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

 

 

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 ‚̧

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!