretty great, It’s fascinating how the Borderline mind works..passion, creativity and our ability to change are my favourite traits.
It has been suggested that Vincent Van Gogh, who famously cut off part of his own ear, and writers Ernest Hemingway and Sylvia Plath, both who took their own lives, may have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. They are just some of many famous creative icons who supposedly struggled with BPD.
For me; I’m all about embracing the positives of this disorder. If you need me, I’ll be busy for the next few days, planning world domination..
My creative gifts are worth the mental illness, I’ve suffered for them.
Today is World Bipolar Day . World BipolarDay will be celebrated each year on March 30th, the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who was posthumously diagnosed as probably having bipolar disorder.
The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and eliminate social stigma. Through international collaboration, the goal of World Bipolar Day is to educate the world population about bipolar disorders that will educate and help improve sensitivity toward the illness.
As you may know I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. The Similarities between BPD & Bipolar mean that they can often be confused with each other.
In this post I look into the differences between the two disorders.
Further to my recent post Misconceptions of BPD I would like to elaborate on another common view people have on the illness, it IS NOT Bi-Polar, there is a difference, now its easy to understand why people connect the two because there are similarities, in this post I would just like to establish how the two differ for those of you who have difficulty understanding.
For one thing, they’re technically different types of disorders. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, whereas BPD is a personality disorder
BPD & Bi-Polar both feature unstable moods.
Bipolar disorder: The person can go from depression, “the lowest of lows,” to mania, “the highest of highs,” and back again. In mania, the person could “take on the world.” They feel great, they don’t feel a need for sleep, and their activity level could wear out a three year old. (Hypomania is similar to mania, but less…
If you are struggling to come up with the best and most cost-effective Valentines gifts, here is your saviour.
Give the gift of time for free! With us all tightening our belts and with only a few days left to think of a great present that your other half deserves, it is likely that you’ve started worrying about what you’re going to do?!
When it comes to the perfect gifts is your mind totally blank? Why not give a gift with a difference? A Gift of Time!
Why not give your Partner a break whilst you do all the Dirty Work! You could Do the Washing, Clean the House..Fix that tap that has been dripping for months, Run her a relaxing bath or clean his car!..
Or Why Not get creative and make a Chore Cheque Book? they make a wonderful gift for that special person in your life. Create them by hand or use print some Chore…
I write this now because it’s been over 2 years since the court trial ended. I have needed this time to accept it and try to find some closure. My life has moved on in leaps and bounds since I reported the historical abuse I suffered as a child. But here it is, about to be brought back to the front of my mind once again. I’ll start where I left off in my first post, after I had reported this crime to the Police..
Within the first eight months after the report, I had been interviewed several times including on video tape in thorough detail and my family had been interviewed, the abuser was arrested and let out on bail, his family had decided to defend him and insist I was making it up, but that is their bad judgement. I didn’t expect any support from them.
I spent months waiting for the investigating officers to decide whether there was enough evidence to charge him. I was terrified and this had truly been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, every day was a struggle. I went through a mixture of emotions, anger, upset, confusion, pity, sorrow and I was grieving. grieving for the childhood I had lost out on. The realisation had hit me, I had suffered throughout my whole life, the pain and the difficult situations I had found myself in, a result of the choices I wouldn’t necessarily have had made if I didn’t feel the way I did, If I wasn’t forced to carry this burden.
The grief was similar to the feeling of someone dying; I went through the same stages. I was treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when I get ill I tend to disassociate by this I mean that I sometimes feel as though someone has taken over my body and I have no control over myself; however, I’m are still aware of what is going on around me, It’s like running on auto-pilot. I sat for hours just staring, not being able to watch TV or read a book or go out or even hold a conversation. I tried listening to audio books which helped a bit but I couldn’t even listen properly.
I suffered with the anxiety too, it was so bad some days I was physically sick, my stomach was constantly in a knot and churned every time I had to do something. I couldn’t work, I didn’t want to visit my family I’d often relive the abuse through nightmares and flashbacks and experienced feelings of isolation, irritability and sorrow. I was confused and had trouble sleeping; I suffered from sleep panic attacks too. I still do feel some of these things even now, its something I am learning to live with and manage.
It took 18 months before the case was taken to court, there was problems getting information from the Tranwell Unit, which is the psychiatric hospital in Gateshead where I lived. They needed to get all my medical records from being a child, they also needed me to have an assessment which would let them know if I had narcissistic traits, narcissists can be spiteful, dishonest and selfish and it would have been used against me if I did. I scored a zero on the assessment because I am none of those things; I’m quite the opposite in fact. There was also problems getting statements from witnesses, and we had to wait a few months for the CPS to decide if the case was strong enough to hold up in court.
During this time I began receiving help from a lovely lady at The Women’s Support Network in Middlesbrough, she was there from the start and talked me through every step of the way, she didn’t just help with the court case, she offered support with other areas in my life too, whatever I was struggling with at the time she was my first point of call. I had given up on the Primary care team in Gateshead, they had failed me.
There was no point in ringing the Crisis team when I was in Crisis, my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) was changed and the replacements I received were useless and I was hitting a constant brick wall when I begged for help. One day in remember I had enough; I was ready to take my own life. I was at rock bottom and couldn’t cope any longer, I had started planning to take my own life and was hysterical, I received a phone call from an unknown number, usually I would just ignore it but for some reason I answered it and it was The Women’s Support Network, they talked to me for an hour or so on the phone and calmed me down. They were fantastic and I can’t thank them enough for helping me at a time I thought I couldn’t go on.
I also received a lot of help from Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre, I received counselling and though I thought It wouldn’t help I was willing to do whatever it takes to get through this horrific time. To my surprise it was great, I started to feel liberated after getting my thoughts off my chest, the lady I spoke to understood and had a sense of humor which certainly helped!
At first I was scared that I would have to go in and tell the story all over again, but it wasn’t like that, we just chatted and eventually I found myself talking about all my feelings that were confusing me, the emotions I was going through, the pity I felt for myself and the way I felt about my friend and family members and how they were dealing with the situation too. It helped me put a lot into perspective and she gave me reassurance that I was doing the right thing and it would be worth it if I just hung on in there.
When he was finally sent to court he pleaded not-guilty as I expected, though I didn’t feel somewhat disappointed still. I knew I would have to stand up in court now and I was terrified. I received the date for the trial and it was still a few months away, things got worse for me as the anxiety took over and all I could think about was the fear of going to court. I went for a Pre-Trial meeting and they showed me around, I had decided I would appear via video link into the court room; this was the right decision and took off a lot of pressure.
The following Monday I attended court for the first day of the trial, My friend Limara came with me for support, she had been there from the day I reported the abuse and I will be forever grateful that she put up with me throughout the last 18 months. After waiting all morning to give evidence, it was actually adjourned until the next day. I cried because I knew I had to do it all over again tomorrow but I was also relieved that I didn’t have to do it then and there.
The following day I felt a little better about it, I knew what to expect and Witness Support where great and made us feel welcome and comfortable. My mother was giving evidence after me, so I knew I once I went in I wouldn’t see her. My older sister Sarah had come with me too. We were waiting all morning again and it wasn’t until 1pm that they came for me. Since giving my video statement I dreading having to watch it back in court, I don’t like the way I look and I hate my voice, I always fill awkward silences with inappropriate jokes and I was worried in case I had come across wrong in the statement. I was shaking, sweating and thirsty, I have genuinely never been so afraid of anything in my entire life! I sat in front of the screen and camera and was sworn in and introduced to the court room by the judge.
First we watched the video statement, it took forty minutes and I just closed my eyes for the majority, it wasn’t as bad as I thought and they had cut irrelevant bits out (thank god) but I was still cringing and sad to hear myself telling the story of a very frightened little girl whose life was ruined by the abuse she endured. I was told that the defence would then ask me a few questioned and maybe the prosecution would ask some too, I did not expect to be interrogated for two whole hours by the defence alone.
Throughout the interrogation I used grounding techniques to stop me from getting angry or too upset, I stood tall, answered the questions to the best of my knowledge. The defence tried to trick me into saying things, and putting words into my mouth, but I was one step ahead of her. I was telling the truth. If I didn’t know the answer I simply said ‘I’m sorry I don’t remember’, I repeated it over and over. She kept insisting that I was lying, to which I simply replied ‘I am not lying, I have no reason to lie, I am telling the truth’ at one point I did get angry and shook my head and rolled my eyes to stop me from saying something I might regret.
I didn’t elaborate on anything I told them unless I was 100% and I told the court that, If I wasn’t sure about something I just said ‘I’m sorry I’m not sure’ I just wanted it to be over, taking one question at a time. After two hours and forty minutes I was finished, after being such a strong woman and trying so hard to stay in control and regulate my emotions I was exhausted and I cried.
When I went back to the waiting room my Mam was allowed to give me a quick hug as the barrister had told her it had been a long time for me and I might need it, which I did. They told me I had been marvelous and so brave and they were pleased that I got through it so well under the circumstances; they had not expected it to go on so long.
Next it was my mothers turn, she was back within 20 minutes, she hadn’t been able to keep her cool as much as me and spat her answers to the defence and then left. They said it was short and sweet and she done what she needed to do. I was glad I could finally go home; I was so tired and overwhelmed.
The next few days Sarah and my cousin Leanne attended court for the rest of the trial, they were my eyes and ears and I trusted them and they heard things in that room that I have only ever told one person, the officer that took the statement. It was hard for them to hear the abuser and his family speaking about us, they lied and did what they could to get out of it.
The abuser accused my Mam of being jealous of them in the past and suggested that I was malnourished and they had just tried to help me. They contradicted their original statements, they had got dates wrong, and lied about cars they had owned, places they had lived and jobs they had had. This was after they had seen my statement, they had had time to conjure up a story together and tried to convince the jury that their original statements (which apparently proved my evidence was accurate) where wrong because they were confused and stressed when they originally gave them.
Even his defence had to question him on his lies and at one point there was even some confusion in the gallery to whether she was defending him or trying to prosecute him. When it was time for his wife and two children to take to the stand, there stories were all exactly the same. Like they had rehearsed it from a script.
They then brought in their own witness, a girl that I couldn’t remember but was apparently sometimes there too, they thought it would help if she told them that she was there too sometimes and was unharmed, but it turned out when she started to speak she confirmed some of the situations that I had told them about, like when we went up Eston Hills Strawberry picking. The abuser denied that he ever took anyone up there, but this girl said that she used to go on day trips berry picking sometimes, which confirmed what I had said.
It was a week and a half long trial, it was only supposed to last 3 days. I never thought he would get found guilty, you always hear about these people getting away with things and justice not being done. But I will never forget that phone call, Sarah being a drama queen that she is, was crying loudly and just said ‘he was found guilty’ he had originally been charged with 11 offences but was only convicted of 2 due to there being insufficient evidence for any of the other charges, though I know they knew I wasn’t lying.
The relief just flooded out of me, it was a feeling I had never experienced before in my life, it was like years of carrying this weight had been lifted of my shoulders. At this point I didn’t care what happened next, I was just relieved that I was believed, that what I had went through had been worthwhile and no matter what happened to him, he would be known to the police and I may have saved another child from going through what I had been through. I was smiling, properly smiling and I felt like it was over, it was all over finally and I could have a life now.
The sentencing came six weeks later; he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for one account of indecent assault and one of gross indecency. He was also put on the Sex Offenders Register for life and a Sex Prevention Order that means he can’t go near parks or schools etc. When I was told of the sentencing, I didn’t feel happy everyone thought I should, I felt sad. I cried and cried, I felt pity for his family as even though they lied about me and stuck by my abuser, I knew to do such thing, they must love him so much and there lives had also been ripped apart, I know it is his fault and it’s his choices that have done this, but I was sorry that they had to get hurt too.
I felt another emotion too, what I can only describe as guilt. I was given a gift I suppose, of being able to put myself into someone else’s shoes and trying to understand why they do things and how they must feel. I thought about how mentally disturbed this man must be to do what he did and maybe he was suffering mentally too, whether he realise it or not. I believe to carry out acts of abuse you have a disturbed thought process otherwise you would know it’s wrong and wouldn’t do it. I also thought about whether it might have been something he grew out of as he grew older, it was nearly 20 years ago when this abuse started, maybe he now realised how wrong it was? Though if he had surely he would have admitted it or shown some kind of remorse?
I had also spoken to a friend who had been in prison, he told me some stories of the things that go on in there and how pedophiles were treat and it was horrific, I felt like I had subjected a man to this, yes, he is a monster, but two wrongs don’t make a right. I felt like I was just as bad, like I had taken revenge, but that wasn’t my intention.
I never wanted to cause anyone any suffering or misery and I have nothing but pity for his family. I just wanted to free myself of the torment I had lived with and make people aware that this man was a danger to children, to his grandchildren even. I know that he had to pay for what he did. It was illegal and morally wrong and damaging. I have to take a step back sometimes and remind myself of the bigger picture, it wasn’t me that he abused, this strong, brave woman, it was a little girl, like my young Daughter, vulnerable, confused and scared.
Its now February 2016. This month he is being released from prison after serving 2 years and 3 months of his 4 and a half year setnece. He may already have been freed as I write this as I wasn’t given exact dates.
As I wrote just days ago on this blog, I felt so rock-bottom. I was in despair and horribly confused. I’ve had many episodes like that, some much worse and I accept my condition and the way it makes me feel. I know that these things will happen from time to time but thankfully, it happens a lot less these days, as I’m lucky enough to have been able to use the coping strategies that I have learnt over the years. After an extreme low I always feel deep regret, embarrassment and shame because of the way I have been feeling, the way I have acted and of the thoughts I had during that time.
During this episode in particular, I somehow knew what was happening and that things would seem much different when it was over , thinking to myself ‘I have got through this befiore, and I wil again’. Though I still couldn’t control the way I felt, the sobbing, the anxiety, the worries that I had and the chronic emptiness, knowing that no-one will understand even if I try to explain. I was lucky enough to function on auto-pilot, I had to I’m a mother and I have a partner. They rely on me and they needed me to be OK even though I was dying inside.
Last night, after trying to pull myself together for days but not having the energy, I was in the kitchen making some tea and I was just pottering about and started singing.. then it dawned on me. I’M SINGING!
The thoughts have stopped racing through my head and I suddenly relaxed, thought about my situation and how my body felt, at this point the tension left my body and I felt a relief. It was over, I’m on my way back to my version of reality, I was beginning to feel human again.
I remember one day I complained to my mother that my daughter never stopped singing and it was driving me crazy, she told me ‘she must be happy and content then, you don’t sing when your sad’
Gaining so much knowledge in my condition over the years and being able to recognise the triggers, symptoms and feelings have helped me cope with my Borderline Personality Disorder. In this instance I put into place my Mindfulnes practice; Mndfulness is a great tool and I would highly recommend it to anyone suffering from any mental health problem.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
“It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour,” he says.
Mark Williams professor of clinical psychology says “An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment. Awareness of this kind doesn’t start by trying to change or fix anything. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”
Today I feel proud of myself, I pulled through it and that for the first time it hit me that I had learnt a new skill, I knew to recognise the end of the episode by being mindful. I also know my next phase is rebuilding myself. People recover in different ways, I rebuild myself by organising, creating to do lists and being productive, organising my clothes, getting new hair extensions and pampering myself and making plans for the future. I also recognise that by doing this it prepares me for the next depression or bad episode. So this is me back to my life, my beautiful mess.
I am interested to find out how you come to the realisation that your episode is over? or is there something that happens as you begin to descend into that state of depression or mania?
P.s I would also like to thank those of you that messaged me for your kind words of support, they made me feel less isolated in my time of need ❤