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.

I Am Borderline – by Brittany Ryan

“I Am Borderline” – the Diagnosis

In a recent job interview, I was asked to ‘sum up who I am in 3 words’. My mind screamed, “Say 24601! DO IT!” Knowing that’s not appropriate, I said  generic words that came to my mind that made NO sense. It was then that I knew that the interview I was pretending, probably just failed. Who am I? Well, I’m borderline. But, can you just tell people that? Probably not. How and when was I diagnosed with BPD? Funny you should ask. It was actually an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

Weird, right?

It was season 18 in January 2017. The episode was called ‘Motherly Love’ to be exact. The mother was a psychiatrist and basically had narcissistic personality disorder. The ex-husband listed the symptoms to badass Olivia Benson and I was like, “holy balls… I have that! But wait… I’m not that narcissistic.” *Frantically ran to Dr. Google. What a reliable guy.* Apparently, NPD and BPD are sister disorders and I fit the criteria of BPD perfectly. The next day I sat down with my therapist and told her what Law and Order: SVU, Dr. Google, and I came up with. She confirmed 10000%. I sat back and was like whoa…That’s pretty cool! I’m ill… oh sh*t. I’m ill.

What next?

It’s true. Psychologists/psychiatrists really don’t know how to handle borderline. Well, some don’t. I don’t think my psychologist knew what to do, but she didn’t give up on me. My psychiatrist flat out didn’t believe my diagnosis and kept putting me on drugs to the point where he recommended that I do TMS, (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). That escalated quickly.

The 9 Symptoms of Being Borderline 1-3

So, what exactly does it mean to have borderline personality disorder? It depends from person to person in all actuality. There are 9 symptoms and if you have 5 of them, you are borderline. Unfortunately, ya girl has all 9.

  1. I have a very unstable sense of self and self-image. What others see, I do not see at all. I’ve been told I look like a young Angelina Jolie and I just laugh in their face. I don’t tell them what I see because I don’t want to hear them tell me the opposite because I feel as though they have to because I’m their friend. When in all reality, I’m sure they are telling the truth, but I don’t trust.
  2. I am the known at my job as the Gif Queen, but in my personal life, I am the Queen of Isolation. When everything around me is “stable,” I feel nothing inside. I am an empty, hallow, robot that does not want to go anywhere or do anything. It’s pulling teeth to go see my family, but I love them, so I have to prepare myself mentally the whole day in advance.
  3. Being borderline can make you empathic. I am one of those individuals. If I have a connection with someone, I can feel your pain and put myself in your shoes. When Chester Bennington died, I was able to put myself in his last moments and feel his pain. He meant a lot to me and feeling that only made my borderline worse. However, if you around those you don’t know or care about, you may feel nothing. And that’s what happens to me. I feel nothing. That’s why people may label those with BPD ‘psychopaths.’ Honestly, people just don’t take the time to understand.

    With Me So Far?  Here’s 4 and 5, which surround relationships.

  4. Unstable relationships due to black and white thinking. This one is my life. One day, I want to see you and the next, I don’t want you to talk to me. I want to ignore you. This happens a lot with men. The guy may not have done anything wrong in reality, but in my mind, he’s ruined me and I don’t want anything to do with him. This leads to number 5…
  5. Intense fear of abandonment- My liffeeee again! I make scenarios in my mind about someone and just tell myself they will leave. So, I leave first. I disappear without a trace. Do I think of how that person feels? Nope. It’s happened to me so many times and that person never cared how I felt, obviously I shouldn’t neither right? This is a carefree process, isn’t it? I feel like this is all some Freudian learning process gone wrong.
    Now for 6-9…
  6. Intense changeable moods that can last several days to a few hours- I know some people may not like the word trigger, but that’s what happens to me. I get triggered. I get overstimulated with sights, sounds, too many people being close to me, someone saying one word that I take in a negative connotation, and I am sent over the edge for the rest of the day or few days depending on what happened. These intense feelings also bring on suicidal ideation and self-harm. I self-harm in different ways. If I feel too much emotion in physical pain from anxiety and I feel like I want to rip my insides apart, I cut myself on my arms or legs. If I situations around me feel out of control, I usually don’t eat for a number of days and if I feel really depressed, I’ll binge.
  7. I am a constant ticking time bomb of anxiety and worry. I suffer from major depressive and anxiety disorder. Just add them to the list of mental illnesses, shall we?
  8. Ahh, this one is always fun: impulsive and risky behaviours. How am I impulsive? Spending money I don’t have. When I’ve been through some trying days, I love to go on amazon and buy, buy, buy. There are other ways to that I’m impulsive, but we won’t go into that.
  9. When I was in college, I changed my major 5 times. I went from 4 medical majors to finally deciding on Marketing. Now, I am going to get my Master’s in Visual Communications Design because I don’t know what to do with my life, all I know is that I need more degrees to get a better job. Sad but true.
In Conclusion

For me, that’s how borderline effects my life. It is different for everyone and each individual goes through their own treatment. My therapist and I are working hard to change my method of thinking, but it’s a daily struggle, especially when my mind says “no.” My words of encouragement are that you’re not alone in this struggle. You may feel alone, because trust me there are times when I feel like the only person in the world and I don’t want to reach out to anyone with my issues or pain, but do it. You never know who will grab your hand while you feel like you’re drowning.

back to the event hub

About the Author

Brittany Ryan is a social media marketer and soon to be graphic designer. After having symptoms since she was 8 years old, she was finally diagnosed with BPD in January 2017 at the age of 26. She shares her experiences with BPD on her blog, . Knowing there is a heavy stigma around BPD, she likes to be very open about her experiences and feelings in her blog so that way others know that they are not alone in their illness. Everyone’s feelings are valid.

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.

BPD Week – An Introduction from Mind

Borderline Personality Disorder…What’s It Like? – video courtesy of Mind

A difficult question, to be sure.  Can we find an answer?  Today’s introduction to Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD, comes from the charity Mind, who have agreed to let us use this video.  It features two ladies who struggle with BPD.

When I first stumbled across this video, I was a little dubious.  After all, I often say that other people’s experiences can only get us so far.  Watching it, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  Join them as they walk you through what it feels like.

Take a look:

*this video appears courtesy of Mind.org.uk, with their permission, but does not indicate endorsement.  For more information and the full page concerning Borderline Personality Disorder, visit www.mind.org.uk*

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.

Retraining Your Brain

The Mental Workout

Something I’ve found strange whenever I leave counselling, (both group and 121) is how exhausted I feel. I leave feeling drained, I’m usually yawning away and if I can take a nap, I will! When you think about it, it makes sense. Much of what you do in counselling can be emotionally draining, but it’s also retraining your brain. Our minds are not weak, but many of the unhelpful thoughts we experience with depression and anxiety are as a result of years of learned behaviour.  Instead of accepting compliments we dismiss them,  it’s easier to believe the negative because one way or another our brains have been trained that way.

Retraining your brain is difficult. But it is possible. Its not going to always be foolproof. I know from experience that there are times when my head will go down a particular rabbit hole and there is very little I can do to change that. But what I have noticed is that while I may still fall, I don’t fall as far. Recovery from a relapse is quicker. While some people dismiss mindfulness, counselling and therapy as fluffy mumbo jumbo, it’s positive effect on mental health issues are undeniable. I speak from experience!

Retraining Your Brain Takes Time

You see, what we forget is that retraining your brain takes time, effort and perseverance. While medication can help level us out in a reasonably short space of time, the effort of overriding years of learned behaviour and negative thinking is going to be huge. When your head is so utterly convinced of your own worthlessness and has been for a while, one session of therapy is not going to magically fix you. And if we don’t persevere with the exercises and techniques between counselling sessions, how can we possibly expect to get results?

This is the part we all too easily forget. Recovery from depression and anxiety can be slow. You are in essence trying to re-wire one of the most complex biological computers ever created. To try and fix it quickly in the past, doctors were prepared to reboot it using electro-shock therapy or even via removal of specific areas of the brain.  When we look at such practices now we can see how barbaric and ineffective they are. But we can also understand the desperation of doctors and sufferers families, trying to find a way to fix a problem with something as staggeringly intricate and complicated as the human mind.

I know a number of people who say mindfulness doesn’t work for them. They find it hard (or even silly) to bring their attention to one thing, shutting out the other stray thoughts that creep in. But here’s the little secret; you have to practice! Not just for a couple of days and then give up. But to keep trying, again and again and again.  Look at this way, a marathon runner doesn’t just wake up one day able to run a marathon. They have to practice. It takes training. They have to make changes to their diet, pay more attention to what their body needs. It can take months (even years) of building up the strength and stamina to be able to successfully complete a marathon. And even then, they may not be able to complete a run in the way they thought they would.

It might take a while, but you’ve got this!

I mean that. I really do! Each time you do that little something to get you out of your comfort zone, you are making progress. The more you practice what you learn in therapy, the easier it will become. And no-one has the right to say how long that process will take. When someone once said to me at work whether I was really well enough to be there, I’ll be honest it made me angry.  Who was this person (who had no medical or neurological qualifications, let alone experience) to question the progress I was making?

It’s something that is personal to you. Your doctor and you are the ones who decide if the rate and means of progressing are working. If they’re not, again, it’s not someone else’s opinion that determines what to try next. Just you and your doctor.

But like I said. You have to put the work in! Retraining your brain is not something that will be achieved over night. Those little exercises you do every day that seem so silly? They are forming new habits, new pathways and coping mechanisms. Rebuilding your self-esteem and confidence that will help quieten those negative thoughts.

So I’m setting you all a challenge. I’m doing it too and if you want to leave comments either here on the website, or on Twitter or Facebook as to how it’s gone, I’d love to hear from you.

So here goes; your challenge is that every time a negative thought pops into your head think of two positives. It doesn’t matter how big or small these positives are. And keep doing it! If you look in the mirror and think ‘urgh, I look so disgusting today’, stop and take a good look at what is good. Be it you have nice eyes, a good smile…there always something. Mine today was I have good teeth and a kind heart! No matter who you are, you have worth. And if you’re struggling to see anything at all, ask someone who cares for you! Its amazing what you’ll find out when you see yourself through another person’s eyes!

Good luck guys, like I said. You got this!

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 45 – How Do I Make Others Understand?

The last two questions in my 6 Big Mental Health Questions series, we look at how to make other people understand and what we do after.  Difficult questions to answer, yet very important ones to find answers to, so I look into them more.

Useful Links:

Talking Things Through
Before the Morning
Overcoming Anxiety
Practically Perfect
Resources

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 - How To Make People UnderstandDisclaimer: 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.

How To Overcome Anxiety

For those of us who get it, anxiety can be crippling. It’s difficult to get ourselves past it, but there are ways that we can overcome our anxieties. Here, I share my tips for overcoming yours today.

Useful Links:
Vote for Sarah Cardwell
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

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 - How To Overcome AnxietyDisclaimer: 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 Art of Escapism

Escapism – Plain and Simple

We all have our fantasies, don’t we?  Dreams that we wish would happen, things that we would do “if we had the money” or “if there were no limits”.  Like being a superhero!  What child doesn’t dream of magical powers?  As entertaining as these fantasies are, however, they aren’t real.  Unfortunately, they are just escapism, plain and simple.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of escapism is as follows:

Noun:
1. an inclination to or habit of retreating from unpleasant or
unacceptable reality, as through diversion or fantasy.

Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly love a little bit of escapism.  It’s one of my most successful ways of coping.  When my depression hits, retreat to some fantasy world.  Anxiety attack?  Distraction through fantasy.  Simple, really.  Moreover, it’s effective!  Those distractions don’t have to be massive or complicated.  No, if anything they can be plain and simple.

Distraction Bonanza!!

What would you do, then, if you could do anything?  Anything at all.  I’m curious!  There are so many things out there that we can do, the world is our oyster, so to speak.  Perhaps you prefer the outdoor world, travelling across the globe and visiting all sorts of wonderful places.  Alternatively, you might prefer the indoor world of books, video games, films.  You might be a creative type, enjoying writing, drawing, creating sculptures or music.  Whatever your tastes, I’m sure there is something that you would enjoy doing if you could do that for a moment.

For me, the answer comes squarely down on video games.  At least, for the moment, as our hobbies and interests can be quite fluid, changing from week to week.  Still, video games have lasted a long time for me and been very successful over the years at providing me with a good distraction.  I’d like to say I have a few different tastes, though looking at them, they do seem to boil down to one particular genre:

Fantasy and role-playing games.

Anyone else enjoy these?  Here are a few that I really enjoy:

SkyrimSkyrim - My ideal escapism.

Ah, the Elder Scrolls.  Ever since Morrowind, I’ve been a fan.  Creating a character, choosing what they look like, what skills to focus on – be it magic, stealth or toe-to-toe combat – and going out into the world to do whatever you want to do…it has a great appeal!  And Skyrim is just the latest in that vein.

There’s something about roaming the beautiful, cold tundras of Skryim, climbing from the lowest valleys to the highest peaks, finding things to fight and sharpening your skills.  It’s one of the joys of such games for me: being able to create that character and explore.  I love it!

Fallout 4Fallout 4 - another ideal form of Escapism.

Another strong contender – and unsurprisingly from the same company as the Elder Scrolls series – is Fallout 4.  Similar to Skyrim in the sense that you create your character, you choose your proficiency – stealth, combat, science, medicine, etc – and you go out and explore the Wasteland.  Post-nuclear blast that destroyed most of the world, the Wasteland is exactly what it says on the tin…yet it has an odd beauty to it.  There’s something about the desolation that is breathtaking and impressive.  It’s no surprise, really, that I lose myself in some of these games!

Dying Light

Dying Light - more good escapism.

Granted, this one isn’t quite like the other two, as you don’t create your own character.  You’re a GRE agent called Kyle Crane, dropped into the quarantined city of Harran to retrieve an important file.  The city is quarantined due to an outbreak of some virus that has turned most of the population into zombies.  You have to sharpen your skills and learn how to survive in this city, while you try and track down the perpetrator who has this file.  If you don’t want to do that immediately, that’s OK, as there are plenty of side quests that you can do.  With plenty of action, some jumpy moments and a boat-load of scares, it’s something that can certainly draw you in.  It might only appeal to a select audience, but it’s definitely one that appeals to me!

There are plenty more games that I could list – Forza Motorsports 6, Forza Horizon 3, Sid Meier’s Civilisation 5 &6, Age of Empires II & III and so on, but you don’t need me to waffle on about those.  Let’s talk escapism instead.

Escapism Perfected

Three aforementioned games, games that have a solid storyline to them but also have plenty of things to do beyond or around that.  In some, you create your character, in all of them, you choose what you want to do.  Add in the others and you have some that are simply more scenario-based (Civ or AoE, for example) but all of them have one thing in common:

Escapism.

These games offer me priceless moments of escaping from the reality that I might find myself in.  A depressive spiral, a day where I’m numb, a day where my anxiety is bubbling and boiling, threatening to go over…these games act as something to get me out of that.

It’s a distraction.

Something I can focus on other than what’s going on with me wherever I am at that point.

It’s escapism and it’s an art that I’ve perfected over the years.  Perhaps it’s not the best coping mechanism, but it’s one that I use to practise my self-care.  After all, isn’t that what successful self-care is all about?  Something that can draw me in, that can lift me out of those situations?  In each of those games, I’m not Alex the depressed, anxious Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer, I’m Alex the Warrior, Alex the Mage, Alex the Sniper, Alex the GRE Agent.  Driver, wandered, civilisation leader, strategist, commander of armies.  For a moment, however brief, I am able to be someone else.  That lifts me out of the pit.

Over To You

So what works for you?  What’s your ideal form of escapism?  Better yet, have you got any examples to show me if you write or draw or sculpt or something else?  I’d love to know!

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.