depression posts

BPD A-Z: FAVOURITE PERSON

April 27, 2019

(BPD A-Z) is a series aiming to cover an abridged run-through of some of the most characteristic elements of Borderline Personality Disorder, written by a 25-year-old who lives with the mental health condition.

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Did you ever have that crush in high school, where the person became the focal point of your entire hormone-fuelled universe? Where there was just never enough room to adequately profess your love for them on your notebook? Where the days when you didn’t hear them call out for the morning register became instantly flat and pointless to you?

That time old teenage crush is a bit like the phenomena of the ‘favourite person’ in BPD. They become everything; a walking manifestation of your mental lifeblood: your happiness balances precariously on how they feel and, most importantly, how they feel about you.

With the above analogy, you’d be forgiven for thinking that FPs are only romantic in nature, but this isn’t the case. For those with BPD – who struggle to create healthy attachments after generally chaotic upbringings – these hallowed loves can arise from any guise of relationship: therapists, friends, teachers, coffee shop baristas – you name it, FP doesn’t discriminate.

On the surface, this seems quite harmless for all parties involved – what’s the harm in a bit more love in the world? However, the emphasis has to be placed on quite how much of an impact said FPs can have on the mental (and often, consequentially) physical wellbeing of their BPD counterparts.

Often, we can come across as obsessive. Our FPs become living, breathing drugs to us and simply being in their presence is enough to sustain a high. Given our tendency to be quite amiable and fun to be around at first, we usually gel seamlessly with our new connection and begin spending a lot of time with them. Friendships and relationships bloom and, more often than not, this period is blissful for all parties involved.

This harmony lasts until the FP does something that knocks them from the pedestal they didn’t even know they’d been elevated to. Sadly, this doesn’t have to be a significant slight – nor does the FP have to have done something intentionally to upset the person with BPD – it could be as simple as cancelling plans, or not replying quickly enough to a text. In a bad period, these slights can begin sounding deafening abandonment alarm bells for the BPD sufferer, that only they can hear.

Once something ticks off this highly sensitive alarm system, it’s often a slippery slope to friendship/relationship doom. Our fear of abandonment can still preside in what – to a ‘normal person’ – would be perceived as the healthiest, most loving pairing, but those with BPD are so hardwired to expect the worst that we’ll sometimes create it ourselves.

One of three things happens at this point in the FP relationship. Some people with Borderline will lay it on very heavily in a bid to stay as close to the person as possible, hoping to make them stay. Inevitably, the person receiving this barrage of attention and neediness can begin to feel smothered and may back off. The killer here is that this then just perpetuates the BPD fear of ‘everyone leaves’, even though it was technically by their own hand due to this debilitating fear.

Alternatively, the sufferer may attempt to distance themselves as a defence mechanism, presenting as cold and distant seemingly out of nowhere. At this point – whilst the FP may be feeling confused and even hurt – the person with BPD is struggling intensely and may begin exhibiting self-destructive behaviours. This is often – subconsciously – done in a misguided attempt at conveying their fear and dysregulation to the FP after backing off; hoping they’ll pull them back in.

Where romantic relationships are concerned, this can develop into something called ‘triangulation’, where the person with BPD keeps an old flame on a back-burner in case the new person leaves them. It isn’t done from a place of greed or a desire to cheat; purely as a desperate means of ensuring they don’t end up facing their biggest fear of being alone.

Naturally, this all adds up to a veritable shitshow when it comes to holding down any friendships or relationships, when a person is still in the throes of untreated BPD. With the help of DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy: a course of talking treatment in which the patient learns how to reconfigure the flawed or non-existent coping strategies they have formed in childhood), this can be improved and many with the disorder form healthy, long-lasting connections.

Interpersonal relationships have been one of the biggest struggles within my diagnosis and I’ve done a lot of things in the past that I’m ashamed of; hurting people in a frantic attempt to avoid being hurt myself. Now I’m on the path to recovery, I try to be as mindful and self-aware as possible when it comes to how I react with, and to other people.

One of the most effective strategies I’ve implemented is spending more time exploring my own hobbies and strengths – this blog included – where in the past I’d have wasted hours trawling my (then) partner’s social media, or wondering who they were with if they didn’t reply to a text in a set amount of time.

Think more “if shit happens, it’s going to happen”: you can’t control what people do, you can only control what you do. If you’re being a paranoid partner who’s negative and picky – often without any legitimate reasoning – you’re only going to encourage your FP to want to spend their time elsewhere.

Having ended up alone in the past – almost always by my own doing – and realising that I’ve always bounced back eventually, has been an influential learning curve for me. I’ve seen rock bottom, lived it several times, but I’m still here and arguably, stronger than ever.

These days, the aim is to take the energy I wasted on looking for any clue – real or imagined – to suggest that my FP is going to fulfil my warped belief that nobody is to be trusted, and to plough that into bettering myself. The goal is to become someone that I’m proud to be, and someone that my partner is proud to love.

If you feel affected by anything discussed in this post, or know someone exhibiting similar symptoms with their mental health, feel free to follow and contact me on Twitter @Ebzo. Please bear in mind that I am not a professional and any advice given will be taken solely from my own experiences and research (I am also still very much a BPD sufferer too, as much as I may be high functioning!).

BPD A-Z: EMOTIONAL DYSREGULATION

April 19, 2019

(BPD A-Z) is a series aiming to cover an abridged run-through of some of the most characteristic elements of Borderline Personality Disorder, written by a 25-year-old who lives with the mental health condition.

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TRIGGER WARNING: mention of suicidal behaviours

Ever have one of those days where just abso-bloody-lutely everything seems to be going awry and you can’t help but get sucked into a seething mood? A mood that no chocolate, Netflix marathons (not even Queer Eye), or depths of bubble bath can cure? I often write that some elements of BPD are akin to the behaviours of ‘neurotypicals’ – but on hefty dose of acid and speed – which is where we come to the symptom of emotional dysregulation.

When a regular person experiences a debilitatingly irksome mood, it’s a complete pain in the arse but, it will eventually pass as seamlessly as it arose. However, factor a BPD sufferer into that scenario and we could be hitting a potential danger-zone.

With Borderline Personality Disorder, that feeling of being annoyed quickly becomes creeping anger, which then takes off like wild fire – where every perceived slight or issue elevates us until we’re seething in red mist – with no quick fix to anchor us back down to earth. The only way to clear the red mist is to do something reckless and/or self-destructive or, once regulation skills have been learned, by waiting until it passes through the use of distractions (also known as ‘mindfulness’ in DBT terms).

When we factor in the impulsivity issues that are synonymous with BPD; this often proves dangerous. Self-harming, substance abuse, overspending and risky sex are but a few avenues we launch ourselves down when these moods become too much to bear.

Given our inability to self-soothe and regulate our emotions pre-therapy, we often tend to feel like these unpleasant feelings are never going to pass – which can be said for both depressed and positive moods.

This dysregulation can also present in ‘good’ moods that ascend into mania. When this happens, the BPD sufferer may feel as though they’re completely on top of the world – and that they can no longer recall ever even feeling depressed. Sometimes, we convince ourselves that we’re never going to come back down; we’ll never feel sad again.

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Anti-Depressants: A Love Affair

October 13, 2018

If you’d told me even six months ago that I’d be writing this, I’d have undoubtedly scoffed and begun reeling off tales of how Sertraline made me hallucinate white-noise and blew my anxiety off the charts; staunchly proclaiming that I wouldn’t “touch the shit with a bargepole” again. Until about three months ago, medication just wasn’t a plausible option in the arsenal against my wonky brain. The Sertraline stint had seen me living on the constant verge of panic attack; completely dependent on my ex-boyfriend – around the clock – for the entirety of the fortnight I stuck with taking them for.

Fast-forward seven years and the situation had hit a breaking point. My mental health was plummeting, what with balancing a full-time job and learning to navigate a brain I’d been told was fundamentally broken, without the cognitive tools needed to begin fixing it. NHS mental health waiting lists became ever-more astronomical: I’m still, to this day, waiting to start Dialectical Behavioural Therapy over a year after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The avenue of medication was scarcely even considered, given the uneasy marriage of my past bad experience and the fact my diagnosis was borne off the back of an overdose that had left me hospitalised a year prior. Medical professionals offered a mixed bag of opinions, ranging from the endlessly helpful “if you won’t take medication, you’re not trying to help yourself, so how can we help you” assessors, crisis team psychiatrists who tried to put me on Mirtazapine before discharging me to cope with side effects alone, to my own GP, who expressed decided hesitancy whenever we even danced around the subject.

By this point, I was a high-functioning wreck. Frequenting A&E fortnightly, experiencing an absolute rollercoaster of emotions within each mere hour, struggling with self-harm and putting such considerable strain on those around me that people were beginning to throw the towel in, as I’d already done on myself. Imagine living with and loving someone who can go from unnaturally hyperactive and giddy in one moment, to scathing and moody the next. To whom you have to posit every sentence with learned consideration, lest they take something out of context and fly off the handle. All whilst trying to remind yourself that they’re not the living nightmare that increasingly inhabits both their tongue and their actions. Something so desperately had to give.

My GP offered me 10mg of Citalopram, an SSRI anti-depressant that I’d actually heard good things about, in the smallest available dose to lessen the impact of side effects. The first couple of days were surprisingly smooth-sailing – a bit of tiredness here, arguably psychosomatic anxiety there – then it started getting interesting. The tiredness became exhaustion; rendering me essentially bed-bound for nearly a fortnight, with anxiety that morphed into creeping nausea that saw me lose almost a stone in the same timeframe.

I won’t lie: it was hell for almost a month. Once my appetite came back in the third week, it brought with it a pervasive sense of doom that sat heavy on my chest at all hours of the day – warning against absolutely nothing. I did nothing but sleep, watch bleak documentaries and convince myself that I was never going to get any better. Until one day I did.

Day by day, I began to feel that the world became slowly more manageable as my energy returned. The heavy, rotting sensation in my chest that had presented so regularly for as long as I could remember waned, until one day it just wasn’t there anymore. Neither were the occasional bouts of mania that had led to stupid impulsive decisions and the guaranteed decline into heavy self-harming episodes. The easiest way to describe it is that it feels as though someone’s taken the edges off the dangerous sides of my emotions, like the aspect ratio crops itself when the cinema switches to a letterbox-style film; the highs aren’t as high, and the lows most definitely are not as low.

It’s almost three months since I began taking Citalopram and I can quite confidently say that I’ve never felt as consistently mentally well since I was a child. The only danger with this inviting sense of new-found normalcy, however, is that it can make you complacent. ‘Oh yeah, I’m cured now – I can definitely get completely blind drunk, or knowingly mess up my sleeping pattern, or skip meals – without fearing consequence’. Not quite. The only occasion of relapse since I started my medication was due to drinking far too much on an empty stomach.

With said lessons learned, life looks so much brighter since I started taking Citalopram. Not the garishly supermarket-bright of anxiety, but a welcoming lightness filled with prospects. One that uncovers enjoyable things that had lost their shine to my illness – such as writing this post right now – something I haven’t done in over nine months. But most importantly, it’s a light that illuminates the future that I’d so desperately tried to end.

4 Ways In Which The NHS Mental Health Service Is Making Us Sicker

April 28, 2016

An uncomfortable cocktail of depression and anxiety has been dubbed the most common mental disorder in the UK at present, the International Business Times reported during Depression Awareness Week (18th-24th April). With around a quarter of the population set to find themselves in the throes of some mental disorder guise in the coming year, the UK’s collective mental health is deteriorating – and quickly. This would be disconcerting enough, had Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt not decided to all but obliterate the mental health budget, slashing a £1.5 million chunk in Manchester recently alone, to make up for a 7m budget shortfall.

Having suffered with a veritable smorgasbord of mental health issues since my early teens, I’ve experienced firsthand the gradual, crushing damage that has been done to the NHS mental health system over the past decade. As someone looking once again for assistance to get myself back on my feet, finding a wall built with more reinforcement than that of my depression itself; it’s become apparent that the their shortcomings are not only failing us by ignoring the issue: they’re worsening it.

So today I thought I’d pull some absolute corkers from my own little collection of frankly terrifying anecdotes, to basically remind you that we’re all absolutely screwed and thanks a fucking tonne for voting the Tories in:

  • Of all the people I know – friends/colleagues past and present/family/Internet folk – I haven’t met a single person who has gone to the GP with a mental health issue and left without being essentially told to ride it out for a couple of weeks and slung a prescription for anti-depressants/anxieties. And this is including people who have attempted suicide or overdosed – of which I know somebody who is STILL waiting for an appointment for psychotherapy MONTHS after the incident…

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  • The fact that GPs are now more hesitant to prescribe antibiotics than they are anti-depressants/anxieties is alarming. That’s before taking into consideration the fact that these mini mind-fucks may sound to a suffering person like a miracle quick fix, but that isn’t always the case. In my third year of university I finally succumbed to the lure of medication after seeing no way out and, upon taking them, found myself 3598347598745% more unwell than before due to an influx of panic attacks and hallucinations…

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  • I once got told “Next time you feel like doing this, just go out with your girlfriends and have a glass of wine!” by a nurse in A&E after self-harming so badly I couldn’t walk properly for a week afterwards. The amount of horror stories flitting around surrounding ineptitude when dealing with those in vulnerable positions is genuinely frightening – especially for those suffering from eating disorders, often sent away from GPs for not being ‘thin enough’ for treatment…

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  • Waiting lists. These were the inspiration behind this post and I could write an entirely separate one solely on this bulletpoint. After finally admitting that I needed a therapist again after 3 years of insisting I was a-ok (funny joke), I recently got myself referred by a GP for a new round of counselling/CBT sessions. After inevitably being thrown a prescription for medication (deftly binned), they told me to contact a service for a telephone triage – which I did. It then transpired, after a very personal and uncomfortable 30 minute interview, that I needed a different service and would need to SELF-refer, despite being initially referred by a GP. I’m now waiting for a self-referral form and have to send that back for consideration before even being placed on the 6 week+ waiting list. This is now commonplace…

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  • The worst part is: it isn’t even their fault. With only 5.5% of the country’s health research budget going into mental health, we’re being set up to fail on a longterm basis. Not to mention a 10.8% decrease in practicing psychiatric nurses across Britain in 2015 alone. Nice one, C-… Hunt.

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If you’ve found yourself in any situation akin to the above, please drop me a comment or tweet me @Ebzo – there needs to be more dialogue about this and less apathy (says the depressive).


Ebony. 25. Manchester.
Marketing Manager who likes to mouth off on here about stuff she cares about. Expect mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder, and reviews - from restaurants, to books, to fashion. Talks to cats more than people, but seemingly has a lot to say.
ebonylaurenn@gmail.com