November 28, 2014

I have had mental health problems for a large percentage of my life, beginning when I was in my early teens.Vikki's Blog It wasn’t until recently that I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety and dissociative disorder. Receiving my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder was a positive step for me as it explained a lot of the symptoms and struggles that I had experienced for most of my life, but on the other hand the diagnosis presented me with lots of stigma and discrimination, understandably adding a lot of pressure to everything I was already coping with.

Sometimes it is very difficult to know where one disorder starts and another ends

Borderline personality disorder is a very difficult condition to live with. Strong moods that fluctuate from extreme highs and severe lows that can last for weeks at a time. Strong thoughts and urges to harm myself is an all too often state of mind that I find myself in. Dissociative symptoms can cause severe lapses of memory and awareness, sometimes causing the mixing up of dreams and reality. These are only a few of the issues that cause distress for me. Sometimes it is very difficult to know where one disorder starts and another ends. Thankfully I am now receiving support in the way of medications, regular appointments with mental health services and a specialised form of psychological therapy.

It is wrong that so many people out there are being forced to suffer in silence because of stigma and discrimination

When I was young I started to self-harm. This is an issue that I still battle with to this day. I have attempted suicide several times and ended up in hospital as a result of this and self-harm. I have received so many judgemental comments from professionals when in these vulnerable situations such as being told that I must be mad for hurting myself and that personality disorders are not real mental health problems. I was once told by a mental health practitioner whilst being treated by a crisis resolution and home treatment team, that there was nothing wrong with me because personality disorders don’t really exist, and that I was lazy for not challenging my negative thoughts. These types of comments are so hurtful and need to be challenged. It is wrong that so many people out there are being forced to suffer in silence because of stigma and discrimination.

I feel now that I am able to talk freely about my mental health issues

In 2009 I started to struggle to hold down a job and my studies at the time. During this period of my life I was trying really hard to get through university to qualify as a paramedic, and the university that I was studying at didn’t offer much support at all for me with mental health problems. People wouldn’t understand when I couldn’t face the day and attend lectures, and due to a lack of support and discriminatory attitudes, I eventually had to leave and didn’t succeed with the career that I wanted so badly. These experiences made it very difficult to talk about my mental health problems and as a result I kept a lot to myself and suffered in silence. Now I am studying part time to become a social worker, and the university that I am studying at are fantastic! My lecturers and friends that I have made are so understanding. I receive special support for my struggles and I feel that I am able to talk freely about my mental health issues and know that I am being listened to and helped so much to achieve my goals.

It means a lot to me to be able to have the chance to write a blog like this so that other people who are experiencing similar issues can know that they are not alone. Many of my family and friends do not know about the contents of this blog, and I feel happy that I am able to share my experiences not only with other people struggling, but with them also. It is time to talk!

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Comments

Vicki

Vicki You should be really proud of yourself to open up about your mental health and the way you are moving forward with your career. If everyone opened up about their mental health i think people would accept it as a medical condition like any other one. I suffer with anxiety and depression and i let everyone know who i become associated with because i dont want to hide what is part of my life, my friends and family accept who i am so why shouldnt other people. Again, well done and i wish you well with your studies xx

Thank you xx

Thank you so much for your kind words. I agree with you in that if everyone talked about mental health openly, that it would help towards acceptance. That's why I wanted to write a blog on here... I think it's so important. It breaks my heart to see people suffer with mental health discrimination, stigma, lack of support from services and so on. I do hope you receive the support that you deserve for your struggles, and good on you for sharing them with people you become associated with. I used to have an old college teacher that said "people who go into social care work either have had bad things happen to them, or they want to change the world"... I think I am perhaps the second when it comes to mental health hehe... thank you for your kind wishes re studying.. I will try my best. Best wishes to you too xxx

Vicki

Vicki You should be really proud of yourself to open up about your mental health and the way you are moving forward with your career. If everyone opened up about their mental health i think people would accept it as a medical condition like any other one. I suffer with anxiety and depression and i let everyone know who i become associated with because i dont want to hide what is part of my life, my friends and family accept who i am so why shouldnt other people. Again, well done and i wish you well with your studies xx

You should be proud too!! xx

Thank you for your lovely comment! You should be very proud too for having the confidence to let those around you know about your mental health issues. You are right. Why shouldn't everyone accept who you are and such a big part of your life. I hope that more people open up about their mental health too, as you say, so that it will become more accepted in the medical world and recognised as very real conditions. I wish you well too! Take care of yourself xx

thank you

thank you for your bravery and openness in sharing this. I am awaiting the results of a third EEG as I attempt to find the source of my dissociative fugues. Given I have major depressive disorder and extreme chronic back pain and possible bi-polar.... Depending upon the EEG results, I plan to have my psych run a battery of testing (whatever that even means). I am scared of the labels and stigma; I don't have a problem proudly promoting that I have MDD and anxiety issues, but owning up to dissociative issues scares me to death. Then again, I didn't open up about the MDD and anxiety until the past year (after living with it for more than 15 years). Again, thank you so much for this blog post. I am feeling better that I won't be alone.

Hi Phoenix

Thank you for you kind words, and I am so so glad that you feel better that your not going to be alone. Your not alone at all. I wish you all the best with your test results and further tests if you do have them. It is really hard sometimes when talking to other people about mental health. I didn't even know what dissociation was for years. I didn't know what it was that I was experiencing - I felt really scared when I couldn't remember doing things, going places etc. I don't know about you, but I felt lots better when I knew what it was called and what it was. I can understand why you might feel scared to own up to these experiences, but they are your experiences at the end of the day, so take your time and take care :) xxx

Thanx for your blog

Dear Vikki, You have no idea how relevant your blog is. You talk about how isolating mental health stigma is. Well, as a person who's suffered from m. h. problems for most of my adult life, I can truly relate to the loneliness, the emptiness & desolation that this causes. When more people speak out, you empower more & more to take control of their lives. Thank you & all the best.

Thank you Anthony xx

Thank you for your comment Anthony! I am so glad to hear that you found relevance in my blog and that you can relate to it in the sense that you can know that you are not alone in the experiences that you have had. Take care xx

I am 16 years old. About 12

I am 16 years old. About 12 months ago i was diagnosed with this illness it has taken over my life i stopped going to school i missed a massive chunk out of my teenage years that i will never get back. It would be fantastic hearing a response from you to see how you coped and how you are moving forward with your life please write back. Best wishes.

Hi Megan!! xx

Hi Megan, appologies for the late reply.. my notifications for comments on this page were going into my email junk box so I have only just found your comment. I am really sorry to hear that you have been having such a hard time with your illness and that it has been affecting your life as it has been. Which illness have you been diagnosed with? I will be honest and say that sometimes it isnt easy to cope at all, but I am lucky that I have found something that I love to study and that I have some wonderful people around me who offer me great support. I just try and look to my future and take my experiences in a positive light - although this isnt always easy. You have to try and think positively about the time that you say you have missed from your teenage years.. you havent missed time, you have just experienced your time in a slightly different way to some other people. Think about how much experience and strength you have gained from this! I bet you are a wonderful person who is understanding and kind, especially after the things that you have been through :) You are 16 and that means you have got a whole long life ahead of you to achieve all of the things that you want to achieve!! I hope you are well, love Vicky xx

It's not easy

It's not easy to open up about any health problems, apart from giving people an inkling that you have them, but to actually describe what it feels like to someone without them is virtually an impossible task. That's why this forum is fantastic because we understand each other; I learn more about mine everyday and am learning not to put myself in situations which I can't handle. When I get anxiety I often have a panic attack; sometimes I have bullimia, I caught myself not so long ago at a friend's wedding scraping food of a plate into my mouth and then being sick in the toilet. I just can't bear social functions and they can't bear me. I have a whole variety of strange symptoms and delusions which I just can't explain. It's a great idea to find an outlet for your feelings and disturbances, for me I write to myself all the time, it reduces the chattering in my head. I also feel safe behind a microphone, quite odd for someone with social agoraphobia but somehow that microphone detaches me from it and acts as a barrier, something I am getting back into. I am beginning to learn that I just have to live within my means and take each day as it comes. It's hard to only know parts of you and not understand what the other parts really mean. We must keep fighting to end the stigma. When I first came out three years ago, I was treated disgustingly. It was probably the most horrible thing I have ever been through and I've experienced quite a bit, but nothing like that. I certainly contemplated suicide and nearly did it so I know just how scary it is to tell anyone who 'thinks' they're normal. But I fought those ignorant people and I hope somehow that I made a small difference in the fight for awareness. Now I have strength when people say I'm crazy, to think to myself well if you think that, I'm clearly not as crazy as you ! Keep fighting peeps...x

Geez!!! Vicky I wish I can be

Geez!!! Vicky I wish I can be like you. You are really brave to open up about your problems. I have terrible mood swings. I have severe anxiety problem more like a phobia when it comes to talking to a human. I put on a public profile of a "always happy and contented" person. I live a lie. I'm not a real person. This is the 1st time I'm talking about my problems.

can relate to your well executed story vicky

I too vicky have had a very similar story, and I must admit university was a extremely painful, frightening experience where the classic symptoms of abandonment and sheer inability to fit in were there. I had a traumatic experience which finished me off. I only got a diagnosis at bpd at 28 although I had the symptoms as a child, which I could't express. Self harm, eating disorders, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment (which is no reflection on my family, it was the way I was wired.) and then the alcohol and substances to take the pain away from the bullying and ridicule I faced from being what it i thought was a freak. I managed to qualify as a nurse and dont know how took me 7 years and I struggled with time off for anxiety, depressions, stress with suicidal ideations/ attempts I would love to be a dual trained nurse/ counsellor now, dialectical behaviour therapy is really helping but still got to get in middle from the highs and lows. well done vicky maximum respect hun

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