The Unwritten.

 

 

 

“Hi, I hope you’re okay. I’m really sorry it’s taken me so long to get in touch. I wasn’t sure what to say. The longer I left it the harder it got. There’s been a lot going on at this end, and I’m finding it hard to juggle everything. I should have said something earlier, to let you know what was happening, and I’m sorry that I didn’t. I didn’t mean to hurt you or make you feel you were alone.

I know you’ve been having a really tough time, and I’m so sorry I haven’t been there for you. I know anniversary dates can be difficult, especially as this was your first experience of it… the first one. And I’m sorry nobody was there for you, that must have been hard. But I do care about you, and of course you were in my thoughts. I hadn’t forgotten, I’m just rubbish at communicating at the moment. I know he meant a lot to you, and he’s still with you.

I haven’t been avoiding you… I know it seems that way, but I promise I haven’t. There’s just been so much to think about, that it all got too much for me, and I had to have some time on my own, to be able to cope with it all. I didn’t mean to make you feel so alone though. I promise I’m not abandoning you, I just have to get my head around everything that’s going on in my life.

I’m still here, and I still care about you very much. And I miss you. The kids do too, they keep asking about you. You’re a special friend to me, and I’d hate to lose you from my life. I wish I could take away all the pain you’re feeling right now, or at least help you carry it. I want to see you be happy. I hate to see you so upset. I’m worried about you… please don’t do anything to yourself, I need you… the kids need you. It would break my heart to lose you.

Even when I can’t be there for you I want you to know you’re in my thoughts, and don’t ever doubt my care for you. It’s unconditional. You’re my best friend, and I’m so thankful to know you. Things will get better I promise. Please look after yourself.

xxxx”

 


14/05/18

 

This is what I would’ve written to me if I was my friend. This is the message I needed to hear at this time. It acknowledges and validates my pain, it explains the absence, but doesn’t guilt-trip me for being upset. It shows care and concern for me. It leaves a good feeling. It’s reassuring and compassionate.

 

Sadly this is not the message I received. It was quite different to the above. I shall take more time to reflect on it, but so far it’s left me with a sense that I am a burden, I’m selfish – only thinking about myself, and not my friend. Lack of apologies. No mention of caring about me. No compassion for my first anniversary date, just telling me they don’t get any easier – doesn’t inspire me to continue… and making it sound like ‘we all go through it’ – which is what I figured my friends thought anyway. Sorry for being a ‘newbie’ to the club….  Cold. Bitter. Withholding of care. These are the immediate senses I get from what I’ve read.

 

I feel like I’m a bad person for not being there for her, but she could have told me much sooner, what was going on, and that I hadn’t lost her. It’s far too late, and the message hasn’t actually reassured me, because there’s no heart in it. I feel she’s angry with me, and I’m meant to feel guilty and ashamed, and selfish… which I slightly do right now. But I am also angry as a result… as I am done being made to feel guilty for being abandoned and hurt by people. I’ve had way too much of it in my life. It’s time people owned their behaviour and stopped trying to spin it round on me. I deserved an apology or care, one or the other at least, and I feel I received neither. Those closest to me are going to have to start trying to understand my illness. Our friendships won’t work otherwise. They have to acknowledge and accept my triggers and avoid them. And they have to start thinking about ‘tone’, and showing more care, concern and compassion. I will be writing a blog about this soon.

 

I understand she’s been busy, and she’s had to focus on other people – I totally get that, in fact I’ve written about it before … that I don’t expect to be the priority … that family is much more important, as it should be. I’m not saying she should’ve taken her focus off of them and focused on me. What I’m saying, and what I’m upset about, is that she could SEE I was in pain and heading to a very dangerous and lonely place. I was crying out for help! She could SEE it, and she couldn’t take sixty seconds out of her day to send me one caring message, to say she was thinking of me. I wasn’t worthy of sixty seconds. THAT’S why I’m upset. I’m sure I’ll get over it. This is just a tough time, for everyone. But I am allowed to be hurt by that, and to take my time to recover from the whole ordeal of the past couple of months.

 

One good thing I suppose, is when I began reading the message, I thought ‘Uh-oh, this has that tone to it, where it’s going to upset me and trigger me…’ I actually got supplies ready to harm myself. But then I picked up a stress ball and tried breathing slowly whilst I read the message. While the message did upset me, I haven’t yet harmed myself because of it. I know there’s still time, but at least I was able to put it off initially.

 

One thing I’ve done is closed my account, and removed everyone from my old one. I’ve turned my phone off. I don’t want to talk to anyone right now. I will ‘talk to’ my blog, and people on Twitter, as they’re the only things that have got me through the last couple of months. People might not like what I say on this blog, but they have no clue what it’s like to have my voice silenced, and to be made to put up with being mistreated. None of them know the level of despair and emotional pain I’m carrying. They’re not capable of knowing. Unless you have BPD you cannot even imagine the intensity of the feelings. I will keep talking here, as I’ve been advised to by people who understand the dangers of me not talking. Those who can see how close to the edge I am, and who understand mental illness, particularly the one I have, say it’s important to just keep talking. I know I saw it as a mistake to talk about these things here. But only I know where I’m at right now. Only I know the consequences of shutting down entirely. I know how close I am to jumping in front of a train, or off a bridge, or doing something else. I can’t let those thoughts win. I can’t let these people win. I have to keep fighting, for my family. They’ve always been there, and I know they always will. That has to be enough for me for now.

 


 

15/05/18

 

Having slept on it… I’m less upset. I’m able to look at potential reasons behind the message I did receive. Of course it would have been nice to get one like the one I wrote at the start – that’s what I needed. But some people have the knack, others don’t. I have to accept people as they are. In time I will respond, and it will actually be with compassion and concern, just as I needed. But at this point in time I have to protect myself, and that means keeping away from everyone. I’m sorry. It’s better that I distance myself, work out how I feel, think of a response and take my time to write it… otherwise I might say something I can’t take back. I actually feel quite proud of how I’ve coped with this so far. I’m doing what’s right for me. I avoided harming myself yesterday. And I’ll let the answer come to me in its time.

 

In the meantime I’m going to be writing posts about what we as people with BPD need from others. In therapy I’ve often been told to treat myself how I would treat a friend, or how a friend would treat me. The letter I wrote at the start is how I wish my friend had treated me… and it’s what I would say to her if she was going through what I’m going through. It’s what friends are meant to be there for… so knowing what I’d have said to her, means I’m closer to knowing how to speak to myself… it’s progress… it’s knowing how I deserve to be treated and spoken to. It’s been a way of telling myself what I need to hear. I’m thinking of doing a collection of letters like this to myself, from all the people who hurt me in my past… the things I wish they’d said, which they never did. It might build my self-worth up a little, and who knows, it might even fool my mind into thinking they were sorry for what they did!! If nothing else it’ll get all the pain out of me.

The next post will be based on this experience, putting it to good use and hopefully it’ll be helpful to others, whilst expressing my needs. Best get working on it!

 

xxxx

 

 

I Choose A Slow Recovery.

*Self-harm references*

 

 

I’ve realised I’m my own worst enemy at times. I have very high standards and expectations for myself, and consequently I live most of my life feeling like a failure. I need to start accepting where I am right now, and not let it define who I am as a person. I need to stop telling myself what I should be doing / where I should be by now and respect how I’m feeling and what I need in this moment.

It’s taken a lot to get to this realisation. It’s involved conversations with people at work, family, as well as responses to my blogs… but I finally see that I have to put my wellbeing first. If that means distancing myself from people… having time away from work… going back to basics, then so be it.

I’ve got to the stage I no longer seem able to do my volunteering without harming myself, either when I get home or even while I’m there. My confidence has taken a massive knock and I need to start again to build it up. Several times I’ve tried to ease myself back in, but the only time it seemed manageable was when I worked upstairs, alone. Being around people is too overwhelming right now… and feeling like I’m useless and everything I do is wrong. The risk of getting things wrong, or being shown up in front of customers, it gives me awful anxiety. I don’t feel confident or happy. I used to be able to joke with them, and serve people… I felt I belonged and it helped me to feel better about myself. I feel like a totally different person at work now.

I feel like an alien. I feel everyone thinks I’m useless, as I can’t do the things I used to do. They can’t understand I’m different now, because my mental health has deteriorated. So many times I don’t go in now. And when I do go in I’m anxious, on-edge, I’m not as chatty. I avoid getting stuck serving people or dealing with customers. If there’s not much else to do I feel it’s pointless me being there, and I’m just getting in the way. I felt that way last week when I was told to go out the back if I wasn’t happy serving people. I went out the back and hurt myself.

I’m not going in anymore. Not at the moment. And when I do I need to talk to the manager and explain that I’m not feeling good at all, and need to start from the bottom and build up again. I just don’t feel I can have that discussion at the moment, as I don’t want it to be dismissed like it has been in the past. I feel as though nobody understands the severity of my mental illness, and people just think I’m being silly, and need to stay positive.

I’ve pushed myself to try and go back to work but I fall each time. I did speak to the manager at one point about it, as I felt I was letting her down, but she said I wasn’t, and that it’s fine to not come in, as I’m ill. And after a discussion with my nan the other day, I realise I have to look after myself. My problem is that I was always viewed as one of the ‘reliable’ ones. And now I feel they’ll see me as unreliable, for not going in and not being as useful. This may be the case, but it equally might not be. Maybe I’m piling this guilt and pressure on myself. I know that when I’m well I AM reliable. But I can’t control what I’m going through right now. I didn’t choose to be this unwell. If I had a choice I’d have continued to build my confidence, and volunteer, as it was helping. If being mentally ill makes me unreliable then fine, I’m unreliable. But as a person I’m reliable. It’s the illness that’s making me this way at the moment. I have to stop thinking my inability to work defines me as a person. When I’m mentally WELL I am a person probably capable of working quite well – reliable, trustworthy, honest, hard-working… these are my qualities. But when I’m unwell these qualities can’t shine. It doesn’t mean I’m the opposite though. It’s just a time I have to put myself first, in order to find those qualities again in the future. I have to stop beating myself up for my mental illness.

Likewise with friendships – I have a tendency to think I’m a rubbish friend as I can’t be there for people. I feel things became quite one-sided, as I feel it is on Twitter and with my experience of blogging right now too…. I feel like a ‘taker’, not a ‘giver’ – and I always used to be the other way round. I used to give and not get anywhere near as much in return. That was my way of life. But now I take what little I can get, and have nothing left to give. I write blogs, but I don’t so much read. I ask for help, but cannot give it. This makes me feel selfish. This in turn makes me feel I don’t deserve friendships. I don’t deserve help or care from friends, if I’m unable to return it. So I pull away. When I do that and nobody questions if I’m okay, I assume they hate me. I feel like nobody cares, and I don’t blame them. It’s a self-pitying cycle, but it’s started by my mental illness making me unable to do the things I did before.

I used to think I was a caring, giving, generous, thoughtful friend. But when I’m as ill as I am, I ‘split’ on myself and feel I’m an awful person to have as a friend. I have to start challenging this, and hold on to the hope that I’m still that person underneath… that I still have those qualities that make me a good friend, and that they’re just hidden from view because of the depth of my illness right now. I don’t know…. I fear I’ve been changed forever. What if I never find myself again?

I hate that my family have to see me go through all this again. Whenever I harm myself I initially hide it from them, but after a while I don’t worry about it so much – it helps that I have such an understanding and supportive family. I know they accept this as a part of my mental illness. They don’t judge me. They don’t think badly of me at all. But I know it must hurt them to see me this way…. hurting myself so much again. Every time I do it I feel guilty, and like I’m letting everyone down. I want them to see me getting better, succeeding and being happy. I don’t want them to see me like this. I’m not the daughter I once was. Not at the moment. In some ways I am, but in some ways my depression has changed me and I’m not as present as I used to be. I’m really hard on myself for this too.

But again, I have to stop seeing myself as a failure, and just deal with the here and now. I shouldn’t think about all the things I haven’t achieved by this age. I need to think of the things I have overcome… the small successes… the fact I’m still alive and trying my best to keep it that way. I have to let go of the frustration of going backwards in my recovery. I have to submit to it, and prioritise self-care in order to move forward in my recovery. It will take as long as it takes to get back on track. But if I keep fighting what I’m going through, it will take longer.

If I rush through the steps, putting that much pressure on myself to be ‘better’ for those around me, I will end up going nowhere, except perhaps further backwards. So for now my life will be different. It might sound ‘lazy’ or ‘irresponsible’ of me, but I will be taking a break from the pressures of life. I have become that ill that even my hobbies bring me no joy, so I stopped doing them. This is my starting point… for the last couple of days I have been focusing on trying to bring some enjoyment back into my life. As silly as it sounds I have been playing Animal Crossing on the Wii – a simple, chilled out game which brings me comfort. I’ve also been playing guitar almost every day. Writing is another thing I’m trying to do a bit more now.

As much as I should be focusing on work, or on taking up courses or exercise, I have to do what’s right for me at this point. For now this is what my soul needs. I will gradually build on it, by venturing out walking, or joining a group… but in my own time. I’ll hopefully start going out for my ‘write nights’ I used to do… going by myself for a hot chocolate in the evening, whilst writing poetry. Just little things that can build my confidence back up. And then hopefully I’ll gradually be able to be more present for friends, and to start back at work too.

I have to realise I’m ill. If someone had a serious physical illness, they would do what was necessary to recover. They’d rest and take their time to get back on their feet. I have to do the same for my mental illness. It’s not wallowing in it. It’s not using it as an excuse to do nothing. It’s not being weak. It’s being strong enough to recognise what my mind needs, and allowing myself to do it, without piling the guilt on myself.

Just as with a physical wound, you wouldn’t leave it gaping open, untreated, susceptible to infection… you’d patch it up… cover it… protect it… allow it to heal… and you wouldn’t pick at it and re-open it. You’d allow it to become a scar – making it something in the past. I have to allow my mind to heal before exposing it to more potential trauma. This is my theory. Some may disagree. But having tried the alternative and it only adding to my illness, I have to try something new. Some may call it avoidance, I call it self-preservation. If avoidance saves my life then it’s worth doing anyway. I have to protect my mind from the world for now. I have to allow it to heal.

I hope my friends will still be there once I come out the other side. If not then I’m sorry they couldn’t understand mental illness. Work will have to wait. I’ve been putting pressure on myself as next month my colleague won’t be in, so I felt I have to be there to help out the manager… but I will crack if I push myself to do that right now. So I have to do what’s right for me. And the best thing I can do for my family is to listen to my needs, and stop fighting them. Even if people tell me what I should be doing, or what ‘might help’ me – I have the right to say no. Only I know what will help me to pull myself out of this. And I should be allowed to try it my way, without being made to feel it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s a stepped approach – starting with hobbies / interests, to at least make me think there’s something good in life, worth living for… and then getting out… socialising and working… and then hopefully I’ll get back on track to taking the next steps, beyond where I got to before. I really have gone that far backwards that it is like starting again. And the first aim has to be to get back to where I originally was. It won’t happen overnight.

My mind… my ILLNESS is telling me many unhelpful things right now, about myself… about my friends… colleagues… the world. Some may be true – others not so much. That’s why I have to just let myself feel how I feel right now, and give myself some space from these things, so as not to react to my paranoid thoughts.

I know I may have upset or offended people in the last few weeks – or at least that’s what my mind is telling me. I’d never want that, and I’m sorry. I hope in time they’ll understand this is the trouble with mental illness. I hope they never find themselves in such a dire mess as me. I also have to run the risk that people at work will talk about me, or think of me as unreliable from now on. I have to accept that as part of my decision to focus on me. I can’t do both. I can’t be reliable to them, AND look after myself. Something’s got to give. And my reputation doesn’t matter as much as my mental health. Besides my character matters more, and my character is reliable. Who cares what people think and say about me? What I know about myself matters the most. And part of my break from life will be about reminding myself who I am when I’m well.

I will practise self-compassion and listen to what my soul is trying to tell me. It’s the only way I’m going to get well. Life will have to wait for now. I will take it a little at a time, at my own pace. It’s that or I won’t take it at all. But I’m choosing a slow recovery over a swift demise, and I hope those around me can accept this, and will stick by my side in my bid to get well.  

xxxx

Ideas: Crisis Box & Grounding Object.

On the first session of my group course, another member suggested something that has stuck with me, and three or four weeks before the end of the course I produced what she suggested. I created my ‘crisis box’.

I’ve had questions about this since then, so I thought I’d share it with you, to help inspire you. This is a box I can open when I feel at risk of harming myself, and it has lots of things in it to try and remind me of the good things in my life, and about self-care.

I bought a box from the Post Office, covered it in pretty wrapping paper, inside and out, and started adding things to it. I put in things like colouring books and pencils…. a spirograph thing I had as a child, with fine line pens….. a couple of dvds – these can be your favourite film, stand-up comedy, or even Disney, to comfort the child in you…. some bubbles….. a nice smelling body cream….. nail varnish in my favourite colour…… photographs of me with my Godchildren, to remind me of those who need me and bring me joy…… stress balls for when I’m angry……. a fossil, as I love fossil-hunting…… cheerleading cards – one of which is stuck to the inside of the lid, saying “Self-harm will not solve the problem…. resist the urge”…. fluffy slippers…. chocolate….and any pampering goods – anything to look after myself, nurture the child in me, and protect me from harming myself.

I created this box near the end of the course, as I kept going away from sessions and harming myself, and my family didn’t want me going to the course in the end, so I said to them, I will put the box on my chair for when I get home, so that if I feel bad I can tuck into it and resist the urge. It worked. Until the last session of course – as nothing could protect me from that level of pain I experienced. It was off the scale.

I shall share a few pictures with you, just to give you a better impression of it:

 

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The box, covered with wrapping paper – took an hour or two to fully cover it!

 

 

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You can personalise your own box – decorate it how you like, choose any size, as long as it fits everything in you want it to. Choose whatever items mean something to you. I didn’t put photos of my granddad in, even thought he means so much to me, because in a crisis, seeing him and feeling the loss will only upset me further. So be careful not to put anything in that might upset you in some way. They’ve got to be ‘feel-good’ items.

Here are some of the cheerleading cards I’ve put in my box – they’re not all finished, but so you get the idea:

 

 

 

 

The person who suggested it to me only attended the group for the first session, but their suggestion was the one that stuck out to me.

I really would suggest you all make one too, and see if it helps you in a time of crisis, or use it to help prevent a crisis forming if you’re on the edge of one. Have fun with it, and always keep it handy, waiting for you at home if you’re doing anything potentially stressful. I might create a mini one to carry with me. For now a grounding object will do – which for me is a ‘worry stone’ – a smooth flat stone, with a circular groove in it, to circle with your thumb. I tried different grounding objects but this one seemed to work best in the end. I can use it to calm myself down, or to keep me in reality when my mind is dragging me off somewhere I don’t want to go. My mum actually gave it to me during my course, as it used to be hers… so that when I got stressed or upset, I’d have it there, and it was symbolic, like she was there with me. I found that useful, to feel I wasn’t alone.

 

 

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My grounding object.

 

 

With the lack of support out there for people like us, we’ve got to do what we can to help ourselves – so these are just a couple of ideas to hopefully help you start to do that.

All the best,

xxxx