September 5, 2013

Naomi Bentley with a #timetotalk tattooNaomi Bentley is a 31 year old actor from the Midlands. You may recognise her - she has appeared in TV programmes such as Miranda and Great Night Out, along with starring in films and plays. Now, for the first time ever, she shares her experience of what it is like to have mental illness.

I am what mental illness looks like

I am a mother, a daughter, a partner, a professional, a friend.

I am what mental illness looks like.

This is the first time I have spoken openly about my battle with mental illness. I am speaking out because I hope that my doing so will encourage other people to do the same and help tackle the stigma that still surrounds the subject.

I am Nae, I am 31 and you may have seen me on your TV screens. I am an actress.

I am Nae, the mother, the daughter, the lover, the friend - I am Nae and I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder also known as Borderline Personality Disorder and I suffer with Clinical Depression.

Unfortunately my disorder and my depression are very resistant to medication, so are proving difficult to manage. Like everyone else I have good days and bad days, on a good day I function fully and am completely well whilst on a bad day I barely function at all.

It is difficult to explain Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder

It is difficult to explain Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, someone once described it to me as the emotional equivalent to a person with 3rd degree burns being touched. I have severe, irrational and unpredictable shifts in mood and emotion. Strong urges to harm myself, sometimes on a very serious level. Overwhelming feelings of nothingness that leave me paralysed by pain and anxiety. I have difficulty maintaining friendships; can be very impulsive and sometimes delusional.

Depression is as physically debilitating as it is mentally. I fail to meet my most basic needs, it isn't pretty. I can't wash myself, dress myself, and brush my teeth. I have no interest in anything. I lose the capacity to love and be loved. I become reclusive, shut everybody out, avoid phone calls etc. My body completely shuts down, everything hurts. The only place you find comfort is in bed, curtains closed, alone until the darkness shifts.

I was so resistant to accept the diagnosis

I was so resistant to accept the diagnosis that I had mental health disorders because I knew the weight of the label 'mental illness'. I suppose if I'm honest I had my own preconceptions of what 'those' people looked and behaved like and I didn't fit the mould so to speak. Now I realise there is no mould to fit into. I am mental illness. The first hurdle was accepting that. I am mental illness.

Now I make a point of being completely open about my health issues because I want to challenge the misconceptions that people have. The prejudice is so suffocating. It restricts my recovery and isolates me further triggering the darker sides of the illness. I absolutely witness the silence that that honesty provokes, the way people's eyes change; you feel them taking an Emotional and mental step backwards from you. Is it fear? Are they thinking, "If it can affect her it can affect me too?" I don't know, but I can't let their issues affect my values. I have a mental illness and that's ok.

I honestly have no idea how my being open will affect me career wise

I honestly have no idea how my being open will affect me career wise, I have a fear that the phone will stop ringing, that the hard work and dedication will amount to nothing because mental illness isn't marketable. The ever increasing pressure to be perfect in the spotlight that comes with working in the media, mental illness doesn't fit. Also if my illness affects my ability to perform in a extremely high pressure environment, such as an audition, I don't believe this will be overlooked and my career experience be taken onboard instead. In the acting world you're judged at face value and sometimes that's my illness. I hope I am wrong, I suppose time will tell.

I met Lorna from Time to Change a while back and we became friends. Some time later, Lorna started to work for the campaign press team and it was hearing about the work she and others were doing that led me to think 'enough is enough' - I wanted to speak out, to let people know what I was going through, but to also help others to know they are not alone.

It's a silent illness that people don't talk about. It is time to talk.

Mental illness isn't just having a bad day that you can snap out of. It's so irrational and at time completely defies your intelligence and intellect. What's frustrating is that there is no physical manifestation that people can see to understand what is going on. It's a silent illness that people don't talk about and therefore isn't validated by the sufferer or the people supporting the sufferer.

It becomes something shameful, a dark secret, another thing to carry on top of the illness itself. This is why the 'Time to Change' campaign that mental health charities Mind and Rethink are running is so important. Communication is a vital stepping stone along with medication and therapy on the path to recovery. Mental illness does not discriminate, it affects every age, sex, race, religion and can happen at anytime in your life. We owe it to ourselves to start talking about the elephant in the room. It is 'time to talk'.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?

Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or sign our pledge wall to show your support and find out how talking tackles mental health discrimination.


Jessica blogs at http://www.cantshutitup.blogspot.co.uk/


Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

Big love

Big love to you Nae. It's hard "coming out" but like so many who have, you will be touched by those you will help. And it helps you speaking about it. I wish you strength for times when it's hard to wear the label of someone with mental health problems. But I know you will be OK. I hope to see much more of you in the acting world. X

BPD

Just wanted to thank you for sharing that you have bpd i was diagnosed over 7 yrs ago meds dont work an i kinda live day to day but u nailed most of how it is for myself.. thank you :)

Hello,

Hello, and well done for being brave!! I also have BPD, I also have the privilege to be the Chair of a therapeutic community (the Haven Project) that dedicates itself to providing specialized help for those with a PD diagnosis. It has been designed to help to provide skills and tools so that we can live a life worth living. I know that the Haven is unique, a 24 hour crisis service, respite beds and friendly support. I wish there could be one in every location across the UK, but with our funding in a crisis of it's own sadly it looks like this is a dream that will never be realised. If you would like any further information please take a look at our 'web-site'. www.thehavenproject.org.uk. Stay strong, and proud! Take good care Pricey

This article is great.

This article is great. I wish I had the courage to speak out and get help. I'm worried I'll be brushed aside. I'm 30. I have struggled with mental health since aged 10. I self harmed for 20 years. I don't self harm now but the urge is so much. I often want to end it all. I have good days, good weeks, then bam big black cloud. I am a rubbish mum. Life is hard. I think I have PND too.

A short reply

Wonderfully direct and honest. Nothing I could write here would be sufficient to complement your words other than to say I am even more impressed with your bravery in taking the risk to speak about yourself in this way. I wish you nothing but the best of everything and hope your 'down' times lessen and eventually become nothing other than a distant memory.

Thank you for sharing

Thanks for sharing your experience Nae, hope it helps people understand themselves and others a bit better x

Naomi Bentleys Blog

Naomi you have such a gift for writing.Your blog is so beautifully written and so from the heart.Thank you for sharing your story it's very brave and will be so helpful to many other sufferers and also I think to many people who dont understand or recognise mental illness as you describe it so incredibly well, clearly and succinctly and tell exactly how it affects you and those around you.Thank you and I wish you all the best x

What a brilliant post. So

What a brilliant post. So well written and amazingly brave. I was at Webber with you and just wanted to say I think being open about this issue takes more guts than any audition or job you'll ever do so huge respect. I hope you continue to have a great career and find ways to cope with the bad days.

Naomi Bentley's blog posts

I am so grateful for Naomi for sharing her experiences with mental illness - i find that, because of stigma around the subject, i rarely talk about my mental health issues for fear of negative repercussions that might be experienced by my husband or children if other people find out i suffer from depression and voices. I am very lucky that i can take medicine which helps both my depression and takes away the voices, but there are side effects of the meds, i.e. lethergy, doziness, foggy head. I really appreciated Naomi's description of how depression effects her. Her openness has encouraged me to be more open about my mental health challenges. Thank you Naomi!

Thank you for speaking out

Thank you to Miss Bentley for sharing her story. The world needs to hear from every person with a mental illnesses so we can break those preconceptions that don't just affect how others treat us, but also how we react to our own diagnoses. I have a lot of respect for Miss Bentley for working in a field as stressful and neurotic as acting while still coping with her mental illness. Some days depression makes it hard enough for me to work my very low-stress, low-pressure job. I hope coming out as a suffer of silent illnesses doesn't hurt the number of acting jobs coming in and i hope to see Miss Bentley continue to thrive both in her personal and professional life.

well done

Beeautiful XXXX I'm very honest about my anxiety/post trauma stress with friends etc but work - could never be honest until I worked for MIND. Well done you! Career wise - i'm sure you'll be a pioneer - look at Stephen Fry! I could have written some of those words myself! i support you 100 percent x

Naomi's Blog

Naomi is brave beyond belief and absolutely right to share and talk so candidly about her illness. I was incredibly impressed by the honesty and real pain of her struggle with unstable personality disorder, particularly so when she works in an industry that is so perfection orientated. Her blog gives a very real account of the gritty and lonely misery that surrounds mental illness, and lets hope that by speaking out, these brave sufferers go a long way to de-stigmatising what they endure on a daily basis. No one would choose to have a mental illness, just as no one would choose to have cancer or diabetes, but as Naomi states, 'this is what I am', and she in my eyes, is no lesser a person or actress because of it.

Naomi Bentley's blog

Naomi, thank you for being so brave (braver than me who will only use an initial!) and sharing your difficulties with mental health. The courage of high profile figures sharing their personal stories and battles with mental distress is a good way of shallenging stimga. I have had the same diagnosis as you and was so revelived when I was told, due to the progress I'd made in therapy, I no longer had BPD. Such an awful label and appalling attitudes to PD even within the medical and psychiatric fields. I am 'relieved' to 'just' have a depressive disorder now! I hope your job-phone never does stop ringing, I doubt it will stop ringing, because you so clearly show you are more than your disagnosis, which of course we all are. I hope you will consider therapy, I've found attachment based psychodynamic therapy extremely useful. Good luck x

Am glad somebody Like U is

Am glad somebody Like U is Talking about it,maybe NHS will start doing something about it cause i was miss trated for 6 years!!! I went to doctors and I was given antidepressants straight away,they didn't work but nothing was done.i asked for psychologist and I was waiting 1.5 years to see one after which she said,after 5 visits that we have nothing to talk about! Only on my visit home,in Poland, my parents said that something has to be done and I went to se psychiatrist and I was send for special tests and diagnosed with personality disorder/borderline. After 6 years of struggeling am forced to leave my husband and my home to stay in Poland for the treatment cause I can't get in in England in my area!!!and I did go back to England and I did check. Kastarzyna from Stafford

A beautiful eloquant way of describing BPD.

I was diagnosed with BPD 2 years ago and this is one of the most accurate ways I have ever heard it described. It is a struggle, and I'm currently facing discrimination from colleagues and other people for being open about it but I truly believe you shouldn't have to suffer in silence and it's nothing to be ashamed of. If more people take 5 minutes to read this and it helps them understand a little bit more then that's one step closer to life without discrimination.

Naomi

i just want to say how wonderful it is to see all these responses to this blog post. I am working freelance for 6 weeks in the press team at Time to Change, and Naomi is my friend. I have also had depression and have been blown away by the courage of our bloggers. I know how hard it has been for Nae and have watched in wonder at how she has coped with so much. From a press officer point of view sharing stories like this are all part of our job and really brings the subject matter alive, but from a personal point of view I just wanted to say a big thank you to Naomi for not only being a lovely friend and supporting me through difficult times, but for helping so many others through being so powerful in her blog post. All the best for everything Nae, I told you to brace yourself when you put yourself out there. Well done for finally getting that elephant at of the room. I am beyond proud. Lorna x

Nae

Hi Got this info in a tweet from Niki Wardley bles s her I cried who for you or myself probably both I have been recovering alcoholic for many some people some dont but it is the depressing side that still hits me luckily I h.ave medication mainly for panic attacks

So helpful

Thank you for taking the effort to explain how this illness makes you feel. I have never suffered from mental illness but know many people who do, but it can be so hard to understand if you've never experienced it. This description is so clear, you have really helped me understand. You were fab in Miranda!

Thank you for speaking out!!!

Hi Naomi Just wanted to say a well done and thank you for your open and touching words. I too am an actor (though with not as much success as you) who was very recently diagnosed with mental illness, manic depression, heightened anxiety and psychosis. Terrified of opening up I've learnt how there are others like yourself and people commenting who are willing to talk and listen. Since my diagnosis has only just happened (though my symptoms have been going on for years) I didn't know how it would effect mine and my families life, I just now know that there are people there, more do than I could have ever imagined. As for my career I've decided to be as open as I can and that has led me to write a one man show about the lead up to everything, and I will be performing early next year. It's a simple case of lay all cards on table rather than ponder on what hand I'm gunna get dealt. Im even lucky enough to have a director who has also suffered with depression and we are making it our job to ensure that we build awareness of mental illness to all types of audiences, just like you have done with this brave talk. Please keep an eye out for a show I've called Watching Goldfish Suffocate and thank you one last time for your beautiful honesty. You've got so much going for you and I'm positive you will come out of this stronger. Xxx

BPD

Thank you for sharing your illness, I also have BPD and find it so hard to get support or understanding. I hope more people will understand this illness a little more. I hate when people make me feel bad for having this!

Brave

I don't think I am brave for admitting to bpd but you are. Mine gets bigger and smaller depending on what's happening in my life,.......right now it's fucking huge as I am struggling with my partner who believes I could be unfaithful although I NEVER ever have or would be, it seems to have sparked my sense of uselessness worthlessness and really just numbness I have no idea what to do next........

bpd

thanks for sharing

Thank you for your honesty

Nae you're a star! I have a BPD diagnosis and also have clinical depression. I don't feel as if i ever truly 'belong' and i'm a square peg in a round hole. If i'm honest, i have to admit that i cannot ever remember feeling any different and although having a name for my 'condition' has been of some help, a lack of knowledge on the part of the general public and medical staff has been unhelpful. Sadly, some people view any form of mental health as something to be streered clear away from, but most of us, at some point in out lives are affected, to some degree by mental illness, whether we choose to admit it, or not. So it is refreshing for someone in the public eye, to be so honest. Much of what Nae says, resonates with me and we have so much in common. If there is any justice in this world, Nae's honesty will not have any negative effects on her career, she is, after all, a fine actress, who just happens to have a BPD diagnosis.

I couldn't have said it better myself

Hello Naomi, It's wonderful that you were able to share these thoughts and feelings with the rest of us. I could relate with all that you said and there were even things that I've been too ashamed to share with others myself (not being able to wash, dress, clean teeth etc). I've always felt that no-one would understand how these things could be impossible to do because of depression. Even my closet friends don't know about these symptoms, even though they know about my illness. Like yourself, I tend to shut people away and sleep a lot when I am feeling particularly bad. Thank you for sharing your comments with us. P.S. I've seen you in lots of shows (Miranda, White Van Man, Ideal etc) and I have to say, you are a wonderfully talented actress! Keep up the good work!

horAdmiring Naomi Bentley

I was very moved by your article. Naomi was very brave to come out. Loved her in White Van and I hope to see her in many other productions on television.

Support

Hi there, really sorry to hear that you are finding things hard. We have some support links that you might find useful: http://bit.ly/SuPp0Rt Take care, Crystal at Time to Change

Naomi

This is a beautiful and well worded report on a very crippling illness. I have clinical depression and anxiety disorder. And am hoping to work as a link worker with time to change. Already I have been volunteering with them on their reach out project. My close friend has a personality disorder (BPD) type symptoms. But I am not sure because I cannot diagnose. Your blog has given me a deeper understanding and hope that you can live a normal life and have a career despite the pressures of this illness. Thank you for being so open and candid about you mental health.

Young people and mental health

Thank you Naomi for sharing your story. A very close friend of one of my children has just been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and she is gradually and spectacularly just getting her life back together. There is hope and you can have a life worth living. I work for a service called KOOTH. - it's an online service for young people wth links to face to face services - we are not (yet) across the whole of the UK but cover a growing proportion of it. I hope services like ours can offer some much needed recovery and support to young people. You are a wonderful amabassador for hope. We all need more people like you to come forward to end the stigma around emotional and mental health issues. Thank you.

Mental Illness

Naomi THanks for sharing your journey, with the Old Black Dog, I developed depression disorder, while employed with the United States Secret Service, in 1979, I still have the Illness, take meds, , Therapy time to time, I'm retired now, and MY Camera is the way , I help deal with depression, the creativity, and results of the PIctures. are a good form of expression for me. Like your Acting!! I live in the States, Maryland. You are Very Good at what you do!! Take Care Mark

Naomi Bentley's post on her illness

Just looked up Ms. Bentley, as I very much admired her performance on an episode of New Tricks. Want to thank her for her honesty and bravery. I have been seeing a therapist off and on for 30 years in order to deal with depression. My very lively mother-in-law suffered from this illness also, and I feel we all need to know and understand and show compassion for those who often suffer silently.

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments