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.*

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.

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.

It’s just a day.

 

Today I am a prisoner to my own mind.
It’s a little cliche but its true. It’s been a beautiful day today, the first real taste of Summer. If I wanted to I could spend the day outside, with my dog. In the park.
I love the sun, I chase after it whenever I have the chance.

Unless I’m “having a day”. A day where it’s hard to leave the house. A day where I’m too caught up in my own mind to do much of anything, writing currently excluded.*

Outside, yes. That’s where I want to be, but it’s like there’s an invisibe force today that’s pushing me down. I’m anxious… about everything, I don’t know how many times I’ve got up to get dressed only to find myself sitting down again.

I keep telling myself I’ll get up, I’ll get dressed, I’ll go to the park. I’ll walk, I’ll talk, I’ll breathe, I’ll function, I’ll be.
It shouldn’t be this hard.
But it is, and that’s okay. That’s today. Today is not over yet.

Today doesn’t have to be a bad day. I’ll be kind and patient with myself but I have at least try. So I can go to bed tonight and say “I really did try.” So I haven’t cancelled my evening plans to go to the theatre… I’m sure I can get myself out the house for that.

The day’s note over;

…Yay optimism.

*I’m actually quite surprised I’ve started writing again. I think I forgot how much of a relief it was to pull the thoughts out of my head and see them on paper. Maybe I have more of a chance of making sense of them then. And this entry literally is just a spewing of thoughts to text. No editing. Otherwise I overthink it and never post it.

A tired toy

I find myself falling into my mind
a tunnel drawing me in

I am falling inwards and outwards
as I split in half
Body and Mind

My body hums a numb white noise
You can touch me
but the echos of touch will be drowned out

By that numb hum

My body a mechanical thing
A tired toy losing
what it is

That makes it run.

Why Stef Sanjati is my Inspiration

I’ve never written fan mail. This feels weird so… bear with me.
Thanks. – My Self-esteem

Who is she?

If you don’t know who Stef Sanjati is: She is a Canadian transgendered woman who has documented her transition on Youtube and is now a year into her hormone treatment. She’s also an amazeballs make-up artist (like camel sized amazeballs).

I was lucky enough to come across her videos a year ago so I’ve had the privilege of following her on this journey. I have learnt so much from her, her attitude towards life and the ferocity of her spirit deserves to be admired.

Her videos definitely speak to more than just the transgendered community. My friends, the people who knew me where surprised when they find out about my strong advocacy for gender reassignment surgery. Why would a 26 year old cisgendered woman be so invested in this subject? Which often led to the question ” Is their something  you want to tell me?” (To be fair I did write a play on the subject.)

No. I’m not questioning my gender identity. I know my sexual identity is bisexual/pansexual. I do have an unstable sense of identity and do struggle with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder (BPD)*. Unstable emotions and identity are symptoms of BPD. I’ve really struggled this year because I didn’t know who I was supposed to be or what I was supposed to do with my life, this was topped with a depressive episode that led to a short stint in a Psychiatric hospital. I’m now attending  Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

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Did I mention that she’s totally gorgeous as well? – @stefsanjati

 

So why is she my role model?

She taught me to chase after my happiness. She knows who she is, she’s learnt to accept herself for who she is and she has worked hard to do what makes her happy. I, on the other hand, am so concerned with what others think of me.  I have to be the person they want and not who I want to be. In Stef’s (a.k.a Bread Mom’s) videos she discusses her whole journey, and explains how and why she decided to fully transition. Often stating that her choice is what feels right for her but may not be the right choice for everyone and that’s okay. She share’s how her mental health has improved since being able to accept herself and work towards reducing her gender dysphoria. I struggle with my own kind of dysphoria. I often feel a disconnected from who I really am. I know who I am but often my anxiety and depression suppress my ability to be who I am. I hide behind mask,  my own fears and insecurities preventing me from working to be the person I know want to be. To do what I need to do to be at peace with myself.

Stef Sanjati very openly states that she know’s who she is. She always knew she was a girl, no matter how hard others insisted she was a boy. She knew who she was and she’s worked to do what will make her happy and not let society’s opinions suppress who she is. She knows she is worthy of love and acceptance despite the adversity she has faced.

To learn about her journey in her own words watch her video:
My Transition Timeline (so far!) | 1 year on Estrogen

 

So I have decided to take steps to reach my own happiness.

Step one….

Knowing what I want.

  • I want to accept myself as I am and do what makes me happy despite fearing rejection for my life choices.
  • I want to openly accept my sexuality without feeling like its something to be ashamed about.
  • I want to be healthy but I also want to love my body for the way it is. – I know society says I have to look a certain way in order to love myself but I am learning that I really don’t have to apologise for my body, for my opinions.
  • I want to learn to openly and honestly express myself and to not be afraid about communicating my needs to others
  • I want to live lovingly and to fight discrimination against anyone who falls outside the parameters of ‘normal’. 

All of this is a work in progress but I’m getting there.

Stef will be undergoing her FFS (facial feminisation surgery) very soon and I’m so excited for her in this next big step of her life. Do check out her channel on youtube, watch some of her videos. I promise you’ll have a laugh and learn something new.

I’m gonna end this now before this gets all Kathy Bates…

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*Endnote: I don’t believe that being trans or having gender dysphoria is a mental disorder. I believe that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and psychotherapy is the way to treat the condition.