This is what it is really like growing up with Borderline Personality Disorder
The no nonsense, honest truth
Would you know what I meant if I said I felt like one day my life was in screaming, over-the-top colour and the next everything is monotone black and white? That sometimes people can talk to me and I can see their mouths move but all I can hear are my own thoughts? Would it make sense to you to watch me scream how much I don't want to be alive any more in my own parents face as they take me to the hospital for the seventh time in a month?
Because that has been my reality for over six years now.
When I was 14 I began feeling incredibly depressed. What everyone else was putting down to puberty and 'teenage angst', I knew was much worse. I would wake up in the morning wishing I hadn't, I'd get home from school and go straight to bed but still not be able to sleep until 3am – and the cycle would continue.
The next day I would wake up feeling on top of the world, not exactly happy but I wasn't afraid anymore. I'd have a laugh and smile at my friends and teachers, my work would improve, I'd tell my family I loved them and I'd go to bed at a normal time. It was days like these ones that fooled everyone.
As you can imagine the vicious cycle of 'mood swings' would carry on for years. I had done all the important things you do growing up – driving lessons, starting sixth form, first kiss, turning 18, moving out, etc. etc. – all whilst suffering immensely with my mental health.
Approaching my 20th birthday, I had to leave a job I had been at for 18 months and loved so much because I had a breakdown. I am not just talking crying in my room one night, but more like clawing at my skin and screaming to anyone who would listen that I just wanted to die.
I visited A&E for the first time regarding mental health that night, waited seven hours and got sent home with some leaflets and a follow up appointment a week later. I ended up back there in less than 24 hours, dragged by my (luckily) loving and supportive parents who weren't going to take no for an answer. This happened 7 times in total.
#WorldMentalHealthAwarenessDay The awareness that is needed the most right now is that the NHS is under funded, especially the mental health sector. People being turned away at their lowest, kids being referred to youth clubs. Government, do your job properly. And do it NOW.
— Liv Rook (@LivRook) October 10, 2018
Don't get me wrong, I am SO grateful and SO happy that I went to get help. I will forever thank my parents for getting me to go back so many times until someone actually listened to me. At first I was embarrassed, I was 20 years and unable to control my emotions, I held things back the first couple of times I spoke to anyone.
It was only when I sat with one of the amazing mental health nurses and told them that I didn't think what I was feeling was normal and that leaving classes back in school to hurt myself in the toilets surely wasn't normal was it? Or that not looking when I crossed the road might make everyone laugh at how ditzy I am, but they'd stop laughing when they knew that I really didn't care if there was a car coming, wouldn't they?
I was diagnosed with BPD that night (Borderline Personality Disorder) or as it is now more commonly known EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) and unfortunately that does not mean I'll ever be as cool as Winona Ryder in 'Girl, Interrupted' but it did mean I could start getting the right help, tailored to me.
Having BPD doesn’t make me crazy, manipulative, aggressive, or whatever other stereotypes you shove on when you hear I have a personality disorder. I’m just a person like you, trying to get through it. Be kind to your mind. #LetsTalkAboutMentalHealth #bpd #MentalHealthDay2018 pic.twitter.com/XI8jJUeXtm
— Jen Mulvihill (@MulvihillJen) October 10, 2018
I was put on anti-depressants, beta-blockers and an anti-psychosis, muscle relaxant along with seeing and receiving counselling from a team of home-visit nurses for three weeks. I was extremely low, I didn't think I would make it out of any of this alive.
The point is, I did.
I haven't just made it out alive, I have made it out thriving. So can you. We see a lot on the internet about self care – you can't see a pair of legs floating in bubbles on someones Instagram story without seeing #selfcare as the caption. That's okay! If a bloody good bubble bath is your self care then I'm so happy that you've found something that helps – it is so much harder than it looks.
But you don't have to stick on a face mask and listen to Adele in some hot, soapy water to realise you are taking care of your self. Sometimes it really is as simple as remembering to brush your teeth; turning your phone off half an hour earlier before bed; turning your light on (even if you stay in bed all day); drinking water; laughing with a friend; getting some sleep; just breathing. All of it is self care.
The moment someone (like myself) who has been battling self-harm, suicidal thoughts, a personality disorder, dealing with trauma, and STILL decides they will carry on breathing? Self bloody care.
— Carmen Rollizo (@Carmen_roll14) October 10, 2018
I'm not saying that once you decide you will get better then absolutely everything will because I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it seriously won't. It's a cliche but it really does get a whole lot worse before it gets even a tiny bit better. But that's okay.
When I arrived to university three weeks ago, I thought I would relapse, I felt so incredibly lonely, everything was changing and I didn't know how much I could rely on myself to keep myself alive. But I'm doing it.
Healing is not linear, these first few weeks at uni would probably be a bit of a dip if my mental health was measured on a chart but that is really okay – if we become too afraid to feel anything at all, that's when recovery is prevented.
So if, like me, you are feeling lonely at uni or you can relate to anything you have read and you want to get help…
DO NOT GIVE UP, fight for yourself, go to A&E/your GP seven times and say the exact same thing if you have to, don't be disheartened because your life is worth so much more than you might think it does. Reach out to your friends, I know it is said a lot but don't just say it… do it! Talk, share, start your healing process, you never know who it might be helping too.
Find what makes the world less scary and do it every day if you need to.
There have been too many deaths related to mental health, I am not letting myself be one of them and neither are you.
It gets better and you need to be alive to see that.
Samaritans are available round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123, or you can visit their website www.samaritans.org.