Mental Health Monday: Being a high functioning mother with BPD

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So, I’ve always been pretty open about having BPD (borderline personality disorder) and how challenging it has been, but one thing I haven’t expressed is how hard it is functioning with BPD.

BPD symptoms vary from person to person, but the ones I suffer the most with are:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Impulsive behaviours
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Emotional mood swings
  • Feeling out of touch with reality

On top of typical BPD characteristics:

  • Poor financial control
  • Depressive episodes
  • Episodes of psychosis
  • Suicidal thoughts

Living with a combination of those daily is beyond difficult, mainly because it’s like a really sh*t mix and match, will Monday be emotional mood swings with suicidal thoughts? Will Tuesday be chronic feelings of emptiness with poor financial control to comfort this? Who knows? It’s anyone’s guess.

Since being diagnosed I have come to live with the condition and gradually am starting to have a good level of control over it (far better control than I had in September when I had a triple suicide attempt – which I am not and will not be ashamed of). You see, by writing about it and talking about it, gradually we will end this ridiculous stigma we have developed on mental health, and my favourite stigma of all – the high functioning stigma.

People find it hard to believe that I work full time, I care for my son and provide for us both. I get up every morning, get ready, do my hair and make up and do an 8 hour shift at work. I’ve never really considered myself “high functioning” but the reality is that I am. Some people act shocked when they discover that I have a personality disorder, because it’s as if they expect me to be at home, or at a mental hospital, but there are tons of high functioning people with chronic illnesses, high functioning people with poor mental health, and even high functioning addicts.

It’s the classic “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but with this comes the backlash, the people who think you’re faking it and attention seeking just because I have the sheer audacity to get dressed, leave the house and go to work. I’m still suffering, I just manage it differently to how others might.

You see, I benefit from being high functioning. Even at my lowest points I benefit from having structure and routine so, for me, being high functioning actually helps build my mental health up.

I want to leave this on a harsh reality to some people, a sweet note for mentally ill people. Other people’s mental health is none of your business, whether they’re high functioning or low functioning… it is literally none of your business. You do you, and let them do them.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Mental Health Monday: my BPD story

BPD: the world through my eyes

I guess it all started when I was 13 and my mum took me to the doctors, I remember sat feeling the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt in my life “ There’s something wrong with her, she has this insane temper…now I know they have mood swings at this age but this is something else” my mum said to the doctor, I couldn’t bare to look either of them in the eye, long and short of it is I was referred to the child and adolescent mental health team, who to be quite frank didn’t really do much just started me on fluoxetine and at the ripe age of 13 my journey with anti-depressants began.
At 15 the journey took an unexpected turn as I found myself on the phone to Samaritans as I had lost all hope and was prepared to hang myself that evening. I still remember that conversation word for word, and I’m eternally grateful for Samaritans. “ It’s just anxiety and depression, try not to worry lets try you on a different anti-depressant” the child and adolescent mental health team said, and the journey changed to citalopram and I was introduced to zopiclone- a strong sleeping tablet
I must have stayed on citalopram up until I was 19 because I was taken off it when I found out I was pregnant. Now it’s no secret that after I had my baby boy I suffered from postpartum psychosis, and shortly after I was referred to the community mental health team which brings us to now.
It’s extremely rare for me to find a psychiatrist who I can open to and be completely honest with. I poured my heart out to this doctor, You see, I’ve always had a fear of being abandoned and unwanted, it’s not that I crave attention it’s that like most people I crave the feeling of being loved but in the same breath I push people away because in my eyes it’s easier to push them away myself than let them close to me and than have them pull away from me.
Then next he asked about the self harm. Since I was 13 I have abused my body. I’ve picked at my skin, taken multiple overdoses as well as attempting to end my life off of a bridge, I told the doctor everything and he looked at me concerned and just returned to writing it all down.
“Would you say you have tendencies to be impulsive Amy?” he asked. Now this bit was almost a comical moment as I had a flash back to every reckless, impulsive thing I’ve done to date. I smirked almost with tears rolling down my face… “Well it’s been said… yeah,”  I chuckled. “ I just have these intense mood swings. I can go from feeling on top of the world, and like I actually have control of my life but the slightest thing can happen and I’ll crumble, I can’t cope with it and that mood will last anything from a few hours to a few days.” At this point I started sobbing uncontrollably.
You see, I never wanted to be like this. To be constantly paranoid and overthink every possible thing,  to read every text message over and over again until I’ve convinced myself that the person who sent it is annoyed at me…and god forbid someone doesn’t text me back within 3 hours because I will convince myself they don’t like me. The temper that comes with it is like a firecracker, I have such a short fuse and when I lose my temper I have no control over what I say and I will willingly cut ties without even thinking. The self doubt is there every day, every damn day I tell myself I can’t and won’t achieve things…it’s like a little niggling voice at the back of my head, almost like a little mouse nibbling away day by day.”So Amy, I think there is a bit more than depression here. From what you’ve told me and looking at your history I think you have something called BPD, formerly known as EUPD…have you heard of it?”…it was almost a relief to know everything I had been through was an underlying condition.

This post might seem a bit doom and gloom, but that is BPDin my eyes, It’s a constant challenge. I’m on a waiting list for counselling but like all NHS services, the mental health team are under strain. I was told BPD treatment is 50:50, 50% medication and 50% talking therapy. My new tablets have been the most helpful to date, and on the whole I have good control over my BPD. So to anyone newly diagnosed, know it gets better and know BPD does not define you.

(Mental Health Monday): Maternal Mental Health awareness week…The night that changed my life

In light of the fact that this week is maternal mental health awareness week, I wanted to do a post about something a bit personal. I’ve previously blogged about how I had postpartum psychosis,  however I didn’t really talk about the thing that changed it all for me, and that was probably the lowest point of the journey for me but equally it was also the start of me getting help. This was the night I was sectioned after trying to take my own life.

It was the 12th of April 2017 and my little boy was 3 months old, I had already been diagnosed with postnatal depression at this point, but I could feel myself getting worse. After an argument at home I almost had an out of body experience, I don’t remember having control of my emotions and took myself on what I thought would be a walk to calm myself down, from then I guess I went into auto pilot…my phone was ringing but I kept ignoring it, after all…I knew my boy was safe at home with his dad and family. My mind was doing over-time making me feel useless – I had all these thoughts rushing through my head and I remember thinking “you’re just a burden on everyone at this point, people like you don’t deserve to be happy”. I snapped out of my auto pilot and found myself stood at a motorway overbridge, I got my phone out to call someone and it had died. I found myself sat on the edge drowning in my thoughts and at this point the adrenaline was starting to kick in. I was ready to go, then I felt from behind me a pull, and two random strangers driving past had got out and pulled me back, one man’s girlfriend had called the police who arrived shortly afterwards but I still remember trying to push them off me because I wanted to jump. The police arrived just as I was pushing the men off me, and used quite strong force to pull me back. At the time I couldn’t understand why they were shouting at me…but looking back, it was the only way they could get through to me.

“people like you don’t deserve to be happy”…
Actually, yes I do deserve happiness, and it took me a long time (and the shock of what I almost did) to realise that
I was placed in the back of the police car where the officers were comforting, they introduced themselves and asked what got me to this state but I couldn’t bring myself to talk. One of the officers rang the crisis team and got their input and shortly after that call I heard something that completely changed my life;
“Amy, it is the 12th of April 2017, the time is currently 20:30 and I am sectioning you under the Mental Health Act of 1983”.

I immediately let out a wail. I thought I would never see my boy again. They assured me all this means is that they would be taking me to a mental health hospital and a place of safety. They rang and asked for an ambulance escort but was told there was a long wait and was told providing I wasn’t going to harm myself there would be no need for an ambulance escort, and at this point I was exhausted so just nodded and said I wouldn’t attempt anything.

The journey there felt like the longest journey of my life, the officers tried to make small talk and shine light on the situation, but I felt numb… I was in no mood for small talk. The officer who wasn’t driving rang my mum and told her what had happened and I felt like I had let my entire family down.
When I arrived at the hospital I was greeted by a team of people, who discussed my situation and said they all just wanted to help. After discussing everything with them, they said I could go home providing I spent a few hours there. For the next 2 weeks I had daily visits from the crisis team, I was heavily sedated for a fortnight for my own wellbeing and, gradually, from then, I have overcome so much with my mental health. I later went on to be diagnosed with BPD/EUPD.  I used to be embarrassed about the night I was sectioned, but now I am open about my experience and not at all ashamed. So, if me blogging about this gives some people knowledge, if it gives some people an insight and helps to end this stigma that we currently have on mental health then that’s even better.
Finally, to the two men who stopped what they were doing that evening and saved my life I am eternally grateful, and I can only apologise for what you witnessed that night.