mental health 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!).

How To Not Cry When You’re Sober On Bank Holiday Weekend

April 20, 2019

Today I’m 25 days sober. Today I tackled the Great British Beer Garden without drinking alcohol, on a Bank Holiday, for the first time in my adult life. Not going to lie: it was fucking shite. But I did it. And, given I’m usually nursing a surgically-attached straw of gin & tonic down my throat at this hour of a Bank Holiday Saturday; not writing blog posts, I suppose that’s pretty good going.

If you too are afflicted with the ‘alcohol basically ruins my life’ disorder, this post is written in both solidarity and the hopes of helping inspire others to take the sober route, if they think it’s something they ought to do.

But how, you ask? How in the sweet mother of Christ does one avoid the sweet nectar of beer when the sun is shining out of its proverbial arse and I swear to god the birds are tweeting “go ‘ed mate, get that vino down you”?

I don’t have all the answers – believe me, I’ve just sat with a face like a slapped arse in aforementioned beer terrace (see above) and had a slightly teary meltdown upon returning home – but these are the things that have helped me stay on the straight and narrow. And they’ll hopefully be of some help to you too.

Avoid Places Where People Are Solely Drinking

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Putting this one in here mainly as a reminder to myself… Most of the time since going sober, I’ve managed to avoid pubs, bars and clubs like the plague but, when the sun comes out, so must the guns and the inevitable beer garden visits.

If you have to go to somewhere where a) the bulk of the clientele will be drinking b) people you’re going with will be drinking, my best advice is to make sure they do some guise of non-alcoholic cocktail, beer or spritzer, to stop you feeling like a complete alien.

Luckily, the lovely people at YES in Manchester do bespoke virgin cocktails, so I had the pictured lemon, lime and grapefruit concoction whilst my partner had a normal one (he usually doesn’t drink around me – major kudos – but I’m not a complete dragon).

Remember WHY You’re Doing This

After having a little moment of feeling sorry for myself on the sofa when we got home, I started reflecting on why I enlisted myself on this wholesome (pain in the arse) journey in the first place. It’s nearly 8pm now – I’d wager that Past Ebony would be just about to fall into the ‘oh god, it’s hometime bitch’ category of drunk at this point – inevitably becoming a nightmare and/or blacking out/causing a huge argument/wasting all her money/causing general havoc.

Past Ebony was sad, a lot. Today I feel pretty sad – I’m not going to lie – it does feel like I’m mourning a part of myself. Because the initially drunk stages of Ebony are fun; I like her. But I don’t know how to just be her and then kick the cup, so to speak.

Think Outside The Box

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This has been my favourite element of going sober, by far. My life used to be coloured pretty much exclusively by alcohol – sitting in bars, sitting on the sofa, throwing terrible shapes in clubs – just booze, booze and let’s be honest: boring booze.

Since going sober, I’ve tried: golfing at a driving range (big fan, v good for a mardy mood), joining a book club (with girls who drink at the meet-ups, but I have mocktails), a poetry workshop at HOMEmcr, an afternoon at the fair then dicking about the park with a frisbee, and some incredibly amateur modelling. Tomorrow, we’re going outdoor swimming, Monday we’re going for a walk with alpacas.

What I’m saying is – don’t focus on what you can’t do – make your life so interesting that you only focus on what you can do. And hey, you’ll have way better anecdotes than hazy recollections of being a wasteman (I’ve already got a lifetime of these).

Work Out How Much You’re Saving

If you’re anything like me, you spent a hefty wedge when you were drinking. Not just the purchase of alcohol itself, but the whole ritual of it: the drinks, the cigarettes, the taxis, the hangover takeaways – that shit adds up. The last time I had a Big Night of Drinking, I spent around £70 – which is basically a very nice dress and this upsets me quite a lot.

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Happy Bank Holiday, guys – here’s to waking up each day not feeling like we’ve been hit by a train, or wondering what the bejeezus we did the night before…

If you’re also sober, or looking to cut out the bevs, feel free to follow my journey and drop me a line on Twitter @Ebzo.

OUTFIT
Dress – H&M
Belt – ASOS
Bag – Kiomi (ordered from Zalando)
Sunglasses – Sue Ryder
Necklace – Barnardos

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.

Read more ›

BPD A-Z: DISSOCIATION

March 20, 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.

Can I start this post by clearing up that neither dissociation (nor its dastardly cousins derealisation and depersonalisation) are exclusive to Borderline Personality Disorder. Dissociation is actually commonly attributed to Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which I was diagnosed with at the time I first started experiencing it; long before BPD was mentioned to me. But as misery likes company: BPD loves a co-morbidity.

Dissociation could be likened – baring in mind that I have never actually ‘dropped acid’ personally – to daydreaming on acid (or really strong tranquillisers). It essentially refers to the experience of zoning out; which can be as ‘harmless’ as just completely losing track of conversations and feeling like an ignorant arsehole accidentally, to extremes of blacking out for periods of hours to days at a time. During this time, you’ll have no recollection of what you’ve done, which is terrifying (believe me!).

My first experiences with dissociation and – in turn – derealisation, mark one of the earliest occurrences that made me realise I wanted to be vocal about my mental health and to hopefully help others someday.

When I was around 17, my anxiety started mutating into scary guises that I’d formerly never dealt with. Depression and anorexia had been my main bag – the latter of which I was in recovery for and undoubtedly exposed to heightened anxiety as a result of which. Depression I could reconcile with; it was familiar and comfortable in its gloominess, but this new-found anxiety really knocked me for six.

I started feeling very detached from everything around me, looking too far inwardly until the warped rhetoric that my brain was spewing became louder than my rational mind. Holding conversations became incredibly difficult as they brought with them a bizarre new feeling that something just wasn’t right; something more intense than general social anxiety.

Reality felt floaty and unlinear, with sunny days in particular making me feel ‘unreal’, or like I was in a dream.

This kept seeping into more and more of my thoughts, until the only times I didn’t feel ‘unreal’ were when I was distracted by sex, drinking, or watching ASMR relaxation videos (my partner at the time didn’t complain, unsurprisingly).

One day, I hit something of a breaking point after being in the kitchen with my ex-partner and my mum whilst they were having a conversation. I watched their mouths move and could almost tell what they were saying, but I felt lightyears away from the room and I just couldn’t understand them. It felt like I was on another planet, trapped in the terrifying recesses of my brain, no longer properly present.

At that point, I was convinced I’d gone insane and that my brain was irreparably broken, so decided I had no choice but to kill myself. Thankfully, my active suicidality only kicked in 7 years later, but I sat on the bathroom floor bawling my eyes out in secret, desperately looking for answers on my phone.

I tried to research it without scaring myself further; paralysed with fear at the prospect of telling someone lest they locked me up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell you exactly which video it was today, but I happened upon a YouTube clip where someone was describing their experiences with anxiety and how sometimes – in bad periods – they sometimes feel ‘unreal’, or disconnected. I cried my eyes out with relief.

I wasn’t broken. I didn’t have to die – I was just severely anxious and experiencing what I then discovered was dissociation and derealisation.

And guess what? From that realisation, the severity and frequency at which I experienced those symptoms waned significantly. So, for goodness sakes guys: let’s keep sharing our stories, no matter how uncomfortable or scary (and oftentimes, even embarrassing) it can be. That YouTuber may have saved my life.

BPD A-Z: CAUSES

March 18, 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.

By this post, you’re probably all too aware that BPD is a raging little shit with little rhyme nor reason, but you may be wondering: where the hell does it come from? Is it a genetic disorder; a chemical imbalance? Is it environmentally fuelled? Are we just oversensitive aliens, unequipped for the trials and tribulations of everyday life?

As tends to be the case with all things Borderline Personality Disorder related, this is technically still unclear, due to current lack of research and the many guises that the illness takes.

One of the most prevalent cited causes for BPD are the abandonment issues we discussed in the first part of this blog series. Whether real or perceived, feelings of neglect and invalidation in formative childhood years correlate with a diagnosis later in life. This is dubbed as ‘childhood trauma’ in most writings, but doesn’t have to have been as drastic as such wording suggests.

Another recurring trait in those with BPD is perfectionism. As to whether this is the result of the ‘fear of abandonment’ – forming an obsession with getting everything right – has yet to be proven.

Personally, I relate very much to the above – I’d describe myself as a ‘faulty perfectionist/fraught overachiever’ (or ‘tortured genius’ if I’m pissed and think I’m being funny…). School was always a way I could prove my worth – something that arguably isn’t at the forefront of your average 10-year-old’s mind, but in the aftermath of my parents’ messy divorce, it was a means of control which was mine alone. The question is, which came first: the perfectionism or the predisposition for developing BPD?

In recent years, studies have begun to reveal an array of potential causes that relate to our grey matter. There have actually been findings that have shown certain parts of the brain within afflicted individuals are oftentimes either a different size, or operate at a different rate to those of ‘neurotypical’ subjects.

A tendency of the illness to be passed down has started emerging, with many sufferers finding a familial link; often a parent who exhibits many of the key traits who may not have been officially diagnosed. Whether that is an environmental effect or purely hereditary has also yet to be found.

Upon receiving a diagnosis of BPD, it’s important to reflect upon – ideally through the guidance of therapy – what may have been the cause of its emergence. Once you feel like you have adequately identified this, the next step has to be to learn how to move on from it – something DBT founder Marsha Linehan calls ‘radical acceptance’.

Many of us BPD-ers are highly nostalgic folk, whether for good memories or bad; with a definite tendency to ‘live in the past’ if left untreated. This can manifest in myriad ways; from returning to toxic relationships as they remind you of the inconsistent push/pull of affection in your youth, to living a life poisonously embittered by something someone afflicted upon you in your past.

Of course, this is all entirely relative and I’m not sitting here saying “forgive your abuser and crack on, mate”, I’m saying that all you can do is move forward and stop the past from eating you alive for any longer. You deserve to live – not to exist – but to live and to thrive.

If you relate to the above and would like to discuss/learn more, you can find me harping on about mental health (not exclusively BPD) on Twitter @Ebzo.

BPD A-Z: BREAKUPS

March 14, 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.

It’s pretty much a given that nobody exactly enjoys a breakup – your heart feels like it’s just fallen out of your arse and life becomes a walking Dido song with no pause button. When you experience a breakup whilst suffering with BPD, however, said heart feels like someone carved it out, ate it for dinner then returned its rotting remains to your chest cavity for a laugh. And that Dido soundtrack turns into Damien Rice wailing along to the tune of your own funeral march.

Does this sound over-the-top? Bloody good, because – unfortunately – that’s essentially the crux of what living with Borderline Personality Disorder is all about.

Rule #1 in the mind of any (dys)functioning BPD sufferer is always: thou shalt never be alone (or thou shalt surely die). We’ll hold onto our codependent sinking ship until the other person inevitably says “sod this” and does a runner with the last remaining life jacket. Then we’re untethered, and life becomes an empty room where the lights have been switched off – where only the person who left you in there holds the fuse to put them back on.

So we pine, beg and – sometimes in desperation – threaten; anything to avoid drowning alone in this dark room (this metaphor is starting to get a tad messy). This is where we so often get painted with the moniker of “manipulative”, as we can go to debasing or often downright dangerous lengths to make the person stay.

Some corkers of my own include sitting in my ex’s porch for no less than eight hours in the winter, waiting for him to get home so we could talk (in my defence, I was 15 and fuelled by the lunacy of teenage hormones and self-starvation); to sending another ex a nude a day when I was 20 for months after we broke up as he moved abroad, in any vain bid for validation.

You will very, very seldom find an untreated Borderline sufferer instigating the end of a relationship, unless one significant caveat is involved: someone else. This isn’t a given for all with the diagnosis – by any means – but something I’ve personally struggled with throughout my fruitless career as a repeatedly unsuccessful long-term girlfriend.

Spurned by this overwhelming fear of being ‘alone’, I’ve been known to make sure I’ve always got someone to fall back on and never had the guts to leave a relationship cold turkey – even if it was abusive – without a safety net in place.

Right now, I’m as single and ‘in control’ of it as I’ve been in as long as I can remember, after spending a year falling between relationships with two guys who ultimately ended up being toxic to my BPD nature. The jury’s out as to whether they’re toxic full-stop, but only time will tell for them.

I’d like to say I’ve ‘Single Ladies’d myself through the entire break-up period, but it actually culminated in my darkest hours to date. Thankfully, after almost three months of self-imposed purgatory (and one hell of a lot of ignored emails to my ex), I’m beginning to light tiny candles towards a future that I’m creating for myself, by myself.

This has mainly been achieved by a) no contact (I can feel the visceral shudder of fellow BPD-ers tremor through as they read this), b) living life as simply and as ‘on auto-pilot’ as possible and, c) temporarily eschewing my other toxic lover: alcohol.

By forcing myself to live as though I’m caring for a friend and not in fact myself, there’s been little time for pining and wallowing. Podcasts, home-cooked meals and ultimately, routine far-removed from that experienced with the ex-partner – these are your new best friends.

It’s early days for me to say I’ll never fall into the “oh god, I’m so alone – love me – love me – love me” headspace again – which, let’s face it: I undoubtedly will. However, the aim is that this time it will be someone entirely new, who won’t take advantage of my unwavering adulation and appoint himself the ‘privilege’ of treating me like an emotional punching bag. It’ll be someone who will have to prove that they actually offer something to the life I’m nurturing for myself, as I won’t be settling out of any dogged avoidance of being alone this time.

BPD A-Z: ABANDONMENT

January 16, 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.

When you think of ‘abandonment’, what springs to mind? Children in care? Puppies dumped at a shelter? Simba after Scar takes out his dad and makes him think it was his fault? Probably.

Does the concept of abandonment ever really show up in your day-to-day life?

Does it – often subconsciously – affect 99% of all decisions you ever make?

Does it influence to you push people away before they can leave you – even if you have no evidence that they’re going anywhere?

Probably not, unless you have Borderline Personality Disorder.

There are two sides of the coin when it comes to ‘abandonment’ in the BPD understanding of the term; as conveyed with the above meme. We live life on an emotional buoyancy aid, fuelled by the love of those we let into our little worlds. In the rare event that we get close enough to someone to trust them, we float on that feeling like it’s the first time we’ve ever gotten close to anyone, or anything.

However, if we think – for even a second – that that person is going to deflate that buoyancy aid and leave us flailing in the deep: we’ll pop it ourselves so that we decided to drown, goddamnit.

The Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) describes this symptom as follows:

“Frantic attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment”

Which brings us to arguably the saddest and most frustrating part of this symptom, one which plagues our minds, then ultimately destroys our relationships: “imagined abandonment”. I like to think of myself as a reasonably rational person in day-to-day life, but once my mental health starts playing up and paranoia kicks in – anything goes.

This can be as ‘trivial’ as panicking that someone hates you because they haven’t replied to a text, or – with added stressors that have already heightened your episode – taking an overdose because your boyfriend didn’t get in touch with you and you forgot he was playing football (unfortunately a true story).

When I was diagnosed and learned about the 9 criteria of the illness (of which a patient must exhibit at least 5), this was the one that I initially identified with the least, namely as I’m not a particularly social person. As with all symptoms, however, this manifests in different ways. I usually only react as explosively as mentioned above when it comes to romantic partners, whilst other sufferers will lose sight of reality similarly if a friend cancels plans, or a family member says something that they perceive as a slight.

If you’re reading this as someone who knows somebody with Borderline Personality Disorder and would like to help alleviate any of these quiet fears: just be open with us. Be present and understanding, but ensure that you set some form of boundaries. Tell us that you’re busy doing x, y, z if you can’t talk – please don’t just ignore us if you can help it, as that’s usually a surefire ticket to crazy town.

With occasional reassurance and consistent love, these symptoms lessen in their intensity, but it isn’t an easy ride. Factor in a good support network, medication and DBT – we learn how to spot the tell-tale signs of spiralling before they cause damage.

If you suffer with BPD, know somebody with the disorder, or would simply like to discuss anything mentioned here further – don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter @Ebzo.

Also, on behalf of myself and (I’m sure) much of the BPD community, I apologise for asking “do you still love me?” about 5 times a day. It drives me as mad as I’m sure it does you.

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.

Learning to Cope with a Borderline Personality Diagnosis

January 10, 2018

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert by any means, nor am I going to pretend that I have my shit together. But, since getting my shock diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder back in September – and the benefit/downfall of  having a severe lack of filter – I thought it might be helpful to those who are struggling, or to those who know somebody who is struggling, to have one person’s insight on how they’re learning to cope with their diagnosis.

As I mentioned in my previous post about BPD, I never thought that it was a mental disorder that I could attribute to me. Yes, I’ve been diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety in the past, but I never caught any links of anything further than that. However, following my diagnosis, I see so many explanations for behaviours that I’ve had in the past – and to this day – that formerly, I had no reason behind.

Let’s not beat around the bush: BPD is a fucking hellhole of a disorder. Sparring with Schizophrenia for the highest stigmatisation rate amongst modern mental illnesses; it isn’t anyone’s favourite mental mishap. Factor in the fact that it’s a disorder with a very low recovery rate, which people only learn merely how to moderate, yeah, it’s really not the greatest. Let’s not even get into the 10%+ suicide rate in sufferers.

However, BPD is not the curse I thought it was initially. There are times where I feel like I am nothing more than this illness; I’ll give you that, but there are other times where I know that having BPD can be dealt with, and it offers its own bizzare multitude of ‘benefits’.

For example, if you’re friends with someone with BPD – and I mean – if they consistently trust you enough to really let you into their life – you’ve got one motherflipping loyal friend on your hands. When I connect with someone truly, I’ll go to the ends of the Earth – oftentimes to my own detriment – to ensure that they’re okay. Granted, that means that we do often gravitate towards those who may not always deserve our care, but it’s still there.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve lost a number of people in my life – for various reasons – but I’m starting to wonder whether those people were actually meant to be there, or whether they were riding on my inability to leave someone be when they’re in a crisis. I can’t say that getting diagnosed has been a walk in the park by any means, but it’s been so fucking enlightening to understand why I do the things I do – especially in moments of crisis.

The sad fact is, regardless of anyone’s self-awareness of their disorder, a therapy called DBT is pretty much a must when it comes to proper treatment of those with BPD, which – unfortunately – is something that I can’t access through the NHS (for 12-18 months) without forking out £320 a month for private therapy, so it definitely has its downfalls.

All I’m trying to do with these posts is open up about Borderline and hopefully give others suffering the strength to do the same. And for those who aren’t, I’m writing to show people that a ‘normal, functioning person’ has that very same disorder.

Getting Diagnosed with the Disorder That Changed (and Nearly Ended) My Life

January 6, 2018

girl-interrupted-borderline-personality-disorder

It’s taken me four months since my diagnosis to even start being open about the topic of this post. My family, some friends – even medical professionals – have all but begged me to keep a lid on it, but I refuse to continue perpetuating the stigma by keeping my gob/blog shut.

My name is Ebony Nash. I’m a writer, and Senior Marketing Executive for one of the country’s largest sports fashion retailers. I have a degree in English Literature with Creative Writing, will always be found wearing red lipstick, and live with a Persian cat called Sneaky. What you mightn’t know is, I also have Borderline Personality Disorder.

Cue boos, hisses and shudders (mainly from my ex-boyfriends).

BPD gets an incredibly bad rep across the board; whether it’s through the media, general misinformation, or even the field of psychology itself. Whether we’re immortalised as Fatal Attraction’s bunny boilers, mardy Girl; Interrupted wrist bangers or pathological crazy ex-girlfriends in, uh, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; Hollywood for one definitely ain’t our biggest fans.

But, what is Borderline Personality Disorder?

The DSM-IV’s criteria of symptoms run as follows (patients must exhibit at least 5 of 9 for diagnosis):

(1) frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

(2) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation

(3) identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self

(4) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sexsubstance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

(5) recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

(6) affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

(7) chronic feelings of emptiness

(8) inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

(9) transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

Feel free to unfollow me/block me/change your I.P. address as you will. I kid. When I got this list of symptoms presented to me following the catalyst of my actual diagnosis (let’s save that for another post), I genuinely thought they were having a laugh.

My (unfortunately former) best friend has BPD. She’s outgoing, quick-witted, and will talk to just about anyone about things she’s passionate about. Her BPD often manifests similarly, which always led me to believe that the disorder was for people of a more extroverted persuasion. I’m shy and guarded, until you put a vodka in me and you’ll only wish I’d shut the fuck up. So, in my head, BPD + me = no chance mate.

However, after looking at each of the criterion in isolation, and then discovering there’s a delightfully insidious sub-type of BPD called ‘quiet BPD’; I started to see the similarities – as much as I didn’t want to.

I want to start a blog series about the struggles (and triumphs!) I’ve faced since my diagnosis – to both break down the stigma and to hopefully help those who may be suffering in silence – so this was just a little confessional to begin with.

If there’s anything you want to know about BPD – on a broad, or more personal level – tweet me @Ebzo and I’ll do a post on it. If you’re a fellow BPD-er, get in touch.


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