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.

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.

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.

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.

Episode 44 – Will I Ever Be Me Again?

Getting Back to Me

Will I ever be me again?  When struggling with mental health conditions, that question is often not far from us.  We wonder if we will ever get back to the way we were, before our illness.  In some cases, the illness is lifelong, but sometimes we get through.  So will I ever be me again?

In this episode, I also look at the third question in my 6 Big Mental Health Questions, which asks where we can find support.  After all, sometimes we feel like places of support aren’t so obvious, and they can be hard to come by.  Why not join me?

Any questions about this episode, please direct them to alex.davies@pushingbacktheshadows.com or visit any of our social media accounts to get in touch.  Remember you’re not alone!

Useful Links:

Our Resources Page
The Butterfly and the Diamond

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 - Will I Ever Be Me Again?Disclaimer: 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.

More Than You Think I Am

I Am More

We are more than you think we are.  I guarantee it!  How well do you know me?  Perhaps not very well.  What about the person sat next to or opposite you?  Perhaps all you know is what you see.  But we are more than you think we are.  Moreover, we are more than our mental health diagnosis.  I explore this further, telling you a little bit about me that you don’t know.

If you want to find out more about why I chose this as a topic, you can visit our Patreon page where I share a behind-the-scenes inspiration story about this topic.  Featuring a music track that acted as a creative muse and some of my thoughts behind this video, it’s something you won’t want to miss!  Why not head over there now?

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 - More Than You Think I AmDisclaimer: 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.

Acceptance – Our Problem or Not?

Acceptance – What I Mean

When you hear the word “acceptance”, what is it you think of?  Do you think about receiving a gift and accepting it?  Perhaps you think of other people accepting something that you’ve said.  Potentially you think of agreement? According to the dictionary, it’s all three.  More often than not, we’d probably lean towards the second definition, wouldn’t we?  But what does that have to do with our mental health?

Recently, I attended one of my Talking Therapy appointments with my mental health counsellor and we talked about some of the issues that I have regarding a couple of different situations in my life.  I shan’t go into detail about those on here, as they aren’t relevant, but suffice it to say that they involve situations that I cannot control.

For example: imagine that you are working in a call centre for a bank and you get a customer come through.  They’re furious because somehow a transfer that they requested hasn’t arrived in their account.  You then have to investigate, but you feel upset or angry that they are shouting and having a go at you.  Really, it’s not your fault.  You can’t, however, control how they are behaving, can you?

This is the kind of situation I’m referring to.  Something that someone else is doing or saying, an event or occurrence that is out of my control, something that I can try and influence but I cannot directly change.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

The Power of Acceptance

So I discussed the entire situation with my therapist, who listened intently, only asking a few clarifying questions.  Then she asked a very important question: “can you control what that/those person/people is/are doing?”

It stumped me because it seemed like such an obvious answer.  Well…no.  Unfortunately I don’t have telepathy or mind control or something along those lines, so there is no way I can control other people.  Even if I were a nasty person and resorted to things like blackmail – be it through use of a physical object or through emotional means – or threats, I could still not fully control someone.  So no…I can’t control them.

At which point, she made her answer clear.  In order for me to deal with the depression and low mood that follows this particular situation and others like it, I need to learn acceptance.  I cannot control what anyone else but me is doing, therefore I am not responsible for what they do, which means I am not to blame.  In that vein, I can stop beating myself up for everything that is going wrong or things that don’t happen because it is out of my hands.  Yes, I can influence what happens through words and deeds but I cannot control it directly.

Which is where acceptance comes in.

Confusing, right?  Well OK, maybe not completely confusing, but it took me a while to fully grasp it while she was talking.  So let’s look at it another way.

For Example…

A friend of mine is going through a difficult situation.  One of those where there is an ex-husband and kids and so on.  As with a lot of these situations, the matter of child custody is raised and arrangements of that nature are being made.  Both of them want to take an amicable, informal approach but there is a problem.

Both of them have different ideas of how it should be done.

Now, as with any situation where there are different ideas, there will be problems.  One such problem has arisen and they are in disagreement about how to handle it.  Involving when a child will visit, one parent believes the child should continue visiting mid-week as normal, the other (who has more contact as primary caregiver) has identified that this is unsettling the young child, distressing the child as they get confused easily about whose house they are going to.  So they have proposed scrapping the mid-week visits.  The friend wants the ex to make suggestions of alternatives, as they always come up with those suggestions, but the ex is making it as difficult as they possibly can because they “don’t see the problems” that the child is experiencing, nor do they believe that it is for the best.  Really, it is heavily implicit that the ex is doing what suits them best and not putting the child first, even though they vehemently deny it.

Anyway, this friend was particularly upset recently because of trying to make the arrangements and the ex was using a variety of tactics to try and get their own way.  Ranging from verbal bullying and threats to simply being argumentative over every little detail, they were trying to get their own way.  Why?  They disagreed with what was being said and, as I’ve previously mentioned, they were putting their own desires ahead of their child’s wellbeing.

So what do we do?

Acceptance

The trick here is this whole acceptance thing.  My friend cannot control the reactions of the ex.  As always, my friend is putting the children first no matter what.  That means making this difficult decision, scrapping the mid-week and figuring something else out.  Unfortunately, that also means dealing with a difficult ex and a difficult situation.  While talking to me, still upset, it became apparent my friend was self-blaming, asking whether molehills were being made into mountains and so on.

I asked a simple question: “Do you believe you are doing the right thing?”

“Yes.”

“Are you putting your child first?”

“Yes.”

Then, quite simply, the problem is with the ex.  No restrictions are being made, access is not being denied, so the problem is not with my friend.  As difficult as it is, that means accepting the ex’s behaviour because it is one of those uncontrollable factors.  Even with the best will in the world, neither my friend nor I can change the way the ex is reacting.  So why should we let it affect us?  Instead, accept that that is the way they have chosen to behave and let them get on with it.

It doesn’t need to affect us.

The Secret

You see, once we accept that a situation is the way it is, for whatever reason that may be, it loses its power over us.  Yes, we will still feel some of the feelings and emotions but we put techniques into place so that they don’t control our lives.  I’m not saying it’s easy – not in the slightest, as it can be very difficult to do – but if you can do it even a little bit, it can make life a lot easier for you.

Why not give it a go?  You might be surprised by the results.  After all…the therapists recommend it!  So see where it takes you.  Oh…and let me know how it goes!

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 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 43 – How Do I Cope With This?


The second question in My 6 Big Mental Health Questions series asks the important one about coping with mental illness.  Whether newly diagnosed or not, a “veteran” sufferer or someone still finding their feet, it’s a question we’ve all asked at some point.  Well here are some of the ways I cope, some of the things that you can do and much more…with a surprise twist.

Useful Links:

It’s OK Not To Be OK
Successful Self-Care
Float, Don’t Fight
Knowing When Not To Fight

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.