Mental health awareness month - Borderline personality disorder

Mental health awareness month – Borderline personality disorder

Last month was maternal mental health awareness week and I got an amazing response from my blog post of my battle with postnatal depression, maternal mental health awareness week is part of mental health awareness month so I thought I would share my experience with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is still not really talked about and still has a massive stigma attached, people often don’t understand it and it’s something people don’t like to admit that they have. Like everything on this blog I am open about my personal struggles, but I do struggle to write about BPD myself, so I will try to do it justice by being open and honest.

BPD has affected me since my teenage years, but was only diagnosed in January after a suicide attempt. It is thought that around 1 in 10 people diagnosed with BPD will complete suicide, many more will attempt suicide. People really don’t like talking about this and it makes people very uncomfortable. For me I just wanted to end the pain I was feeling in that moment not necessarily end my life, but like most stuff BPD related I act on impulse. Many people who suffer with BPD also self-harm and it’s something that has effected me mildly on and off since my teenage years, again this is something I find very difficult to talk about and so do others.

Since I can remember I’ve had a real fear of abandonment and have taken extreme measures in relationships to stop that happening, which has made things worse and often left me alone. My emotions can me very intense from very happy to very sad and can change quickly. I can start the day feeling elated and end the day with negative, dark thoughts. It’s like being on an emotional rollercoaster and I struggle to predict my own moods. Antidepressants do seem to have made this much more balanced than it used to be, but the dark, intrusive thoughts do creep back in.

BPD affects people in different ways and sufferers usually have problems with impulse control, there are continuing studies into why this part of the brain seems to be wired differently with BPD sufferers. Often PBD sufferers will have an eating disorder, for me I binge eat, I binge so much I physically feel sick, I know if I could be sick I would force myself to be, but I am unable to (I have a strange phobia of being sick and am sick very little even with a sickness bug). My impulse doesn’t stop just at eating it also is a problem with spending, which I am learning how to control. Often drug addiction and alcohol can be become problems for BPD sufferers and it’s something I am very aware of, I did have a mild problem with prescription drugs and have used alcohol in the past to numb emotions, luckily I don’t actually like the taste of alcohol.

With PBD I feel lots of paranoia, this is constant and even amongst good friends, I am forever trying to rationalise these thoughts and worry about what others think of me, It’s pretty exhausting, but I’ve made good progress at coming to terms with this. Questioning these thoughts has helped me understand them better.

Many people still think BPD is a lifelong mental condition and there is no cure, I know I did when I was diagnosed. Luckily with so many advances in treating mental health over the last twenty years there has been a talking therapy developed to help BPD suffers called dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which is a form of the better known cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) that is specialised for BPD patients. I started DBT recently and have found it really helpful, I hope to write a blog post once I have learnt more.

Unfortunately many people with BPD often feel empty and alone and I think the fact that this disorder like many other personality disorders are not talked about just makes the problem worse. Don’t be scared by someones condition, be mindful, open and always caring. People with BPD usually always have great empathy which to me is my greatest personality trait. I understand people and appreciate people for who they are and am great at listening and trying to help people.

Many people with BPD are also diagnosed with another mental disorder at the same time like depression, addiction, eating disorders and anxiety. It might not seem like it at the time but having more than one mental disorder can help work out what care will work best for you.

I hope I have been able to describe how BPD has affected me, but my experience may be different from someone elses, to learn more look at the Mind website  for a full list of symptoms. Keep spreading the love and do everything you can to help mental health awareness month be as powerful as it can be.

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#MaternalMHMatters

Maternal mental health awareness week

Today marks the first day of the very first maternal mental health awareness week #MaternalMHMatters so I thought I would write a post about my experience of postnatal depression now I am out of the other side. This week marks two years since my son was born and the start of my long battle of postnatal depression and maternal mental health problems. A child’s birthday is a time to celebrate and reminisce about all the amazing memories you have made in the first two years of life, but for me as a PND survivor it also reminds me of the very tough battle we had to overcome. I say we, as PND didn’t just affect me, it affected my baby, my daughter, my husband, family and friends. I had everyone rotting for me and encouraging me, but until I found the strength to fight it, they were powerless to really do much.

Many memories of my early days at home are tarnished, I didn’t understand why I was struggling so much more second time around, I didn’t know how to stop the negative thoughts and guilt and felt at PND’s mercy, powerless and broken. I muddled through and painted on a smile, but with my husband I couldn’t keep up the facade and the mask slipped. He saw me broken, distant, fragile and angry, he didn’t know why and he didn’t know how to help. My maternal mental health was at breaking point and I needed help, fast.

One morning I was struggling through the piles of washing, whilst my husband slept off his night shift when I decided to dry the clothes outside in the sun. My garden was full of clothes drying and I finally felt like I had a mini defeat that day, then the heavens opened and monsoon season decided to reach North Bedfordshire. Despite my efforts, everything was soaked through and yet again I was back at square one with wet clothes, nothing clean in the house and Mr T crying in the background wanting feeding, again. I collapsed on the floor and once the tears started they wouldn’t stop. Miss J confronted me and cuddled me and kept telling me it would be ok, which made me feel even worse. I knew then and there I needed to speak to my Doctor and get the help I needed, I couldn’t keep pretending and couldn’t let my daughter keep seeing me like this.

It took me five months to finally get help and I really wish I had done it sooner. I missed so much of my sons first five months of life and let the guilt rip me apart and the anxiety take over. Maybe if I had got help sooner my PND wouldn’t have lasted two years, I don’t know. The antidepressants didn’t work for me, but I just assumed I needed to keep fighting and because the antidepressants I was on was the safest option when breastfeeding I thought I had no choice of changing them. Every few weeks I would have them increased, yet nothing was changing and everything around me was crumbling away. Eventually I saw a doctor who listened to me, answered my fears and changed me on to something that actually worked. It wasn’t an easy journey and plenty of ups and down, but eventually I noticed I was having more good days then bad days. I saw hope and clung on to it.

These two years have been tough, draining, but they have also taught me many other things. I know the importance of life, appreciate people for their faults and I have found who I am again. Sitting in hospital in February of these year with an IV in my arm after attempting suicide made me realise that I couldn’t go this far down again, I was lucky to be found when I was and I have thought so many times how different it could have been. I am unconditionally loved in this moment, I always have been and I always will be. I need to be healthy for my family, let go of guilt, nurture my soul and gradually heal. PND is shit, but it can change, it can heal and you can recover. I did it and I now love my life.

Share you own stories of maternal mental health, support others, don’t stigmatise and we can fight this together. #MaternalMHMatters

Read my blog post on how to help someone with postnatal depression

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How i'm learning to accept my personality disorder

How i’m learning to accept my personality disorder

Recently I’ve been asked how I’ve been able to be so accepting of my borderline personality disorder diagnosis. I’ve sat back and thought openly on why I have accepted it and why I haven’t let it destroy anymore of my life. The answer is I have accepted it as for me a diagnosis was almost a relief to know why I acted this way, why I was so emotional unstable and why I was so impulsive. I’m not saying I love this diagnosis or I am happy to be like this, but finally in my life I feel I’ve learnt to understand a big part of my personality.

Borderline personality disorder has ruled my life since I was a teenager, but like many people I was unaware, I just assumed I was just a really emotional person and even at times I was a bad person. The thing with borderline personality disorder it’s not always bad, I feel emotions really intensely the good and the bad. At times in my life I have felt such overpowering, wonderful emotions of happiness and love. I have at times cried happy tears and have felt so happy, I feel euphoric and like I can do anything I put my mind too. The other side is that at times I feel the lowest of the low and have intrusive and suicidal thoughts, but now I know that I have borderline personality disorder I do know that these mood instabilities are only temporary and they will even back out again.

Like most people with BPD I also deal with depression and anxiety. These disorders are all separate, but are strongly linked together and play a big part. Before I was diagnosed with postnatal depression after the birth of my second child my anxiety had already been causing massive issues for me throughout my pregnancy. Once my son was born it was quite apparent that the PND was making my borderline personality disorder worse. At the time I had no idea that I had borderline personality disorder, but looking back I was emotionally very unstable and would sit holding my son feeling a rush of love and crying with happiness to then feeling resentment towards him and complete detachment. It was an emotional rollercoaster and it all came to head this January when I tried to end my life. I have now started to recognise my triggers, which unfortunately I cannot avoid, but I  can understand a little better why my symptoms of BPD are getting worse at times.

Most people also assume like I once did that BPD was for life and that you could never be treated for it. Only twenty odd years ago BPD was thought to be a lifelong condition with no treatment. BPD sufferers have a high suicide rate, around 1 in 10 people and for someone who suffers with it I can see why that number is so high. The most effective treatment for BPD is dialectic behavioural therapy (DBT) which was created in the late 1980’s. DBT works in a similar way to cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which works well for anxiety and depression. DBT in a nutshell is about accepting yourself as you are and making positive changes in your life. I won’t go into much more detail because if I am honest I really don’t know enough about it yet, as I am yet to start sessions. Knowing that there is a form of treatment does give me hope.

BPD has been a large contributing factor in me sabotaging goals in my life and that is why I have to write about it, as it is such an important therapy for me. Not only does it help me deal with my feelings, it potentially helps someone else, raises awareness and also keeps me focussed on a goal. So yes, I am accepting BPD as I have hope that one day I can say that I no longer have it and that I have overcome it.

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