Memories…

I wrote most of this post while waiting for a tube a few weeks ago. I had gone to London for the weekend to stay with an old friend and we had been to a comedy show for the evening and were on our way back.

When we were in the comedy club, during the break, they had music playing and a song came on which instantly took me back 8 years ( terrifying that I can say that and still have been a grown up at the time). The song was “We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool. Before you say I have horrible taste in music, this song reminds me ( not only of the cringey scene in the Inbetweeners film) of the summer before I went to uni, of my 18th birthday, of late nights in pub gardens, of parties with friends and most importantly of my friend Jess. Quite simply it remind me of happy and simpler times.

As soon as the song came on, Jess turned to look at me and I knew she had remembered all of those things as well and I thought how lovely it was, 8 years later, still here together, still friends and still making new memories. I looked around the room and see other people singing and dancing to the song and realised it would be for different to each individual person. Even if myself and Jess are remembering the same day, it would mean something different to each of us, and every person in this room would be feeling something different.

Each person in that room, and in general would have their own memories, feeling and emotions to that song and everything else. Each person will be thinking of something different and no one else would truly be able to understand how that person feels and why they feel that way.

This is part of a much bigger picture.

We look at everyone, whether it’s someone we know, someone we pass on the streets or someone close to us and assume we know what they feel or what they are thinking based on appearances or how they act. Sometimes we may dig a little deeper if we know the person, but usually we go based on what we see.

The girl who is dressed up, full makeup and a beautiful outfit and a smile may have just had her heartbroken. The girl with her hair scraped back and no makeup, may be happy and just had wonderful news. We have no idea what is going on in other people’s lives and other people’s minds. Things will always affect people differently, so just because you feel and react one way to something, doesn’t mean anyone else will.

This may sound so simple, and it probably is but it’s not something we think about all the time.

Next time to go to say something about someone, take a moment and think of all the things that person may be facing that you don’t know about. Maybe there is a reason they say things or do things based on their thoughts and memories and we are in no position to judge!

Always be kind and never assume!!

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Toxic relationships…

You don’t care about me. You don’t want me to be happy. You want me to be here waiting for whenever you want to talk. You expect me to drop everything there and then, but will leave me waiting months for a reply. You message me and immediately block me so I don’t get chance to say what I want to say. You want me to be awake at 3am when you drunkenly call or text, usually to tell me you still love me, sometimes to remind me that I’m worthless and nothing to you.

You don’t see and don’t care about what you are doing to me, how you keep me living in the past, reminding me of one of the worst times in my life. You are a constant reminder of how bad things were, the person I was, the things that were said and couldn’t be taken back and the mistakes we both made.

You cheated and somehow made me feel like it was my fault. I lashed out and made you feel it was your fault.

There are so many regrets, broken promises, love lost, yet a connection that seems to remain.

Somehow I find myself still trapped in a toxic relationship, despite not being in a relationship for quite some time. It’s time to recognise this and move on…

 

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How to recognise that you are in a toxic relationship!

Some behaviours such as physical abuse are obvious signs that you need to get out of the relationship and that you can do so much better! However some are not so obvious and you may not even realise that you are in a potentially toxic relationship.

*When an argument arises, your partner always brings up past issues and twists the blame onto you to make it seem like they have ‘one up’ on you and to make it seem like you’re in the wrong rather than them. Always blaming each other so you always have one up on the other person and then constantly reminding them of this

*Constantly being reminded of things you have done in the past and constantly being made to feel bad about those things you did

*Threatening to end the relationship over every small detail

*They result in crying to get what they want from you or to win an argument *Using your personal insecurities as ammunition to hurt you more

*When it seems they don’t want you but don’t want anyone else to have you so they continue to play mind games with you and leave you feeling confused and unsure

*Turning every argument round so you always feel like you’re in the wrong

*Making you feel bad for feeling upset over something they have done

*Being Manipulative, dishonest and disloyal

*Cheating- you would think this is obvious but sometimes, clearly not!

*Denying that they’ve done anything wrong in any situation and that it has to be all your fault or suggesting you’ve made it up

*Being secretive and then making it seem like you are wrong and irrational for asking why

*Laughing at you, making you feel worthless

*Deleting messages, hiding their phone or intentionally turning off their phone when around certain people

*Controlling behaviours, telling you what you can and can’t do, where you can and can’t go, what you can and can’t spend, what you can and can’t wear etc…

 

None of these behaviours are ok, you make be able to explain why or justify it to an extent, but they are not ok and I can guarantee you (and I!!) deserve so much better !

Self- Care and why its so wonderful…

I’ve had quite a few messages recently asking about self-care, how it helps and what techniques I use.

While the idea is quite a simple one, I know that in reality, it can feel very much the opposite of that!

I remember on my worst days when I couldn’t see any way forward, days when I haven’t left my room, days where haven’t spoken to anyone, days when I’ve tried to end it, the crisis team would ask me if I had tried to go for a walk…I remember screaming, shouting, crying, swearing, kicking, throwing and some more crying .I’m facing the worst things anyone could face, feeling the way no one should feel and you’re thinking it’s a good idea to go for a walk!?

I admit there’s a time and a place to suggest something like that, and those days are not the right time, however they’re right, going for a walk is a good idea (And I NEVER thought I’d be saying that).

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So what is self-care and why is it so important?!

Self-care is the actions we take in order to look after ourselves, physically, emotionally and mentally. It important as it calms us, nourishes us and reminds us that we are worthy.

It can be the small things but it can be argued that the basic things turn out to be the most significant:

*Sleep

*Eat

*Drink

*Move

We have to treat our body carefully if we want a positive outcome, so getting enough sleep, making sure we are eating properly, showering , getting enough water is so important, although I do understand that some days that its asking for the impossible! But if we make small steps to getting closer to these, we will see a substantial change.

As these are seen as so simple, we don’t see them as treating ourselves which most people think of when thinking about self-care.

Each person will be different in what they see as self-care techniques and that’s perfectly ok!

Some people will see self-care as going to the gym, some will see it as taking a bath and some see it as going to work. Each person is different and what they do in those moments are personal to them. It’s what get people through the day or what they picture after a long day, what they look forward to as a treat after a long day or a reason to get up in the morning.

For me, my self-care methods are usually at the end of the day after work. Something I LOVE is a long bath with my favourite bath products or shopping for lush products, because you know what, I deserve it! I save an episode of my favourite TV shows so I can sit down with a nice cup of tea and have just 30 mins out for me, when I don’t have to do anything else or think about anything else if I don’t want to. I hate going to the gym most of the time, but I love how I feel after a workout, exercise is so important to be able to release those endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body! Yoga is something new to me, but leaves me feeling so relaxed and peaceful, and with this outlook, everything can seem different. Mindfulness and breathing, you may not see these as self-care methods, but they can be some of the most caring things you can do for yourself! I think that’s one of the best things about self-care, it allows you to take step back and view things in a different light which can be SO IMPORTANT!

I used to hate when people would recommend some of these to me on a bad day, like they think I must be making it up or exaggerating if they think going for a walk or having a bath will fix anything! But I can see now that self-care isn’t for when you reach crisis point as let’s face it, nothing will fix it at that point! But these are the things we can use to prevent it getting to crisis point, or making us feel a little more human on the days after a breakdown.

And I’ll stop going on now, but basically, take some time out for you, do what you feel you need to do, and treat yourself to something that will make you feel good, because you deserve it!

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Q&A

Hi everyone, Happy February!

I posted on twitter to see if anyone has any questions about me or my mental health experiences, so I’ve done my best to answer them! If anyone else has any questions or comments, please feel free to message me!

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*How old were you when you were diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder?

I was 20 when I got the diagnosis.

 

*How long did it take to get diagnosed?

To be honest I don’t really remember as I was in hospital at the time, however I first went to the Doctors was 2010 when I was is Uni and I think I was then diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder in 2012 but so much happened in that time. Those two years feel like such a blur that now looking back, It doesn’t seem like it took that long, but at the time, going through it felt like it was so so much longer, like it would never come to an end and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel! And now, 8 years later it’s still a struggle to get noticed within the mental health system and I have been waiting for my referral back to the psychology team since last February!

 

*Who was the first person you told about your mental illness?

I first told my roommate in Uni. It was a few days after I had been to the doctors and had been diagnosed with depression (although that was barely a diagnosis and didn’t help in the process at all- that’s another story!!) but I had come back with the first lot of anti-depressants that I had been prescribed and tried to not think about them for a few days. It didn’t really seem like a big deal when I told her , as all I said was “ I have been prescribed these anti-depressants…” but she reacted with shock  and said she hadn’t realised it was anywhere near that bad, and I think neither had I until that point. She was really supportive, and I was grateful for that as it didn’t scare me to tell anyone else. However I then tried to ignore it and pretended it wasn’t happening so it was a long time after that before I mentioned it to anyone else so she was the only person who knew for a good few months and we didn’t discuss anything to do with it after that point. It wasn’t until about 2-3 years later that I was diagnosed with BPD.

 

*How did you know you’ve got BPD?

To be diagnosed with BPD you need to meet a certain criteria, so it took a lot of psychology referrals, assessments and hospital stays, but finally got the diagnosis of BPD through some of the assessments while I was on the psychiatric ward.

 

*What do you think could be done to reduce the stigma around mental health?

I think the main aspect around the stigma is because people don’t talk about it enough so the #timetotalk campaign is wonderful! We need to spread not only awareness of mental health, but also a better understanding. These campaigns are advertised for those who are going through something or have previously experienced something, I but I think it should be looked at to be designed for those who don’t know anything about mental illness. Their lack of understanding and harsh words can lead to a higher stigma so starting right from the basics and explaining how it affects people and how it may feel, could really help in reducing the stigma.

*what keeps you fighting everyday?

 

My family. Over the years I have thought hundreds if not thousands of times that I just don’t want to be here anymore, that it’s just not worth it when you feel this way, but then I think my friends and family have done everything they can to be there for me and what happens to them if im not here? I have to say strong and keep fighting for them to make everything they have done and put into this fight, worth it and show them how much I appreciate it by continuing to fight myself.

 

*What’s the best way to cope with anxiety when taking tests?

When I was taking my final year exams, I really struggled with anxiety around taking the exams. I was in hospital the year before so it meant I had to resit my exams so I was determined not to let my illness stop me from sitting them! I was given a few techniques to reduce the anxiety around them.

To start with, one of my main concerns was sitting in the large hall with hundreds of other students, so I asked if there was a way to sit the exams in a smaller room, so I was able to use a room with a separate door so I didn’t have to face the other students and made it so much easier. When getting anxious while in the exam, I was told to massage the space between my thumb and finger , which is just something to take my mind away from what I’m doing for that moment. Mindfulness are also very good for these moments!!

In terms of revision its good to arrange a time to revise, usually best in small chunks of time so its not too overwhelming. I work best with colour coded pens, notebooks etc but its finding what’s best for you! Also make sure you have something lovely set aside for when you’ve finished, something you love so a favourite treat, a nice relaxing bath or an episode of your favourite tv show!

 

*How does BPD affect you on a daily basis?

I think one of the main things I struggle with is relationships so whether it is a friend , family member, work colleague etc, the interactions between myself and them has the biggest affect of me. I tend to overthink a lot, hold grudges and speak out when I probably shouldn’t. I am getting better at taking a step back and trying to rationally thinking before I react which is definitely helping me. Another of the ways if affects me is the depression. I am getting the anxiety under control which is just incredible for me after some things I’ve been through, but the depression beats me more often than not. The uncontrollable sadness is overwhelming but I try to keep going as best I can.

 

*How old were you when you were diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder?

I was 20 when I got the diagnosis.

 

*How long did it take to get diagnosed?

To be honest I don’t really remember as I was in hospital at the time, however I first went to the Doctors was 2010 when I was is Uni and I think I was then diagnosed with Borderline personality disorder in 2012 but so much happened in that time. Those two years feel like such a blur that now looking back, It doesn’t seem like it took that long, but at the time, going through it felt like it was so so much longer, like it would never come to an end and I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel! And now, 8 years later it’s still a struggle to get noticed within the mental health system and I have been waiting for my referral back to the psychology team since last February!

 

*Who was the first person you told about your mental illness?

I first told my roommate in Uni. It was a few days after I had been to the doctors and had been diagnosed with depression (although that was barely a diagnosis and didn’t help in the process at all- that’s another story!!) but I had come back with the first lot of anti-depressants that I had been prescribed and tried to not think about them for a few days. It didn’t really seem like a big deal when I told her , as all I said was “ I have been prescribed these anti-depressants…” but she reacted with shock  and said she hadn’t realised it was anywhere near that bad, and I think neither had I until that point. She was really supportive, and I was grateful for that as it didn’t scare me to tell anyone else. However I then tried to ignore it and pretended it wasn’t happening so it was a long time after that before I mentioned it to anyone else so she was the only person who knew for a good few months and we didn’t discuss anything to do with it after that point. It wasn’t until about 2-3 years later that I was diagnosed with BPD.

 

*How did you know you’ve got BPD?

To be diagnosed with BPD you need to meet a certain criteria, so it took a lot of psychology referrals, assessments and hospital stays, but finally got the diagnosis of BPD through some of the assessments while I was on the psychiatric ward.

 

*What do you think could be done to reduce the stigma around mental health?

I think the main aspect around the stigma is because people don’t talk about it enough so the #timetotalk campaign is wonderful! We need to spread not only awareness of mental health, but also a better understanding. These campaigns are advertised for those who are going through something or have previously experienced something, I but I think it should be looked at to be designed for those who don’t know anything about mental illness. Their lack of understanding and harsh words can lead to a higher stigma so starting right from the basics and explaining how it affects people and how it may feel, could really help in reducing the stigma.

*what keeps you fighting everyday?

 

My family. Over the years I have thought hundreds if not thousands of times that I just don’t want to be here anymore, that it’s just not worth it when you feel this way, but then I think my friends and family have done everything they can to be there for me and what happens to them if im not here? I have to say strong and keep fighting for them to make everything they have done and put into this fight, worth it and show them how much I appreciate it by continuing to fight myself.

 

*What’s the best way to cope with anxiety when taking tests?

When I was taking my final year exams, I really struggled with anxiety around taking the exams. I was in hospital the year before so it meant I had to resit my exams so I was determined not to let my illness stop me from sitting them! I was given a few techniques to reduce the anxiety around them.

To start with, one of my main concerns was sitting in the large hall with hundreds of other students, so I asked if there was a way to sit the exams in a smaller room, so I was able to use a room with a separate door so I didn’t have to face the other students and made it so much easier. When getting anxious while in the exam, I was told to massage the space between my thumb and finger , which is just something to take my mind away from what I’m doing for that moment. Mindfulness are also very good for these moments!!

In terms of revision its good to arrange a time to revise, usually best in small chunks of time so its not too overwhelming. I work best with colour coded pens, notebooks etc but its finding what’s best for you! Also make sure you have something lovely set aside for when you’ve finished, something you love so a favourite treat, a nice relaxing bath or an episode of your favourite tv show!

 

*How does BPD affect you on a daily basis?

I think one of the main things I struggle with is relationships so whether it is a friend , family member, work colleague etc, the interactions between myself and them has the biggest affect of me. I tend to overthink a lot, hold grudges and speak out when I probably shouldn’t. I am getting better at taking a step back and trying to rationally thinking before I react which is definitely helping me. Another of the ways if affects me is the depression. I am getting the anxiety under control which is just incredible for me after some things I’ve been through, but the depression beats me more often than not. The uncontrollable sadness is overwhelming but I try to keep going as best I can.

 

#timetotalk

You don’t need to be ashamed to have a mental illness.

You don’t need to be ashamed to have bad days.

You don’t need to be ashamed to have suicidal thoughts.

You don’t need to be ashamed to want to talk to someone about how you feel!

Everyone deserves to be heard!

 

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It can be scary to admit your feelings to yourself, let alone anyone else, but we shouldn’t feel worry to voice our feelings for fear of being judged.

Today is ‘time to talk day’, but we need to be able to talk about these matters each and every day, and in normal conversation. Talking about mental health really shouldn’t be any different than discussing physical health, it shouldn’t still have the stigma around it! We all have mental health, just some people have more difficulty than others, though not fault of their own, just as some people have more problems with their physical health!

It can be lonely and confusing before opening up to others, or even yourself, but then you realise by talking about it, there is a whole community out there who have felt how you’ve felt and been where you’ve been.

Admitting to yourself that you need help is the hardest thing. It’s possibly one of the scariest feelings and one of the worst things you will ever have to go through. It feels like your worlds turned upside down and you have no idea how to turn the right way round again, you feel it’s impossible and you will feel this way forever. To try and put those feelings into words to someone else is heart-breaking, upsetting and terrifying and that’s to put it gently! We don’t always need someone to understand, but someone to accept how we feel without judging you or telling you that you are wrong.

Sharing your story and breaking out of your comfort zone can feel freeing and liberating. As difficult as it is, the huge sense of relief that you get by speaking up about it is such a positive step which you won’t experience by keep your thoughts bottled up. It gives the sense of recovery and hope that may be all you need to keep fighting.

I would say, just listen! Don’t judge, don’t assume you know how they feel or what they have been through, just let that person talk about what they need to and feel how they need to! Every time someone feels able to open up, some of the shame, stigma and embarrassment goes away, making future conversations so much easier, and one step closer to ending the stigma around mental health.

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Decluttering the mind…

I don’t know about you but sometimes my mind gets so overwhelmed and I struggle to think rationally. I start to focus on the small things that I really don’t need to worry about and get myself worked up until I don’t feel able to do anything and I need to take myself away from the situation.

I have recently realised that I’m only human and I can only deal with so much at one time so its important to prioritise my thoughts and only worry about the things within my control and let the other thoughts go. Of course, this is easier said than done but to start with, its important to declutter the mind to try and get the mind as peaceful as possible!

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*To start off with, try and start the day as you mean to go on. My morning routine is probably more rushed than some people would like, but to me, 10 more minutes in bed is more important than sitting down with a cup of tea for 10 minutes! Everyone will be different, some people may choose to exercise in the morning to start the day, some people will choose to wake up hours before needing to so they can have a relaxed morning, its what is best for you and what sets you up for the day.

*Make a to do list. To do lists will only work for some people as some people , like myself need to keep a note of what needs to be done or I will forget the second I think about it, where as some people will feel anxiety over having a list of things that need to be done. I think its important to be realistic, so it can help manage what you can do, and not add stress. It doesn’t need to have everything that needs to be done, as we are only one person, but realistically what we are able to complete.

*Be grateful. It really helps me to take a moment to notice the small things that happen during the day, as sometimes they are so easily overlooked, but the small things are often the big things and we don’t realise! Its so important to realise that there are good parts in even a bad day so instead of dismissing the day as a bad day, we should stop and notice the good parts of the day. This could be that you saw something good on TV, you had a great lunch or lit that nice candle you love the smell of! I like to keep a list of the good things so I have something to look back on but just noticing the good is so good for the mood!

*Mindfulness. I remember when I first heard about mindfulness ,it was during a stay in hospital. I was so angry that they had even suggested it when I was feeling the way I was so I didn’t really give it a chance. However, I do remember what they said. They explained that you must focus on the present, accept what is going on in your mind whatever that may be, and just choose to focus on what’s happening there and then. They used the example of washing up. You may be worried about everything under the sun but concentrate on the bubbles on your hands, the warm water over your skin, how the bubbles smell. The thoughts will creep back into your mind, don’t try and not think about it, just simply accept its there and shift your attention back to what you are doing, seeing, smelling, tasting etc.

In theory it sounds so simple, but in recent months I’ve been practising this as part of everyday life and I can honestly say I’ve seen such as difference! Overall, I feel calmer and feel more in control of how I feel in certain situations which is so wonderful for decluttering thoughts!

*Breathe. Again so simple but so affective! I use an app which for one minute, encourages you to focus on your breath, the same idea as mindfulness, but it can take you away momentarily from a stressful or anxious situation which is sometimes all you need to be able to change the way you look at it. Especially when you are anxious, its natural to hold your breath which isn’t good! Some deep breaths and a chance to take a step back are so great at helping you get back on track.

*Eliminate what isn’t essential and adopt a minimalist approach. By Focussing on one task at a time and not overloading your mind, you will find that you can realistically manage your time better and achieve more of what you want in the long run!

*Worry less. I know that’s a stupid thing to say as if we could worry less, surely we would!? Something that I took away from my CBT sessions were the ‘worry tree’. Choosing a worry to think about, deciding whether I can do something about it now , and if not choosing to park it until another time where it is possible for me to do something, or letting it go. Simple huh, but knowing when its beneficial to worry about it or knowing when to let go of the feeling at least for the time

Thanks for reading as always,

Becky xx

When in Rome..

  • Four years ago, I was 21, I was in the middle of my fourth year of university, which was because I had been able to complete my third year exams due to being on a psychiatric ward.

    The year before I had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and my life had been turned on its head. I had moved away from my University friends who had all finished on time, my parents weren’t speaking to me as they didn’t know how to handle me, I was somehow balancing full time uni with full time work (I still don’t know how I did  this) and coping with an awful break up not long before. It was one of the worst years of my life and I was getting through every day, simply because I had to and there was no other choice.

    Then something clicked in my head, I was existing, but I wasn’t living. All the things I had wanted to do and thought I would do, I wasn’t doing, and I could put a lot of reasons down to my mental illness. So after a bad day, and on a total whim I walked into the nearest shopping centre, into the travel agent and told the baffled man that I wanted to go somewhere and I wanted to go tomorrow morning. He asked me where I wanted to go and who I was going with. I told him I didn’t really mind where I was going, but I was going by myself.  The lovely man asked me if I was sure, he had a daughter my age and he said he didn’t want me going for the wrong reasons ( I was most likely crying at the time), I told him I wanted to go because I needed to prove to myself that I was able to go and that I was still capable of enjoying myself. He looked at me with an understanding smile and helped me book.

    I decided on Rome, so I booked it and went home to pack. On my way home, I went into work, told my manager I needed to go away for a few days and I wouldn’t be at work and that I would see her when I was back. I didn’t really give her an opportunity to respond and just left. ( I’m very lucky that she was very understanding when I got back and it was all ok!)

    The next day, I drove myself to the airport and burst into tears as I got there. My legs were shaking, my hands tingling and I hated myself for feeling like this. I had no idea why I was going, I couldn’t go to Rome for 4 days by myself! I can barely get through Sainsbury’s without bawling like a baby! The stubborn part of me needed to go to show myself that I could and that I wasn’t letting my feelings win, the rational part of me thought it was silly to put myself through this and upset myself to prove a point, while the BPD part of me was wanting to cry, be sick, shout at people and then lie down because I was just so physically and mentally exhausted.

    Somewhere in the whirlwind of emotions, I called my cousin and while I was sniffling down the phone, she said that if I was going to be sad, I could do that in Rome too. When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom so many times, I thought well it can’t get worse. I decided even if I sat in the room alone for 4 days, that’s not different to what I would be doing at home if I feel like this. So I got on the plane.

    I got there and had calmed down a bit so I decided to make the most of it while I was there. Even if I didn’t enjoy it, I was there so I may as well do the touristy things I wanted to do. It did feel like I had to drag myself around for the first few hours, and yes I cried almost constantly but I was there.

    I actually started to enjoy myself. It felt different to before, not the same excitement as I previously may have had, but I still knew that this was a positive. I kept going and before I knew it, the 4 days were up and I hadn’t spent the whole time crying or the whole time stuck in my room, I had made new memories and new experiences and I knew that’s all that would matter once the mental health fog had lifted.

    I would recommend it to anyone. It taught me so many life lessons, to be independent, to take risks, that I am OK myself and I don’t have to not go due to be alone or how I feel. I can do anything I want because I am strong enough and I won’t let me illness tell me otherwise!

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