If you only ever keep one promise…

If you only ever keep one promise…

TW content: References to suicidal ideation and awkward train metaphors

Today is one of the bad days

You may not know I have good days because I only tend to write when I’m low, it’s a form of self care. It’s something I can do that makes me feel as though something positive and productive can come out of something that’s painful.

When I have my good days I’m usually too busy doing important life things and taking advantage of all the energy and positivity I have because on my bad days, I can do very little. Days like today are spent just toughing it out, trying to use all the skills that DBT gave me.

Anyone who struggles with mental health difficulties will know about the negative thoughts that come into their head. “My head tells me lies” is one of my favourite mantras, it reminds me that the thoughts occurring are not true. I am loveable, I am not useless, my life is worth living. Luckily, my bad days have become less frequent and severe thanks to medication, therapy and hard work. But still, I have bad days and these bad days will probably always happen, I will always struggle with my BPD to varying degrees throughout my life… and this is the hardest thought to have because it is not a lie. When I was growing up I thought I would grow out of the crippling anxiety and crushing phases of depression. That I’d eventually stop feeling disconnected from others, that I’d feel less empty and isolated. I thought my mood swings would get less, that my ADHD would miraculously disappear when I hit 20… and since then I have become increasingly despaired and frustrated that it hasn’t gone away, in fact in many respects it got worse. I won’t grow out of it… because this is who I am. That thought always makes the pain harder to tolerate on the bad days because what immediately follows that thought is… “is it worth it?”

How much more money will my parents have to pour into my healthcare? How long will they have to support me? How long before my friends and family cannot further tolerate me and my issues? How much am I considered a burden to the people I love?

Oops. There I go again. My head tells me lies.

This thought train leads me down the same track every time and it terminates at Kill Yourself Land! – not a very creative name but hey, at least it’s direct. Choo! Choo! All aboard!

STOP. Do not let this runaway train take you to your termination.

The one thing that consistently prevents me from getting too close to purchasing the one way ticket is my promise. The promise that I make to myself, to my friends, to my family, to my therapist and most especially… to my dog.

I’ve promised that I will not hurt them in that way. I’ve promised them that I will not be the cause of someone else’s trauma.

The one caveat to this is that in order for this promise to remain effective you have to remember that you are loved, that you are not just a burden and that you will most certainly be missed.

This is why the number one weapon in my armoury against suicidal thoughts is pictures and messages. I print and keep my favourite pictures of friends and family close to me, pictures where we’re all smiling, memories that prove to me that I matter too much to give up. I’ve also asked friends to send me letters or messages telling me why they are my friend.

I highly recommend doing this. Reading the messages I have from the people I love is a way for them to be there for me and support me even if they cannot come to the phone at that very moment (or more likely, if I feel unable to contact them when I’m feeling this way). Those messages interrupt that negative train of thought that is trying so hard to take me to Kill Yourself Land.

Finally, I recommend getting a pet, a furry unconditionally loving dependent that will be so lost and confused without you. Who’s going to care for them when you’re gone and how will you know that they’re doing right by your fur child?! It’s best to stick around and do it yourself.

So if there is only one promise you decide to keep in your life… keep this one. Keep making and reaffirming this promise to yourself and to your loved ones, on your good days as well as your bad. Eventually you’ll find that your promise will interrupt every suicidal thought you have and although you may never fully escape those thoughts, they will be less powerful and that’s something.

There are many other methods that can be used if you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, these are just the ones that I find the most helpful. If you are currently struggling with such thoughts please know that you are not alone and although I cannot guarantee that you will never feel like this again I can tell you that emotions are temporary and this feeling will pass. Don’t be afraid to go to your local A&E if you feel at risk of hurting yourself.

 

SUPPORT

If you find it difficult to talk to someone you know, you could:

  • call your GP – ask for an emergency appointment
  • call 111 out of hours – they will help you find the support and help you need 
  • contact your mental health crisis team – if you have one

Another option is to contact one of these support lines.

Samaritans – for everyone 
Call 116 123 
Email jo@samaritans.org

Papyrus – for people under 35 
Call 0800 068 41 41 – Monday to Friday 10am to 10pm, weekends 2pm to 10pm, bank holidays 2pm to 5pm 
Text 07786 209697 
Email pat@papyrus-uk.org

Childline – for children and young people under 19 
Call 0800 1111 – the number won’t show up on your phone bill

The Silver Line – for older people 
Call 0800 4 70 80 90

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men 
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day 
Visit the webchat page

*I’d like to take a moment to be thankful to my wonderful family and friends for being my anchor that keeps me from being lost to the darkness forever. I owe you my life. I love you. I promise I will not give up.*

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Tale as old as time

Song as old as rhyme…

Is there a sweeter romance than that of the brave, intelligent young maiden who broke the curse by seeing past the Beast’s terrifying temper tantrums, his bad manners, his possessiveness to the beautiful soul buried within. Isn’t wonderful to think that by loving someone enough you can change them for the better. Love harder. Don’t give up.

Sure you may suffer a little along the way, he may lock you up, threaten to hurt you or the ones you love but its all par for the course in this narrative.

Ironically, I always found the beast more attractive than the prince he eventually became.

I couldn’t exactly tell you why though. My closest hunch is that the Beast is exciting in his danger, his complexity engages you but most of all… the Beast needs you. Princes don’t need you, they save you and I’ve never been fond of the idea of being a damsel in distress.

Out of all the princess stories I had growing up she was the one that did the saving, she saved him from himself. Now that is powerful and romantic. Also it feels so good to be needed doesn’t it?

I can tell you right now this is the perfect mentality to find yourself an abusive relationship. It is a recipe for toxicity. The Beast will cross your boundaries, the Beast will hurt your mind, your body, your soul and still you won’t leave because they need you, and they will get better… that’s how the story goes.

The thing is I still love the story of Beauty and the Beast, I still love Belle who is quirky, headstrong, intelligent, beautiful and ambitious. She’s also compassionate and caring and…. OH MY GOD I should be dating Belle!

Seriously though. If you meet a Beast, someone who is stormy, dangerous, exciting but makes you feel needed… don’t be a Belle. If someone has a tortured soul and anger issues then the only person who can save them is themselves… and a good therapist.

Tinder doesn’t help

So if you read my blog you probably know that I have Borderline Personality Disorder – or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder as it’s now being called. I’m not a fan, personally. If you know anything about BPD you might know that one of the symptoms is feelings of loneliness/isolation and emptiness. Now I don’t know about the other BPD peeps but I like to have my episodes of crushing loneliness either when I’m at a social event or when I’m about to go to sleep (like right now). These episodes happen about 2-5 times a week on average. Usually the feeling only lasts for an hour or until I cry myself to sleep. In these moments I either further isolate myself from others in attempt to hide from them how pathetically needy I am or I seek out attention/affection/validation from others. In such a circumstance it would make sense to contact a close friend or a family member but I don’t because I am afraid of rejection (another BPD symptom) and when I say rejection you might imagine that I am afraid that someone I care about will tell me I’m awful and to go away… I mean I am afraid of that but it doesn’t take such an extreme response to trigger an emotional spiral.

Often I will find myself sobbing on my bed, holding my phone and staring at the screen, willing myself to reach out to someone… but what if they read the message and don’t respond? What if they tell me they’re busy? To me that counts as rejection because my brain translates I’m busy as: I’m too busy for your emotional drama and find you a drain on my will to live. Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration but only slightly. So in order to avoid the risk of any rejection, imaginary or real…

I go onto Tinder. Obviously.

I open the app to browse through all the other attention hungry individuals looking for love or an ego stroking… some may even be looking for a genuine connection.

I don’t know why I do this as Tinder is a graveyard of unanswered messages, but I do and I start swiping, mostly I’m looking for a bio that sounds like anything like mine does, anything that may suggest that we may be kindred spirits and then I swipe right and then, usually, we match and I feel excited and validated and then I send them an enthusiastic message for it to be left unread. Of course there are a few exceptions and those people deserve a doughnut, but it’s impossible to fill the void with Tinder matches no matter how equally quirky they may appear because in the end these people are strangers and they don’t know you. It may help a little, it may be a quick fix… but maybe, just maybe it might be better to reach out to someone you love and trust. I’ve only managed this a handful of times so far and it was terrifying. Yes it’s risky, the one time no one responded and I was a complete wreck for it, but when it works out it’s fucking magical. The love and support of my friends and family who reassured me that I wasn’t alone, or a burden or a chore or any of the things that my head convinces me I am was such a gift in those dark moments. I cannot even begin to express the amount of comfort those conversations brought me.

So next time you find yourself having an episode of soul crushing loneliness, be brave, tell a friend you trust how you feel… or you could always try Tinder.

What does eerily good weather and radical acceptance have in common? Me.

It was a pretty average day. I woke up when my alarm went off, I joined my Flatmate for coffee. The weather was beautiful. I took my dog for a walk in the park. I enjoyed the feeling of the sun on my skin and did my best to ignore the little voices screaming at the back of my head that this isn’t normal. And for once the little voices were right. It is really not normal for the UK to be experiencing this glorious balmy weather when it’s supposed to be experiencing frosty mornings and lots of rain… however this post is not about global warming and climate change. Maybe it should be… but it’s not. The weather however is a perfect metaphor for my emotions.

Nicci’s mood forecast for today is positivity and sunshine in the morning with just a slight breeze of ominous foreboding coming in from the north. In the afternoon we can expect those anxiety levels to rise with some boredom, apathy and mild anger to accompany it. In the evening some salty showers are predicted along with feelings of despair, crippling loneliness and self hatred. This depression front will likely stay for the night and may continue well into the week… or the fog may lift by morning and we’ll have more sunshine tinged with fear.

I should currently be grateful that all the emotions experienced today were in the realms of normalcy. I didn’t allow myself to get overly swept up in the feel goodiness of the morning and nor am I currently allowing the misery to swallow me whole. Today I am in control of my emotions and I am thankful for that. I’ve only cried a little.

My moods change a lot and can sometimes be quite extreme… sometimes I am able to control them… mostly though they control me and all I can do is tough it out.

I frequently wish I had more control over my emotional weather than I do. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to hold back the storm… sometimes you just have to curl up in a ball and wait for the storm to pass.

I have to learn to accept that this is who I am and to love who I am despite my disruptive weather patterns.

The end.

My Furry Anchor

Disclaimer: I apologise if there are typo’s and my tenses jump around. I will fix it at a later date when my brain decides to function… and if I remember.

I don’t get heavy depression days as often as I used to. Thank goodness, and even when I do I have become quite adapt at pulling myself out of them using my skills. Still, there are days where the depression settles over me like dense fog. It presses itself into me, it fills my lungs and makes it harder to breathe, my chest aches, my whole body feels heavy, my own useless lump of flesh that I am forced to move around in. My mind feels separated from my body and indeed from everything else around it, trapped in its own void, I can focus on nothing but the weight of my existence. Days like that. Days like today are usually spent in bed, in the bath, or on the couch…

Earlier I was lying in the bath, tears streaming down my face while I breathe slowly, feeling the pain of each breath and feeling stupid that I could have ever thought that I wouldn’t feel like this again.

Eventually I pulled myself from the bath because the guilt that I have yet to take my dog outside and it’s 3.30pm has managed to penetrate my fog of numbness and sadness. I leave the bathroom, only half bothering to properly dry myself before pulling on the clothes I was wearing before climbing in. I promise myself that I’ll take her out but still, I feel too exhausted. I open the door and I’m greeted by a wagging tail and a happy whine that momentarily breaks through fog and into my mind void. I move to my bed and lie down, still guilty that I’m not seeing to her needs… but as if she knows… she had yet asked to go out yet, instead she seems to have engaged camel mode in order to stay indoors.

I lie on the bed. In my fog. She jumps up and sits in-front of me, perfect petting distance away so I can stroke her fur and mumble apologies through my tears. Next… she flops, like a dead weight, onto me, lying on my arm and tucking her head just under my chin.

I smile.

A few moments pass and she squirms onto her back so I can rub her belly. She wags her tail and licks my face.

I chuckle at her cuteness and wipe my tears away. I decide to sit up.

In the time it took for me to pull the weight of myself into sitting she’s rolled back onto all fours, leaped of the bed and is wagging and smiling at me. Yes, dogs smile. Look it up.

I feel less heavy, and I remember the responsibility I have for this furry mound that has foolishly decided to love me unconditionally.

“I’ll just take her out to for her to do her business and then I can return to my hole . to resume my misery”, I thought to myself. But once we were out she seemed so happy to just be out.

Round the block then… even though the wind is howling and I am freezing. The cold distracts me from the pain.

…. Fine! The park’s not that far away.

She runs circles around me, seemingly happy just to be alive and it’s infectious. Other people notice her joy and they smile, I see them smile and I smile.

The smiling reduces the pressure in my chest, My head is still foggy but so long as I focus on her I have a little clarity.

We’re home now and she’s dozing by my feet. Before she was in my life, I had no reason not to succumb to the depression fog. Nothing was distracting enough to pull me away from the misery that held me so tight.

My dog is my furry anchor. She tethers me to reality and with her… I’ll never truly lose myself in the fog again.

SWING!!

Yesterday I was drowning.

Today I’m flying.

Yesterday I felt pathetic, weak and scared.

Today I feel strong, resilient and brave.

Yesterday I felt mute, unable to connect to the world around me, drowned out by the slightest sound.

Today I have a voice. Today that voice feels valid. Today I spoke up and I was heard.

Yesterday I hated myself.

Today I love myself.

Who knows what tomorrow will hold…

Free Falling

First thought: I am a hypocrite. On my Instagram and blog, I call myself a mental health advocate. I also call myself a feminist. Yet I cannot help but loathe myself a little for not speaking up in the #metoo movement. Even though logically I know that it’s my story and I have a right to choose when and where to tell it and if I’m not comfortable telling my story then that’s ok. Well… that’s what I would say to someone who is not me. but since it is me… this is no excuse.

Second thought… I’m a yo-yo, I both manage to overshare and under share information about myself. I will tell anyone who will listen that I have ADHD in fact, at this point, it’s more like a general disclaimer when I meet anyone new… I also feel the urge to disclaim my borderline personality disorder… it’s my way of apologizing in advance for being me. However, asking for help from a friend, telling someone that I am currently not coping… that I couldn’t possibly imagine sharing with someone. I’d rather just avoid people altogether… and then I get lonely. oh yes! I swing from pushing people away to being desperate for company. I look on at groups of friends talking and all I want is to be a part of it… until I am and then I’m panicking and searching for a way to escape it because people are generally terrifying… what with their words and their perceptions. Apparently, nothing is more terrifying to my anxious mind than being judged by others, whether I know them or not.

Third thought… step back and breathe.

actually, I lie, this is most likely my 10025th thought.  I have so many thoughts at one time that most of the time its impossible to distinguish which thought is which and in what order they arrive. It’s mostly just a hot mess of words and emotion in my head.

See tonight my colleagues will be panicking and burning the midnight oil to be able to submit their essays tomorrow. I won’t be doing that because I have an extension. (because of the ADHD) And never have I felt more stupid, pathetic and worthless than right now (ok that’s an exaggeration but IT REALLY FEELS THAT WAY IN THE MOMENT!).

 

… why am I writing this again?

oh yes.. the third thought.

STEP BACK AND BREATHE.

So simple yet so. fucking. difficult.

I can feel myself wanting to spiral down through negative thoughts, through doubt and anxiety. I can feel myself wanting to run away from my problems anyway I can. I can feel myself wanting to resort to problem behaviors, but I also don’t want to resort to those behaviors because I have worked so hard at my recovery and I don’t want to backslide again.

So I’m here, writing my feelings down as a way of processing and as a way of feeling heard. It’s my way of stopping and noticing that I might just be slipping down the rabbit hole. (This is actually a far too gentle a metaphor for my head but “slipping down Satan’s arsehole” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.)

I apologize for the slightly nonsensical tangent, and this post will most likely be gone by the morning. But for now, this is my way of expressing my feelings to everyone and no one at the same time.

I have a lot of emotions and expressing them is one of my greatest challenges. Especially when it’s in the moment. So this is a new experiment, writing in the moment, while the feelings are ugly and raw… fresh out of Satan’s arsehole as it were.

Enjoy.