borderline personality disorder · bpd · Mental health culture

Opposites & Cracking the work dilemma.

I have news! That is so bizarre in contrast that I feel weird and very much like I would soon end up with alternating ‘modes’ if I’m not careful. I don’t want to end up as ‘me the patient/service user’ and ‘me the mental health professional’ because that’s kind of what was happening today. I don’t have a problem with either, but in therapy I’m learning to be flexible and integrate a little more, not split up further.

A dream opportunity came up today at work. I’ve been offered to go for a job supporting Psychologists where I’m working, with a payrise. I will still have to go through an interview by the sounds of it but not as formal as what they would normally be, I believe. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, but at the same time I really hope I get it! It would just tie in so neatly with everything I’ve been doing and everything I’ve discovered about myself at work.

A while back I posted about how I was stuck in my working life, doing things I don’t enjoy and not knowing what it is that I do enjoy BUT I found a little insight at my session yesterday which has been super helpful. So while I don’t really need to vent about this, I want to share it incase it helps someone else who might be wondering about their worklife too. At first, I was always trying to pinpoint what I would like to do by sector – design, media, teaching etc. but while I’m still not quite there with that one, I have found out more about myself and my work preference in my current job. Which is kind of neat, because it means anyone could use their current job to kind of pinpoint things aswell.

Well, for starters –  I was working in a department where I would be doing the same thing all day, zoned out, even though I had enough work for the day – it  would leave me bored, struggling to concentrate and if my moods were fluctuating – I would find it even more difficult to settle as I was understimulated. My psychologist congratulated me (yay!) for having made a proactive decision in my life by leaving the place. I am happy that I did that and was able to make a healthy decision for myself. I now have been able to leave that post as I really want to make myself happier and stop working for the sake of working – I’ve been doing that for too long.

So my Psychologist pointed out something that I was missing – I don’t like routine things that are repetitive and I like working on ‘new’ things where I have to take time to learn about what it is I’m doing (I see it as building my skill-set but most likely the learning aspect too as I’ve always been quite academic and enjoy studying in general) I have taken on a lot more responsibility which I think I need no matter how my mental health is – as during the time of my divorce I had a management position and no matter how crazy my personal life was I still enjoyed that and was able to continue in that position right until my move back home.

I’m responsible for my own schedule which is turning out to be almost a must for me as it allows me to take care of myself mentally. I’m working on longer term projects which suits me really well as it adds to the novelty of what I’m doing and mixes my days up. I also enjoy meeting and talking to different people, scheduling appointments to sit with them and attending meetings so there’s that aspect of not working alongside someone all day but still working with others at some point during the day. I kind of knew that from my research as when I searched through jobs I found most of the jobs I was interested in involved this element of ‘alone at desk time’ and ‘person focused’ time. So this ties in neatly.

I feel happier about discovering aspects of work that I enjoy as opposed to a whole sector, as I could use this understanding across all of them. After all, two jobs in one field can be so different so I could be in the right ‘area’ and still hate what I’m doing if my daily tasks don’t match up to this.

I came across some more inspiring stories in my online googling, and a lot of people are doing really well – having gone through or still maintaining a treatment program and with support they are in jobs they enjoy and work well for them with their diagnosis.                                                                                                                                               It seems to be a balance of outside support – whether that’s therapy, medication, supportive people in your life, self-care and self-awareness, finding the right work environment that fits your personality and/or how your diagnosis manifests itself. Someone who works as a director mentioned that he might work from home on days that he finds himself struggling with BPD and doesn’t want it to manifest at work so that’s a possibility too (man, I would love work from home days…ah the dream).

It also seems to be the case that ‘low-stress’ jobs do not always work for everyone as some people need structure, others need flexibility and some people thrive in high stress, busy environments while others found it stressed them out even more. My point being, I personally had this idea that the simpler, slower-paced, the work the better it would be for me in recovery and I find for people with mental health diagnoses that’s usually what is ‘touted’ as ‘what’s best’ well, it obviously isn’t always the case from actual experiences. It’s an individual thing and we will have to discover what we like ourselves.  It might even change over time, I know it has for me.

I just wanted to share someone’s account that inspired me (among many, I love reading these) it helps me realise that the work will pay-off and has paid off for so many people. It’s only a matter of persistence and time.

”[–]BPwhowantstheD 4 points

I am by most professional measures what most people would consider a “success.” Most of my career is IT based (with occasional sojourns into other fields), and I’m currently moving into more managerial roles.

My BPD these days doesn’t really impact me professionally, but it’s taken a lot of work on my end to get to that point.

The way I’d put it is that BPD creates some hurdles. If you learn to clear the hurdles, you’re in better shape than someone who never had to put in the work. The hurdles never really go away, but you learn to jump them without thinking, so they no longer slow you down.”

 

On top of this insight, I’m learning to trust my gut. The ‘healthy mind’ and ‘destructive mind’ analogy still really helps me. If I’m getting bored and frustrated, it means the work isn’t enough for me and shouldn’t be something I seek to do long-term. If I’m able to focus, feeling productive and rewarded it means I’m enjoying it and I should be seeking out more of the same. I’m definetly going to try keep rolling with this for now and see where it takes me.

The psych / nurse who did my assessment rang me and told me I may be able to start DBT as soon as a months’ time! Which would be even better as I want to take on more in my life, the added support makes me feel like I have back-up and I can keep learning about DBT skills to apply. On top of that, I’ll be having individual therapy and be signed up to group therapy where I thought I would only be getting one or the other, so I’m so grateful for that. If I do end up in group sooner rather than later (she said there’s a longer wait), I might start a whole little section for that on the site, if I can help others with it, I will! This was the part where I felt strange, on one hand I could be working in the mental health field and on another day I’ll be a patient coming to them. It’s a weird feeling trying to reconcile the two but I don’t mind at the moment, I would be grateful with both.

I hope this helped in some way, I know it organises my thoughts but I really wanted to share what I learnt.

Goodnight x x

 

 

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borderline personality disorder · bpd · mental health · Mental health culture

How to survive living with a borderline.

Let me take you through a day in the life of BPD and just how terrifying it can be for friends and family who have to live with them.

 

Saturday 19th Woke up. Prayed morning prayers. Had Coffee. (Drink from the heavens.)

Watched more youtubevideos on capsule wardrobes. Started project wardrobe. De-cluttered and got rid of another 2 black bags of clothes to give to charity and family in less fortunate position. Can you imagine – a borderline caring about people and giving in charity? Outrageous. And being productive? No way, borderlines are self absorbed, lazy and useless.

Whatsapping friend – making plans for the upcoming week off we have from work. Must have made her feel terrible enough to call me and plan to meet up to go shopping.  Having a friend with BPD must be so draining.

Start getting ready to go shopping and buy new clothes for my autumn edition capsule wardrobe! Spend the day picking out clothes for friend and myself. We got a few good pieces and are both quite pleased with ourselves! She must have been dieing to go home.

Decide to spend some time with my mum as she’s been home alone and bored for the afternoon. She talks all things family and I help her choose an outfit for a wedding and jewellery to go with it. Help her write emails to an online seller asking about an item she bought. As a parent of someone with BPD that must have been really hard to watch – her daughter helping make enquiries for her. Poor lady.

Spend the rest of my afternoon browsing the net before making a green tea and having a bubbly bath with lavender radox. The impulsivity of borderlines means you just don’t know what they might do next!

I connected my laptop to the TV and watch a movie about trying to love with bipolar disorder. All while snuggled into a warm blanket. I wonder how my brother coped walking in on that.

The movies pretty intense and emotional so I decide it’s time for bed and head up.

That was it! My day yesterday. I just had to make fun of all of the articles out there that just describe us in the most villifying ways. As if we can’t live like other people and being around us will always be and is always a chore or something to ‘endure’. The amount of hateful speech used on those sites and in the comments really does nothing to help anyone and the worst part of it is – how much of it is all a lie. My family doesn’t have to endure me anymore than I have to endure them. Infact there have been times between periods and menopause that I’ve been on the receiving end of their hormonal mood swings and upsets!

I know it’s not always like that and I know some situations are way worse. But it is unfair and dangerous to make blanket statements. Especially when so many of us can and do get better and can lead healthy lives despite having a mental health condition.

(Ps. That tree hangs over into my garden isnt it just a beauty? I love sitting in the sun and watching it sway.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

borderline personality disorder · bpd · mental health · Mental health culture · Uncategorized

Girl, Interrupted.

So the book finally arrived yesterday and I finished it by, well, yesterday. I want to share my thoughts about it, especially in terms of BPD recovery.

The book gripped me from the beginning, maybe because I enjoy books and films on mental health or those written off as ‘insane’. Anything that has anything to do with mental wards and psychiatry and you can count me in! The whole thing just fascinates me, but also because Susanna is a very talented writer. She adds a unique touch which makes the whole thing more relatable – snippets of her case notes from her time of admittance to discharge, between chapters of the book. I don’t feel so alone in my BPD anymore but something about seeing the ‘concrete hard’ evidence of her time made it seem so real. This is a writer who has lived it, and is still living it. This is someone who has ventured to a place I have not been and is back, writing this book. How awesome is that?

I wanted to read this initially because my psychologist told me her BPD manifested in terms of some psychotic symptoms (seeing things that aren’t there) and while she describes it a a little, I was hoping for more detail. I was also hoping for the slow progression to recovery which gives me a lot of hope, insight and determination to keep going. Rachel’s ‘Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder’ takes you through that journey and truly leaves you believing that if she can do it, so can you. I don’t think that was the purpose of this book which did leave me a little disappointed. It would have been nice to understand how during her 18 month stay at the hospital she started to feel better. Which therapists/nurses supported her? What activities made her change her outlook on things or did she leave feeling pretty much the same? All I was really left with was understanding that her time at the hospital did help, but on discharge she was in remission rather than recovery and the real work probably began once she left the hospital and began her adult life.

On the upside, Susanna has a very quirky, at times – sarcastic and witty outlook on things and, as if right on time in my life, she too questions the diagnosis.

‘What does borderline personality mean, anyhow?…to quote my post-Melvin psychiatrist: “It’s what they call people whose lifestyles bother them.”

“The person often experiences this instability of self-image as chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom.” My chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom came from the fact that I was living a life based on my incapacities, which were numerous.’

And what were the capacities she wanted to live her life based on you may ask?

“Boyfriends and literature: How can you make a life out of those two things? As it turns out, I did.”

There were also points during the book where she described her experience so accurately, in such a well-thought out and vivid manner that I just had to pause and contemplate.

“Something had been peeled back, a covering or shell that works to protect us. I couldn’t decide whether the covering was something on me or something attached to every thing in the world. It didn’t matter, really; wherever it had been, it wasn’t there anymore.

And this was the main precondition, that anything might be something else. Once I’d accepted that, it followed I might be mad, or that someone might think me mad. How could I say for certain that I wasn’t, if I couldn’t say for certain that a curtain wasn’t a mountain range?

I have to admit, though, that I knew I wasn’t mad.”

The whole thing does make me laugh at the same time. If not a ‘recovery’ book, it is entertaining, thought-provoking and proof that those with mental illness can live a fulfilling life outside the diagnosis. Susanna is proof of that.

 

 

 

 

 

borderline personality disorder · mental health · Mental health culture

Mental Health as a brown person.

This post has been on my mind for a while so I guess I better get this out of my system. As someone who’s not caucasian, I feel like the topic of Mental Health goes by even more unnoticed. It’s ignored or at best, acknowledged and then ignored. As in, in my culture (which has a lot of issues I don’t agree with but that’s a whole other list for a whole different site…) if a family member has a mental health problem they’re labelled crazy when they engage in problematic behaviours, rejected, isolated, or the family continues on and just lets them continue behaving in that way, often with a disruptive home environment as a result.

For example, if the family member in question has anger issues as a result of handling extreme mood swings, or out of control moods, they are called names for behaving ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho’ or whatever else and then left to it. They just argue it out and the behaviour continues the next time they feel that way. There is hardly, if any, intervention.

My own family life is also a result of this. I was labelled as the ‘black sheep’ of the family and treated as such, despite having grown up in a neglectful, turbulent home environment, neither parent seemed able to put two and two together and realise all of my behaviours were as a direct result of what I grew up in. Learned behaviours from the environment they put me in. But, I guess, if people started thinking that way that would mean they would have to assume some responsibility too, and well, no one likes added responsiblity do they?

I am not saying those with MH issues who ‘act out’ in ways that may harm other people is okay, or that they have a license to do whatever they want because they’re mentally ill. My point is, if there was at least some discussion, at least they would be able to get support from family members to look at recovery. If the problem isn’t even acknowledged how are they meant to improve? Their relationships suffer as a result and then that leads them to an even darker place.

The stigma is even worse in my culture. I have not even considered telling other people of the same culture as me about my MH problems because the way I might be viewed would be in a much more judgemental way than when I have spoken to others. It even proves true when I have been online dating, sure, I’m not saying every person from my culture is this way (they’re not, my own friend is an exception). But, I have experienced it this way. I have spoken to guys who have gotten along with me fine for about 5 minutes, until they ask me about my past and realising it’s a little shady (BPD can do that to a girl, you know?) immediately decide there’s not enough compatibility to continue. You know, not that they ever asked me why I might have engaged in those behaviours, sexual abuse, domestic violence, neglect can cause you to act just a little crazy sometimes, but hey, why bother truly getting to know me to find that out, when you can just blank me for not being an angel instead?

Maybe I sound a little bitter, I guess on some level I am, on the level that we’re left not only to deal with the real struggle of recovery but then we’re also shunned because of it, or ‘looked down on’. I can’t imagine being looked down upon for having some kind of chronic physical illness, but because it’s MH, it’s ‘okay’.

I have had to look up BPD on my own, I have had to research, to pay for therapy, to get to the GP’s, to get to DBT and see it through all on my own. When I was married my in-laws were the same and so was my ex. He was so anti-medication that I never got the chance to explore meds, and despite telling him about BPD, he didn’t take the time to read up on the diagnosis, to look at therapy with me, or to even listen to any of my counsellors suggestions about how he could help me and our relationship which was very stormy, but again, it was easier to just blame me and expect me to change because I was ‘crazy’ (he did call me that many a time). I can directly compare this to my last ex who, as a white english guy, was totally able to listen to me talk about my BPD, to ask me what the best ways to support me were, to research on his own and he didn’t once stigmatise me for it. In fact, he called me out every time I unintentionally did it to myself.

I’m a big girl so I get it’s high time I engaged in recovery for myself, but I’m not going to hide the fact that I feel a little hurt when I hear about other people’s families supporting them so much through therapy, financially, mentally, emotionally, people who have parents who are reading all about their child’s diagnosis to try and support them. I get none of that. I am grateful I have been able to do as much for myself as I have been able to, and that I finally opened up about it to my family so that they cannot go on pretending my MH issues don’t exist, but sometimes I do wish I had someone to lean on on the tough days. It’s a no-brainer to me now about why I was always seeking a romantic relationship.

The blogs on this site and youtube videos I come across also seem to fit neatly into this theory, the majority of discussion is coming from white english/american people, and I applaud them for that, they’re making real steps in removing stigma. I have seen some equally brilliant blogs and dialogue from people of colour and I’m so glad they have had the courage to put themselves out there like that and show that MH is an issue across cultures and colours. It needs to be talked about no matter where you are from and support should not be based on where you originate from.