Telling People the Truth…Harsh or Fair?

Convincing Depressed People They’re Mentally Ill – Truth or Lie?

Don’t you love it when someone is trying to make a point, one that goes against what you believe, and they then inadvertently give you a greater social media footprint for that day, better website views and a post topic?  Truth be told…I love it!

So let’s dive in.  What happened?  Well, on the 13th of August 2018, I sat down at my computer, opened my browser and started loading my website along with my social media accounts that I was going to work that day.  As I was catching up on my Twitter notifications, I came across this one response to a tweet of mine.  It was from Rob Grant.  Check it out:

So let’s look at the tweet in question.  It was one of our #BruisedMinds images that I share across our social media platforms.  In fact, it was the image on the left.  Looks pretty encouraging, right?  Well apparently Rob disagreed with one part of it: that depression is a mental illness.

Let’s have a look at his reply and break it down (no, honestly, I’m not getting some kind of enjoyment from this…but oh I do love a good debate/argument!)

“Mental Illness Can’t Be Cured – Depression Can”

OK, suffice it to say that I’m confused with this bit.  In a nutshell, Rob’s whole argument centred around this concept.  He is convinced that depression is not a mental illness because it can be cured, as opposed to things like schizophrenia or bipolar.  Forget for a moment that depression affects the mind and it’s, by its very nature, an illness (as apparently that’s wrong) but look instead at the part where he says it can be cured.

Did you know that?  Hooray!  That black dog inside your head can finally be cured!  *Now re-read those last two lines in a sarcastic tone of voice please…*

There’s a word for his kind of argument but I’m polite and won’t say it.  Even so, what is he on about?  Depression can be cured?  Since when?  Every single article that I’ve found – both scientific and casual – say that depression has no cure but it is treatable.  Treatable.  We’re given medication, we’re given therapy, but that doesn’t amount to a cure.  There’s no magic bullet that zaps it.  It’s trial and error for everyone which, correct me if I’m wrong, is treatment, not a cure.

But that’s not the point I want to make here.  That particular point stems from the first part of his tweet…

Convincing Depressed People They Are Mentally Ill Will Put Them In a Deeper Hole…Truth or Lie?

OK…let’s make one thing very clear: depression affects the mind, depression is an illness, depression is, therefore, a mental illness.  Are we all agreed?  If we’re not, you might want to skip the next section, because you won’t like it.

Alright, glad you’re still with me.  So how many of you actually have a problem with the term “mental illness”?  Do you find that it actually makes you worse?  Interestingly, I had a number of people tell me it actually made them feel better in terms of fighting their depression.  So, ignoring the remark he made at the beginning of that, let me tell you what I think.

Personally, I’ve found that there is nothing wrong with being told I have a mental illness.  Truth be told, it is something that I would expect once I’ve been told that I have depression.  After all, depression is a mental illness in my mind.  Regardless, I find that it is beneficial for people to know that they are mentally ill.

Think of it this way: your computer has a problem that needs fixing.  You get it to run a diagnostic and it comes up with the error code and what the problem is.  OK, machines can’t think in the same way that we do, so it’s not like you’re telling the computer it’s ill…but by getting it to tell you what’s wrong, you’re able to fix it.  Likewise, if someone has anorexia then surely there’s something in their brain preventing them from eating?  So is that not a mental illness?  Whether a biological or chemical factor preventing us from doing what is deemed “normal”, is it not still an illness?  If we aren’t told that we are mentally ill, won’t we just assume that we’re fine and then not get treatment?

What do you think?

So you tell me…is making the link between depression and mental illness cruel?  Is informing someone that they have a mental illness going to put them into a deeper pit of darkness and despair?  Somehow I don’t think so – though I’d welcome attempts to change my mind.

Let’s see if you can!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Fighting the Urge

A Little Context

I’ve done this for you before, given you a little snippet of what’s actually going on inside my head. Last night  was tough for me because while balancing care for partner with BPD (who was crashing) I was also fighting the urge of my own demon. But it’s important I share this with you in the same way I do the good stuff where I hope I inspire or motivate others. To show how a person with depression copes on the good days and the bad ones.

Stop my brain, I want to get off.

It’s just after 3am. I’m still awake. Again. I really don’t know why this keeps happening. I know insomnia is a symptom of depression, but I really thought I was doing better than this. But no, I back to fighting the urge to self harm, back with the dark thoughts, back to sobbing in the dark with what feels like a gnawing, aching hole in my chest. It really, really sucks.
So why am I back here? I’m well on the path to recovery if you look at the big picture. I shouldn’t be back fighting the urge to harm myself. I’ve already scratched myself, but thankfully not too badly. And in this frame of mind, why am I writing this?
I’ll be honest. It’s giving me something to focus on. My hands are busy because I’m typing. Weirdly it’s helping pull me out of it a little, because it’s oddly like talking to someone. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see me sleeping tonight. I feel truly awful. But that persistent, nagging urge has quieted. It’s taken a lot to get to this point. I’ve watched about 3 hours of That 70’s Show on Netflix, I’ve tried meditating, reading, playing a game. Believe me the thoughts are still there, but I’m fighting the urge off with everything I have at my disposal.
It Might Seem Simple to you, Fighting the Urge. It’s Not.
Now to some people it would be really simple. When it comes to this subject they think it’s a case of you just don’t do it. I really wish it worked that way. You see, the dark whisper in my ear reminding me how useless I am has been screaming tonight. A relentless torrent of abuse, over and over. Crushing me. Reminding me of how utterly worthless I am. The draw of pain to silence that voice is seductive. I can punish myself for all of my failings. After all, the darkest part of me believes I deserve it.
But I’m fighting the urge. At this point I’m not even truly clear on why. Everything else is saying to me that it’s what I deserve. Logic doesn’t really come into this. All I know is that if I succumb, I will feel worse. I will feel like a failure. I have to fight this. All I want  is to get better. No matter what the bitch in my head is saying, I have a family that loves me, a partner that loves me. I’m going to keep holding on to that tonight.
It’s time I try to attempt sleep again, so I’ll sign off now. Wish me luck!

Episode 47 – We All Need A Little Help

A Little Help

Every now and again, we all need a little help.  Sometimes there are things that we can’t do, and we need someone else to give us a hand.  Even in our mental health struggles, sometimes we need that support.

Useful Links:
It’s OK Not to be OK

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a Patron - A Little HelpDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Forgiveness – the Hardest Thing

Forgiveness

“It’s the hardest thing to give away, and the last thing on your mind today.  It always goes to those who don’t deserve.  It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they’ve caused is just to real.  It takes everything you have just to say the word: forgiveness.” – Matthew West, Forgiveness Lyrics

Believe it or not, it can be a part of our self-care.  We ought to be kinder to ourselves.  But hey, I’ll let the video speak for itself!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a Patron - Forgiveness: the Hardest Thing to Give AwayDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Facebook LIVE: BPD Awareness Week

Facebook LIVE

To conclude our Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week, Cheryl and Alex took to Facebook to chat with people about the week, what they’d learnt and more.  With some fantastic questions, you won’t want to miss it.  Why not watch now?

Useful Links:
mind.org.uk Borderline Personality Disorder

back to the event hub

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a Patron - BPD Facebook LIVEDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

The Speed of Progress – How Fast Should We Go?

Less Haste, More Speed

How often have you heard that??  Less haste, more speed.  If I had £1 for every time either I or my partner have said variations of this to both my stepchildren, I’d probably be a billionaire!  When the 4-year-old is putting her toys away, she’s in such a mad dash to get them tidy and moving onto the next thing that she often gets called back multiple times because she’s forgotten something.  Likewise, the teenager is often called back to redo some of the washing up because it hasn’t been done properly.  He’s in such a rush to get on his PS4 that he’s done a half-job and it needs to be done again.

Less haste, more speed.

The only trouble with this is we’re in a culture of instant gratification.  In the world of information, everything is there at our fingertips.  All it’s dependant on is our typing and browser speeds.  In shopping, plenty of companies offer Next Day Delivery or immediate reservation for collection.  In cuisine and dining we have our fast foods such as McDonald’s or KFC, but we also have “instant noodles”, “instant mash” and other “instant” products.

We want things now and we’re so used to it, in this social mess of a society, that we often think many other things should be instantaneous.

Like, perhaps, a recovery from a mental illness…

Slow Progress

The offending glass…

When it comes to our own recovery, we never think we’re going as fast as we should be.  As I write this, I’m recovering from a hand injury.  A glass shattered in my hand while I was washing it up and it’s left me with no feeling in half my thumb and I’ve had to have stitches.  Apparently there’s a chance the feeling might return to my thumb, and I know the wound will heal, but naturally I want it to be done now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, not later than that.

Don’t we always?

My poor hand…

Yet I know that, as with all such things, it will take time.  We aren’t like Harry Potter, we can’t just wave a magic wand and suddenly everything is healed and back to the way it was.  It simply doesn’t work that way.

So what do I do?  I have to be patient.

The Truth About Progress

We all heal at different speeds, don’t we?  Some of us can close wounds quicker than others, some of us recover at a far more rapid rate than other family members or friends.  Why?  There’s probably some scientific, medical, mystical reasoning for it but I’m afraid I don’t know that one.  I only know that our illness, be it mental or physical, and our recovery are personal.  Exactly what it says on the tin: they are our illness and our recovery.  No one else’s.

Even when other people try and get involved by coming and telling us that we really ought to be better by now – admittedly this happens more with mental illness than physical conditions – it is not their recovery.  They have no part in it.  We will recover, but it’s for us to do in our own time.  We might not know when that will be but we will still do it in our time.

And that’s OK.  It’s OK not to be OK, we don’t have to recover immediately.  We don’t need to be more resilient.  We will get there when we get there and not before.

So please try not to be too hard on yourself.  You’re making progress.  You’re getting better.  It doesn’t matter how quickly or slowly you go…you’re in a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep going!

Why not subscribe?

 

Join the PBTS Community and receive our monthly newsletter as well as updates straight to your inbox!  Enter your email address below:

Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

The Dark and the Light

About a Friend – the Dark Behind the Smile

When I found out what he suffered from, I didn’t fully understand it. I had an understanding of depression from knowing other people with it but, as you’d expect, they were all different.

I did look up some bits about his condition but, for the most part, I just asked him or read his posts about it. That said, I did have to look up Borderline Personality Disorder as I’d never heard of it before.

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It’s the most commonly recognised personality disorder. In general, someone with a personality disorder will differ significantly from an average person in terms of how he or she thinks, perceives, feels or relates to others.” This is from the NHS website. It’s a neat little definition but doesn’t tell me much about Lex (Alex). There’s a lot more to every person than just a diagnosis and invisible illnesses like this don’t just fit into a diagnosis box for us to understand.

About Our Friendship

Lex and I have always had a good relationship. He was one of my best friends through Uni and has remained one while a lot of close friends came and went. We’re into similar books, games and movies, listen to a lot of the same music, share a lot of opinions and so much more. That’s a recipe for a great friendship, right? I would say so, and I reached the point years ago where I knew I wanted Lex to be a life-long friend. Not having him there would create a dark hole.

So, I guess, the question is, has his condition altered our friendship in any way? Well, learning the guy you consider to be a brother suffers from incurable depression is a disheartening piece of news that makes you question a lot. I questioned how good a friend I was since I didn’t notice someone so close to me was hiding a living hell. Yes, he masked it very well, but still – it made me question.

The Diagnosis

Learning, after, that he actually had BPD was partly a relief and also confusing. I was relieved because it meant the doctors (hopefully) had more of a clue with how to manage his illness and confusing because I thought I understood his depression but a personality disorder didn’t make sense to me. Dark thoughts aside, his personality seemed fine – it was his mental state and emotions that were fluctuating.

There are simple things that I hadn’t taken for granted but thought would be the same that had taken a drastic u-turn. Being happy is such a simple idea to me and, whilst people get sad and angry and all sorts of different emotions, I wondered if he would ever be happy again. Would it take its toll for him to want to end it all? These kinds of questions have frightened me. I could give him all sorts of encouragement and tell him good things about himself, but part of his condition is that he his mind won’t let him believe or feel it. Tricky, but I accepted the challenge for my friend.

Friends For the Dark Times

Most people have friends who call on them when they’re needed and this was no different. It was a sad challenge to undertake but I’d always have said yes to helping him. Not always knowing how to help when I desperately want to is gut-wrenching and makes you feel helpless. He told me that some of his friends ignored or abandoned him, probably because he required ‘more work’ than their other friends; this made me feel worse for him.

For me, learning that someone is in trouble is an instant “are you okay?” or “hope are you?” message, not brushing it under the rug and pretending it’s not there. I was angry with them for leaving him to it but I understood that some people don’t know what to do or how to react, so I made sure to tell him and, hopefully, ease his loss. If someone is hiding in their home and not coming out, you may automatically think they want to be alone, but they may actually be feeling unwanted and need someone to tell them they’re definitely wanted.

Overall, I do feel something has changed but not much has actually changed; only my perception has. Our friendship is the same but how we deal with life has changed. We still share the same interests, we still get on the same as normal and still trust each other the same. What’s changed is knowing he has a dark passenger, knowing he feels things differently. Little things that I’ve noticed have changed but he’s still the same person. The main thing is that he has to deal with a hard hand dealt by life. We all have our demons, but his have a lot of teeth and mean business. Having such a close friend who struggles with depression and BPD is hard at times but it’s a matter of whether you let them go or stay loyal.

It’s a dark challenge in life but the friendship is still light.

back to the event hub

Ara Bell

A returning guest poster, Ara is a young author who lives in Dorset with her partner.  She works for a large corporation by day and writes in her spare time.  Previous to that, however, she worked as a carer for people with mental health problems and dementia for 4 years.  Originally from Essex, she moved to Wolverhampton for university, where she studied English and Creative Writing.  That was also where she met Alex and began supporting him with his mental health struggles as he battled with his depression, anxiety and eventually with his self-harm and Borderline Personality Disorder.  Find more of her work here!

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Episode 46 – My Battle With Borderline

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week

Over the course of this week, we’ve been looking at Borderline Personality Disorder.  So, in this episode I talk more about my recent BPD diagnosis, how it affects me and how I believe I’ve had it for a lot longer than I initially would have suspected.  Why not join me?

Useful Links:
Mind.org.uk – Self-care for BPD
The Harrowing Void
Understanding Self-Harm

back to the event hub

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a Patron - Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness WeekDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Living With a Partner With BPD

The Ups and Downs of Living With a Partner With BPD

First off, to clear any confusion, I’m referring to borderline personality disorder, not bipolar. Two very different animals on the spectrum of mental health issues. No, I want to talk about BPD because I live  with (and love) someone who suffers with it. Living with a partner with BPD can be incredibly difficult, sometimes painful and draining. It can also be wonderful and exciting and incredibly loving.

For a long time Alex and I assumed (along with his doctor) that he was battling depression and anxiety, and yes he does have symptoms of both conditions. But when there seemed to be no obvious triggers or cause, it slowly became apparent that something else was going on. Certain aspects of how he suffered just didn’t fit. For example, the harrowing void where he literally feels nothing, not for himself or for anyone else. He’s shut off to a point where no-one can reach him. It was so vastly different from how I would describe the numbness of depression. The times where you have to be numb because otherwise your feelings would overwhelm you. It just wasn’t the same.
It was literally feelings of nothing. Not for anyone or anything. Empathy, compassion…all gone. To hear someone you love say this is how they feel is both heartbreaking and terrifying.  I’ll be honest it frightened me, and was perhaps the biggest clue that Alex was not just dealing with depression. I will be honest I genuinely feared we were looking at something more akin to him being diagnosed as a sociopath. But even I knew that didn’t really fit either. It was only after long discussions with the psychiatrist that he finally filled in the gaps and diagnosed Alex as having BPD.
What’s in Their Head
Living with BPD is exhausting and depressing for the sufferer. Their emotions are so wildly out of kilter sometimes. Part of them knows how they are behaving is not appropriate to the situation, which in turn leads to feelings of inadequacy.  They beat themselves up because they know their irritability at the world is out of proportion, they struggle to show sadness and then feel guilty because they couldn’t. They can be over-excitable to the point of annoyance. Logical one minute and chaotic the next. After seeing Alex day in, day out, struggling to cope just like this, and reading up online, it became increasingly apparent I was living with a partner with BPD. Getting the firm diagnosis from the doctor only came about after he’d talked with both of us. When I described the vast shift from highly excitable to down in the depths of despair that occurs (sometimes multiple times within an hour, let alone a day) the treatment focus moved away from depression to Borderline Personality Disorder.
But what makes it worse is how others can see it. They mistake the irritability and isolatory behaviour as rude or aggressive. They see the difficulty in expressing emotions as being narcissistic. The truth is sufferers of BPD do feel, they’re often very loving, there’s just something blocking it. Maybe fear of not being able to control it? That the emotions will so consume them they will end up in chaos ? All I know that with Alex, it’s incredibly hard for him. Being vulnerable, either with me or the children, is something that he truly struggles with. Watching him go from feeling nothing at all to emotions so intense they are crippling, is hard. There are times when it breaks my heart as I watch while he battles against it.
Know What You’re Getting Into !
Living with a partner with BPD can be extremely difficult. It will require patience, understanding and love. BPD sufferers often have issues maintaining relationships because the vast majority of people don’t bother to look past what they see. They hit the wall of irritability or emotionlessness and give up. They take it personally and write off that person as ‘a tool’ and walk away. Which then just feeds the depressive symptoms, it reinforces their feelings of inadequacy and forces them to become even more isolated.
Yet behind it is someone who loves, deeply. They care incredibly about what others feel. Their empathy for others is both a gift and a curse, because they take things very, very personally. When someone they care about walks away, someone who they would have moved mountains to help, it wounds like nothing you have ever known. So somewhere along the lines they learn an instinctive defence to just not feel. It’s better than getting hurt.
But break past that, be patient (and believe me sometimes a saint’s patience would be tested) and it’s worth it. It will be a bond like you’ve never known. Yes it will be difficult, but at their heart is someone who loves fiercely and completely, they’d defend you to the end. So don’t mix up when they’re being irritable because you didn’t answer their message as them being a tool, it’s just because to them, it hurt. It equates in their head that they’re just not important to you. A lie that their condition has constructed. But one their condition tells them daily and has sadly been reinforced by all those who walked away before you.
So, you will have to be strong. But like I said, it’s worth it. Practise your own self care.  And talk. One of the biggest ways we’ve been able to move forward is by sitting down and talking. When the irritability side of BPD has been getting the better of Alex, the fastest way to stop him in his tracks was to talk to him about it. Just a gentle reminder that we are on the same team.  Or it can be just give them some space. If they don’t want hugs, don’t. Just remind them you’re there.
My final piece of advice is that no-one is perfect at dealing with a loved one with mental health issues. I get it wrong. We all will at some time or another. The important thing is we keep trying.

back to the event hub

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Borderline Personality Disorder – feat. Sarah Cardwell

BPD – feat. Sarah Cardwell

First: our BPD event!  Second: a great line-up of guests.  Third: a great video!

Day 3 of our Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week, together with all the guests we’ve got in store for you.  We we’re thrilled to introduce Sarah Cardwell who, as well as me, struggles with borderline personality disorder.  Furthermore, she’s agreed to share her story with us – and you – so that we can spread more awareness for it because she, also, believes it doesn’t get enough awareness.  Additionally, she has a message at the end of the video that she wants you to remember, not to mention the great content that’s on her website and on her social media accounts.

Useful Links:
Vote for Sarah Cardwell
BPD Awareness Week Hub

About Sarah Cardwell:Sarah Cardwell - Borderline Personality Disorder Sufferer

Sarah Cardwell is a new blogger having recently been diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder/ Borderline Personality Disorder in January 2018. In light of that diagnosis, she blogs about her own mental health experiences.  Furthermore, she has been under a mental health team since 1998.  You can read more of Sarah’s blogs on Mental health, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, ovarian cancer, family life & her work at

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.