I don’t write when things are going well. Why is that? What am I afraid of? Perhaps that I will come spilling out onto paper uncontrollably. I’ve always used writing and words as a way to express myself when life is hard. When every breath is hard, every step is a struggle and I’m running fast out of options. Sometimes I use it as a last resort. I always know it will help. There’s something so raw about getting it down on paper. When life’s on the up I prefer not to jinx anything by scrawling it down in my old confidante. The most beautiful words I know are those draped in sadness. My favourite song lyrics revolve around heartbreak, loneliness, lost love and inner hell. My favourite poems were wrote by those who could no longer take the pain. I’m teaching myself how to write from a new reality. A reality no longer filled with anguish and frustration. We all identify with words that make us feel something, make us cry or hit a nerve we tried to hide. It is harder to identify with those words which make us smile, which build us up and remind us how lucky we are to be completely in love. Maybe no words could ever be enough.
I have held back on writing this post for a couple of months whilst I tried to get my head around the situation. But it’s the final day of 2016 and as everyone is in a reflective, emotional mood looking back at their year, now is as good a time as ever.
2016 has been, on the whole, a very good year for me. I started the year determined to get myself back to work and to continue with my education whilst working on my mental health. By April all of these had been ticked off. The vast majority of this year brings back happy memories, new friendships and a lot of laughing.
I was happy at work although a niggling feeling had entered my mind that maybe not all was right. I tried to brush it aside, for the first time in a long time everything was going pretty well for me; I had a supportive family, amazing friends and a job I enjoyed.
In October I entered one of the most terrifying, sad and seemingly hopeless periods of my life. To say it seemed that everything had gone to shit would be an under exaggeration. I had been trying to carry on as normal, trying to ignore this overwhelming feeling of self hatred and it all caught up with me. I was appalled, shocked and heartbroken by my own behaviour and complete lack of self worth. Suddenly everything seemed pretty pointless again and I hit rock bottom. It had been a couple of years since I’d felt so low and I hoped I’d never be back in that position again.
It was so scary and my own thoughts became so worrying that I decided I needed emergency help. This resulted in me being treated by a crisis team at home in Manchester and my Mum coming to stay with us for a week. A totally abnormal situation but something that had to happen to ensure I was safe.
Around this time I was told I’d have an assessment with a consultant psychiatrist as I’d presented so many times in the last few years it was becoming clearer I wasn’t just suffering from depression/anxiety. This was something I’d wanted to happen for several years so we really pushed for it to go ahead and after a couple of weeks I got my appointment.
To cut a very long winded, probably extremely boring story short, on 31st October 2016 I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The doctor went into detail after reading through years of notes on how he had come to this conclusion and I whole heartedly agreed. He asked me if I was upset afterwards and I told him I wasn’t at all, just very relieved.
If you’re really that interested you can search online as to what BPD is and what it means. My doctor told me it’s something I was most probably born with, and it’s just been brought to the surface more with certain events that have happened in my life. It is absolutely not the result of a traumatic childhood, abuse or anything remotely like that. I had a wonderful, happy childhood with the nicest and most generous parents anyone could ask for. One thing I realised after being diagnosed with BPD is how negative the connotations are surrounding it. I know that not everyone demonstrates all the behaviours associated with the disorder but it’s still quite hard to find a positive article to read or to take something pleasant from when you’ve just been diagnosed. I hope that this will change in years to come as more research and time is allowed for BPD.
So that’s that. I like to think of BPD as being an explanation for a lot of feelings I’ve had over the last 10-15 years. I’ve known for a long time that something just didn’t add up. I knew that my emotions and feelings were always greatly exaggerated compared to my friends. A low day to me was the worst day on earth but when I was having a good time nothing could stop me. As heartbreaking as it is when I am feeling at my lowest and I can’t see any point in forcing myself through the next hour, never mind the day, the feelings can also be reversed. When I’m having a really great time with the people I love I take note of every little thing, I enjoy it SO MUCH because I know how quickly it can change.
Overall I’d like to thank everyone who pretty much kept me alive this year through a very, very strange & scary time. My Mum who is always the strongest, bravest but most loving lady in any room. I simply wouldn’t have half the strength to keep going if it wasn’t for you. My flatmate & best friend Will who has now for 6 (wtf?!) years seen me at my very best and very worst and still stuck by my side. I’m under no impression that I’m not a nightmare at times but at least I’m good at washing up. Love you. To all my other gorgeous family and friends who listen to all my worries, laugh along when it’s good and hold me up when it’s not. And finally to my beautiful girlfriend Beth…..you have stood by me, cried with me, laughed with me and made me see a point in something when everything felt completely hopeless. Some days when I feel like I’m not really worth a whole lot I look at how incredible you are & think that if you love me, there must be something worth fighting for. Love you always.
Happy New Year, I have a feeling it will be a good one. xx
The days aren’t as dark as they used to be. The misty fog that once covered everything I saw has mostly lifted. As I’m writing this I’ve nearly deleted it all 3 times up to this point. As though I’m going to jinx myself and tomorrow I’ll wake up and have to say “I told you so, you spoke too soon” to that part of my brain which is never still. That part of my brain has slowed down a little though, it’s no longer as constantly frantic, no longer questioning every move, every word, every breath. In fact sometimes I don’t ever think of it at all. Which is great. It’s like when you have an awful break up with someone and your friends tell you that one day you’ll realise you haven’t thought of them for 24 hours and you will smile because you know your life isn’t over. You know you can live without them. I can’t live without my mind. But I am learning to live alongside it. To not be so hard on myself when I am having a shit day. I do still have shit days. And every time I do I have thoughts of spiralling out of control and that this.is.it. That my mind’s been pushed too far this time, it’s exhausted, it’s had enough and it is just going to shut down now. Goodbye. But it doesn’t and I don’t and over time I’ve become pretty proud of that.
I don’t know how you feel or if you’re having a shit day. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking what the hell is she talking about because maybe you’ve never been so inside yourself that you can feel every tiniest sensation and every breath hurts. And no you’re not lucky that hasn’t happened to you. Luck is no part of it. Or maybe you’re reading this and you do understand. It’s about separating a bad day from a bad week, a bad month from a bad year. Maybe you think this is just the way you are now. That you’re going to have to always be someone you never imagined or ever wanted to be. Either that or give up completely. That’s what I thought. And somehow, and I’d love to give you some amazing explanation or solution as to how I did it, but realistically some days it was just breathing until it was over, or putting one foot in front of the other and hoping I didn’t die. Keep going. Even if you feel like you’re going to explode from the frustration and ALL THE FEELINGS.
Eventually, and it may be no quick process, a tiny bit of light comes back into focus, then a tiny bit more, then you go a day when you haven’t nearly burst into tears 10 times, then you laugh at something someone says, but actually laugh, none of that fake shit…..and on and on. It sounds so cliche but be really bloody kind to yourself. Don’t expect too much. It’s the hardest battle you’ll ever win.
I had almost given up daring to think something could mean anything,
To me the world became mundane, a lack of light, a lack of beauty, just routine.
And perhaps I wanted to stay that way a while, without the fear, to live simply.
But I’ve spent too many nights awake, whilst people like you are dreaming, to even consider I’d ever be truly free.
I know at times like these people always talk about not being able to imagine how you’re feeling. Well I can. To some extent at least. Everyone’s personal experiences are different and everyone’s journey takes their own path but I know your pain. I know how it feels to wake up and for a few seconds forget what’s happened before it comes rushing back and hits you again full force. I know how it feels to try and cope with your own heart breaking whilst the people you love the most are completely heartbroken too. I know how powerless you can feel. I know that the pain is sometimes so harsh and so deep that it takes your breath away. I don’t know the journey you will go on from now. However I do know that every person is different and to try not to compare yourself to others. I don’t know exactly what to say to make anything better or if there is anything that ever could. I know it was the strangest, smallest things that would manage to make me smile. Please be kind to yourself. Please remember that this is devastating and that your whole body, mind and soul is going to feel it. Please don’t ever forget that I love you, that the dark days will get the tiniest bit lighter and that you are never alone. Please be proud of yourself. I am.
All my love xx
I’ll always remember being on the train home from university in first year listening to Hometown Glory by Adele. It used to make me nearly cry every time. How worlds apart my new life was from my little town. I was having the time of my life but I missed Saltburn. I missed my parents and my best friends. I missed recognising people every time I walked into town. Saltburn holds such wonderful memories for me. In my teenage years it seemed like all I wanted to do was escape. I wanted bigger, brighter, better.
When I go home now to Saltburn I walk around and a million memories flood back to me. The nights we spent thinking we knew it all. The nights we spent crying on each others shoulders. The nights we spent thinking we were falling in love. The nights we laughed until it hurt. We were so sure of ourselves.
We dreamt of university and big cities. But we were happy. I didn’t realise how much I’d look back upon those school years and wish I could relive them. If only for one night. I’m sure there were times it felt like hell but it was a contained hell. We were safe. We were in a small town. And whatever happened a week later there would be something else to talk about. I miss being young and stupid. I miss every stupid mistake I made.
I miss the sea, the beach and I miss staring out at the horizon like it was going to tell me where I was going wrong and how to fix it. In my worst days at home I’d go for a walk on the beach. A walk on that beach has done more for me in simplistic, here and now terms, than weeks of therapy. There’s something about that vast, freezing cold sea that crashes waves upon the shore that makes any problem seem insignificant.
Last night was the first time I’ve uploaded anything to do this blog in 6 months. I have still been writing; just haven’t felt it was anything I wanted to post for the world to see. Either that or I doubted the quality.
I have just finished the incredible Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I can’t remember the last time I was actually moved to tears by a book but that did it for me. It wasn’t his descriptions of how brutally awful depression and anxiety can be; although they definitely reminded me of some very dark days. It was the hope that resonated at the end of the book. The reflection of progress made. The list of things he now enjoys which he thought he never would again. I’ve never read a book and had to actually pause and reread the last sentence as many times because it sounds like the words have come straight from my mouth. It’s really hard when you’re in the midst of depression to see that there will ever be an end to it. That was one of the things I found so frustrating. Never knowing when it would end or get better or even if it ever would.
I held on and stayed strong for a few reasons. A major one was the love of my family and friends. I can’t imagine how it must feel for those who don’t have an amazing support system around them. I know how soul destroying depression can feel at times. Days in bed turn into weeks. The mental pain becomes physical. I remember laying on the floor of my apartment screaming into a pillow because I just needed in some way to try and release this demon from within. When I think about that now I can’t believe just how desperate I was to stop feeling broken. There was no point planning things. I wouldn’t enjoy them anyway. I could hardly string a sentence together never mind fake a smile.
Have you ever been so sad you can’t even cry? It feels like your brain has just turned to mush, you can’t do the simplest of tasks, the only minuscule hope is to just lay there and try to sleep. Sleep to forget how it feels to be awake.
But then day by day, week by week, you start doing little things. Tiny things really. You actually have an interest in watching something on TV or you eat your favourite food and can actually taste it.
I can’t really recall the time in between being really ill and starting to feel 5% alive again. I know time past, I did things, and saw people but I struggle to remember how I felt. I guess slowly every day a tiny bit of light seems to come back into your vision. You might find yourself walking through the park in the sun and smiling or thinking of a social event and laughing as you remember something that happened.
When I was at my worst someone telling me to just hold on and that things would improve probably wouldn’t have resonated with me. But it’s true. It’s a really sad fact that you have to get through to the other side of something to see that everything is survivable. You never know if tomorrow might be that day when you start to see the tiniest glimmer of hope. I guess I cried in some ways after finishing the book because I’m so glad I held on. So glad I am still here and I can still appreciate all the beautiful things in life. When you’re depressed life is grey, miserable, blurry; there is no colour or beauty to it. But once you get through that fog colours seem brighter, beautiful scenery seems almost too good to be true, and your favourite songs seem like they were written just for you.
These are a couple of my favourite passages from Reasons to Stay Alive which I really identified with.