June 30, 2015

Last summer, my boyfriend dumped me. It was a serious relationship and we were about to get married. It wasn’t a healthy relationship. I used him as my crutch. I told myself ‘as long as I have him, I’ll be fine.’ I knew that there was a possibility he could leave and not necessarily by choice e.g. a tragic accident could befall him.  I knew that when he left, I wouldn’t be able to cope but I didn’t do anything about it. This proved to be a serious mistake.

In hospital I met people who understood what it felt like to struggle with mental health issues

I became really unwell. I spent two short periods in psychiatric hospital. I came into contact with emergency services so many times that I lost count; it was like I lived in the assessment suite at my local mental hospital at one point. This is because I kept harming myself or, in their words, I kept acting ‘mentally disordered’ in a public place. The emergency staff weren’t always nice, especially some of the police officers. I was an informal patient during both my stays in mental hospital.

What was nice though was being surrounded by people who understood what it felt like to struggle with mental health issues. I met so many people who were diagnosed with various disorders including the ones I suffer from: emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) and depression. I met other people who were suicidal, unable to cope with life, unable to cope with emotions etc. We were like a family. We all looked out for each other generally. I finally felt like I fitted in somewhere. In particular, I remember one woman who had this really dark sense of humour, which I think most people would not get but I got it. This is because she had EUPD like me and I struggled with the same symptoms as her. I did feel a bit triggered sometimes but, for the most part, it was all right. Hospital kept me safe and that was what I needed.

My family just did not 'get' my illness

Prior to this, my life was simply unstable. I’d get hurt by the smallest things. I’d start thinking of ending my life over the silliest things. The world was full of triggers for me and I think my main triggers were people. It seemed everything people said and did triggered me. They simply could do nothing right. Coming from a Somali and Muslim background, my family just did not get it.

My turning point in my life was getting arrested for a minor offence for something I did when I was unwell. Even in my custody notes, the social worker said my behaviour was ‘probably due to my emotionally unstable personality disorder.’ I did lodge a complaint against the police for arresting me even though I was unwell and I did the ‘crime’ simply because of that but they explained to me that their hands were tied and that they had to keep me safe. It was a turning point because prior to this, I had never been arrested before. I had always been a law-abiding citizen. I just never imagined that I’d be worrying about having a criminal record. In the end, after contacting the police, I was informed that my record was still clean, thankfully.

Take each day at a time 

Things are stable now. That’s all I can say. I am not going to say I am happy because I am not. I am not going to say all my problems have been solved because they haven’t. I recently started mentalisation based therapy. I also volunteer with a homelessness organisation in London. I’ve dabbled in some other voluntary work here and there too. And currently, I am looking for part time work with a mental health charity.

What has helped me significantly are the following things:

  • Medication
  • Religion- I am a practising Muslim.
  • Volunteering – I simply love volunteering. No matter what I am going through, I still have shelter and food in my stomach. Helping homeless people reminds me of this! I also love the people I work with. (Sshhh, don’t tell them!)
  • Support network – I have a family and a few friends.

My top tip is to take each day at a time. Do not dwell on the past or worry too much about the future. Yesterday has gone and therefore can’t be undone, and tomorrow is not even guaranteed!

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