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Mental Health

August 25, 2010

People who follow me on twitter may notice I go through periods of depression. I can get quite emotional and ranty. I thought I’d take a moment to try and explain this, delve into my head a little.

*warning* The following will deal with Mental Health, and possably some touchy subjects.

I’ve always had problems, though, most of them never got picked up later in life when I started showing more symptoms. My first trip into Counselling was when I was in Year 3 of school. Bullying & hard school work had me put into hospital with stress, and then as an outpatient RedBank House. I don’t remember much about it except that I really liked my councillor & that she helped my overcome my fear of storms.

During my high school years was when most of my problems came to light. I was teased a lot due to being overweight & individual. I started self injuring when I was in Year 7. I had my close group of friends & in the end, it was these friends who got me the help I needed. They talked with the year advisor, who in turn got me to talk to the school councilor.  The SC talked to me & advised me to talk to my parents, confide in them, and to seek professional help.

I tend to block out memories, but I remember the night I told my Mother I was depressed, I was so nervous & scared that she’d hate me. I knew she wouldn’t, but I just kept thinking that what I was doing was wrong. I didn’t want to worry her. But I told her, and we started trying to get me help.

It’s been a long road since. I’ve been to numerous councilors, psychiatrists, psychologists. Been to the emergency ward of the local hospital more times then I like to admit & have been on more medications then most people have in there life. I’ve had a councillor cry whilst I was talking to her, I’ve had a psychiatrist call me a ‘Fuck Up’, I’ve had others look at me as if they wish to open up my head and dissect my brain & I’ve had a few who have told me that there is nothing they can do to help me. It’s not been an easy road, but I do keep on trying, and while I have my bad periods, I have made a lot of progress.

I’ve been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder & Bipolar Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified – Lows of weeks with only hours of high) and these effect my life everyday.

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER – People affected by BPD often experience intense and rapidly changing emotions, feel abandoned and poorly treated by others in relationships, and feel urges to self-harm.

BIPOLAR DISORDER – Previously known as manic-depression, is a mood disorder characterised by exaggerated mood swings. Bipolar means two poles, or extremes, and if you have bipolar disorder you are likely to have extreme ups and downs.

I was originally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, which later when reading about it, rang true to an extent, never felt quite right. A few years later, after finding an amazing doctor & feeling like I could fully trust this man & talk about everything, I was diagnosed with BPD and when you read up about it, it really does fit me to a T.

I’m honest to people, I am not ashamed of myself, I am who I am. I don’t hide that I have problems. They are a part of me.

Things I am Thankful For!

– I am thankful, that with my BPD, which is often linked to Impulsiveness – Abusing alcohol and other drugs; spending excessively; gambling; stealing; driving recklessly, or having unsafe sex – That the only one I tend to have trouble with is spending. I’m proud that even with peer pressure through school I have never taken drugs. Only smoked around 4 full cigarettes in my life & will only have 1 or 2 social drinks. I understand that drinking & drugs would alter my state of alert & only help any zany impulses.

– I am thankful that I have an amazing & supportive family, boyfriend & friends. My parents did everything in their power to get me any & all the help I needed. They are strong & even if at times they had to play the mean guy, I knew they had my best interests at heart. I know that it wouldn’t be easy, I think the self-injuring is the hardest. I have come to know that by hurting myself, I am hurting them. I think Adam has also come to the realisation that sometimes hurting myself is my way of helping & healing myself.

 Getting Help!

It’s not easy, believe me I know. I am currently not under any psych care and am considering, for the first time to seek it out myself. Usually it is thrust upon me. After so many years I am now to the point I can recognise the signs, if that isn’t progress I don’t know what is! Below I’ve listed some handy sites that I’ve found useful in the past –

Under the cut is a Livejournal post I made 2 years ago with more detailed information on some of the side effects of my conditions.

LIVEJOURNAL – 17 August 2008 @ 11:12 pm

Okay, so here is my epic post about Mental Illnessess. I’ve tried to be an honest as I can be here, and have supplied detail information from various sites, to try and help my friends understand mental illness.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar around 5 years ago. Borderline Personality Disorder around 2. I also have ADHD, psychosis, bulimia, anxiety and I am a self injurer. I don’t often go into my mental illnesses in length, because I find it freaks people out. I AM just like everyone else. Having mental illnesses does not make me some kind of freak, or any less a person.

So if you have a spare 5-10 minutes feel free to read ahead, or skim. Also, I will answer any questions you have.

Bipolar Disorder

My Bipolar is Not Otherwise Specified, which means I don’t fit a particular mould. I generally have a long Depressed episode lasting a couple of weeks, and then a manic episode lasting a couple of hours AT MOST. This was the first mental illness I was diagnosed with and took me a while to come to terms with.

In bipolar disorder, or manic depression, each mood swing is called an “episode.” There are 4 main types of mood episodes that people with bipolar disorder can have:

Depression — Depression is when people with bipolar disorder feel very sad. Sometimes this can go on for a long period of time. They may not even want to get out of bed or eat. They don’t enjoy doing things they used to do.

Mania — Mania is the other side of bipolar disorder. Mania may start with a good feeling, almost like a “high.” Or it may make a person feel very irritable and angry. People with mania may do very risky things.

Hypomania— Hypomania is a milder form of mania. It can make people feel good. They may think they are getting more things done. But the “feel good” stage can change into mania or depression. Hypomania is different from mania because it doesn’t get in the way of things like work or family. It sometimes is not even noticed as a problem.

Mixed mood — This is when feelings of mania and depression go back and forth quickly, sometimes even in the same day.
With all types of extreme mood episodes, people are at risk for suicide.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline is very prominent in me. It’s hard to describe really, but basically I am very co-dependant. I hate being alone. I lose touch with feelings that I have just had. I am typic Borderline, but I don’t have some of the worse traits (Example: promiscious sex, drug use, anger)

Below is some general points of BPD.

  • Intense unstable relationships in which the borderline always ends up getting hurt.
  • Repetitive self-destructive behavior, often designed to prompt rescue.
  • Chronic fear of abandonment and panic when forced to be alone.
  • Distorted thoughts/perceptions, particularly in terms of relationships and interactions with others.
  • Hypersensitivity, meaning an unusual sensitivity to nonverbal communication.
  • Impulsive behaviors that often embarrass the borderline later.
  • Poor social adaptation: in a way, borderlines tend not to know or understand the rules regarding performance in job and academic settings.
  • Splitting: the self and others are viewed as “all good” or “all bad.”
  • Alternating clinging and distancing behaviors (I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me). Sometimes you want to be close to someone. But when you get close it feels TOO close and you feel like you have to get some space. This happens often.
  • Great difficulty trusting people and themselves. Early trust may have been shattered by people who were close to you.
  • Sensitivity to criticism or rejection.
  • Feeling of “needing” someone else to survive
  • Heavy need for affection and reassurance

Affect

chronic/major depression
helplessness
hopelessness
worthlessness
guilt
anger
anxiety
loneliness
boredom
emptiness

Cognition

odd thinking
unusual perceptions
nondelusional paranoia
quasipsychosis

Impulse action patterns

substance abuse/dependence
sexual deviance

suicide gestures

other impulsive behaviors

Interpersonal relationships
intolerance of aloneness
abandonment, engulfment, annihilation fears
counterdependency
stormy relationships
manipulativeness
dependency
devaluation
masochism/sadism
demandingness
entitlement

8. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”

“I have a hard time figuring out my personality. I tend to be whomever I’m with.”

“I remember describing the feeling of having a deep hole in my stomach. An emptiness that I didn’t know how to fill. My therapist told me that was from almost a “lack of a life”. The more things you get into your life, the more relationships you get involved in, all of that fills that hole. As a borderline, I had no life. There were times when I couldn’t stay in the same room with other people. It almost felt like what I think a panic attack would feel like.”

My Head

Now, I will generally talk about ‘my head’ as a seperate person. Sometimes, I think it very much is. I have a voice in my head, which I think is very much like everyone’s concious. The voice in everyone’s head. But mine is like the angel/devil on your shoulder. IT DOES NOT LIKE ME. When I get bad, it talks to me. (See why I don’t talk about this much, you must think I am NUTS). Lately, it’s just been saying the smae things over and over again. (Stupid, Fat, Ugly, Untalented, Unwanted, Disgusting, Pathetic). It’s this that is my MAIN problem that I suffer with.

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  • Great post. I totally understand when you talk about ‘my head’ as a separate person – I often feel the same way. It’s like part of me is outside looking in going ‘what the hell are you thinking? You know that’s not true!’ but the bit inside my head just keeps going on and on and on.

    Thanks for your honesty here. You will touch many people, and I hope it helps people understand mental illness a little more.

  • I think you’ve come so far, as I’ve seen you go through so many up’s and downs over the years. BPD is a bitch of the thing (you don’t need to have it to know what it’s like, lemme tell you) and you’ve pulled through so well.

  • Yes! You’ve been one of my longest friends, so you’ve seen me at my worst. I do think I’ve made progress. I no longer end up in the emergancy word, and I catch a bus BY MYSELF at least once a week. It may sound so simple to most people, but that alone makes me so proud!

  • Yes, I’ve got to the point where I’ve actually named my ‘head’. Sometimes it does feel like a seperate entity & I don’t know if it’s a good thing I’ve given it a name, but it just makes me be able to tell the difference. I like to think of it as I have one of those cartoon ‘angel’ and ‘devil’ on my shoulder whispering in my ear. I know I’m a good person & so on, but that doesn’t always mean my head agrees.

  • Nat, one of the things I love most about you is how open and honest you are about this. The stigma attached to mental illness is not at all helpful to others in that situation, and by you being as open as you are, you’re helping to lose that stigma which will help other people. Especially those without such supportive friends and family.

    With my ‘head’ being how it is at the moment, I actually find alot of strength thinking about you. I know that my depression is something caused by chronic pain and as a side effect of the pain killers and that in time it will pass, which is a luxury I know you don’t have. Thinking of you has helped me a number of times when I’ve felt so overwhelmed I didn’t know how I could manage another day feeling like that because if you can get through, so can I. You are such a beautiful, strong, talented and amazing woman and you inspire me on so many levels. I truly feel blessed to call you one of my dearest friends.

  • I’m sorry you had to go through all that and are still dealing with it. It’s good that you’ve made so much progress, because you always seem so confident. I think you are beautiful and I love your pink hair and outfits. I think every girl has similar feelings and poor self-image, but some more detrimental than others. As a teenager I stopped reading magazines for the impact it would have on me, but still struggled with it just as many others have. Wishing you all the best for a brighter future!

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  • Ali

    Hi Natatree. I just wanted to say that reading your blog is an inspiration. I too suffer from mental health issues and at 31 years of age am only just now starting to try and get it sorted properly. Years on and off anti-depressants and experiencing major ups & downs, and losing good friends due to an inability to handle my own internal issues (insecurities and an inability to express those insecurities in the right way) have all taken their toll on me. But knowing that there are others out there who’ve been through the same is a great help, and gives me hope that I can improve my quality of life.

    Cheers

    Ali

  • Ali

    You’ve also given me food for thought. I have been told by a few folks that I might suffer from Bi-polar, not just depression. But reading the borderline personality information has also rung a bell with me. I am currently in the process of getting a proper diagnosis from a pyschologist so I might discuss these things with her.

  • Hi Ali!
    It’s not easy, I can tell you that much, I totally understand. One of the hardest things is getting help. It’s also hard because it often takes time to get things right! I’m 24 & ive been on so many different medications & we still have to try new cocktails becuase sometimes my body gets used to them. It also doesn’t help that i’m allergic to lithium which is the main medication they like to use with these sorts of problems!

    I’ve lost a fair few friends due to my problems, but now I understand it a bit better, I am more concious of my actions. I also try and be open about my problems from the start, so people can kind of know what to expect. I’m rather lucky I don’t have too many of the overly ‘tough’ problems that can cuase a lot of damage (Drugs, gambling). My worst would be over spending. That is why I don’t have a credit card. It’s hard, but sometimes you have to cut things off.

    I’m glad this post has helped! I didn’t know much about Borderline before I was diagnosed. I’d been diagnosed Bi-Polar a few years before I was diagnosed with Borderline, but as soon as my psych mentioned it, explained it & gave me reading material, which while reading, all I could think of was “Omg, thats me! Thats me! Thats me too!”. Sometimes it’s easier to fight things that have a name. Knowing too, that other people have the same problem, and believe me, there are a fair few of us out here!!

    xo Nat

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  • edisonmyndiecoco

    Bless you!  I have shared this on my blog -http://63jeannee.blogspot.com/ .  Even tho we don’t share dx’s, I too struggle w/ issues and your informative and honest and openness, is refreshing!

  • frozensky_86

    i cant believe a psychiatrist called you a fuck up!!!!  i mainly suffer from depression (diagnosed when i was 15) although i do get some highs but not for long, i can relate to a lot of what you say. my dads side of the family have a lot of people with mental problems in,we are actually part of a family study! my dad is bipolar and he is mainly on the manic side (he thinks hes jesus when hes high) im used to it (my dad went into hospital for up to a few months at a time every year when i was growing up) and talking about it but as i grew up i noticed people outside our family didnt understand very much. Its good that you are writing about it, maybe more people will have some sort of understanding. I love your blog by the way, i just found it tonight 🙂

    p.s- its late and im doped up on painkillers because i had an operation 2 days ago so i apologise if this post doesnt make much sense….

    Jo  xx

    http://sehnsucht86.blogspot.com/ 

  • Oh I know, I was devistated, also, never went back to him again. I was lucky my Mum didn’t take me to that appointment cause I was a mess when I came out.

    I think there is some un-diagnosed mental health in my family, but who knows.

    Thank you! Oh, and it does make sense!
    xox

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