WATCH ME GO!

See the source image

(Image courtesy of indoortrainingbikes.com – Bing Images)

I haven’t said much about trying to improve my fitness at the gym for a good while now. The last post I wrote, WORKING OUT, about it was over a year ago and you can read it here: https://elliethompson.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/working-out/ if you want to find out where I started from. It has been up to now a very personal journey.

When I started out, I wasn’t even able to get changed without the assistance of a carer, who I didn’t have with me at the time. I was lifting pencil-like weights in an attempt to strengthen the muscles in my arms, and then recovering by downing a smoothie in the fitness centre’s cafe. That was about my limit back then.

Since then, I’ve been going a couple of times a week, fitting it in between college, my voluntary work at Uni, living my daily life, leisure times, chilling out etc. I can honestly say that I do thoroughly enjoy what I do (and I know I am lucky to be able to say that now. Those of you who know me from even a year or so back will know that it hasn’t always been like this, particularly from my mental health perspective). I’m not saying that there won’t be other difficult times ahead, but I feel more able to deal with them now.

Going back to my post … my gym training has really paid off, and I’m so pleased it has. I can now get changed by myself in the disabled shower and changing room. I’m much stronger. My arms, which were struggling with small efforts, can now take my weight and I can lift myself up out of my chair which is allowing me to stand more easily. My back and shoulders are straighter and my neck no longer needs a support. Even my legs are getting stronger (after all these years of thinking I couldn’t do it). Finally, today, I reached my first big milestone! I managed (with very little assistance) to get on an exercise bike and I was even able to push the pedals around very slowly. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am! ūüôā My next aim is to walk with the aid of crutches, and what’s more, I know I can get there.¬† You just watch me!! ūüôā

 

 

A NEW START

sideways view girl with hair in bun blog

Yesterday, I was jolted back to my neglected blog which is how come I’m here now after such a long break. I had an email from WordPress telling me that my annual payment was due on my blog plan which happened to be a ‘Premium’ plan. This had given me more options when it came to the look of my blog and the features and widgets that I could use. Unfortunately, my financial position¬†isn’t brilliant, and I’m not able to afford the fee, hence my new look. It’s much simpler which feels quite different, but I think I’ll get used to it.

I’ve also decided to update and replace my gravatar. I’ve chosen a more adult image (above) rather than a picture of a young and rather sorry-looking child (below). This previous image was suitable for my blog when I started writing four years ago.¬†Back then, I was writing mostly about my severe abuse in childhood and all the ensuing serious mental health illnesses I had. Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that period in my life – I don’t feel the need to share all those very distressing life experiences.

lantern girl 1

I want to get myself out the negative mindset I connect with this childish image. Maybe, this will give me the incentive, and added confidence I need to write more positively and frequently. To use a chlich√©d phrase, ‘watch this space’, (but don’t hold your breath either!).¬† ūüėČ

A new start?

 

SKIN DEEP

self harm word chart

I decided to write about something quite personal and close to my heart. It is a sensitive subject for many people who suffer  or struggle with mental health issues. I realise that everyone will have different thoughts and feelings about this topic. However, I am speaking here of my own thoughts and emotions now, as a woman over forty-five years old, discovering I have very mixed feelings about this topic now, as I look back.

I’m talking about scars. A lot of people have scars – all sorts – scars from operations, from injuries, as a result of¬†criminal acts, because of¬†medical conditions and no doubt, many¬†other reasons that I haven’t mentioned here. I am talking about ‘self-inflicted’ scars caused by self-harm. Self-harm can take many forms; in my case, they took the form of cutting, burning etc, severe and chronic anorexia, many over-the-counter drug overdoses and quite a few addictions over the years I was ill.

In my¬†opinion, the public’s view of ‘self-inflicted‘ injury is often inaccurate. Yes, I¬†was in control¬†of my actions (sic)¬†but those actions were not the underlying reason for my self-injurious behaviour. I was¬†often unfairly labelled by hospitals as a self-harmer/attention seeker which wasn’t the case. In most instances (as with a huge majority of cases), I was carrying out actions which were mainly caused as the¬†result of having serious abuse inflicted on me over a long period ¬†but the person or people who ought to have been held accountable for my trauma never were, and rarely are.

I’m not going to discuss any further detail about the whys and wherefores of my self-damaging behaviours which became a way of life for very many years. I am now speaking of the present and the future. Currently, as a mature woman, I ¬†very frequently find myself feeling awkward or embarrassed because I have many old and quite unsightly scars all the way up both arms. It is summer again and we’ve had some hot, sunny days and this always creates a dilemma about whether to wear long sleeves or not.

That¬†isn’t because I carry endless shame or guilt about my scars – to me, they are evidence that I survived an extremely dysfunctional and seriously traumatic childhood which also continued into some years of my adulthood. However, I do find, as a mature woman, that it is unusual to see such scars on somebody of my age and that people often do notice this and sometimes I feel stared at for a little too long than to be comfortable. Occasionally, I have had the experience of being the subject of a shared snigger between two people who obviously have no understanding of mental health or are just appear ignorant when pointing and exclaiming. “ugh or eww – what have you done to your arms?”

I do find there are many situations where I feel I have to cover up with (simply to spare other people’s own fear and embarrassment). There are some instances where I, myself, would feel uncomfortable, misunderstood or perhaps even judged, such as in the company of some older people, going to an interview, family gatherings (such as weddings) where those gathered are fairly distant relatives who don’t know much, if anything, about the truth of my past and even in my church, strangely enough (perhaps it’s because I’ve not at this church during a summer before).

I also find that ¬†a few of my ¬†Carers, particularly when they first start working with me, don’t quite know what to say, especially if they are helping me shower and dress when my scars are painfully obvious. I usually put them out of their misery by talking about it openly rather than attempting to hide it rather uncomfortably behind the shower screen.

I’m aware that this post has ended up rather longer than I first intended it to but as you can see, it is something that I feel passionately about. I am very happy to chat with any readers who want to understand a little more, or perhaps share their own experiences with me if they have been affected in a similar way and are feeling alone or isolated. You can find my email address at the top of the page in the ‘Contact me‘ section.

Thank you to all those who are continually there for me x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOOKING ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.

don't need to sit on a cactus

I certainly was given a cactus many years ago as is evident in my earlier writings about my very abusive childhood and not too pretty adulthood. I don’t intend to go back to that time of my life. It’s now a case of ‘been there; done that’, you’ll be pleased to hear. I’ve been sitting on the cactus for too long, and it’s getting too prickly so, now is the time to get off.

I’ve been taking life far too seriously of late so, although there may still be the odd solemn post because life isn’t always a bundle of laughs, on the whole, I want to lighten up a bit. [“Phew”] – Was that a big sigh of relief that I detected from my faithful followers? Yes? I don’t blame you – it’s as much of a relief to me as it is to you ūüôā

Yep! It’s true that I will always have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Emotional Intensity Disorder [as they are now beginning to refer to this condition] and this really can mess up my head at times. I’ve included an excellent link to explain what it’s like living inside the mind of some people with BPD. Please take the time to read it if you are interested – it’s not long-winded or boring, I promise: http://themighty.com/2016/07/how-to-explain-borderline-personality-disorder-to-loved-ones/

So, what of late? George (my new wheelchair, if you haven’t yet been introduced), is behaving himself brilliantly, and I love the fact that I can whizz down the path by the river at a colossal speed of 6mph. That’s 2mph faster than Charlie ever did although, fair credit to him – he did turn on a sixpence with much more finesse than George. George is nippier, although the little devil doesn’t much like getting up too close and personal with the veg section in my local Tesco’s. As for poor old Charlie, he’s sitting and looking very bored in the garage but as from today, he’s up for sale, on eBay listed as having been ‘a dear friend to one careful lady owner’ and ‘in need of a new home’. Although he’s seen better days and won’t go the distance anymore, he’ll do someone a good turn if they just want him for indoor and local use.

Oh, have I not mentioned the new addition to the family? I am now the very proud owner of a two gleaming, new, white patio doors (twins, of course). They’re sleeping soundly at present down at the dining-room end of my living-room. When they get mucky, they much prefer a duster to a wet-wipe. I’ve not named them yet; however, several names spring to mind, Tom & Jerry, Fred & Freda, Ant & Dec … I’m undecided. All suggestions are very welcome. They are looking very grand which is about the amount much they bumped up my credit card bill by. Needs must, though – with fair due, they’ve seen better days, 10,957 of them, in fact! I will bid you adieu while I leave you working out the equation of days into years.

 

GETTING ON WITH MY LIFE (RANT)

mental and physical health

Why does everything have to be a battle? I think, sometimes, the world revolves around money, [as well as politics, religion and small-minded people who think they have a right to take innocent lives, but in the light of the very recent killings in Orlando, I don’t intend to go into that here].

On a much more personal (and perhaps selfish) note, I have spent the last three months fighting for funding to allow me to keep the basic disability care that I need every day. I appreciate that I am very fortunate to have any care at all when there are so many people without care, both in developed countries and even more so¬†in third-world countries. You may ask why I don’t provide fully for myself financially – the answer being that I am not able to work because I am studying – and that is in order to get back to some useful work. I only wish I had a wealthy or affluent partner or family on tap but that is not the case.

Currently, the Social Care Department are now arguing with me as to whether I need my electric wheelchair as opposed to a manual one.  They are prepared to supply me with a standard wheelchair which, yes, would get me about in my home with some assistance needed but would be hopeless if I wanted to have more than an indoor or very limited lifestyle.

There would be no more getting into the town for food and shopping¬†as well as going to University, where I am studying ¬†for a degree in Psychology and Public Health so that I can go out [ironically, in my electric wheelchair] and operate both economically and productively in society. Other necessary journeys would also be curtailed and therefore, out of the question. Don’t they get it? My wheelchair is my legs.¬†I feel it would make far more sense if I were able to live a life outside of my home where I can function, independently, realistically and be able to earn enough to enable me to buy my own electric wheelchair which would solve the problem altogether.

Can’t they see how short-sighted they are? If I can’t remain as independent as I currently am, it is very likely to impact on my mental health. I could require more care from mental health resources which would, in turn, affect my physical health. This would lessen my chances of returning to work. This would be more of a drain on the Government Health Department and cost them much more in the long term.

My mental health, that is my Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID), also known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is no secret from them, nor my friends and family or indeed my WordPress followers. It is a day-to-day struggle just to stay on an even keel as things are now and attempt to support myself. I live my life positively in general, and I wish for that status quo to remain. However, it does affect my life in a big way but, I neither feel sorry for myself nor expect the world to be handed to me on a plate. When it comes down to it, I just want to live a fulfilling and useful life and be of much use to my friends, family, society in general and the world as possible.

Currently, I now feel physically and mentally exhausted. Is it selfish, at this point, to say that, yes, I do also want to be as happy and content as I can possibly be for myself too?

Rant over.

MY BPD – FROM THE INSIDE, OUT

 

BPD shattered glass masks

I know this image looks a bit melodramatic but for anyone who hasn’t experienced BPD – yes – it is this dramatic some of the time. I was going to write a post about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in more general terms but have instead decided that I would explain¬†how I feel, being open and honest about what it’s like to be me. This is how I experience¬†living with my condition; in other words – me from the inside, out as the title says. Although I may appear tough and more often than not, smiling; I am in fact emotionally very fragile and often experience severe distress.

I am an exceptionally sensitive person – it is said that an individual with borderline personality disorder is akin to an individual with third-degree burns so that means that I can feel the equivalent severity of pain, not physically but emotionally. I feel everything at a very much more intense level than most people. I get emotionally hurt, extremely quickly and the ensuing distress is almost intolerable at times. I’m not terribly good at handling it although at least I don’t replace my pain with self-harming tactics anymore. Self-harming, as you may have read elsewhere, is an attempt to distract myself from the huge amount of emotional pain I am in.

On the other hand, I also have a tremendous capacity for huge amounts of love and joy and compassion to share with the world and those around me and that is something I make the most of and feel as strongly about as I do the agony.

I am also what is sometimes known as a quiet borderline, meaning that (contrary to popular belief), I rarely have fits of rage although of course, I have anger like everyone else. I have never wanted to be the centre of attention – in fact, I wouldn’t be even remotely interested in being the life and soul of the party – I can’t think of anything I’d like less of¬†on the social scale. Give me a cosy corner, a book and a blog to write and that’s more my idea of amusing myself although of course I enjoy the company of a few good friends to share coffee or a meal with. Neither, do I like to draw attention to my inadequacies in a public way.

As those of you who know me well will recognise, I am frequently apologetic or forever saying sorry for who I am or for what I have written. (My self-esteem isn’t the greatest because of my experiences of severe childhood trauma),¬†and I’m often being ‘told off‘ for putting myself down which I find only too easy. I rarely feel ‘good‘ enough and will often need your reassurance and approval to make me feel ‘ok‘ or ‘acceptable,’ even when I think that I might just be alright. This probably explains why I often go to bed at night or wake up in the morning worrying whether anyone has read/liked/hated/ignored or commented on my blog, or why I have endlessly fretted about what my WordPress ‘stats’ are doing. This isn’t as pathetic as it may at first sound – it stems from a chronic fear of being rejected or abandoned which is classic in BPD.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a plea for more attention to my blog, (it definitely isn’t), which I feel is mediocre at best compared to most blogs I read. I feel inadequate and not good enough most of the time despite reassurances, and this isn’t particularly a nice place to be. Please, don’t believe, for one minute, that this is ‘attention-seeking‘ behaviour. I hate that phrase – it makes me feel like a spoilt child who is having a temper tantrum and stomping my feet because I can’t get my way.

I ‘mind read‘ a lot, attempting to guess what people are thinking of me because I always feel people are thinking the worse of me. I worry about what you might be thinking of me despite your reassurances. I cannot help it. It is the way my brain is wired as also goes for all my other BPD traits. I don’t choose to be this way. My physical disability is far the less debilitating than my emotional tolerances.

Impulsivity is a ‘biggy’ in my life. It gets me into endless amounts of trouble and is the thing I find most difficult to control. It can vary from something obvious like spending money I haven’t got (usually on Amazon) to saying yes or no to a demand before I’ve thought it through properly. I then worry that if I back-track, changing my mind, I am not going to be ‘liked’ very much which ties in with the fear of rejection or abandonment, as mentioned above. I have also been known to get into trouble, (usually by the poor, embarrassed friend I happen to be with) for suddenly doing something entirely unexpected, like¬†hugging that kind lady on the bus (or the waiter in a restaurant) because they were kind and I feel honoured because I don’t feel worthy of their kindness or praise.

I have to say that I am also prone to quite sudden mood changes (and I don’t mean Jekyll & Hyde style). I can be feeling as happy as a pig in clover one minute to being so low that I am down in the depths of the basement the next, often without any apparent cause. ¬†I can assure you, it is just as confusing for me as it is for you, especially when everything can be reversed and or is interchangeable within minutes and I swing from one mood to another so intensely and so quickly.

I found this great YouTube video that is very different to all the others that I have seen about BPD that make¬†me sound like some odd species or alien. It shows some of the most interesting points of living with this condition. As with everything, there are ups, and there are downs. Please take the time to watch it …

However, I have come a long way in my recovery, which is an ongoing process. I count myself as very blessed when I think of how ill I once was and the fact that I took so many chances, gambling with my life with drugs and alcohol, self-harm, and numerous severe overdoses. I’ve not had a drink for nearly four years and I’ve not self-harmed in any way other than bingeing on food occasionally, for four-and-a-half months.

I now lead a very active and busy life despite my disabilities, with college, art, drama, University speaking, coffee with friends, ¬†and getting out into town and church with Charlie (that’s my electric wheelchair, not my ballroom dancing partner for those of you who have not met me before)!

My next goal is to take a ‘do-it-yourself’ certificate in something called DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) which is a very effective method of learning to live and cope successfully with BPD. It’s usually studied, and practised in groups under the Health Authority but this has been axed because of government funding cuts. Once I’ve done that (although that is something I’ll need to practice for the rest of my life), I’d like to move on to do my Public Health degree at my local university.

So, when all is said and done, I fight a good battle against one of the most difficult to cope with mental health conditions that many psychiatrists don’t like dealing with because it can’t be treated or controlled by drugs. Yes, I still take medication, but that’s more about dealing with the often accompanying symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, etc.

I know and am grateful that I get a lot of support from some of my family and friends, both real-life and cyber friends, from my mental health team, my GP, college and university. I do indeed, count myself as extremely blessed and very fortunate. Thank you to you, for your support and your time and patience in reading this far in what I am aware is probably one of my longest posts. I truly appreciate it. Ellie x ‚̧

A TALE OF A WOUNDED SOUL (The Catcher In The Rye)

dreamcatcher - secrets

 Finest gossamer kisses

Like sheer and aged lace

Guarded secrets, hidden

Daring not to show their face

~~~

Shattering the human psyche

Destroying inner souls

Lying buried deep in hearts

Digging deeper holes

~~~

A tangled knot of words

Come drifting on the wind

A featherweight of tales

Against fair airbrushed skin

~~~

Perhaps the nightmare follows

I ask “well, who am I?”

The dreams, they closely follow

The catcher in the rye.

‘THE BORDERLINE’ AND FACEBOOK

sometimes when i say i'm okay

BPD and Facebook! Not a good combination when I’m feeling vulnerable. I’d posted the above image on a mental health support page and 51 people ‘liked’ it but not one truly got the message – that I really wasn’t ok and was in need of a hug, all be it virtual. One ‘friend’ cut me off altogether. Such is the capricious nature of Facebook. But, when I’m feeling low, the last thing I need is what to me feels like a ‘kick in the teeth’.

BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder); sometimes referred to as EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) is now being referred to by my local mental health team as EID which stands for Emotional Intensity Disorder because people such as myself, feel their emotions far more deeply than the majority of the population. I speak for myself, of course.

The first paragraph, above, is just an example of how easily I get affected and upset. That meaningless, minor event has been enough to send me from feeling happy and content with my world to now, feeling alone, hurt and totally rejected, and although I know I get things ‘all out of proportion’, as some would say, I feel it … I really feel it, and it hurts. It hurts, just like if someone had punched me in the back. Emotional pain is just as great as physical pain. In fact, speaking as someone who has a great deal of both, I would say that emotional pain is harder for me to bear than physical pain.

TWO DAYS LATER – I’ve been watching some YouTube videos on all sorts of topics today including mental health issues. One or two videos were quite helpful. However, I saw one that made me angry. I don’t mean the type of ‘raging anger’ that is meant to be ‘typical’ of all people with BPD but isn’t necessarily so. I mean very justifiable anger, I think … you tell me ….

Why? Because¬†one particular five-minute video continually referred to me and other folk with BPD as ‘The Borderline‘, as if I were an object of curiosity in a museum.¬†If we all took that attitude, then would we call other people with illnesses such as pneumonia or cancer by their diagnosis, i.e. how is ‘The Pneumonia‘ today, or, have you spoken to ‘The Cancer‘ this morning? I think not. Am I being unreasonable in asking to be spoken of respectfully, and not just seen as my diagnosis, but,¬†as a warm, thoughtful and reasonably intelligent human being that I try to be to the best of my ability?

man in box

Image courtesy of ibtimes.com

Well … back to where I started – Facebook (friend or foe?). It has its problems; there’s no doubt about that – it certainly gets a mixed review from me. I have made ‘friends’, but I have also lost a few. I’ve read some good articles and posts, and some dreadful, misinformative posts too. I’ve joined and left a few groups over the time I’ve been with FB (far too long, I’m beginning to think). It can bring people together but it probably also causes more wars between them too. I’ve deleted and deactivated my account more times than I can remember and for various reasons but I’m always sucked back into its vices after a few weeks (fickle by name, fickle by nature).¬†

Social media, in general,¬†has a hell of a lot to answer for; not just Facebook, but also, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus+, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr etc (I have to say I’m not with many of them, though). What about WordPress here, and Blogger etc – do you consider¬†them to be social media in some way too? After all, we have followers that stay, followers that go. Some participate – some sit in the back row and watch – however, both are fine with me. I write because I enjoy it – sometimes I make sense; other times, not so. I have made sense in the past, though – I have written two books a good while ago, both more serious poetry (some of which I’ve shared over the years). Finally, I’ve also been known to rant. However, just now, I think I am mortal danger of beginning to ramble so here I will stop and bid you adieu ūüôā¬†

THE DOUGHNUT AND SANITY CHALLENGE

Photo Bridget moment Blurt

Well, I’ve pulled myself out from the mire that I’ve been in lately and I’m feeling up to a challenge … nothing major yet but it’s a start (from little acorns mighty oaks do grow) so there’s hope for me yet.

I love writing, especially my blog, all be it a bit sporadic sometimes but reading, I struggle with. It’s not the spelling and grammar side of it as I’d say I’m fair-to-middling compared to most bloggers. In fact, I quite enjoy a t√™te-√†-t√™te with a bit of vocabulary and an occasional close encounter with the English language.

I’ve borrowed a book from a colleague at university and I’ve got to hand it back within one week. So, in my spare time, which doesn’t amount to much these days, I’ve set myself the challenge of reading and digesting it in this time. No problem … except I have the attention span of a weary ant.

The book in question is a relatively new one called, ‘A Sane New World‘ by Ruby Wax. It’s a brilliant, clever, witty and informative book about her own journey through depression and mental health issues and how she went about improving her situation. Mental health affects 1 in 4 adults, including myself, but this book is written for everyone as anyone of us could become that 1 in 4 ‘mentally unravelled‘, (in Ruby’s words), at any time.

I know most people could knock this out in a couple of days as it consists of a mere 260 pages which I know is nothing compared to Homer’s Iliad or War and Peace but for me, it’s quite a challenge as my concentration when it comes to reading novels leaves an awful lot to be desired. I am determined to fulfil this challenge mainly because I’m interested in finding alternate routes to overcoming mental illness. I’ve made a start have already encountered a good dose of humour and many poignant observances. Hopefully, by the time I’ve got to the end, I will have gained a bit more sanity.

I came across this idea for my second challenge from a local Facebook page. It’s a page for those of us who find life a struggle sometimes, (so, that’s all hands up, is it?). We set ourselves small (or large if we are feeling brave) targets to achieve, to help overcome some of the situations that we find difficult for whatever reason.

My difficult situation? Well, I’m fine going out with Charlie, my wheelchair who some of you might have already met. I can go almost anywhere depending on whether the battery and motor are up to scratch that day but I’m really not good at stopping somewhere to grab a coffee and cake and then sitting with it in a caf√© or coffee shop on my own. I’m great if I’ve got company but sitting alone, I feel a bit of a prune!

So, this challenge is to take my book to a café every day this week; order a coffee and something nice from the menu; sit by myself and then to read as many pages as I can in 30 minutes (just long enough for me to get out of the shop before the usually occurring uncomfortable squirming and panic kicks in).

Today, I had every good intention and headed straight for the coffee shop just after lunch, got to the counter and was just about to order a coffee and pastry when panic suddenly set in and I bolted out of there. I was really cross with myself but I’m going to have another go tomorrow. In the meantime, by way of compensation for my atrocious disappointment, I stopped off at Tesco and bought myself a large jam doughnut, took it home and indulged guiltily. However, I’m determined to repeat the jam doughnut affair tomorrow, only in a coffee shop while reading my book and thereby, at the end of this week, I will have completed both challenges (and probably gained half a stone in weight to boot which I could well do without). Next challenge: to lose that half a stone I’m going to put on this week!

GUNNING FOR A FIGHT

gun to head

This is just an immature little ditty that was all that I could muster tonight, having wanted and needed to come up with something a bit more intelligent to express my feelings. I failed abysmally. My BPD and my mental health are totally unpredictable just lately. I hate it when it’s like that because I’ve just had another ¬†of those days where I just want to take a gun to my head …

Is everyone alright
if I give up the fight
just ‚Äėcos I‚Äôm tired
of hurting tonight

I’m just having a ball
when I’m playing the fool
whilst I laugh through the pain
Look! I’m good at it all

So, you think it’s not true
that I’m feeling so blue
I’ll try and convince you
but I’m kidding me too

And it’s really not fine
that I don’t feel divine
just being ignored
by supposedly mine

I am knotted inside
and the tears have I cried
would fill up an ocean
a thousand miles wide

I wish I were sleeping
but to Hades, I’m creeping
I know I am destined
It’s a secret I’m keeping

So I hope it’s alright
if I give up the fight
just ‚Äėcos I‚Äôm tired
of fighting tonight.