BPD vs PTSD

Really I just want to rant; to throw a toddler tantrum.

About what?

WHAT?!?!

This!

STUPID MENTAL ILLNESS!

I honestly don’t know which particular illness I’m most pissed at. Is it the trying to thread a needle, with my eyes closed whilst riding a rollercoaster fun of my borderline personality disorder? Because that is FUN. Tra-la-la-la going about my day WHOA! I’m super scared! Ok, ok, let’s roll with this, we can do this…tra-la-la-la I FUCKING HATE EVERYTHING. Int-er-est-ing, bit of crazy rage going on there…suck it down, cook the dinner and then? Well your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps I’ll become deliriously happy (oh wow life is wonderful!) or maybe I’ll be filled with love, or perhaps it’ll be self-disgust. Who the fuck knows? Not me, not anybody. But, you see, life must go on, responsilities must be met and there just isn’t time for a self-indulgent emotional jacuzzi. 

And it’s exhausting.

So, so tiring in a way, that I really believe, others won’t get unless they feel it too. And it’s frightening being catapulted into extremes. I become scared. I limit what I do in case it happens. I hide away. Please don’t talk to me. I can’t promise I’ll always be able to contain it so it’s best that everyone stays away.

Hell yeah, the BPD is awesome. And by awesome I mean an absolute bastard. I dislike having a personality disorder very much.

But…

…I also find myself completely fucked over by the PTSD at the same time. I mean the nasty thugs of BPD and PTSD often go around together so my experience isn’t unique here. Let me tell you, trying to control those unpredictable extreme emotional shifts is made a shitload more difficult by being constantly treated to images of the past. Oooh nightmare! Again? Yes a-fucking-gain. And I can expect one the next night, and the next, and the next… hurrah! Then of course there are the images/memories/flashbacks. How about seeing my mum sneering at me in my mind. Just pops in, uninvited. Like tonight at Body Balance class. Or there’s the sensations – someone breathing on my neck, she’s wrapping her hands round my neck oh god oh god oh god. Meanwhile, outside of my brain (in the real world), as alluded to earlier, life-goes-on. Concurrently. So perhaps I’ll be paying at a checkout or getting my daughter dressed whilst trying to stifle the fear of the prickling on my neck. I’ll be honest, it is spectacularly unhelpful to have PTSD.

The worst bit of the PTSD, for me, is the time travelling though. I can just about manage all the other crap but the time travelling is the final sucker punch that delivers the knockout. The emotions that were shut off all those years ago fire my brain up. My brain tells me that I am 14; that my children are my siblings; that I am alone and it’s too much for a young person. Too much. But it’s all lies, I’m not 14, and these lies are more powerful than any words. They play me like a cruel puppeteer ‘hey puppet, play the part of being 14!’. I fight back against it of course, I have insight at least. I do know that I’m actually a mother in my 30s but I can’t cut those puppeteer strings. I’d describe it as a game but there’s no fun in it. No, it’s rather like some cryptic challenge: behave as a 30 something responsible mother whilst also, uncontrollably, behaving as a 14 year old. 

Yes. I hate that.

So I couldn’t say which symptoms or diagnosis pisses me off the most really. It’s all crap, all of it. 

Fortunately though I look fine. Invisible illness. I wish I could show people a sneaky peek – this is what it’s like! There might be a better chance of understanding. Oh well, a girl can dream. And, on that, it’s time I went to bed for another nightmare. Toodle-oo.

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I look better 

I’ve been hearing a lot about how well I look at the minute. This is because I’ve lost a fair bit of weight. I was obese at 96kg (BMI 33.2) and now I’m slightly overweight at 74kg (BMI 25.6). Losing 22kg (or 3st 6lb in old money) is certainly noticeable. I just find it really odd how I’ve been losing weight for months and a months (6 to be more accurate) but it’s only in the last couple of weeks people have noticed.


I mean, I’ve been losing it at a steady rate so it’s not like it’s all just fallen off in a few weeks but now I seem to have reached some point where everyone feels the need to comment. And it’s nice, don’t get me wrong. To be getting compliments is lovely but it just seems weird. Why now? 


I’ve been working at it for so long, logging what I eat every single day – including over birthdays, meals out and Christmas. The first few months were done privately but then I had to let my husband know for Christmas, to help me. Now that everyone is commenting I have to admit that yes, I am watching what I eat. I tell them it’s because my medication can cause weight gain (which is true – quetiapine) and people seem happy with that. I tell them that the weight loss has slowed, that I feel better for losing it and I’m enjoying exercising – all true.

It seems to make everyone happy that I’m smaller now. My husband in particular loves it, commenting and praising my body every day. He always makes sure to add that he loved it before too! When I tell people that I’m still overweight they tell me that it’s fine, bmi is only a guide and I look great. That’s nice of them so I don’t tell them that I really want to lose another 10kg+ (1st 8lb) to be in the middle of the healthy bmi range. Instead I reassure them my weight loss appears to be plateauing. 

I make sure to eat in front of people. Every evening we sit down and have a family meal. These are often calorie busting so I’ll have to eat very little in the day to save up for them. I wish I didn’t have to do this. Yesterday my mother-in-law offered me some home baking; I didn’t want it. However I knew that we were staying for dinner and I’d be wanting to eat less then so to balance it out I accepted the crumble slice and ate something I didn’t want at all so that come dinner time it wouldn’t be so bad that I turned down the bread and the ice cream. I still ate more then that I’d have liked and that irritates me. Losing weight is slow and hard and having to do it in such a way that stops people prying feels very restrictive. I feel I can’t choose to eat when and what I’d like but instead have to eat all sorts in front of people to stop any unnecessary concern. The irony being of course that everyone tells me how good I look! 

Yargh!

And yes I do look a lot better and I do feel a lot better in myself…physically. It sort of feels misleading. People who know I’m ill tell me I must be doing so much better…because I look better. Well, no. Not really. Not at all actually. I still wake up and my first thought of the day is I want to die. But I can’t bear to disappoint them so I agree that it feels much nicer to be smaller – which is true but says absolutely nothing about my mental health. 

I’m the master of the mask. I just can’t help myself can I? I look so much better.

But I’m not.

It’s Time to Talk, Seriously.

On February the 2nd it is Time to Talk day 2017. I think this is a great initiative. I know it’s been running for a few years now and I really hope that each year more and more people speak up about their mental health because we all have mental health. Just like our physical health, our mental health can be good, or not so good and it will vary. Just like our physical health, we might suddenly find ourselves in a situation with our mental health that was previously unthinkable. Very suddenly everything can change but the world still turns, the people around you still go on, and you can be left wondering.. how could this have happened to me? I’m not like that… Just like with our physical health there are risk factors in mental health – you probably know that being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, but, have any of us really stopped to consider just how that person with mental illness arrived there? I wonder what they were struggling with for the illness to begin. I suppose it’s easier for us to think of those suffering from mental illness as weak, sensitive flowers because it means that we can reassure ourselves that it will never be us. Until it is. And then…what?

Over the last few years I’ve noticed more people speaking openly about depression and anxiety and it’s brilliant. Even men, a group that speaking about their mental health is almost forbidden (sensitive flowers right?). This is awesome…but… (I’m sorry there’s a but) I want us to talk more. I want us to start being able to share some of of the more (perceived) frightening aspects of mental illness. I think they’re frightening because they are so mysterious, shrouded in hearsay, misinformation and sensationalism. Let’s name some of these bogeymen: suicide; self-harm; hallucinations; hearing voices; psychosis; dissociation; flashbacks; delusions.

I don’t work anymore. That came as a huge surprise to me. I never imagined that would be me. I used to be a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company – intercontinental conference calling, symposiums, shares and benefits. Then I retrained as a science teacher and I was successfully climbing the career ladder with the aim of being a head of chemistry and a lead teacher. See? Normal. Doing life and doing pretty well at it but the risk factors were there. Without realising what I was doing I actually fought mental illness all my life and then, and I don’t know how it happened really, everything changed. I tried to kill myself. Now I’m at home I get to catch up on a lot of TV (no, not lucky me). There’s a lot of crime stuff on during the day. Know who the baddies are? Yeah, they usually have mental illness and are suffering with the bogeymen. But, you see, this is my point – I’ve experienced a few of those bogeymen symptoms and I’m as dangerous as a wet tea bag (i.e. not very). People would know that if I could talk to them about it.

Very few people in my life know that I tried to kill myself. Even fewer know about the self-harm. My husband and I haven’t even spoken about it. I keep meaning to. He must see the cuts but then I hide them so well I wonder if he does know. How do I tell someone who loves me that  I deliberately take a knife to myself? I don’t know but it’s definitely time to talk, seriously, because self-harm is a very real and troubling part of my mental illness. This leads me to another massive misconception about mental illness – that it is attention seeking. Are you kidding me?! Attention seeking?! Ha! Right. No, that’s the kind of attention I can do without ta. People being afraid of me, thinking I’m crazy (which I am but it’s ok)?! No, no,no! Attention seeking. Wow. I’m not saying people don’t ever look for some sort of concern or help and that can be in really messed up ways but that’s mental illness for you – it can make rational thought kind of difficult sometimes!

My diagnoses are borderline personality disorder (BPD) and complex post traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD). I’d never even heard of BPD so I googled it. It’s a heartbreaking and damning read: attention seeking, manipulative, liars. Difficult to love? Aggressive or violent? Hand on heart I will tell you that those particular traits do not apply to me (well, maybe I’m hard to love I dunno) but imagine what people will think of me when I tell them that I have BPD (that they’ve probably never heard of) and if they go so far as to google it? Yeah. So it’d be really great to be able to talk about it, to let them know the truth; what I struggle with and how I manage it and why I’m still me. Then there’s the cPTSD bit. This tells people that I have something awful in my past. They don’t want to ask for fear of upsetting me and I don’t tell them because I know it will upset them (been there, done that, sat through the awkwardness).

No one knows what to say but, you know what, that’s OK. This stuff is complicated. It’d be a lot easier if we could talk about it so that’s what I’m saying: it’s time to talk about the scary (not really!) stuff too. Oh, and I want to make clear that I am absolutely not minimising depression and anxiety. I find the depression the worst part of my illness. It’s brutal and can be life-threatening, as anxiety can be too. These conditions have a continuum and if your depression/anxiety is classed as mild then it is still an illness and you have every right to receive the correct treatment. You deserve empathy and understanding. So, no matter how your mental health is faring currently do make time to talk. Please.

From a  crazy, wet teabag x

Really very mentally ill

I’m just awake after another bad night. Dreams of everyone hating me, people leaving me, bombs and bullets, cold, isolation, loneliness and hopelessness. Now I’m awake I feel ill. Really very mentally ill. 

I don’t want to be awake. I don’t want to get up. I feel I shouldn’t as I shouldn’t be part of this world. Acceptance? It is what it is. Maybe this is what I have to accept. Andy has brought me tea. I cried my heart to him. I told him I’m sorry and that I want so much better for him and the children but I’ll keep fighting. He told me he knew today would be like this because I had pushed myself yesterday (going out to a panto – big family outing). I was pleasantly taken aback by his insight. “You’re getting wise to this mental health stuff” I said. “There are patterns” he gently replied. 

My eyes burn from crying. I am exhausted. I feel physically sick. Last night I was planning when (not if) to overdose. I’m going to fight that absolutely 100%. Which means building a bed fort, drinking my tea and waiting for this all to pass.