I’m not going to lie. World mental health day completely crept up on me this year. Usually I know the date, it’s there, in my head, because it’s important to me. But let’s be honest, it’s been a bitch of a year, so you can forgive me for forgetting just this once.
I didn’t know what to write for this blog piece. It’s not that I don’t know anything about mental health issues, as most of you all know, I’m pretty honest about the fact that I have mental health problems, and although I’m one of the lucky ones and they’re very much under control now, my experience of the subject is extensive.
I have BPD AKA Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s an interesting condition, a bitch of a thing, but interesting, so I’m going to try and outline my experience of it. I’m going to try to explain how it manifested in my life, how it dictated the person I am today, and hopefully, show you how I turned it from a negative into a positive.
Firstly, let me tell you a little about the condition. There are nine major symptoms of BPD:
-Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone
-Unclear or shifting self-image
-Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors
-Extreme emotional swings
-Chronic feelings of emptiness
Yup, those are lifted from Google directly. Partially because I’m lazy, partially because they really are spot on. Bit every single one of those apply to me.
Apart from the explosive anger.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had outbursts in my life (I once pissed on my exes playstation because he cheated on me) but I’ve never been a particularly angry person. Unless you can count anger that has been directed at myself, if you count that, then okay, it’s a relevant symptom. My anger towards myself was once so huge that I bear the scars to this day.
I’m thirty two now, and it’s only been in the past six years that I got my diagnosis. And that was after years and years of struggle, years and years of drug abuse, flitting from unhealthy relationship to unhealthy relationship. It was after years of homelessness, years of hurting myself and years of slowly killing myself.
I don’t know where to start. So I’ll tell you about a brief period in my life where I was so broken I was falling apart.
And this was after the homelessness.
Once upon a time I lived in a flat with a bunch of stoners. They were the loveliest people in the world, far more lovely than what I though I deserved at the time, and we lived in an upstairs flat in a village. They were so kind and understanding, so ready to listen to my problems if I needed them too but unfortunately, because of my mental health problems, I didn’t think I was worth their time. I’ve had a lot of issues around abandonment, a little known fact that I haven’t told you guys is that I went to boarding school when I was a kid. My father was in the forces and we moved around a lot, always going from camp to camp, never really having a solid home, so my parents decided to put me into a boarding school so I would have some stability. I can see why they made this choice, they thought they were doing the best by me, ensuring that I didn’t have to leave friends behind every few years, breaking my heart time and time again as I had to say goodbye to those I love. And I was implicit in their decision because I encouraged it. I didn’t know it would be a terrible choice. As a result of going to boarding school, I only saw my parents either six time a year or three, depending on if my father was posted abroad or not, and this in itself caused a whole rift of issues. Me and my parents were never close because of this. When you have a child who you don’t see everyday, who you don’t interact with, cuddle when they need it and only get to speak to on the phone for weeks at a time, it tends to make you frow apart. Coupled with the ruthless bullying in school, being a total loner and having to live with those who tormented me, it left me with emotional scars. I had no one there for me, no one to really lean on, when I was going through some tender fucking times. Hence the fear of abandonment. I am old enough and stable enough to identity that this is where this first issue came from. Those who I did get close to, and those who I did love, I was so afraid that they’d leave me alone, as scared and destitute as I had been as a pre-teen.
And somehow, in some way, my brain turned it around at some point in my life. All of those who I truly loved, my parents, those partners who all truly mattered to me, would all leave me in the end, much as they always had. And it manifested in this house.
When I lived in this flat, I wasn’t so much of a drug addict anymore, save for the weed. Weed has been a constant since I quit the more hardcore narcotics, helping me to wean off them. It’s something I still use and am still not strong enough to let go of. But I was very much an alcoholic.
Working in a bar, especially one where I was offered a lot of discount just for working there, meant that a lot of my wages were poured back into the place. Even at the expense of my rent. And there manifests your impulsive and self destructive behaviours. Just as alive as it was when I was a drug addict, but in the eyes of society, this was acceptable. Coupled with the legal painkillers such as codeine that I would ingest in amounts that probably should have killed me, I was a wreck.
I drank so I could cope. I was holding down a job and I’d been promoted, something that to this day I have no idea how I did it, but without the booze I was just a nervous wreck.
I went to work every day, but when I wasn’t at work I was just sat in my very messy room. And when I say messy, I mean it was disgusting, a vile imalgination of dirty clothes, empty medication wrappers, razor blades and takeaway boxes. And it’s the only other place I’d be. I was too scared to leave it. I’d come into the flat, if I was drunk out of my mind, I’d speak to my housemates in the living room, but other than that, I locked myself away. I was too afraid of what they thought of me, too afraid that they’d speak to me. I didn’t want to get close to them, just incase they left like everyone else.
I’d sit for hours in my room, staring at the door every time someone walked past, preying that no one would knock as I nailed another can of cheap cider. I’d only leave the room, even to pee, if I knew everyone was out or were asleep.
I didn’t feel like anyone should even have to look at me because I was such a mess.
Another thing I should probably mention is that I used to be a prolific self harmer. If you look at my arms and legs, particularly my left arm, they’re covered in scars from years and years of taking out my pain on myself. I have no shame of them now, at all. And I don’t say that for effect. I’m brave enough now to show them in public, in front of my family who, to this day, have never even mentioned them to me. I used to find that physical pain was so much more manageable than mental anguish, and it was my coping mechanism for so long.
Once upon a time they were a source of shame, I remember silently crying my eyes out as the bath turned slowly redder and redder when I lived in the flat, punishing myself because I was the way I was.
And now I am so unashamed. Once upon a time I looked down and saw weakness, each cut in my arm a testimony to how weak I was, how I couldn’t cope. Now I look down at every shiny scar, large or small, and realise that every single one is a bad day, a bad feeling that I have overcome.
They make me realise that no matter how bad my day is, I have overcome every bad day I’ve had before.
I feel like I’m rambling. I’ll try cut it down now.
When I was in the flat and well before, I went from one shitty relationship to another, taking what I could from whatever abusive bastard that came my way, because I didn’t think I was worth more. It was always people who took advantage of my good nature in some way. Towards the end, I chose to be single and it helped me so much. My paranoia of being left was constant when I was with someone, forever thinking about my inadequacies, forever comparing myself to someone else. My own self hatred, I projected onto others, convincing myself that they disliked me for my own self perceived flaws.
And I had so many of them. I literally couldn’t look in a mirror because I hated what I saw. I wouldn’t shower for weeks at a time, convinced that I wasn’t worth the effort. My weight fluctuated, I was either super thin, unable to eat because of stress, or I’d binge constantly, stuffing my face to try and fill an emptiness that I didn’t understand. And my sleep pattern was fucked, laying awake all night worrying about impossible scenarios, running bullshit events through my head over and over. It was torment.
Anyways, I should probably talk about how I got better, I’ve rambled on enough.
It’s been years since I’ve had a proper, all-consuming flare up, one that’s lasted for weeks. It’s been years since depression ruled my life, years since I’ve had a suicidal thought, and I’m so fucking lucky for that. Once upon a time I honestly thought it was permenent, that when everyone told me that I could get through it, it was a lie and that I would never feel anything but the constant drone of sadness. I never thought I’d be happy again.
Trust me, it does get fucking better. Hold on, because I promise you that the sun will shine again. There’s tears in my eyes writing that line, because I know the pain and the hurt that some of you are feeling and I truly wish I could help you to understand that you’re not alone, that it does get better and that there are people here for you.
That’s what happened to me. I met people who understood. People who knew there was something wrong and who actively pushed me in the beginning to break the silence and admit that I wasn’t okay. They made me come out of my room, one of them would literally appear in the flat and refuse to leave until I came out. They pushed me to talk, listened to me and held me when I cried. They taught me that it was okay to not be okay, that I was worth something. They showed me I was worth a phone call, that I was funny, that I could leave the house with my head held high.
I’m still crying as I write this, and I need to stop, because those exact people are coming over today.
I can never thank them enough for what they have done for me, and I know that they are going to be in my life forever because without them I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I can finally say that I’m so happy with who I am. I’m proud of me.
One out of four people in the UK suffer with mental health issues. That’s one in fucking four of us who are struggling. A fucking quarter.
Please, we need to start talking about this.
We need to break the stigma.
My inbox is always open for anyone who needs it. If you need help, no matter how big or small, please please please get in touch.
You’re not alone.