My Experience Of IAPT.

My Experience Of IAPT.

 

 

*Self-harm & suicide*
*Pictures of dressings shown but no scars etc. visible*

 

 

One year ago tonight I had a breakdown at my group therapy session, and self-harmed in the break. That was the point my life spiralled down to the mess it is now. I still vividly remember that night.

 

I had arrived early, to ask to speak to one of the therapists afterwards about an issue. That issue was what I called ‘transference’. I wanted help to know how to cope with it, so that it wouldn’t become a barrier for me in the group. I was terrified about talking about it. I felt sick with anxiety in the time leading up to it. I felt I had to do something, and this was definitely something new for me, so very hard to do.

 

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I got to the building and pressed the buzzer to be let in….. no answer…. I tried again, and again…. no answer. I phoned the therapist we were told to phone to be let in…. no answer. So I stood there for fifteen / twenty minutes by myself, until someone else turned up. It was almost time for the session to start by this point. We were the first ones there. We went in when someone else came out, and went up in the lift and stood outside the doors to where we had to be. A couple of others turned up, having done the same, so four or five of us were just lurking by the lifts, wondering what was going on. I was really angry that on this one day where I needed to talk to them before the session, they ignored me. And that now there wasn’t time to say anything! In the end another member of the group phoned the therapist… and this time he answered! Which given that I was transferring on him, made me feel personally rejected, like the other person was special to him but I was irrelevant and to be avoided. I was nothing. So it all set me off in a very bad way… It turned out the buzzer wasn’t working. I don’t know why the therapist didn’t answer my call, but answered the other person’s. I’ll never know that.

 

There was no time to ask to talk to them later. But I knew I had to say something. I spent the first half of the session zoned out. I couldn’t focus. I was so anxious about confronting the problem, that I wasn’t paying attention to what we were doing. I hobbled to the break and asked to speak to Matt. I told him I wasn’t able to take anything in… that I had a problem and could I speak about it afterwards… he said the line I heard far too often on that course – that there’s limited time as they have to be out of the building by 7:30pm. I was starting to cry by this point for holding it all in. So he said we could have a chat there and then. We went into the next room and sat on one of the couches. I don’t remember all the words – not to quote them anyway. But I remember I was following a plan of how to tackle the issue. I had problem-solved and decided how to approach it, to save any misunderstandings or embarrassment. I was building up to saying what I needed to. But before I could ever get to that point, Matt steered the conversation away. He skirted round the issue, and kept talking about me having an appointment made with my individual therapist. He wasn’t hearing me. He wasn’t giving me the opportunity to say what I needed to. Okay, I should have just blurted it straight out, but I was scared, so I was working up to it. I’d done all this problem-solving homework that week, to figure out what to say and do about it….

 

 

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It didn’t go at all to plan. I didn’t get beyond three or four points, before he led the conversation. With all the skirting around it, we ran out of time and had to go back in for the second half. I was still heavily burdened, and in fact felt even worse. I felt unheard, misunderstood and rejected in a sense, in that he was stopping me speaking to him and forcing me to do things a different way. In one pocket I had my grounding object. In the other I had something to harm myself with, wrapped in a small bandage. I had never intended to use it. I had hoped things would go better than they did. It was ‘insurance’. It was just in case things went so badly I couldn’t cope anymore. I shouldn’t have had it on me. I know that. But I was in a very bad state of mind, and it was so I felt I had options.

 

I followed Matt out of the room, and was so close to making the right decision. I was just behind him as he went in the door to the main room. I had my hand in my pocket on my grounding object, but the prospect of going back in that room, with nothing feeling better, nothing released, for more of the same – hearing nothing and being lost in upsetting thoughts, I felt ‘what’s the point?’… I couldn’t do it. I felt trapped. So I told Matt I’d just be a minute, he said okay, and I walked in the opposite direction, to the toilets.

 

I was beginning to cry and was muttering to myself as I went. I had difficulty getting in the toilet door, as another door was open just inside, and it was preventing the door opening. This added to the feeling of frustration. When I finally got in, I went to the farthest cubicle, shut myself in, pulled out the tool, and with one quick and impulsive movement I had gone too deep. When I saw what I’d done I began to panic. I was hyperventilating. There was no pain at that point, and in fact it took a while to even bleed, but once it did, it really did. I grabbed some tissue and as I did, the blood went all over the floor. I’d never harmed myself that badly before, and I still graphically remember seeing it, and hearing the blood hit the floor. I’m not trying to glamorise it. And I am actually leaving details out. I am traumatised by the experience and still have unwanted flashbacks. It’s not something I can forget.

 

I don’t know how long I was in there, but it was the loneliest feeling I’ve ever felt. I was speaking out loud saying ‘I don’t know what to do… what do I do? What am I going to do… I don’t know what to do’. I was panicking. I was kicking the side of the cubicle whilst crying ‘NO! NO! NO!’…  I felt sick seeing the wound. I had already had a bandage on my arm from previous self-harm. I used what I had taken off to put over the wound and bandaged myself up, just so that I could come out of the cubicle, to the taps with some tissue and clean the floor up. I was worried someone would come in and I’d be caught. I thought I could hide what I’d done to myself, but if they saw it on the floor that’d be it for me. So I cleaned the floor up. And then I tried my best to clean my face up. I had cried so much I had panda eyes. I had all the signs I’d been crying, and I didn’t want people to notice if I went back in. I knew I had to go back in, because I didn’t have anything to treat myself with. But in my bag I had steri-strips and a dressing. This would seem odd to people. But just as I had ‘insurance’ by having the tool with me, I had ‘insurance’ just in case it happened. Again, I never thought I’d need it – that’s why I didn’t have that on me in the toilets! When I self-harmed I wasn’t in my right mind, so I didn’t think of the consequences in that moment.

 

I didn’t know what the time was at this point. Had I missed ten minutes? Half an hour? Was the session almost over? I walked back to the session, went in whilst trying to hide my face. I sat back down in my seat nearest the door. I wasn’t present. I think the therapists were trying to include me, but I was just focused on how to treat my arm. It was throbbing by this point, and I felt really sick. I decided I had to do something, so I just grabbed the bag that had the treatment stuff in, and dashed back out again.

 

This was what alerted Vicky, the other therapist, that something was wrong. I don’t know what happened in the room after I went out. All I know is that initially I went to the room next door, sat on the couch and started to search for my steri-strips. I then realised what I was doing and how foolish it was to sit in a room that anyone could walk into at any minute. I then went back to the toilets, to the end cubicle, having wasted valuable time, and unbandaged my arm. I was searching in my bag for what I needed, and I heard someone outside the toilets talking. It sounded like they were calling me. I didn’t answer. I started panicking more. I had to rush to treat it before anyone saw. Then I heard Vicky come in. As lovely as she was, she had quite a brusque tone, and it made me feel scared that I’d be in trouble. I didn’t want her to know what I’d done.

 

But I realised I didn’t have a choice. I think she was asking me to come out. I reluctantly told her I had a problem. That I’d hurt myself and it was the worst I’d ever done it. I was crying the whole time. She had to persuade me to come out and let her see if I needed treatment. I felt so ashamed – nobody ever sees my wounds and I didn’t want her to see it. She had to tell me she wasn’t mad with me, she just needed me to come out so she could help me. Eventually I reluctantly came out. It didn’t feel real. She said it would need stitches. I got a bit distressed, as I didn’t want anyone to have to know. I hadn’t needed to seek treatment for self-harm for about ten years… after that one experience I said never again. I hated worrying my family like that. I talked things through with Vicky – about not wanting to give my family more to worry about… we’d had a bad enough year. I don’t remember everything we said, but I remember her saying ‘old habits die hard’. I remember her reaction when I said I had something to treat it with. When I got the bits out, and she was like ‘What is this? Is this your kit?’… It felt attacking and judgemental at the time… and looking back actually. I felt so ashamed. I can still feel that kick of shame right now. As it turned out it was just as well I had something, as they’re not kitted out for things like that. She got me to hold the wound closed while she put the strips on. She advised me to get it looked at for stitches still.

 

I was so apologetic. I didn’t want anyone to know. One of my first questions was who would have to know about it? She said ‘Well I’m going to have to tell Matt’. That was one person who I didn’t want to know about it. I didn’t want him to feel it was his fault, having just spoken to me. She said my individual therapist would have to know. And then as the session was coming to an end I had the choice to stay in there, or to sit in the room next door to the group. I asked Vicky to put my stuff in the room next door, so I could avoid seeing anyone at the end. I had been getting a lift home each week, but that particular week, because I was intending to have a chat at the end, and didn’t want anyone to know about it, I said I’d get the train. So I was suddenly stranded at the end of the session. So after another chat with Vicky I phoned my dad for a lift. And initially waited in that room. Vicky tried to lift me up by saying to look at the positives – that I came out and got help from her…. that I knew it was the wrong choice and regretted it… She said one of them would phone me the next day to check in on how I was. Matt tentatively popped his head in the door whilst we were talking, and I felt so guilty seeing him, as obviously he knew at that point something had happened. Apart from how to tell anyone I needed to go to the hospital, how Matt felt about it was my biggest concern. Daft I know.

 

I had to wait for my lift, so walked over to the train station to be met there. I got in the car – obviously my dad knew something was wrong as I’d said I wasn’t good and needed picking up. But I couldn’t admit it. I said I wasn’t sure whether to tell him or what…. but I waited until we got home, and told my mum instead. We went straight back out, to the minor-injuries unit. It was all a bit of a blur. It didn’t feel real. I didn’t want what was happening, but just had to go with it. I think on some level I zoned out… detaching myself from the reality of it all. I remember sitting in the waiting room, feeling so completely drained and flat, and noticing how sparkly the floor was…. mesmerizingly beautiful. I found an odd sense of peace in it. I was seen really quickly, probably because it said I had ‘a cut on my arm’ on the form I had to fill in… I guess they prioritise things like that in case it might prove fatal. They commented on what a good job Vicky had done closing it. They decided to leave it as it was, and not to stitch it, but to put special dressings on it, and I had to go back in every couple of days to have it checked and changed.

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They were really good about looking after it. I never felt judged.  Until the last check-up I had, where the nurse made me feel like shit, took the strips off too soon and fiddled with the wound until it hurt. She interrogated me, and made it sound like I shouldn’t have been there, and should have gone to my doctor’s surgery to have it checked – despite having been told to come back there. Lucky I had someone in there with me – we just got up and walked out on her in the end. I complained about her.

 

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But going back to that first night with the wound – it was difficult. I found it hard to sleep. It hurt so much and I couldn’t risk sleeping on it. I was also haunted by the visions of what had happened. I started writing a letter to them about it, because I was so angry that I’d been left in that situation. I was angry that I hadn’t been listened to, and that I’d been made to do what I did (yes, I know it was my choice), and for everything I’d gone through that night as a result. I was so angry I was crying about it. So I wrote it out. A part of me felt I wouldn’t go back to the group. Part of me felt they wouldn’t let me. I was worried I’d be in trouble and I’d be abandoned in that state. I decided not to make any decisions that night. The next afternoon Vicky phoned. I couldn’t tell her why I did what I did, but said I’d written something to explain it and would let them read it the next week. I was excused from doing the homework that week.

 

This is a sample of what I went through in those first few days after it happened:

 

 

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It was a difficult week – full of pain, flashbacks and wound checks. The flashbacks I was having were so vivid… graphic… disturbing. I had to keep my senses fixed on the present, so took to colouring and other visual activities like jigsaw puzzles, to try and keep my mind off it.

 

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I had tendon pain, from the wound up towards my thumb. I had this for several weeks and had to be careful what I did. They checked I had sensation in my hand, so were sure it was okay, and just bruising or something. I felt I had no right to complain about that pain though, as I had done it to myself. But family kept reminding me it wasn’t my fault, and I still didn’t deserve to be in that pain, just because I self-harmed. It did wear off eventually, but I’ll never forget that pain. I even drew on my arm to show the area where I felt pain…

 

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That week was just about surviving and getting through it, and catching up on sleep I couldn’t easily have. When I went in the next week I texted and asked to come up earlier, as having to catch public transport I had to wait around in town for a long time, and I was really anxious about going back there. They said that was fine. Vicky spoke to me before the session to check in. I gave her what I’d written. I apologised again, saying I never wanted that to happen again. I asked them what the group knew about what had happened, and they said that I just left and wasn’t coming back into the session. I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t know at what point Vicky told Matt – was it quietly at the end, where someone else could have heard? I was worried this might be the case. But that session I really threw myself back into it positively. I joined in more. At the time it felt like a turning point…

 

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I later wrote about what I learned from the experience myself…

 

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At the end of that more positive session I apologised to Matt, saying I hadn’t wanted him to feel bad about it. He said that he actually learnt from the experience, that he should get straight to the heart of the issue early on. He realised I was close to releasing something and he didn’t give me the opportunity to do it. We spoke briefly about my self-harm, and how it had come from a sense of feeling ‘trapped’. I said I’d written to explain it. Then they offered me some of the left-over biscuits from the break and I left… knowing that the next time I saw them they’d know what had happened and why.

 

This was part of the previous ‘problem-solving’ homework – where I assessed how it went.  This was written in a bad moment where it was hard to find positivity!

 

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The rest of the course was difficult. There were better weeks, and others where I didn’t cope well at all. One week I was really anxious (I took a diazepam before the session, despite not having it prescribed for that) … I had difficulty speaking out and asked Vicky for help with it by giving her a note… she nodded to say she would help, but when it came to it she didn’t. This was so I would push myself to do it without help. But I wasn’t happy with this. It happened the same week that someone was a bit abrupt and stand-offish with me, and also the next day Matt had seemingly ‘ignored’ a text from me, saying I wanted to leave the group and why. I was angry about all these things… and hurt. I brought it up at the next session, but it felt unresolved, and I self-harmed in the break again. They didn’t know this time. Vicky came in to check on me, but I managed to bluff my way through it, talking to her through the door whilst bandaging my arm, so that she never knew. I told her I was just upset and needed a minute. When we came out of the toilets Matt was at the end of the corridor waiting to speak to me, to say he was sorry he didn’t get my text. We realised because his work phone is an old phone, and my text went over a certain length it came through as a multimedia message, and he thought it was spam. So he didn’t open it. He said he would never have knowingly ignored me in distress, he just didn’t get the message. So that felt a bit better, but it felt like a rejection, and that doesn’t heal immediately. This is what my text had said:

 

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And these are to illustrate the struggles I continued to have throughout the course…

 

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Another week I asked to speak to Matt before the session. I wanted to know how to detach from someone, and if I would get any help with transference issues after the course. This time I asked if I could just say my bit before he answered or asked anything. So he just made notes. I didn’t get wonderful answers. The bits I remember were to remember my values … that from reading literature on it, transference tends to sort itself out, and if it doesn’t you’d normally just not work with the therapist anymore… and that I had the option of quitting the group and having some alternative help. I don’t know what that would have been. He talked about people wanting therapy to ‘fix’ them. And about transference being about wanting solace from our struggles. I felt a lack of validation and understanding. And I also heard ‘If you yourself can’t get over your fear of losing me, you’ll have to lose me’. I felt zoned out by that point. I felt despondent. He asked if I could do the session today. I said I didn’t feel safe. He asked if I had the means on me to harm myself. I said no. I was telling the truth. He asked if I could keep safe that night. I said it would be difficult. I knew in that moment I would be going home and harming myself. I wished I had something on me. I had decided to avoid that option that week though. I went into the session, didn’t join in at all. Didn’t say a word. Nobody even looked at me through that whole session – particularly Matt. I felt invisible and rejected. They did a role-play about how to say no to things, a made up excuse they joked about was that ‘my granddad died… no the other granddad’ – and given my granddad had died six months earlier it kicked me to the core. It felt like a personal attack. Insensitive. I wrote these notes during the session, desperate to get out of there…

 

 

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Dashed out of there at the end, ran down the stairs, got in the car and said ‘don’t ask’. I went home, harmed myself and had to go for treatment again. My family were desperate for me to stop going to therapy at that point. They didn’t know what my problem there was. I couldn’t tell anyone. They just saw me getting worse. It was only once the therapy finished I finally admitted it to them. But even I was questioning why I was continuing to go to the group when I was always left in this state…

 

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By the halfway point of the course I was painfully attached to Matt. I couldn’t understand it. It was overwhelming and distressing, and nobody else knew how much I was suffering or why. I saw the end in sight and I was so desperately upset about the impending loss. I couldn’t admit to the group the reality of it, so made it sound like I’d miss the group. Consequently I felt misunderstood. It was a heartbreaking experience.

 

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I wrote a note to Matt about that chat I’d had with him, the one that led me to go home and self-harm…  and how misunderstood I felt. I also spoke to Vicky a couple of times, breaking down in tears at the loss I faced. They were both really good about it. After giving Matt the note he seemed more understanding and caring, saying he knew it’s not easy, and he understood. He said he’d have a word with my therapist so that I could get more urgent support. I had my appointment two days after the course ended. I thought this was because she was aware of everything that happened. She wasn’t. She made me tell her everything and then trivialised my feelings for Matt. It was all handled wrong. I was then told that was my last session with her, and effectively abandoned, two days after that loss of Matt and the group.

 

But I’ll come to that…. going back to before the final session… Throughout the course I found that I would spend Thursdays crying because of my feelings for Matt, and the loss I was going to face. The thought of never seeing him again was unbearable. It’s a thought I still haven’t come to terms with a year later. To have to spend ‘forever’ without him. Forever is a long time. I don’t cope well with ‘forever’ or ‘never’. It tends to make me suicidal from the pain.

 

The days leading up to the session were tough. I had support from group members who added me on Facebook, but I still couldn’t tell them what I was going through.

 

 

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That night of the last session was hard. I was very emotional. It was made harder because Vicky wasn’t there – she had supported me through the course and my feelings, and wasn’t there at the end. At that point the only people who knew how I felt were me and Matt. I had told another member of the group a couple of days before, who wasn’t there for the last session either… I only told her because I knew I wouldn’t have to sit in that session with her knowing. So the only people in the room who knew the pain I was in were me and Matt. The burden was too much. I got upset in the break and admitted it to one of the others. The very last mindfulness session we did I still remember. I remember thinking ‘this is the last time I’m going to hear his voice’. It was to be my last memory of him. And I started crying during it for the first time on that course. I’d often hear others during mindfulness exercises, but it was never me. I couldn’t hold it back at that point. And then it was time for goodbye. It felt empty. Unsafe. People gave me hugs at the end… still not aware of why I was upset. While I was hugging one of them I saw Matt notice and look away… to this day I wonder how he felt – was he relieved I’d be gone? Did he feel bad for me? Was he even worried how I’d cope? I doubt it. He probably didn’t think a thing about it. I was so upset at the end that I never really said goodbye or thank you to him. I regretted that for a long time. Anyway a few of us went next door to the pub, and I told them about it and broke down in tears. They were wonderful… they validated me, they understood, they picked me up and made me smile again.

 

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And then I went home, and watched The Apprentice… hiding my face the whole time, as I kept crying. As soon as it was over I went to bed. Only I sat up for hours crying, and self-harming instead of sleeping. The emotional pain was so vivid and loud.

 

Sometimes when in distress I take photos. It may seem odd to some, but sometimes it feels like it captures the emotion and feeling. Just like a self-harm scar says ‘Look, I was upset and this happened’, the photo proves there was real emotion and pain. Often though I’m not even that aware of what I’m doing. I have taken photos of my self-harm before too. I know it seems an odd behaviour – it’s one I might dedicate a post to soon, to explain. This photo captures the raw, ugly despair I felt that night…

 

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I got to the point I didn’t feel I could live in that amount of pain. No amount of self-harm could stop the emotional pain. Nothing would stop reality – that I’d lost him forever. And I thought if self-harm can’t fix this, then the only thing that might is suicide. It took me a very long time but eventually I phoned the Samaritans. I had sat with the number in my phone for ages, and hovered over the call button…. I couldn’t bring myself to do it…. I’d never called them before. I didn’t know what to expect or what to say. There was a lovely lady on the other end who got me through that night.  And somehow I got through a lot more after that. I got through Christmas, the New Year and many reminders. I even saw Matt in a shop during this Summer. We looked at each other, but he appeared to not see me or recognise me, so I didn’t say hello. It upset me and dredged everything up, but I’m still alive at least.

 

These were some of my thoughts from that night of the last session:

 

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The whole experience was very traumatic. From start to finish it wasn’t handled right. From not being given the space to say what I needed to, and breaking a vicious circle, to having to deal with it on my own throughout the whole course… to being led to believe I’d have more support at the end…. to being told that was it, they were done with me. I know they feel bad about it, but this is one time that therapy did me more harm than good. And I think there were lessons they could do with learning from it. Talk to each other – my therapist didn’t seem to know anything about my experience on the course! Listen to what your ‘clients’ say and what they need. Don’t run a course right up to the time you have to vacate the building, because then you’ll have time to help people who need it at the end, so they won’t go away and self-harm! Don’t abandon someone just after an ‘abandonment’ or loss – my therapist went to do that two days after I was suicidal from a loss. After I broke down in floods of tears in that appointment, could hardly breathe, and almost had to beg to not be abandoned she offered me one more appointment… four days later.… as if that was any better!! Ridiculous. All so they could tick boxes and ship me out of the factory. Yes I’m still angry about it. I saw another therapist for four sessions to work through issues from the course. But the damage was already done.

 

I had had such hope that I would get help in that appointment after the course. It was disappointing how it went… it left me suicidal – I decided it best to catch a bus the short way home, as it didn’t feel safe walking over a motorway bridge to get home. I finally admitted everything to my family that day, as I was not okay, and didn’t feel at all safe…

 

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I’m not okay. I’m not recovered. I’m not over Matt. But I survived. Surviving it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt… it doesn’t mean I’m okay now… it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve been through. I’m still vividly haunted by it. And in all honesty I need someone I can talk to about it, frankly and without judgement or being told to just move on. The whole experience was traumatic – I can’t forget my incident at therapy. I can’t forget everything I went through, that nobody would know about unless they read this blog. It’s scarred me so much in many ways. My self-harm is out of control as a result of doing that therapy and being abandoned. I’m in immense pain emotionally even to this day, because of the way it was handled, because I was denied the opportunity to heal and because I miss Matt so much. That wound has never healed. It’s still gaping wide open, and the infection of this horrible life has seeped in and destroyed who I once was.

 

I guess in some ways the pain has faded a little bit…. like the scar…. I have an arm full of scars now since doing that course, but I still know exactly which one happened that night. I know which one happened the night I dashed out of there, went home and hurt myself… the first time I had to have one glued. As a self-harmer I don’t remember every single one and what caused it. I’ve done it much too often to remember every one. But something as traumatic as that I would remember.

 

The pain may not be as extreme and impossible to survive as it felt at the time, but it is very deep pain, that nobody gets. They all think I’m over this now, or at least should be. How do they expect me to be over it if I never talk about it? Even writing about this experience here, which I needed to do, I’ve felt like I’m back in those times. I’ve felt the emotions… even felt pain in my arm. I’ve felt urges to say and do things like I did back then. I’ve felt under threat. I’ve felt suicidal again. I had to stop several times writing this post, to remind myself that it’s not happening now. That although it hurts and I’m not over it… it is over. It’s in the past. This self-reassurance isn’t actually of any comfort to me. I have no professional support now. I’m not over my feelings for Matt, and cannot talk to anyone about it. Nothing can help the pain I feel. And it’s not like my life is in a good enough place to say ‘I’m not in that time now’. Because I don’t like the time I AM in. So it’s no comfort to say it’s not happening now, when I’m still wounded from its happening in the first place.

 

I know it took a lot of strength and determination to get through the course to the end. I had times I wanted to quit. I had times people were wishing I would quit. But it couldn’t be for nothing. I had to keep going. I had to find every ounce of strength I had left in me to push me through that course. And I did it. I don’t know if it was the right decision or not. A part of me wishes I never mentioned the transference and just carried on with the course, sitting there thinking ‘Matt is so lovely’, and avoided all the embarrassment, and didn’t start self-harming like I did. Because it’s only spiralled down since then. Part of me wishes that instead of going off and self-harming, I’d gone in, grabbed my stuff, left and never looked back. It would have avoided the attachment growing. It would have avoided the loss. It would have saved gaining a new physical scar for every week of the course, and so many emotional ones too.

 

I have to try and find and hold onto the positives. The strength and determination it took to go there every week. How hard I worked, doing my homework, creating my folder and creating my own homework. Meeting new people who feel the same ways as me, maybe not in exactly the same way, but to know I’m not alone in the things I think and ways I behave. There are many lessons I could take from it. I haven’t given them much thought lately though, as it’s been a mixture of flashbacks, grief, love-sickness and also trying to put it all out of my mind. But it’s something I should consider…

 

 

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This was me six days after my incident at therapy… putting on a brave face, through the pain and the flashbacks. Oddly it’s one of my favourite photos of me that someone else has taken. If nothing else it shows me that I can come through anything, still be strong and smile. I carried on living. I continue now to carry on living. Whilst everything inside me screeches at me to end it. I’m in a worse place now than I was back then, and I don’t really have the strength to smile anymore. Nobody would want to feel how I do at the moment. I wish they could so they’d understand the mess I’m in. It’s not just about this situation – that only plays a part in my current struggles. But it was the start of the accelerated decline in my mental health. Somehow I now just have to hold on long enough, to get to a place where I can start to believe in recovery again. It’s a long way off, and there’s no support in sight for me. But now it’s come to the point of just hanging on, it literally is ‘do or die’.

 

 

 

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Raw Reality Of Transference.

I sometimes film video journals, when the pain of something is too great to keep inside, and writing doesn’t do enough to release it. This is the first of a series I’m likely to do on mental health issues.

 

I felt the knot of emotion in me, and didn’t know what to do with it. So I picked up the camera and hit record, and started talking until it all came out. No script. Just raw emotion. Sorry, it’s not pretty.

 

I just feel there’s a lack of understanding of transference, especially in this country, even among professionals. From my experience I sensed it was not something they were that used to… which when you’re in immense emotional turmoil with it, makes you feel isolated and desperate. They did what they could for me eventually… but it wasn’t enough. At my three month review after being discharged from the IAPT service, I wasn’t even asked about my feelings for Matt. Either they didn’t want to stir it up, they’d forgotten it was an issue, or they honestly thought I’d be over it by then. But they don’t know me. And they don’t understand BPD and attachment. The intensity of it. I’d love to educate these sorts of people on the reality of it all. I think all mental health staff could do with learning by hearing directly, from those affected by certain mental illnesses.

 

I’m actually in the process of making a couple of other videos – they’re in the editing phase… where I speak to the camera as if I’m speaking to them. Matt is one of those I did this with. I felt it was a way to say the things I never got to say to people. It was to try and find my own sense of closure and peace, as I was never given any. Sometimes it feels good just to let it out. Both videos I’m making are based on things I no longer talk about to anyone. That’s a lot of pressure to leave on yourself. I don’t like being on camera – hence my style of just the eyes…. hate my voice too. But sometimes you have to let go of these insecurities and express your feelings vocally. Since I have nobody to do that with, I make these videos.

 

This video below was a spur of the moment decision, as despite having made the other video, speaking to him, it wasn’t enough…. the memories of the course are weighing heavily on me almost a year on now, and I knew it was something I had to open up about. Though the pain is still there, it helped a little to let it out….

 

Here’s the link to my video on YouTube –

Raw Reality Of Transference

 

 

 

 

A Hard Day.

Today has been a tough day. I’ve just been to the garden of remembrance with family to leave some flowers for my granddad. Today would’ve been my grandparents’ 69th wedding anniversary… they reached just shy of 68 years of marriage before he passed away – something I could never achieve…. unless I live to be 100 years old… and that would mean meeting and marrying the guy like right now!!

It was okay. I didn’t get upset like I often do when I go there. I’d already had a bit of a day, and didn’t want to get too emotionally involved in it all. I was just there to comfort my nan. It was a nice sunny afternoon, and the bushes and trees are green now, which they weren’t the last time I went. The birds were singing, and as we left the place where we left the flowers, we heard a seagull flying overhead. My granddad loved the sea, so we took it as a sign that he was with us. It was a lovely moment.

Earlier in the day I had bumped into the therapist I had transference issues with several months ago. He didn’t appear to notice me. I don’t know if that was deliberate. But it stirred many conflicting emotions up. I had never forgotten him. In fact only this morning I’d realised it’s six months ago today since I last saw him, thinking I’d never see him again. I probably never will again, but it was nice to know he still exists. I wish I could have said hello.

I had just had my therapy session, which is what I want to write about here at the moment. I need to get it out and clear my mind. I wasn’t happy about the session. I spent a lot of it just wanting to get out of the room. I didn’t want to be there. I felt it was a waste of everyone’s time. I’d made no progress, and the therapist didn’t seem to really understand the difficulties I have.

Many years ago when I was mentally unwell I was under CMHT, and although they’d occasionally make me feel like a burden, generally they were there to help me. Nowadays the services that exist seem to be a factory. They want to get people in and out as quickly as possible. They say they provide a toolbox, but otherwise it’s up to you to help yourself. That’s fine, if you’re in a place where you are capable of helping yourself. Unfortunately I am not. And this is something I can’t seem to get through to anyone. I might not be quite as erratic as I was when I was younger… but I promise you I am the worst I can ever remember being. I may not look it, but it’s the reality.

I wish I could help myself – I feel like such a disappointment to these services when I have to tell them why I feel physically unable to do anything about my life! I feel like I’m wasting their time, and they see me as a lost cause. I’m not being lazy. I’m not being stubborn. But if you heard the ‘motivation’ they try to give me, you’d be forgiven for thinking they believe that! I’m constantly told I can’t wait until I feel a certain way to take action… I have to do things even when I don’t want to…. do you want to step into my body for a minute and experience everything I’m feeling and all I’ve been through and then try and achieve these goals you set me, on a bad day? I’m sorry I’m a failure. I’m sorry I’m useless. I’m sorry I can’t click my fingers and magically recover. I’m sorry I’m not perfect. I’m sorry that I’m busy trying to stay alive, and that I have very little left over after that to put to good use.

I didn’t even admit to everything that’s been going on for me, as the conversation got swept elsewhere before I could finish sentences. I didn’t admit to the punching issues. I didn’t admit to the hair-pulling.

I tried to explain the rage, but I really don’t think it got through. I was told to use my anger positively and ‘let go of the negative stuff’…. that’s fine with rising anger. But I’m talking about full-on BPD ‘flick of a switch’, ‘seeing red’ RAGE. It comes from nowhere, and there’s no way I can use that anger positively. I can’t direct it into getting a job, or joining a club, or fighting for a cause. In those moments I am not in control of my body. In those moments the only thing I feel is the need to punch the living daylights of everything, particularly myself. Or I self-harm in other ways. They say ‘use mindfulness’ – but bollocks to that! ‘Mindfulness’ when you’ve been triggered and the rage is suddenly happening, will do bugger all. Once you’re triggered, and you react, there’s no space for mindfulness. There’s not even the awareness that it’s something that could be used. It is as they say – seeing red. Everything else vanishes, and very often the only way to bring it down and make it manageable, despite what therapists say, is to punch…. that brings me back into my body and more under control. I know they can’t understand this, and that’s the biggest problem I have with these people, is they really don’t seem to understand the challenges of BPD. I feel very misunderstood by them.

They also make things sound so simple. Like, ‘get out and make new friends’….. yeah… do you even know me? I have severe trust issues because of friends I’ve had. I hate myself so much that I don’t believe anyone new will like me – I even doubt the ones who do know me like me!

She talks about the fact that online connections aren’t real, and I need to have real friends in real life – again, this shows how little she understands. I had to explain that when you feel isolated from your friends and CAN’T have real life friends, then it’s better than nothing. It’s better to feel connected online than to be completely disconnected from civilisation.

When I talked about the fact I sing while I play the guitar, my therapist asked if I could go to an open mic night! I said no. I do not have that sort of confidence. I already said I’m not good at singing / playing. She said if I have musical friends I could get them involved….. I had already said my friendships are limited right now.

When I said about wanting to do office work but not wanting to have to use a phone, the typical therapist answer came – that I should challenge my fears… that  I don’t want it to be a life-long thing. Why not? What is this CBT obsession of having to face every fear, and to not avoid?? Sometimes it pays to avoid! I had to explain to my therapist that doing a job where I answer the phone, and the idea of an open mic night, are throwing me in at the deep end!

The trouble is if I had a therapist for more than four sessions, they would get to know me, and would know the things that are ridiculous to suggest to me. Where it’s part of this factory procedure there’s no time to really get to know me, and to understand me. It’s not helpful to someone like me at all. I need more consistent and long-term support. Anything else is damaging or a waste. I hate to sound ungrateful… I just don’t think their methods work for someone like me.

I wanted to get out of there so much. I feel relieved I’m done with the service now. I feel reluctant to seek help anywhere else now though, as I feel they’re all going to be the same. They’re going to give me the same crappy solutions, and if I don’t or can’t do them, they’ll wash their hands of me. I feel I’ll be wasting everyone’s time.

I can’t help that I feel as bad as I do right now. Believe me, I wish my life was better. Nobody knows how dire it is in my mind at the moment. Nobody knows the carnage I see when I close my eyes… the tatters of my life. Nobody hears the cracking of my heart. Nobody hears the deafening scream in my chest. Nobody feels the force preparing to erupt in me, or the other force pushing me down… paralysing me. Nobody knows. More than anything right now, I want someone to give me their time…. listen to my depressing feelings, validate them…. show compassion and empathy…. tell me they hear me and how sorry they are that my life is so shit, and that they can understand why I feel so broken and just done with life. I don’t want advice right now. I don’t want solutions until I truly feel someone gets my reality. I want to be understood. Until I feel understood, no amount of suggestions will help… they will all be met with a feeling that nobody gets how hard this is for me.

Today was exhausting, upsetting and I’m glad it’s finished with. The rest of the week is busy, but at least I get to sleep soon. A short respite from reality and emotions. I almost live for sleep at the moment. Goodnight everyone.

xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inevitable.

inevitable

*Bad language, self-harm, suicide*

 

I’ve not written a post in a while. Things haven’t been good. I’ve tried writing, but have several unfinished posts, as I can’t keep my mind focused on one thing at the moment. I’ll hopefully get round to finishing them soon and will share them when I do. I thought I’d write about my inner experience for now, in the hope it might unclog my mind.

 

I have come to a point in my life where I’m accepting the inevitable. I am starting to realise I will never get anything in my life that I want. We will never have snow here, it will always skirt around us (this trivialises my feelings a bit, but thought I’d lighten an otherwise heavy post by talking about the weather!!). I will never be happy. I will never find someone to love me. I will never be walked down the aisle. I will never be a mother. We won’t get what we voted for in the referendum. Labour will probably get in and ruin the country. I will never succeed, have a job, own a house. I will never get over the past. Nobody will ever allow me closure. Nobody will ever have my back. Nobody will ever apologise for their wrongdoings. I will never stop self-harming. I will never be ‘normal’ or fit in to society. I will never get the help I need. And I’ll likely end up dead in the next few years. Inevitable.

I used to believe in recovery. I used to count how many days / weeks I had gone without harming myself, now I spend every day longing to be triggered, so I can legitimately do it again. I’m in self-sabotage mode. I’ve shut down from everyone. I’ve felt invisible. And then I expressed a view, had it challenged, and now feel I can’t express myself even on my own private social media page. Everything else went unnoticed. But as soon as I mention politics my friends are there, arguing my points. Which then highlights the fact that among my friends I AM the minority. I suppose in my age group I AM the minority, even though my views align with the majority. It’s a lonely way to live. I feel I can’t express my anxieties, frustrations and depression, in relation to politics and other such topics where I feel strongly. Those on the opposite side seem perfectly content saying whatever the hell they like, putting us down, sharing their concerns, but if I do it and they don’t agree with it, they’ll rapidly let me know. It’s invalidating. I’ve lost ‘friends’ because of politics. Not because I’m intolerant of their views, or can’t accept a difference of opinion but because they have turned offensive, have felt the need to challenge my views, and could not accept an opinion different to theirs. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of the state of this country now. If you’re ‘right-leaning’ or voted to Leave you are looked down upon and abused, whilst those on the other side claim it’s the other way round. We’re being bullied into silence yet again, only this time it’s actually dangerous to admit we voted how we did. People are afraid to admit it because of the level of abuse and threats of violence that have been opened up, by Labour and its far-left supporters. We used to live in a more tolerant country, whereby we had a vote, and whilst some might be unhappy about it, we accepted it and got on. What the hell happened to us? The rhetoric around Brexit is driving me insane – the constant whinging about the bloody bus, which wasn’t even a factor for us making that decision! Saying we didn’t know what we were voting for. Calling us racist, selfish, uneducated, when we did months of research, educating ourselves about the EU, and did what we felt was in the best interests of future generations – okay you can’t freely go anywhere you want, but some things matter than what you can ‘get’. And the constant talk of ‘extreme Brexit’ / ‘hard Brexit’ – there’s no such thing, and the language used is irresponsible scaremongering. It’s not extreme it is complete. Hard is complete. Soft is remaining in the EU. So can people just stop saying they want a ‘soft Brexit’, and be honest and say you want to remain in the EU, but hope that by calling it ‘soft Brexit’ you’ll fool us ‘thickos’ into thinking we actually got Brexit. We’re smarter than that and know that you have to leave everything in order to fulfil the result. I find the constant chatter and ongoing argument about Brexit wearing, and frankly quite insulting.

Anyway, this isn’t all about politics. It just stemmed from that. In all fairness not much was said to me in opposition. I did overreact to it I suppose… but it triggered off memories from this time last year when someone on my social media kept jumping on my posts, arguing against them, wanting to put me down…. and the fact she went on to attack me personally how she did. It sparked off that anxiety, and adrenaline I experienced last year. It felt like an attack, even though I know it wasn’t. But it’s made me feel I shouldn’t express myself like I do. I’ve even seen friends post things before about ‘what to post on Facebook instead of politics etc’, and I think ‘hang on, it’s my page, I can say what I like…’ but when I have an experience like this, I feel it’s wrong to have the views I have, or to talk about them anyway. I FEEL cowed into silence. I feel like my opinions offend the majority of my friends, so I shouldn’t put them. But the thing is, as I stated to my friends this time last year, I occasionally post my political opinions on my Facebook because it’s private – it’s just my friends who can see it. If I said what I want to on Twitter, I would be abused, left, left and centre-left. Facebook was my safe space to talk about my feelings, and correspond with those who I know agree with my views… but those people have quietened down now too… in fact not many people talk to me at all now and that’s killing me. So it’s like I’m talking to myself. But that felt better than putting myself at risk of abuse from strangers.

But now I feel I can’t be open with my friends. I have to keep my mouth shut, to keep them happy. This is the exact feeling I had this time last year. It made me isolate myself, push my friends away, just at a time I would need them, as we’re heading towards the one year mark of losing my granddad now.

I’m sick of these BPD aspects of me. I’m tired of splitting on my friends. I’m sick of questioning who really gives a shit about me… and the fact that I shouldn’t have to question it. They should be making enough effort that I know they’re my friends, and never have to question it. I know I don’t help matters. I don’t always reply to people. It takes mental energy I just don’t have. It doesn’t mean I want people to give up on me. Not really. There is that self-sabotaging part of me that wants to be abandoned by everyone so I can end my life. But in reality I just want to know beyond any thread of doubt that I’m truly cared about. I want effort. When I’m in this zone I’m in right now, cutting myself off from everyone, it’s not some attention-seeking choice. It’s debilitating depression and being convinced nobody gives a shit about having me in their lives. This paralyses me socially. I switch off and if you get a reply from me you’re lucky. For instance I had to force myself to reply to someone a couple of days ago, but that was because I had to RSVP to something coming this weekend. It took everything I had in me.

My other experience has always been people approaching ME, choosing to talk to ME, starting conversations, and when I suddenly think ‘Ooh, someone DOES care about me‘, they either don’t reply anymore, or the conversation dries up and I feel like a nuisance – like they didn’t want to talk in the first place, and I think ‘Why bother if you’re not bothered?‘ … So that makes me shut down to people too, as I think they’re not really invested in being my friend. I can’t trust that people are committed to being there. So I shut them all out. And that’s what I’m doing now. And it’s what I will continue to do, as I can’t do anything else.

I push people away, and then break inside when I realise they don’t even notice, and aren’t going to pull me back. Nobody has ever given enough of a shit about me to make an effort.

I was told in therapy that I need to widen my network. I need to make new friends. But do you know how bloody impossible that is when left with all this baggage from past and present friendships?! Do you know how hard it is to trust that new people won’t make me feel just the same, and leave me?! Do you know how paralysed I feel, that I don’t even want to leave the house to have to meet new people? Do you?!

I have given up on everything right now, and I don’t think I can be fixed. No amount of therapy could help me right now… that’s what I believe. And reading people’s tweets saying that CBT and DBT don’t work for people like me, and that this is a lifelong illness… I just think what’s the point? Should I just pack it in now? If I can’t get better. If therapy won’t help me. If this is what my life is always going to be, then I don’t want to live it.

I feel so traumatised by the last couple of years, on top of what I already experienced in the past. Every new bad experience just adds to that feeling of trauma… nothing ever gets resolved. Nothing ever heals, and I can’t take any more of it. It’s like every bad experience slices off another layer of emotional skin. I’m down to the bone. I want someone to come along and fix me. Not just give me a toolkit to help myself, ‘go away and fix yourself’. I was told in therapy to ‘grab hold of my potential’…. I cannot do that. I feel so broken and so utterly depressed right now that there IS no potential. The potential is my death. Nobody has a clue what it’s like to be me, to have gone through everything I have, and to have NOTHING…. to have NOBODY. Nobody gets that. Nobody can understand that I just can’t ‘think positively’ and change my life for the better. If I could then I would have by now.

I’m so sorry to the mental health services – I know that you want people to get better, and when faced with someone who can’t get better, and can’t cope on their own, and who is spiralling down even with your help, then you probably lose hope, give us up as a lost cause and you probably would blame me for being stubborn, wilful or not trying hard enough. It would deflate you that you can’t help everyone. I’m sorry I’m that person . And trust me I feel like a lost cause.

I don’t want to be asked what help I need. I want someone to ask the relevant questions, take the time to find out everything that is a problem for me, and then tell ME what can be done to help me. I want someone to give me hope, but not by telling me about ‘my potential’ and then packing me off to cope on my own. I want someone to ride out the storm with me and help me see the sunshine again. I want to feel they really understand how stuck I feel…. how hopeless, and how painful my life is. I want validation. I want comfort. I want sympathy… empathy. I want to feel safe.

I don’t feel safe. Everything in this world is a means to do myself harm. Life is overwhelming. I don’t want to participate in any of it. I feel I’m waiting. But with nothing to wait for. It’s like I sit here, listening to the ticking of the clock… each second moving me closer to the end, and seeing my granddad again. An end to this turmoil. Peace. An end to the traumatic onslaught that I have to face alone.

And then I feel so guilty and ashamed, because that would be like wasting the gift of life that my parents gave me. It would all have been for nothing. I don’t want to let them down. But I already feel like a failure to them. Not because they think I am, but because I think I am. Nobody knows what it feels like to have all these problems, to have very little to be proud about, and to have such a painful conscience about it. I’m constantly beating myself up for my mental illness, for not having found someone and starting a family with them, for not having a job, for living at home…. I just feel such a failure. But I can’t break out of it. Because it’s such a tangled mess. In order to achieve those things, I have to tackle my mental health, but I’m hearing that there’s no help out there for people like me. I’m hearing it’s hopeless. I’m hearing this is my lot in life. In which case I will never succeed. I will never be happy. I will never be loved. And I will die alone. As lonely in death as I’ve been in life. Having made no mark on Earth.

But you see, my feeling of being trapped even extends to making that choice about ending it all. For a couple of years now I’ve talked about wanting to lose my conscience. To not think about others. Not think about the image I want to maintain. To not give a crap how my actions will make people feel. To say ‘to hell’ with the consequences. I want to switch off the more rational part of me. I want to act and not care. I had one moment of doing that last year, when I harmed at my therapy group. I didn’t think of the consequences. I wasn’t in my mind. I just did it. But the rest of the time I have to be ‘sensible’ and ‘sane’. My damn conscience guilt-trips me whenever I want to do something bad to myself, because I think how my family would feel. So then I feel trapped in this ‘life’, going nowhere. I can’t win.

I’m still struggling with the same things I was last year. The transference and trauma from therapy. It was probably assumed once I got away from the situation (i.e. him) I’d feel better. And now I’m discharged it’s no longer their concern. But it doesn’t mean I’m okay. I still have flashbacks. I still get upset. I know I’ve had it explained to me that my feelings for the therapist, are actually something tangled up in my feelings of grief for my granddad. And that once I deal with that loss, it will resolve itself. But that doesn’t mean it’s healed. It doesn’t mean that the feelings I had for him aren’t there anymore. It doesn’t stop the hurt. It was a very traumatic and highly embarrassing experience for me. And whilst I may not cry as much now, if I have to talk about it… about him, I have to stop myself from crying. So it is still there… they just don’t have to deal with it anymore. I’m ‘done and dusted’. Forgotten. Perhaps a ‘lesson learnt’, perhaps not… The self-harm is a prominent issue. I’m chasing a feeling, unable to find it. I cannot go deep enough. Violent visions towards myself plague my mind, and I fight every day to not act on them.

Things that brought me joy before, don’t anymore. Not now. I feel disconnected from everything…. hobbies… people… even the things I have to look forward to this year and next, I’m not excited. I feel guilty for being this way, and seemingly not caring about anything or anyone. But I just don’t feel anything anymore. Everything is flat. And I don’t have it in me to fight it at the moment. I wish someone understood that. I wish someone could see how strong I have been, and that I just can’t do it anymore. I’m tired of people saying ‘keep fighting, stay strong’… I want permission to stop fighting and to be weak, and just fall apart, knowing they will catch me and put me back together. It’s this ‘stay strong’ mentality that’s got me where I am now… where I bottled up everything, put on a front, until I could no longer hide my struggle from people. Staying strong, whilst well-intended is an unhelpful attitude. We need to be allowed to fall apart and for someone to look at all the broken pieces, and offer to glue us back together again. I don’t have the strength to do it myself. Why can’t that be okay?

Mental Health Q & A.

A little Q & A about my mental health. Saw this idea elsewhere, and thought I’d join in xxxx

 

 

  1. What is your mental health issue?

I have a few! The main ones are BPD, depression and anxiety. My anxiety tends to be social anxiety. I have difficulties using the phone, going to appointments, going shopping, eating in front of people unless I’m comfortable with them, going to new places, and dealing with official stuff.

My BPD is not officially diagnosed, but I was being treated for it years ago, and it certainly explains a lot in my life. At one point I started to come out of my depression … I can only say that, because I felt myself slipping back into it. I also have emetophobia (fear of being ‘physically ill’ / others being so too – so bad I can’t even stand to see the word), and I have trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling, where I pull out my hairs, and / or obsessively cut any split-ends). I will be writing about this soon. I also self-harm.

 

  1. Do you have medication / therapy?

Yes, I take a mix of medication – two anti-depressants and an anti-psychotic, apparently for the anxiety symptoms… though this was prescribed at a time before I was told about my BPD, so for all I know it could be linked to symptoms of that. If it is, it’s not exactly working right now!

I’m in limbo at the moment in terms of therapy. I’m just about to have my last session with a mental health service, and after that I’ll see the doctor to be referred to the CMHT…. depends if they’ll help me or not. So no, I’m not officially in therapy.

 

  1. What therapy / medication have you tried and has any worked for you?

I think the first medication I took was Fluoxetine (Prozac). I was a lot younger then, and my memory of that time of my life isn’t too clear. But I seem to think it made me very suicidal. I tried Olanzapine, but can’t recall why I didn’t get on with that one. I know I tried Risperidone, but I developed an embarrassing problem, where I began lactating, which can be a side-effect of such a drug. As it turns out that was actually caused by a pituitary tumour and needed treating… but at the time I was changed to another drug. I ended up on Mirtazapine, Quetiapine and Venlafaxine.

It’s hard to say what has helped in terms of medication, as I’ve been on it for so long now, I don’t know what I’d be like without the medications. One thing I will say is that Mirtazapine makes me sleepy… which is a good thing! Last year I went to the doctor as my depression had worsened, and she increased my Venlafaxine. As soon as that happened it flattened my mood. It mellowed me out. I didn’t care about anything… and I didn’t care about the fact that I didn’t care. While some would see this as a bad thing, it was welcome to me, as I was about to lose someone I loved. It softened the blow. This effect wore off after a while and now I feel spikes in my emotions, that I can’t always cope with. It might be time to think about a change of medication, though side-effects and withdrawal fill me with dread, because of the emetophobia. I guess the medication must work to some degree, because if I miss one dose then the next day I will be down and emotional. I’m unsure if this is withdrawal though, as I also get ‘brain zaps’ … which remind me I have forgotten to take my meds.

In terms of therapy, I’ve had counselling, CBT (very short course of it though), and DBT. The one thing that helped reduce my self-harming and improved my quality of life was DBT. This was the therapy of choice for those with BPD. It’s a shame it’s not as accessible nowadays. I wonder if I could ever do another course of it. I’m a different person now to who I was when I did it ten years ago.

 

  1. How long have you had problems for?

I probably had problems even in school, but I don’t remember that time of my life much. After I finished school and started college that was the beginning of the downfall. That was when I started self-harming, aged 16. Just as many years later I’m still struggling. But at the same time I’m in a different place. I’m not hiding my problems. I’ve been through a lot of life-changing experiences. I have slightly more self-control than in college. I’ve gone from harming almost every single day, hiding in the toilets at college… to managing to resist the urges and only caving once or twice a month, except in tougher times. I’m stronger now. But I’m sick of being ‘strong’.

 

  1. Do your family / friends know?

Yes. I hid my self-harm from everyone except the college counsellor, for a year and half. Breaking the news to my mum was one of the hardest things I ever did, but her support and willingness to research and learn has been so important to my recovery. She told the rest of the family… but they’ve never really spoken to me about it. It’s only since having a bit of a breakdown in therapy last year, that I started talking about my mental health more openly in front of my nan. I’ve also started to be a lot more honest about my feelings and the struggles I face, with my friends. I only have a few friends on Facebook – those I trust / those who understand these things. So I started speaking out about it all on there. Then I branched out onto Twitter and my blog. This has connected me to many people who understand the struggles of BPD and other mental health issues. I see it as my purpose to break the stigma, by speaking out and hopefully giving others the courage to talk openly about their mental health too. I must admit, since opening up, and after my breakdown last year, some friends don’t contact me anymore. But some do, and it means a lot. I don’t hold it against the others – some are going through their own troubles, and some probably don’t know what the right thing to say is. I’m not always honest about how I really feel. But generally people know the challenges I face.

 

  1. Does this affect your work and daily life?

Yes. I’ve struggled to be able to work. I’ve done various voluntary roles, but that’s about all. I still volunteer now, but I’m struggling so much with it. I had felt I was taking steps forward, but the last year or so has been an assault on my confidence, self-esteem and my mental health. I sometimes have to take a couple of weeks off for my mental health. I’m in that situation now, where I feel if I keep pushing myself I will have a full-on meltdown or an angry episode in public. I came close to it last week. I actually found something on the floor, put it in my pocket and hurt myself with it, at work. That is when I know I have to step away.

Social anxiety aspects also impact work, as I don’t like answering a phone. I struggle with the public sometimes. I’ve mastered the art of ‘the face’, whereby I’m friendly and polite, but there are times I can’t maintain it, like last week. I often get overwhelmed and have to hide out the back. I’m lucky the others understand to some degree and let me do so… but they still don’t understand the level of my problems. I don’t let my true feelings show. I also find everything so incredibly draining, and don’t have the energy I need in order to work full-time.

In terms of everyday life… I have no motivation to do anything. Everything is neglected, and put off. I don’t always look after myself. I don’t have a social life anymore. I have little enjoyment. Quality of life is next to zero at the moment. Having a mental illness is no picnic. Just because I don’t work, doesn’t mean I’m having a party. It’s no life to aspire to.

 

  1. What makes you feel calm?
  • Nature.
  • The ocean.
  • The stars.
  • Clouds.
  • Meditation.
  • Music.
  • Animals.
  • Bubble bath with candles & classical music.
  • Slow breathing.
  • Painting.
  • Bird watching.
  • Fossil hunting.

 

  1. What do you do in a crisis?

Most of the time nothing good unfortunately. I called The Samaritans once, which I would recommend – but I’d suggest doing so before resorting to unhealthy coping strategies, not after. But it’s still better than ending up doing something permanent. I have a crisis box, which has things in it to distract me, and to pamper myself. Or I’ll try and be around other people. Not necessarily talking to them, but just being in a different space to where I might usually harm myself, it sometimes helps. If I’m angry I’ll strum a guitar. If I’m upset I’ll cry, and then try and cheer myself up with a stand-up comedy. If needs be I write about my feelings, and blog sometimes, if I feel I need someone to hear me.

 

  1. What advice would you give to others suffering?

Don’t suffer in silence. Reach out for support to anyone you can… whether it’s a family member, a trusted friend, a teacher, a colleague, doctor or mental health service. You don’t have to battle alone. Although life can be difficult, and problems don’t just go away, one thing to remember if you’re in crisis at night… if you can just get to sleep things will always feel better in the morning. They may get worse again during the course of the next day, but you follow the same mentality, that things always feel better in the morning. It’s got me through quite a few dark nights lately. And you just take it a day at a time. Self-soothe – look after your wellbeing before anything else. And always remember that as alone as you may feel, you’re never truly alone – there’s so many of us out there who experience the same feelings as you… we’re all in this together, and I hope we all make it.

 

  1. What makes you smile?
  • My Godchildren! So much. I can’t explain how much I love them. I’ve watched them grow from tiny babies into little people I can actually talk to! I love seeing how much they’ve learnt. And I like being someone they look forward to seeing. They keep me alive.
  • Kind gestures I see in the world, between strangers.
  • Animals – birds, cats, dogs, anything… I love animals – much purer souls than ours.
  • The beauty of nature – sunsets, rainbows, shooting stars, the moon.
  • Kind messages from friends.
  • My little family being together.
  • Taking good photos.
  • Snow!
  • Yummy food!
  • Purple!! 
  • Finding perfectly formed, whole ammonites!
  • Being by the sea.
  • Love… or the dream of love.
  • Babies & children – I love communicating with them and making them smile.

 

  1. Describe your mental health issue in five words…
  • Isolating.
  • Relentless.
  • Painful.
  • Unbearable.
  • Confusing.

 

  1. Insert a picture to make people smile.

 

IMG_1567

Nobody Will Ever Know.

Nobody will ever know how pleased I was to recognise it so quickly as transference, so not ‘real’.

Nobody will ever know the courage it took to try and tackle it head on with the person involved.

Nobody will ever know how bad I felt, that I chose to self-harm in those toilets.

Nobody will ever know what I went through that night, from the act, to the hospital.

Nobody will ever know how isolated I felt cleaning the floor, panicking about the wound.

Nobody will ever know that it still haunts me even now.

Nobody will ever know how guilty I felt for how it would’ve made him feel, if he felt to blame.

Nobody will ever know how hard it was to see him again after what I did.

Nobody will ever know my fear of him judging me / pitying me for what I did.

Nobody will ever know that both times I ended up at the MIU were after botched conversations with him.

Nobody will ever know how I felt about him… that I loved every little thing about him.

Nobody will ever know how I REALLY felt about him. I’ve told nobody.

Nobody will ever know how hard it was sitting in a room with him every week, both of us fully aware of how I felt.

Nobody will ever know how painful it was every week when people asked him about the baby / birthing classes.

Nobody will ever know how lonely it was, having this secret and none of them aware of the pain I was in.

Nobody will ever know the level of anxiety I felt every single Wednesday. Physical anxiety.

Nobody will ever know the things I sensed / saw that fed my imagination.

Nobody will ever know how much I hate myself for yet again liking a man, who would never like me, even if available.

Nobody will ever know how pathetic I feel.

Nobody will ever know the fear and heartbreak of losing him.

Nobody will ever know how hard I battled my feelings, to carry on attending the course… the strength it took.

Nobody will ever know how many times my heart was ripped apart in those twelve weeks.

Nobody will ever know the amount of tears I cried for him.

Nobody will ever know how many times I wanted to end my life because of this.

Nobody will ever know my battle with self-harm since week three; times I went for treatment; what my family endured.

Nobody will ever know how unsafe I felt, and what little support I received.

Nobody will ever know what this has done to me as a person.

Nobody will ever know the regret for telling anyone – it only made sure I was kept away from him.

Nobody will ever know the heartache from that decision… hating myself.

Nobody will ever know how hard it is to move on, without so much as a quick chat with him, for ‘closure’.

Nobody will ever know how invalidating it is to say I didn’t need ‘closure’ as there was nothing there.

Nobody will ever know how much I don’t want to live now.

Nobody will ever know that I would rather fall asleep forever than never see him again.

Nobody will ever know how stupid I feel admitting these feelings to people.

Nobody will ever know why I feel the way I do for him.

Nobody will ever know the way he made my heart smile and why.

Nobody will ever know that although I know it’s not ‘real’ it bloody feels real.

Nobody will ever know that it feels like I’m grieving his death. The world feels empty. Life pointless.

Nobody will ever know how deafening the screams are in my chest right now.

Nobody will ever know how much I still think of him and cannot forget him.

Nobody will ever know how judged I feel for having feelings beyond my control.

Nobody will ever know how much I wish I never met him.

Nobody will ever know that every time I write about him tears stream down my face.

Nobody will ever know the urges I have to battle… to not harm myself because of overwhelming emotional pain.

Nobody will ever know how restrained I’ve been.

Nobody will ever know how tired I am of feeling.

Nobody will ever know how broken I am.

Nobody will ever know my torment.

Nobody will ever know this pain.

Nobody will ever know him.

Nobody will ever know me.

Nobody will ever know.

Nobody.

Open Letter To MH Professionals, From Someone Lost In The System.

Professionals

*This is in no way an attack on MH services, as I’m sure you all feel the same. It’s an expression of helplessness, and a plea to the powers that be, for something to be done, not just for me but for millions of people in this country, denied the support they need*

 

Dear mental health professionals….

I know you’re under pressure. I know you’re underfunded. I know you have rules and tick boxes that prevent you from doing the job to the standard you wish you could. You work hard and do the best you can, and I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the majority of you, who have chosen a career based on helping ease the suffering of others. It’s admirable. But can I just share with you my experience of being on the other side? Because whilst you may have the option of walking away from your job if it ever gets too much, I cannot walk away from my mental illness. So I’d like to share with you the struggle of existing in this world with this illness, and nowhere to turn for support……

Nine years ago I was doing a couple of courses of DBT. Little did I know at the time I was actually being treated for Borderline Personality Disorder. I hadn’t heard of this before, and was offended at the suggestion that I had this – especially as I had not been told I had it. I thought it meant there was something wrong with my personality… it felt like an insult. I now know that not to be the case at all! A couple of years later during individual therapy sessions I would be given the opportunity to see a psychiatrist, and get the official diagnosis… but it was suggested to me that it may not be a good thing to have this label, due to the stigma around it. I worried it might affect my chances of working. So I decided not to.

I left the care of CMHT and had to try and cope on my own. I’ve had a good five years surviving on my own as best I could, and coming to terms with the fact I do have BPD. But the last couple of years have been the worst I’ve experienced and my mental health has deteriorated. And now I find myself in a bit of a predicament….

You see, I cannot get the support I need. I saw the doctor, who said I’d probably not have success with CMHT, as I wouldn’t meet the criteria to receive their support. There’s no counselling service in existence unless I go private. And given that I don’t work, I can’t afford to pay to go private. So I tried an IAPT service… unfortunately I experienced a problem during this, which wasn’t handled urgently enough or in the best way, and further worsened my mental health… I felt more suicidal, my self-harm increased dramatically, my self-esteem plummeted. And I’m now trying to pick up the pieces alone. I’m not convinced they were set up for someone like me. I feel they’re more for those with mild/moderate depression and anxiety or phobias. This resulted in me feeling like a burden, and too difficult… ultimately a ‘lost cause’.

So I have nowhere to turn now. I cannot afford to go private. I shouldn’t have to. There used to be support for people like me in CMHT, but now it’s like those with BPD have been abandoned. And given that one of the major issues within BPD is abandonment, I find this incredibly troubling that we’d be subjected to that in a therapeutic setting.

 

cmht

 

I know some people with BPD are under CMHT. But this is probably because they have the diagnosis. I am trapped, because I do not have that diagnosis, as I rejected it all those years ago. Now I cannot access the services to see a psychiatrist to receive the diagnosis. So I will never get the support I need. I know those with the diagnosis often don’t get the support they need. But I feel even more stuck, because it feels like nobody understands my battle.

This is one aspect of my mental illness I want mental health professionals to understand…. I am very good at pretending to be okay. I have a lot of pride and dignity, and I contain how I truly feel, because I don’t want people to see me how I really feel. I don’t want to upset / disappoint / trouble other people. I want to maintain control over myself. I’m a very introspective person… I read up about my illness, to make me feel less alone with it and to make sense of it. So I seem knowledgeable / ‘intelligent’. On the outside I may look calm, collected, ‘together’, and even confident and happy at times. This is a mask. One I can’t wear much longer.

All my life I have had this problem – people couldn’t understand why I could do some things, and not others. They couldn’t understand my anxiety, or my difficulties. Because it wasn’t blindingly obvious. They probably thought I was making it up. I never show my reality outside of my house. I don’t like to cry in front of people. I don’t like to get angry. I don’t like people to know I’m struggling. I don’t want them to know about my suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

I may look ‘normal’ to the naked eye, but if you could see the storm underneath… if I could show you how I’m really experiencing the world, you would be shocked. You would be horrified and probably deeply upset by it. But I cannot externalise any of this, because I don’t want to lose control. I don’t want people to see me that way, for fear they will never see me any other way. I don’t want to hurt those who love me. I don’t want people to look down on me.

 

shocked

 

But because I don’t have public breakdowns…. because I don’t try to throw myself off a roof…. because I don’t slash at my arms in front of people, screaming “Just let me die!”…. people don’t know that’s how I’m feeling inside. They think I’m more capable than I actually am. They expect more from me, which overwhelms me and when I can’t do it, they can’t understand why. Just the mere fact I can verbalise what my inner experience is, makes people think I’m fine, when I’m not – I’m just trying to express the inner turmoil in the only acceptable way I know – with words. Because I can’t release it physically, I hope that talking about it will ease the burden… but the burden is actually keeping it physically hidden. And nobody takes it seriously. ‘Actions speak louder than words’. So it feels like it’s going to take me giving up control and losing the plot completely, for my pain to be taken seriously. And what if I still don’t get the support I need? Do I spiral until I end my life? I won’t have control any longer, and that puts me more at risk of acting on my urges. I’m scared of letting go. But it feels like mental health services don’t know how to help if they don’t see someone standing, bleeding in front of them, incoherent.

I actually had a therapist tell me to go away and think what help I wanted from them, as long as it’s within their skill-set. With all due respect to you all, you are the mental health professionals…. you know what your skills are, therefore what you can offer. You know all about mental illnesses and what therapies may help an illness. Yes, I am an expert in my own BPD as I’ve lived with it all my life… but I don’t know what options I have. I don’t know what help there is. It’s not my job to know. I’M THE PATIENT. If I had a total breakdown and showed how I feel inside, you would have to help me. You would know HOW to help me. You would take the lead, do your job and try to heal me. But because I stuff it all inside, so nobody can see, you think I’m capable of doing your job for you and deciding what will help me best. I am the patient, you are the professional – please tell me how you can help me, and if you yourself cannot do it, then please point me in the direction of someone who can.

 

I feel isolated. I can't get the level of help I need as I don't have the diagnosis, and can't get

 

I need to feel there are options for me. Because right now I don’t. I don’t see a future for me. I can’t see me getting through this, because I have nowhere to turn. I feel isolated. I can’t get the level of help I need as I don’t have the diagnosis, and can’t get the diagnosis because of lack of access to the services… so I have no ‘label’ to explain my emotional turmoil…. on top of that I don’t let it show, so people probably question if it’s really as bad as I say. So in a sense I feel I constantly have to prove I’m as ill as I say, but I can’t do this by showing them, I can only tell them… but if they don’t SEE it they don’t BELIEVE it. So I’m also stuck in that way. I’m trapped within myself. And I’m trapped within the mental health services. Nowhere to go. Nobody can help me. And that makes me feel suicidal.

Another thing I want you to note is this: If you ask me if I have thoughts of suicide and I say yes, but that I wouldn’t act on them, don’t just believe me and carry on as if it’s not a risk. I am afraid of the consequences of admitting to wanting to act on these thoughts. So I’m never going to tell you that I might do it. This is how people end up dead. They tell professionals they’re okay, it’s accepted and then they act on it. When I was on a course recently I had a conversation with a therapist, and they asked me if I could keep myself safe that night… I was the most honest I’ve been about it, and said that it would be difficult. I said I would try, but I went home and self-harmed, ending up at the MIU. I knew this was going to happen but didn’t tell them. I don’t want to burden people. And I don’t want them to judge me. I want to seem like a rational adult. 

I self-harmed during my course, and this was discovered by one of the therapists, who had to treat me and advised me to go to the hospital. It was NEVER my intention for anyone to know about it. I was hidden in the toilets trying to treat it myself. That was the closest I’ve ever been to revealing my reality. They saw me crying, panicking, they saw my wounds and scars…. I was a mess that night, and I felt ashamed to have let the barriers down, and let someone see the mess inside me.

This is what I mean…. I feel ashamed of the thoughts I have, the emotions I feel and the way I would behave if I felt it socially acceptable. I know some would think if you’re really that bad you’d have no control over it – well the incident at therapy was one example of when I lost control. You might think it can’t be controlled, but you don’t know me. I have major issues with control, and I guilt-trip myself into maintaining a certain image. I think I would be letting a lot of people down if I didn’t give a damn anymore and behaved how I wish I could. Control is possible, whilst being very unwell. I’ll tell you how I know this… because I can feel it slipping away. I am about to lose control. And it terrifies me. I don’t know what is going to happen when I lose that control. I don’t know what I’ll do, what the consequences will be, and I fear losing myself in the process.

The control I exert over my own mental illness is such a heavy burden. It is like I’ve got myself chained up inside. Like I’m holding my reality hostage. So believe me it’s there, and it’s possible. It’s why every single time I say “I can’t do this anymore” I become one step closer to not doing it anymore…. not hiding it anymore.

 

I know some would think if you're really that bad you'd have no control over it – well the incident%

 

I know that when I finally lose control, I will feel so ashamed that I will not want to live anymore, and I need to know there will be a safety net to catch me. I need to know it’s safe to let go and lose control, and fall apart, and someone will keep me safe. Otherwise when I finally show you all the pain I’ve locked up inside, I’m not sure I will make it out the other side. And I don’t really want to die. I just want life to not hurt so much. I want people to care about me. I want to have something to live for.

It shouldn’t be that I have to reach utter crisis point to get the help I need. The help should be offered to prevent that risk to my life. That’s what makes me feel totally worthless – that I’d be left to reach that point where I might die, before you’ll help me. It shouldn’t be that way. But I can see in my case that’s the way it’s going to be. Because nobody understands BPD unless they’ve had it. And nobody can understand a mental illness that they can’t see. If the only visible sign I have are my self-harm scars, then nobody could ever understand what leads me to cause them. This is my personal interpretation of ‘quiet borderline’. I know many don’t agree with me on this, and I’m still forming my own opinion on it, but my BPD is so hidden most of the time, that nobody would believe how much I’m suffering.

 

crisis

 

With most illnesses the strategy seems to be to treat the symptoms… but if I hide the symptoms, and only write about them, then those wanting to treat them cannot do so. And I’m neglected. I just want one mental health professional to stick with me while I fall apart. I want them to believe what I’m experiencing and let me express it, whilst protecting me from myself. I just want to feel safe and supported. And I really don’t right now. I don’t know who I can turn to. I don’t know what to do. I feel powerless.

You see we’re not all that different – you feel powerless to help me, I feel powerless to get help…. the only difference is, to you I will just be one more person who couldn’t be saved… a statistic….but for me, I will be no more. Gone. Dead. So please, will someone do SOMETHING to provide the help and support people like me need in this country? I don’t want to die. I need help. Someone please create that help – don’t leave us all to an ugly fate. There may be some misconceptions out there about those with BPD, but I know from talking to many of them, they are the loveliest individuals with a heck of a lot to give. And to lose all those lights from the world would be a tragedy.

I know you try your hardest to help us where you can, but more people need to unite to get help for those of us lost in the system… those of us in the middle, who are ‘too ill’ for IAPT services and ‘not ill enough’ for CMHT to help us… at least that’s what I was told. Where are we supposed to turn? BPD puts us most at risk of doing harm to ourselves, or taking our own lives… we are desperately in need of support. Please value our lives enough to do everything you can to get us that support. I don’t know what my ‘rights’ are as a service user. I don’t know what’s on offer to help me. It feels as though different sectors of the NHS can’t agree on what help there is for me. Can you please start to communicate with each other and come up with a strategy, so that when someone in dire need comes along, they can be directed to the right support? I feel like I’m floating around in the system and don’t belong anywhere, which is a reflection of my experience in life… the feeling I will never belong, that I’m worthless and a burden. These beliefs are being mirrored in my experiences of trying to get help. It feels like my life doesn’t matter. And too many others have this experience. Things need to change.

 

mirrored

I want to start campaigning for more support for those with BPD. And when I feel mentally stronger this is something I will look into. In the meantime, I hope those within the profession can do all they can to change things from the inside. I know it’s a huge ask, and not something that can just happen – it takes a lot of work and money. I’m just asking if you have a voice within the profession, please use it to save lives. Those most in need are being left behind. This cannot be right. I know that most of you would agree, and are just as frustrated at the injustice. Hopefully enough of us can take action to try and bring about a change.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

xxxx