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Mental Health

Mental Health – My thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

Trigger Warning – This post talks about Mental Health, Suicide, Self Harming and other similar topics.

Like so many other people, I was drawn into the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why“, based on the book by the same name. I binge watched the 13 episode series over 2 days and was warned by multiple people not to watch the last episode alone. I’ve seen a few facebook/twitter posts and read a few articles and I just wanted to touch on a few things. Share my opinion and my story.

Going into the TV show, I knew the basic premise. That it dealt with a suicide and high school students. Even if you didn’t know that before watching, you pick it up pretty quickly. The following episodes focus on Clay listening to a series of tapes left by Hannah explaining the downward spiral that led to her suicide.

Mental Health - My thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

It’s raw and rough to watch, but relatable. I am forever thankful I went to high school in a time before most social media took off. For me, it was emails and ICQ. High school was still a horrible experience for me, but I can only imagine how much worse it could have been. I share some of my thoughts on my high school years over here “Was high school really hell?

I’ve had mental health issues from an early age. I started councilling in Year 3, I started self-injuring in Year 7, I’ve attempted suicide and I’ve had a good friend, as well as a family member, die by suicide. Watching the show, I understood a lot of what Hannah was thinking.

A lot of people are saying that the last episode is too graphic. It isn’t right to show such a detailed suicide scene, that it glorifies suicide. This is the scene I was warned about, and to be honest, it didn’t shock me. You knew it was coming. Sure, you don’t expect to see such a scene in a TV show, but it’s suicide. It isn’t pretty and they didn’t paint it to be pretty. They showed the helplessness of it, the desperation of it, the commitment, the utter resignation that this is the best possible thing that can be done. Through the whole series, you see the aftermath of what this moment leaves behind, but in this last episode, you also witness the moments straight afterwards. The finding of the body, the shock and the heartbreak it causes. I think if anything, it shows suicide as it can be. Sure, it could give someone ideas, but it’s more likely to save someone’s life.

Mental Health - My thoughts on 13 Reasons Why

One thing that sat with me throughout the whole series was the tapes. I guess these are left as a sort of suicide note, a telling of her side of her story, of pointing fingers and trying to make sure that some people knew the truth. I’m not sure what her end goal of making them was, but I feel that a lot of it was very hurtful and selfish. Then again, suicide is both hurtful and selfish. I can honestly say that the main reason I am still here today is because of other people. I’ve felt and seen the hurt that suicide leaves behind. It’s horrendous. In saying that, she is a teenager, and hey, before my last attempt, I would have been very happy to have left a big “fuck you” in the form of similar tapes to a few people who propelled me into feeling that suicide was my best option.

I’ve also seen a few people saying that Hannah is over-dramatic. No. I can’t stop you for thinking that, but YOU never know what someone else is feeling. Everyone feels things differently. As someone who has BPD, I get this, for me, molehills ARE mountains. Hannah does actually have a lot of the BPD traits, and I find it interesting that mental health was never actually brought up at all in the series.

I think mental health and suicide needs to be talked about more, it’s one of those things that gets pushed aside, whispered in secret, swept under the rug. It shouldn’t, suicide is real and it’s something that a hell of a lot of people consider at some point in their life. I don’t know if it’s talked about more in schools these days, but it was never mentioned when I was there. My school counsellor had me talk to my parents because she wasn’t able to give me the help I needed, but I only visited the counsellor because my friends were worried and told my year advisor.

So yeah, those are my thoughts. It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and talked through my thoughts and feelings on something, but this show left me feeling a lot of things.

Lifeline 13 11 14.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

Have you watched the show? What did you think?

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week

Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness week is the 1-7th of October. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my mental health, so now is the perfect time to do so.

I am 30. Now that may not seem like a big deal to some people, but I remember a time when I didn’t think I’d make it to 18. The fact that I’ve made it to 30 just blows my mind. You see, I’ve struggled with life. I’ve not had a bad life, in fact, I’ve had a pretty easy life, but my head hasn’t made it easy for me. For as long as I remember, I’ve been a bit different.  From a young age, I was scared that someone was coming to get me, that my heart beat was someone walking up the stairs, that the noise outside was dinosaurs suddenly re-appearing to kill us all (hey, I was a kid!) and of course the dread I would feel when someone would walk into a classroom with a note, I was sure that note was to call me to the office and that my parents had died. I used to sleep with the light on, and I used to wake my parents up at least once a night to see if they were okay.

“With BPD it hurts physically. It is an intense amount of painful emotion packed inside of my body trying to get out.”

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I’ve seen dozens of doctors, councillors, psychiatrists, and psychologists over those years, my first being when I was in year 2 at school. Things got more serious in high school and later I was (wrongly) diagnosed with Bipolar (not otherwise specified). I was then rightly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (among a few other things) when I was around 19, and that fit my symptoms more than Bipolar, and also made me understand more of why my teenage years were THE WORST. Not only was I going through the normal hormonal changes that everyone goes through, I had the added side affect that molehills were mountains.

“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.” –  Marsha M. Linehan

 

I went through a period where I hardly ever left the house, where i’d have panic attacks almost daily. I would go out to the shops and not be able to approach a counter because I just couldn’t interact with people, my Mum would have to do it for me. I’ve been to the emergency room at the hospital more times than I can count on my hands, I used to self injure, and I have tried to take my own life. I have however had help, and I have always been so disciplined on myself. BPD often comes with reckless behaviour, for example, gambling, spending money irresponsibly, binge eatting, abuse of substances, engage in unsafe promiscuous sex, or drive recklessly. Now for me, I may put $1 in the poker machines if I’m out a dinner, but no more than 2 dollars. I’ve never taken drugs, apart from trying pot twice. My sex life is private, but I can count my partners on one hand, I’m disease free, and I don’t drive. I have been known to binge eat and did have an eating disorder for many years, and I can’t save money for my life. However, all my bills and rent are always paid and I don’t have a credit card. So, i’m lucky. Extremely lucky.

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I’ve come so far, it’s been a hard road, and I still have days when I can’t get out of bed, when I don’t want to live anymore. I still can’t do so many things that most people can do, but I can do more than I could. Today*, I caught a bus, a train, and went to a meeting and shopping by myself. I know that I am so tired from just doing that, that I will have an early night and I will sleep most of tomorrow. It is an invisible illness and I am a complete spoonie.

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This post was more a way to share some of my story, and I guess to let people know that it can get better. I still struggle, but I can look back and see how far I’ve come and how I have a better understanding and coping mechanisms in place to make those dark days easier.

If you’d like more information about BPD, please head over to Spectrum. Project Air. Sane. Beyond Blue.
If you’re in trouble, never fear to call Lifeline 13 11 14 or the Suicide Callback Service 1300 659 467

*I wrote this post yesterday and scheduled it go live today.

When all you want in life is a dog

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Hi my name is Natalie, i’m 28, a Gemini, I love shoes and things that sparkle, cool weather, swimming and all animals. I have a few mental health issues and all I want in life is a dog.

I can’t really complain though. While my head makes life and living it hard, I have a roof over my head (I love this house), food, enough money to see a good psych fortnightly, friends, and a super loving and supportive family. I should be golden, but I still feel like something is missing. That missing piece is a dog.

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I’ve had at least one dog ever since I can remember. All my life, i’ve had a canine companion, up until Frodo passed away 15 months ago (I remember things like this, 6 years since my miscarriage, 5 years since my niece died, 4 years since my nan died). At first, I couldn’t imagine getting another dog, I was distraught. I had to deal with living in a Frodoless world.

Frodo was my world, and I’m about 80% sure I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for him. I got him when I was around 15 and in one of my most fragile stages. He was my rock. I had anxiety plans built around him from my Councillors. To this day, when I panic, my thoughts go straight to ‘I want to go home, to my bed, to my dog’. The first few times this happened after Frodo passed was hard, I’d get to the ‘to my dog’ part and panic harder. I no longer had a dog.

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I raised him to be a pretty good dog and I was so proud of him. Some days he’d do something and I’d think my heart would burst from love. This was what people must feel when they have kids, this crazy emotional, love. When he was sick, I would be like a distraught Mother. When he had his operation on his knee, I’d carry him around, stand next to him so he could pee. When he nearly died from a bowel obtrusion, I did everything I could do to help him. I knew the day before he passed that that was the last night I was going to spend with him. When he passed away, it was in my arms with me telling him he was the greatest and best dog ever. In my heart, he always will be.

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I’m not having children, even when I was younger growing up, I never wanted them. I’d always said I’d adopt. Sadly, I can’t adopt. I have issues that would make it hard to concieve and to carry full term and I would not want anyone to grow up with a head anything like mine. So yes, I did see Frodo, I do see Tonka, like my children. A child, that someone who had trouble getting out of bed somedays could have. A child who never judged me if I didn’t leave the house for a week, or a fortnight. Who would willingly give me cuddles and make me happier just by being in the room. Who would encourage me to get out of bed, to feed them, to take them outside. Who made me keep living. It’s something my Psych and I have been discussing over and over.

The thing is, if I was having a child, I wouldn’t have to ask the landlord for permission.

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Frodo is always watching over me, this HUGE picture looks over my bed.

 I was offered to adopt a dog recently. The most perfect dog for me. A dream dog. But the landlord came back with a no. While my rational brain can accept it, it was a big ask, they are scared their property will be damaged, the other part of my brain is devastated. I’d be the best dog parent, I wouldn’t let it do damage and if it did, I’d pay every cent. I can’t stop crying (oh hey, a nose bleed) and I just can’t understand why I try and be the best person I can be, and it always seems that I come in last. I’d do anything legal and not morally questionable to just have this. It still feels like my heart is broken.

I know it may sound trivial to some. And hey, it just may be. But in a world so crazy, if something as simple as having a dog can make my life a better place, can quiet my head, can encourage me to get up in the morning, then I will strive for it. I just wish it was now. I’m not asking for the world. A million dollars. Diamonds. Expensive pairs of shoes. All I want in life is a dog, and I can’t have it.