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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.

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.

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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 Awareness Week – An Introduction, Courtesy of 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.  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*

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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!

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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?

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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!

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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.

Getting Out of The Comfort Zone

A Safe Place

This week I attended my first in a series of coaching sessions aimed at helping me cope with the challenges that I face when I am at work. My first of several 3-hour sessions. All aimed at giving me some tools to help me manage my anxiety and depression in the office. There have been times when I have been struggling. Yet despite my manager’s initial scepticism, she agreed that some in-work coaching would be beneficial. Now, not every employer would do this. Luckily the company I work for has strong links with a mental health charity. This in turn means that sometimes they are willing to go the extra mile and get things for their staff to help them cope.  For me, it meant getting out of the comfort zone of what I am used to.

One thing I have never really realised is how important a safe place is to me. Getting out of the comfort zone of home is one thing, but I hadn’t realised how much I needed to feel safe. Even at work.

Getting Out of The Comfort Zone and Progress

Sometimes it can be challenging to see the progress we are making. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we see as our failures and short comings.  But very time we stretch ourselves, doing things that make us uncomfortable, we are making progress. So for me, this was doing this coaching session. I was having to be very open and vulnerable about how my mental health impacts me in the office with a complete stranger. I’ll be honest, I found it really hard. When the course was first recommended by the DSE representative, I really couldn’t see me doing it. For want of a better word, it seemed another bit of fluffy nonsense that really was just there so employer’s can be seen to be ‘helping’. But it wasn’t.

What it highlighted to me was one of the places I feel least safe is at work. I often feel exposed. The feeling of everyone judging and looking at you as you crash into a panic attack is terrifying. The logical thinking would be that no-one is ACTUALLY looking at you, but it’s still palpable.  Some of that comes because there is that fear in my head of ‘what will people think?’. It’s been hard enough when colleagues have glimpsed my self-harm scars and asked about them.

But here’s my challenge to all of you. When you’re next asked about your self harm scars, or about your mental health, try getting out of the comfort zone and be honest.  It is a challenge, but it also helps you progress.

The Challenge

Now it doesn’t have to be anything huge (my son recommended base jumping off a bridge to really push those boundaries!). But do those little things. If you struggle getting out of the house, try each time you go to be out that little bit longer. Without even thinking about it, I’ve been subconsciously doing this with Alex for a while. He struggles to be out of the house for long. Yet we’ve managed excursions that have been for 3 or 4 hours, when previously he could only have coped with 1 or 2. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s progress.

Only yesterday I found myself in the middle of a hugely busy Ikea store. I could feel my anxiety ramping up, I was cursing myself for not thinking about how Saturdays are awful in there. So many people, so much noise! But I coped. A few months ago I wouldn’t have. The reason I coped was I have been bit by bit pushing myself. Getting out of the comfort zone of home and into environments that, while I still feel reasonably safe are still busy and potential triggers. Practising the breathing techniques I have learnt from counselling in a moderately busy supermarket. Having my fidget cube on me when I went for an interview. Having people with me who help those feelings of safety. Just little exercises to try to push me that bit more.

And if I couldn’t cope? That was okay too. I tried. For every time we achieve a little win against whatever mental health condition we have, it will only because we have tried dozens of times before. Sometimes we will have failed outright. Others, we will have been able to cope for so long, then fell apart over something small. It happens. And it’s okay! Each time we try getting out of the comfort zone we are a step closer to , if not recovery, at least managing the condition. The important thing is to try. 

 

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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.