Posts Tagged ‘Growing up’
Hopefully this won’t be offensive to anyone, in general, with its topic matter. Warning for discussions of self harm, eating distress and general madness.
I think when one is first diagnosed with a mental health problem, or first realise it, or whatever… it can become strongly entrenched in your identity. Even others, actually especially others will make it your identity for you. I was Outwardly, the 16-year-old depressive, the 16-year-old self harmer, the 16-year-old bulimic. I was the “overdose in cubicle 3″, the “DSH, known to CAMHS” in the paediatric waiting room. I started out identifying with self harmers on forums, curious about the lifestyle of my brothers and sisters in this futile war against our physical selves. I identified with my brothers and sisters in the futile war against the next meal, the next concerned facial expression from a loved one, the next pound dropped.
Then I identified with the other young people held in a psychiatric unit. We, young people, the next generation, who were meant to be living “the best years of your life”. Drugged into oblivion, occasionally sparking into life when something interesting was on the hospital menu. Encouragement to get out of bed, to get dressed, to go to classes were met with the quite reasonable question: Why should I? Why should we, indeed, when this was how it was. Messed up crazy kids on a messed up crazy kids ward. No outside friends, brief phone calls to family on occasion, feeling the sun on our faces only if there were enough staff to control us outside. Yep. That was us, the Messed Up Crazy Kid Brigade.
Then you start wanting out. You don’t want to be the 18, 19, 20… heck, 40-year-old ”DSH in cubicle 3″. You know that you have a condition or illness or distress to come to terms with, but you don’t want that to define you. You want people to look at you and think of how funny you are, or how bad you are at maths, or that time you wore that shirt that really shouldn’t have suited you but it did. You don’t want people to look at you and remember you being dragged into the back of an ambulance in the middle of the night. You don’t want people to talk to you and remember the time you screamed the vile details of being abused at them while dissociated.
Where is the equilibrium? How much can I forget, forge a new identity and yet still wonder what other people will remember of me? Is there actually anybody in there, in me, apart from the madness? Who would I have been, had none of this ever happened to me?
I started a review of this year & then decided… no, I don’t really want to dwell on the negative things (of which, I realised, there are many!). Instead I shall offer an irritatingly positive & optomistic post about what I’ve acheived & what I hope to achieve for 2011.
So far, I have..
…. found out a type of therapy that helps me & developed coping skills from it.
…. had a brief but very enjoyable “remission” from my mood swings.
…. thereby being able to further figure out the things I enjoyed & spend time with my friends
…. & go on a sort-of weekend trip with friends.
…. gone 8 months with only isolated occasions of self harm.
…. started college!
…. I can’t think of any more but making this list should be one!
Things I hope to achieve in 2011…
…. continue to utilise the support I get from college to keep up with my course.
…. pass my exams to get onto the next level.
…. work more on my music, writing & photography.
…. gain more independance travelling places.
…. begin my modules with the Open University!
…. keep reaching out for support to keep safe.
The second list will probably get longer as the year goes on, but nevermind!
Thank you all for the nominations on the TWIM Awards, they are really really appreciated I never really expected anyone to take notice of my writing, but I enjoy thought-vomiting on here & if it helps people understand growing up with a mental illness more, then that’s fantastic! More & more, I feel like I want to do as much as I can to raise awareness & fight on behalf of people who have these kinds of difficulties, especially young people. That’s not to say that young people have it worse, because (& I know) adult services can be really difficult to work with. But I remember this year struggling to cope because I could either remain with one appointment a week with CAMHS or going inpatient for 6 week blocks, being taken away from my friends & family & everything I loved, several hours away. There is a massive gap in the system for those transitioning to adult services, & community services/schemes for children & young people’s mental wellbeing. For all that I’ve read on the internet about creative approaches to mental health, I feel like there is a lot that is yet to be explored too. I guess these are fast becoming passions of mine.
I know I wrote earlier this month about working in an area unrelated to mental health & I definitely think that I will do some kind of creative work that is purely because I enjoy it, especially dance , music or writing. I’ve been writing since I was young (obviously, but you know what I mean), about the struggles I had with physical health problems, & we approached publishers who said my work “wasn’t what people were interested in”. So I may attempt this again in the future. I have drafts of novels & poetry & random snippets of my autobiography tucked away in files all over the house so… you never know.
I think I have rambled on enough! I won’t say “Happy New Year” because that just feels… strange to me but, here goes another year of mentalness & blogging! Lots & lots of good wishes, see you next year..
I am so glad to have a place I can just dump all my thoughts again. I apologise in advance if it’s less-than-well-written, my mind is in a strange place tonight.
My diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is somewhat haunting me at the moment. I have a very clear memory of being in A+E this year after an (relatively useless) overdose & being stared at by some nameless doctor who could’ve walked into my cubicle off the street for all I knew. The big “do you have a diagnosis?” question came up & I averted my gaze in preparation.
“I’ve been diagnosed with BPD.”
“Ahhh yes! Borderline personality disorder…”
I would much rather now “forget” to mention my diagnosis at all, because it precedes me. Before people have time to understand that, underneath my diagnosis, I am a walking talking human with feelings – I have already been judged, decision made & treatment planned.
I worry that this blog will become just a forum to air my frustrations with the mental health services & my diagnosis (& trust me, I have already been told that disagreeing with my diagnosis is a part of BPD. Didn’t see that in the diagnostic criteria..) but… it is something that is affecting me.
It seems to be the answer for everything just now. Eating disorder? Low self esteem, caused by BPD. History of abuse? Ahh, now that’s common among those with personality disorders. Broken toe? Happens a lot to people with BPD.
I’m exaggerating, I know. I’m not denying there is a problem, or that that problem is BPD-shaped & flavoured. I’m just having difficulty with how it’s being treated. I think things have moved on from how it was viewed some years ago, but I fear that some of the old prejudices & stigma still remains. All mental health problems carry some degree of stigma, & as long as there is ignorance (both the rude ignorance & the genuine misunderstanding variety), there will be stigma. I wonder what makes certain conditions more prone to it, though?
Schizophrenia? That’s the one where you see & hear things & stab people. Depression? Oh, pull yourself together, everybody gets depressed. Bipolar? That’s what Robbie Williams has, right? I have mood swings, I’ve probably got a touch of bipolar.
I think it’s important to get the balance right when you’re diagnosing somebody with a mental illness. Too hopeful & it’s just annoying, too depressing & you will make us want to kill ourselves even more. I was told when I was originally diagnosed that I would screw up every friendship & relationship I had, & my experiences of abuse were testimony to that. Well, I’m managing college (albeit in my own special/crazy way), I have friends there, they haven’t run screaming for the hills yet, even ones that’ve either guessed or I’ve told about my mental health difficulties.
I can understand why they try not to diagnose you with anything, especially BPD, when you’re young. Your personality is still developing, & everyone is a bit BPD when they are growing up. Mood swings, rapidly changing ideas about yourself, anger… that’s just what life is like growing up these days. It can make that growing up process a bit more difficult. Of course, if it means you get better treatment, then that’s a great thing. I just don’t know if I’m so happy about being diagnosed with it a few months after turning 16.
I think I’ve thought-vomited enough for now. I hope this doesn’t sound too judgemental or anything. As I say, I probably should not have posted when my mind is so chaotic!
I have some catching up to do with this blog and others, evidently!
So I returned to this blog (and the surprisingly awesome fact that I’d been nominated for TWIM awards!) feeling slightly apprehensive. I’m not sure what to write. I’m not sure where to begin or where to catch up. It’s hard to put so many feelings and experiences and such into words, and do them the justice they deserve, more to the point. I will have a stab at it anyway.
I have recently been transferred from CAMHS to the adult mental health services (CMHT). And what an 80lb bucket of pure joy that has been. Perhaps it is “attachment issues” but I really, really did not want to leave CAMHS. Apparently this was observed by my therapist too, who felt that by counter-transference, he was also anxious about our sessions ending. As it happens, we both swiftly exited my last ever CAMHS session before we both got too emotional. Which may seem unprofessional or “weird”, but I think it was important. For me, at least, who struggles to accept human emotions, it was important that it ended in an appropiately human way. I had already been having a few appointment at the CMHT, so the transistion was as smooth as it was going to be. Here endeth an era.
Feeling somewhat unprepared for my journey into “adult” mentalism, I made my way to the building inwhich the CMHT was housed. A whole … few metres? away from the building where CAMHS is. It’s still painful to walk past and look up at the windows of the therapy rooms. As mentioned, I’d already met my new psychiatrist, who we will call Dr C. I don’t know what to make of Dr C at the moment. Trying to discuss my thoughts and views is about as useful as “challenging a centipede to an arse-kicking contest”. Which also goes for my care co-ordinator and crisis team. I will also be seeing a new psychologist when my name comes up on the waiting list for some solution-focused therapy/CBT/stick-a-plaster-on-it-and-grow-up therapy.
My CMHT is very “man up, suck it up and deal with it” orientated, which is apparently the best way to treat a person with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Trying to mention my trauma history, disordered eating or.. anything that isn’t BPD related is met with a blank, disapproving stare. Maybe this is the best way of dealing with BPD, but I deeply miss the more compassionate way CAMHS worked. It’s not that I expect sympathy and tears wherever I go because of my history, but.. well I know what I mean. In hospital earlier this year, my individual therapy work was psychodynamic psychotherapy, which worked for me. This is what has been reccomended for me, but will this happen with the adult services? Not likely. I am beginning to sense the frustration of other people with the therapy services provided by the NHS. I have contact a charity about some counselling regarding the trauma issues, which will no doubt vex my team.
As you can tell, I am really struggling to deal with all this change and the services that are being offered. Although obviously when I say this, I am told (repeatedly) about how it is a symptom of BPD and how I need to learn to just deal with it.
My current goal is to keep myself as safe as possible, to see if there is any possibility of going into crisis housing. Which gives my team the impression that I do not need any help because I’ve “got over myself” and stopped attempting suicide, my most recent attempt being less than a week ago.
Any advice in navigating the adult mental health services is greatly appreciated!
In other news, I have begun college, studying a qualification in performing arts! I have found I love dance, although clomping around like a rather short, stocky elephant sometimes makes me feel less than fabulous about myself. I have not yet started up my voluntary work again but I hope to start in the New Year if I am sane enough to do it. Obviously I am, because I just need to man up, suck it up and deal…
A friend from the psychiatric hospital I was in called me earlier – it was so weird to hear somebody say the name of the hospital and ward. They’re doing okay and going to be discharged soon. Some of them have been in there two years or more. I guess I got off lucky, being there only two months despite everything.
I’d've never guessed things would end up like this. When I was really young, I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse. I’d practice CPR on my baby doll. I imagined myself studying to be a doctor, helping the kind of people that… that I’ve turned out to be. I didn’t see myself being bullied, abused, attempting suicide, being locked up in hospital.
It makes me sad, but it gives me more resolve to change things in the future. I can’t change the fact I have mental health problems, I can’t change my past either. But I can be one of the people that survive it. I can be a survivor rather than a victim. I don’t want to spend my life in and out of psychiatric units and as far as it is possible for me, I will try not to.
It’s hard trying to turn a list of symptoms into a list of positives. Being emotional can be good – uncontrollable emotions are bad. Self-awareness is good – self-awareness that turns into self-criticising is bad.
Today, I have done not much other than sleep. I have neither energy, nor desire to do anything else. I feel low, but I haven’t had any significant dangerous thoughts, which is a blessing. It’s not being helped by listening to songs that make me inevitably depressed. One of my favourites for this is Colorblind – Counting Crows, which was used in the film Cruel Intentions. The sex scene both depresses me and energetically triggers my urges to destroy myself in equal measure. Ew ew EW LOVE AND SEX AND HAPPINESS CANNOT BE.
I probably shouldn’t listen to it, but sometimes I get in weird moods like this. Colorblind and She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5 will always convince me that jumping off a bridge is the best way forward. I don’t hold out much hope for any kind of love life. Which would be fine, if I didn’t get feelings for people. Well, one person. I’m pretty sure that, however much I don’t want mental illness to be “who I am”, my mentalness will put them off. Or, just, who I am.
Moving swiftly on, I have my last day of work experience tommorow. I’m so going to miss everyone there. Okay, I’m going back next week for a few days, but tommorow is my official last day.
I’ve put SWBL on YouTube, so I guess I’m going to wallow in depressive, suicidal thoughts. Where did the positivity of the opening paragraphs go??
I can’t think of a title, so, there we go.
Things are, well, how they are. Good and bad. The big “past” has been rearing its ugly head again, which means my conversations are pretty much limited to “I can’t cope with all of this” and “What should I study at university?”. Literally. That is all I talk about.
I need to get flipping university out of my head and stop worrying about it. Other people sail through life blissfully without a clue where they’re going – what makes me so different? I want to work with children with learning disabilities and/or mental health problems. Simple? OhEmGeenotreally.
I could do psychology. I like psychology, from current studies. But then I like the idea of social work, in fact I’d love to be an AMHP. I also like the sound of medicine and psychiatry. But I don’t have the whatsit to study medicine for the next seventy-five years. Or I could study to do Early Years. I’ve proved I work especially well with very very young children.
Or, alternatively, I could say “screw that” and do what I’d really really like to do and study drama and theatre, or fine art. Much to the disappointment of my family. Iwanttododrama, Iwanttododrama.
Sooooo. Arrrrrggghhh. I don’t if I can even cope with university, I don’t even know what I’m doing.
Okay, I’m going to shut up now.
Yes, the big “a” word is looming large. A lot of flashbacks and nightmares and stuff. I let it continue for a long time. I know that may sound a bit controversial, but I did. I thought to myself “He mustn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t know.” So it went on and on and on and on and now I’m screwed up. And feel very guilty. And miss him. Wow, I’m very stupid.
Oh I can’t even talk at the moment. I thought I should update so, there you have it.
You get what you need.
That phrase, or something similar to it, is going through my head a lot recently. Hmm.
Mood is somewhat stable, so I’m taking advantage of it by doing what I can and preparing for any other slip-ups. I’m more aware of the thoughts that lead up to me doing stuff like overdosing or trying to jump in front of trains. So I’m making a special ‘box’ to prepare for times like that. It’s going to be full of photos of people (and pets!) I love, letters and cards from friends and a letter I’ve written to myself. I sound even more crazy, I know.
When I’m feeling impulsive, I don’t really remember it. I’m usually very energetic, but that’s not the word I’m looking for. It’s almost like… mania. I can’t stop moving, I have to act on the impulse to get it out my head. So the majority of the box will be visual things, like photos. I don’t have enough focus to read much in the thick of it. It’ll also have all the numbers for helplines, CAMHS, the crisis team(s), etc.
Hopefully, this will help. I’m going to try anyway. I don’t know whether the unstable moods are scarier during them or while you’re waiting for them to return. The calm before the storm, as it were.
I’ve been walking, cycling and swimming today. Check me out.
I’m going to look at the kinds of live music events there are and stuff. I’ve got it into my head that I want to go to a festival (since reading the post about festivals on the Mental Nurse blog!) or something like it, even just for a day.
Why is it that the skinny, bitchy girl gets all the friends and all the boys talking to her? Is it because she’s thin and pretty? Are people really that shallow?
It’s not even that I want any attention from boys. Well. It would be nice to get more than a grunt or two words, sure. But they’re allllll over her, of course. What is it about me? I’m just some fat, bumbling, awkward, disgusting, repellent little lard-ass that people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.
It really does make me want to give up on socialising. Of course, the CAMHS team would have several litters of kittens if I did just go back to curling up in the corner of the living room in my pyjamas all day. It’s tempting, though.
I’m trying to convince myself that I have bad hayfever today (yeah, with no sun, no wind and not even outside) and that I’m not crying at random moments. With proper clothes over my pyjamas until my family gets back and then I can put my dressing gown on again.
I also have work in… just over an hour. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go out. I don’t want to do anything. Mum’s asked me to make a list of all the things I want to do. I thought about live music gigs and going to the theatre and chilling out by the river. Then I said:
“Sleep. Get thin. Die.”
Wow, I’m depressing today. Ignore this post. Ignore me. Please.
I don’t really have much to say.
Saw the family support worker today and talked about money and care plans and work experience (she *thinks* she saw something about work placements with CAMHS for young people. Please please let her be right!) and stoof.
Was meant to be going out tonight, but the weight gain has been so bad that hardly any of my clothes fit anymore. Pulled all my clothes out the wardrobe, threw them everywhere, swore disgustingly, punched the wall repeatedly and now one of my knuckles looks decidely flat. Oops. Not as in control as I’d've liked to be.
College interview tommorow! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to where. Not that I have much choice. Do I take my notebook and diary and look professional? Choices, choices.
To do list:
- Ring Connexions adviser to discuss work placements.
- Ring children’s centre to discuss possible job/voluntary work (they’re open on a Saturday, lovely people).
- Find some clothes that actually fit.
- Do not go mad.
Okay, I think I can manage that. I think.