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Screwed up kids *trigger warning*

I was one of those kids that was obviously a little messed up.

I had my first suicide attempt at 10 years old; I tried to flush my head down a toilet. A teacher found me, and it was never mentioned again. I began self harming around the same time, and sustained injuries including a dislocated thumb whilst I was still at primary school and broken wrist at 13. I was totally unaware of the idea of self harm, cutting as a way to hurt etc.

I never had any confidence. I always thought I was a disappointment, I was excruciatingly shy, I hated my weight and began restricting my calorie intake whilst still at primary school.

My Grandad fought lung cancer for several years, and for a child I was too involved in his care. I was 11-13 years old, the responsibility was huge!

Around that time, I began restricting what I ate in earnest. I would go all day eating nothing, then binge mid-afternoon before anybody returned to the house. By sixteen I was eating under 200 calories Mon-Thurs, binging on Thursday, restricting below 500 up until Sunday, and then on Monday the cycle would repeat.

Compulsive exercising snuck up on me too; what started as ‘just walking home from school’ (a 45-60 minute walk) progressed to hours of exercise every day. At my worst I was eating less than 500 calories a day and exercising for a minimum of four hours.

I lost close to 3 stone over a period of about 5 months, and I was slender to start with. Despite the obvious transformation and my clear struggle with food, my parents seemed oblivious, with my mum even feeding into my disordered thinking by complimenting me on my weight loss.

At fifteen my parents accidentally saw some self harm on my arm. I was lying on a bed and my pyjama sleeve had ridden up far enough to expose cuts. Instead of support, I was ridiculed and called ’emo’. That was one of the lowest points in my life.

At school teachers knew I was battling demons, but nobody did anything.

Throughout my teenage years I had a dozen suicide attempts, wasted years starving my body, and was filled wityh despair, darkness, lonliness and self hatred. Shying away from family events, plans with friends, and instead holing myself up in my room thinking about how much I despised myself, how I’d be better off dead, and exercising crazily.

I received zero help until I was 19, when my boyfriend said I needed to go to the Dr’s as I had been suicidally depressed for several months. Despite my first suicide attempt being at 10 years old, I wasn’t pushed for help until 19.

When you’ve been dealing with mental illness so long, and since you were so young, you don’t realise a) how sick you are, or b) how ‘wrong’ your emtotions and thoughts are.

I didn’t realise that the depth of my despair wasn’t normal. I didn’t know most my peers didn’t feel this way.

The NHS is a shambles with MH support, and I basically never received adequate care. My bf has done more for my mental health than the NHS ever did. I still have extremely poor body image. I still have periods of battling suicidal thoughts, I have unchecked bipolar, I’m often overwhelmed with anxiety…and now I have psychosis and seizures thrown into the mix too!

But mentally, I am stronger. I feel better in myself.

Who knows if having support when younger would have helped me now -would I have been a fully functioning member of society? Idk. What I can tell you is that I would have loved someone to help me back then.

I would have loved someone to sit me down and say “look, you’re not okay. I know you need help and I’m going to make sure you get the help you deserve.”

I would have loved anything to make me feel less alone and scared.

It’s a crying shame that CAMHS (the children & adolescent MH services) are a sack of shit in the UK. We are doing a huge disservice to young people by brushing them aside when they are asking, crying, begging for help. How many adults are still battling such fierce demons because as children they were ignored?

It’s not enough to say that every childhood has rough bits, that every teenager goes through periods of being ‘sad’…that’s not okay.

  • Kids can have mental illnesses, kids can need support.
  • Teenagers can be lost in the darkness and need someone to guide them back to light.
  • Eating disorders are hell, no matter what your weight. Not everybody battling a severe ED is underweight!!

Everybody deserves to be listened to, and to be supported

That is a *huge* thing lacking in the NHS. They don’t want to listen, they want to wash their hands of you and move you along as quickly as possibly. You won’t feel heard, you won’t feel validated.

Hell, I had a GP appt last week to talk about my seizures. The GP let me say two sentences about them, said they didn’t sound like ‘typical’ seizures as I wasn’t convulsing on the floor (oh I’m sorry, have you never heard of simple / complex partial seizures?!) and told me I’d have to wait 9+ months to be seen by someone with knowledge about seizures…she blamed my MH entirely, and didn’t want anything to do with that.

We shouldn’t be ignoring these ‘broken’ kids…we should be reaching out to them and helping to glue them back together.

When I was a teenager, nobody knew where to turn for help – not me or my friends. They were scared for me at various points, and desperately wanted an adult to help out – when I fainted due to not eating enough, when they saw my arm and it was laced with dozens and dozens of cuts, when I’d taken an over dose…they were frantic to help, but had no idea how. Who could they tell?

Not a teacher, who wasn’t approachable and would just tell my parents without trying to help me at all. Not my parents, who (at the time) reacted to everything with either ridicule or anger…where do you go? Who do you tell? What do you know at 13 / 14 / 15 years old?

There needs to be more understanding. More information. Mental health needs to be taken seriously. There needs to be adequate support and treatment for those struggling.

The world keeps talking about how much money is being poured into the NHS for mental health. Celebrities are all coming out saying they have depression, anxiety, bipolar, and there’s no need to hide it…but there is.

There is SO MUCH stigma in the world. People are disgusted by mental illnesses. People are scared by anything other than anxiety or depression. People think you are faking it. The NHS doesn’t want to help those suffering from mental illness; benefits won’t believe you need assistance if you look physically well.

We need a huge overhaul here.

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What to call but ‘ugh’?

I’m at the bottom, I’ve sunk so deep I’m surrounded by despair.

Yesterday I had my first medical appt in a year and it was awful and just reminded me completely of why I stopped going. The Dr was rude, dismissive and had no appreciation for how scared I was, either about the appt or the fact I’ve started having seizures with no history of seizures. I broke down in the appt and cried uncontrollably.

Benefits have stopped two of them because they ‘thought’ we were receiving universal credit (we weren’t, we never have) and now are refusing to start. We are now receiving only 80% of our usual income.

My seizures are off the chart, I feel like shit all the time, I’m constantly close to tears.

I’m totally done with my partner and everything he does makes me angry. Twice he’s left some fucking quail eggs in an incubator in a stupid place and twice it’s been knocked off and smashed and I am just so done.

I’ve not been happy with our relationship in so long because he let some things get too far to be repairable, but we keep trying and trying and I don’t want to anymore.

The ‘kill yourself’ voice is whispering away and I’m just sat here with no energy for anything.

Funnily enough before yesterday we’d been doing pretty good. Things change easily, all it takes is one bad thing to happen and if I don’t have the stamina to resist those suicidal whispers it can happen. And that’s what nobody understands. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt like this so many times before, so now when I feel like I’m drowning I have less fight, less energy to kick up to the surface.

It’s like when people say “it’ll get better, look for the nice weather after the storm” – and I’m there thinking ‘sure, but then another even worse storm follows that…’

Bipolar is an illness that takes you round in circles, with no end in sight. Telling me “it’ll get better” doesn’t help, because there’s always another storm coming…

I am not in any danger at all. I have no strong urges or plans, they’re just whispers. These are just feelings.

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Blinded by depression

I’ve been sapped into a huge depressive black hole.

The depression has consumed me for the past few weeks, and it shows no sign of abating. There are a few little chunks over in this post on my other blog, if anybody is interested.

A lot of Spoonies have been sharing these to try end stigma and fight the shame. Here is mine.

I’m sharing some colouring from the past year. No words needed.

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Self-harm, suicidal and seizures, oh my…

Really, really shitty few days.

Seem to be having a mixed episode. This presents as not being able to sleep or concentrate at all, with the extra bonus of intense depression. W00t. Factor in several dozen seizures a day and I am struggling. Greatly.

Felt very unsafe these past few days. My partner was catching up with me on a walk yesterday and I almost jumped in front of a van. I wasn’t even really thinking about it, it was an impulsive urge that almost just happened.

I broke today. I couldn’t cope with the self hatred going round and round in my head. So I cried and cried and then I self-harmed. I think it’s only maybe the third time I’ve self-harmed this year.

Very grateful to my partner. Don’t deserve him, am an awful human.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day.

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One day

I had one day feeling good. One day in a sea of shit.

Now the depression is back, and it’s brought with it the hopelessness, the worthlessness and the despair. Hello suicidal thoughts, I sure did miss you yesterday… 😥

I don’t want to do this anymore. How can anybody call this a life? And I’ve been dealing with this shit for 13 years.

I had a panic attack today, haven’t had one of those in a while, and I’ve been crying for hours. I’m going to need to drink a bath tub of water to rehydrate after this.

Please no ‘it will get better’ messages. It never gets better, it only ever gets worse.

 

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The struggle is real!

This month has been one of the hardest months of my life…and of course my birthday was in it XD

Seizures have really been taking their toll on my body, and my life. There’s nothing like a cluster of seizures and the resulting tiredness, confusion and lack of memory to completely fuck with you.

But more than that my bipolar had to shove its ugly nose in to remind me that it still existed and, even though these daily seizures are new, it was still the thing I had to be mindful of and fear.

Alongside seizures my bipolar made sure to make my mood plummet.

Overnight I went from being faintly chipper to battling against a tidal wave of depression. Literally overnight. This progressed within a day or two to me being swamped with suicidal thoughts.

I wanted to die, but I was lacking any form of motivation or energy to actually do the act – this (for me) was worse than being actively suicidal, as at least then you’re taking steps and although you feel totally desperate, you can see the end.

I had stretches of hours where I wouldn’t talk to my partner – no, in fact, where I couldn’t talk to my partner. I was completely numb, devoid of all emotion. Entire days where I didn’t get even the fleeting feeling of enjoyment and nothing was satisfying or made me feel warm or bubbly inside. I was dying. Several times a day, walking along, I would suddenly think to myself “Am I already dead? Is this why I feel nothing?”

Weeks passed in a blur of misery, the odd day that was going okay soon crumbling into despair and failure. Everyday I was crying, everyday I was telling my partner I wanted to leave. By the end my psychosis was picking up, and I believed with all my heart that my partner – my amazing partner who’s never anything but supportive – was a psychopath who was dating me simply to toy with the mind of a mentally ill person.

Finally today the despair lifted. Just like that.

People who haven’t experienced a serious mental health condition are never going to be able to understand the depth of despair or intensity of the emotions that sufferers have to endure. This is why Dr’s cheerily tell you something isn’t worth killing yourself over, why parents tell you to get a grip, and why friends family and loved ones seem to assume that your struggles aren’t as bad as you make out.

They are the lucky ones.

I’ve found when I’m surrounded by family or friends that don’t understand, the best things I can do are hug my pups, talk with my partner or, if I’m beyond that, search Pinterest.

Pinterest has some amazing quotes on there regarding mental illness, and I can always find ones that make me feel heard and understood. Here are some of my favourites:

This helped me see things from my partner’s point of view

This has become my all-time favourite quote 🙂

Another one that really resonates

This is so powerful, yet so simple

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All the good stuff…

Wow these last few weeks have been tough.

Here are a few things that have happened:

  1. I told my parents I no longer wanted any contact or relationship with them – this is after years of despicable treatment and misery, so it’s a great thing, but it was stressful!
  2. I’ve started having seizures more often, and have been having 1-15 seizures a day…this sucks and means I’m tired and miserable
  3. My mood has been very very low, and the past few days I was battling some intense suicidal thoughts

I’ve lost a lot of days recently to a foggy, confused and sluggish brain. Seizure fun. Some days it will be about 10pm before I feel like myself and my head clears. The other day for example I couldn’t remember anything we had done all day, at all. I even forgot an entire dog walk we did.

Yesterday I had ZERO SEIZURES which was nice, although it was a tough day emotionally.

The suicidal drive is falling, today I’m doing better than I have in a long time.

Swings and roundabouts…or seizures and depression 😛

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It’s fine UK, there’s no need for ESA or PSD…

I’ve moaned many times how disgusting I think it is in regards to assistance dogs and psychiatric illnesses in the UK.

From anyone outside of the UK, especially those in America, let me explain:

  • In the UK you CANNOT get Emotional Support Animals, that is animals who are classed as being comforting to their owners, and are allowed in ‘no pet’ housing, and usually on planes. We don’t get that in the UK, ESAs don’t exist here.
  • On top of that the UK does not allow psychiatric service dogs (/psychiatric assistance dogs). Physical disabilities mean you can qualify for an assistance dog – which is the same as a service dog in that it is trained do tasks to help the handler, and can also legally access anywhere; cinemas, restaurants, shops etc – but there is nothing in place for people with mental illnesses to have a service dog.

I’ve talked before about the various ways a dog could help people with a mental illness. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Body blocking; sitting in front of handler to prevent people getting close
  • Circling; as above but the dog moves around the handler
  • Interrupting behaviours, be they alerting to anxiety (eg. trembling, jittery legs) or interrupting self-harming behaviours
  • Comfort and DPT
  • Bringing items – medications, mobile phone etc
  • Retrieving help from other people in the house, if handler is in crisis

And of course a dog’s presence out in the world and in the home can be very helpful to someone suffering from a psychiatric illness too.

That’s just a very brief list of a few ways that a dog can help, off the top of my head.

Quite frankly it is absolutely ridiculous that the UK does not acknowledge the fact that there is a need for assistance dogs for those with mental illness, and that sufferers could benefit hugely from this.

I’m writing about this because our recently adopted dog, a Chihuahua x Dachshund who had been abused the first 7 months of her life, has completely changed my life.

She started off as a trembling wreck, and it was weeks before she would come to us for contact and we could stroke her. It was months before we could walk her other than to just take her to the toilet, and weeks after that before she stopped trembling when people walked on the opposite side of the road to us.

Watching her grow in confidence has been a beautiful experience, but she has brought so much love into my life…she’s my little shadow!

And thanks to her, for the first time in months, I am able to go out on my own, to walk her.

True I don’t go far from home, I’m only ever out for about forty minutes…but for me that is HUGE! I have found training her phenomenal – it motivates me, it makes me feel useful, and it gets me thinking. Focusing on her during our walks is extremely helpful; it means I don’t give into the paranoia / psychosis regarding other people we see out and about, and when she reacts to noises or people, it shows me they are real.

I now take her most times I leave the house. She walks with us and, when it’s too busy for her (because she’s nowhere near bombproof, she’s still learning to trust the world) I have a dog bag that I can carry her in, and that’s wonderful too as the physical contact is very calming.

With her I have walked through town four times (it was something I hadn’t been able to do in months), I’ve ridden a bus, AND walked around a supermarket carpark as my partner went inside to buy things. We walked about and did training, and there was such little anxiety on my part…the supermarket used to be such a huge trigger for panic attacks!!!

Case in point, I’ve just come back to this blog several hours after beginning to write it, and it’s been an awful several hours. I was sat here crying, and my dog comes and sits on my lap, and I stroke her and cuddle her and s-l-o-w-l-y start to feel just a little better.

So here’s what I’m doing.

I, and a small minority of other people in the UK with psychiatric disabilities, are training our own dogs to perform tasks and help us both out in public and at home. Now obviously these dogs, stupidly, won’t have the same rights as service dogs – but they will help us.

We need to buy vests and patches, that state our dogs are working and are not to be disturbed, because just like registered assistance dogs, our pups need to focus. It’s critical they aren’t distracted by people trying to pet them, because they are doing an important job and they are saving their handlers’ life everyday.

I’ve been doing a lot of work with my dog, Pixie. We are at the very, *very* beginning of our journey. We are working on heel and focus, sit stay, down stay, watch me, settle on me, interrupt behaviours, under (go under my legs as I’m sitting on a chair) and her starting in the right position.

farmfields20

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of training.

Most physically disabled handlers that have assistance dogs have a lot of help training them. I have nothing. Thankfully I’m fairly experienced with dog training thanks to my other dogs, and I know about behaviour, clicker training, shaping, luring etc. I’m at an advantage but it’s still a looooong road.

And after all the training, and after all she helps me, we still won’t have any more rights than your average untrained pet dog :/

But worse of all is being called a faker.

There seems to be articles published weekly about ‘fake service dogs’ (that is, service / assistance dogs that aren’t registered), and how disgusting their owners are, sticking a vest on their untrained unruly dog just so they can get them into places and can take their dog with them wherever they go!

Hatred comes from newspapers and handlers of service dogs alike, and I can understand how incredibly annoying it must be and how damaging fake service dogs can be when they are out of control – they must give businesses a really bad impression! – but not all unofficial service dogs are out of control, and their handlers aren’t always doing it for malicious reasons.

My dog really helps me. She means I can leave the house and go to busier places without suffering a panic attack or triggering an episode. She helps me when I’m at my worst. I am not calling her an assistance dog because I ‘want to take her places’, I’m calling her an assistance dog because SHE IS ONE, I just can’t register her!!

With most assistance dogs, the handlers get lots of help training them – in fact in many cases the dog is completely task trained before given to the handler.

Obviously when I don’t qualify as having a disability that could benefit from an assistance dog, I’m not going to get a pre-trained dog! So alongside the difficulty of everyday living, I also have this huge task ahead of me training my dog. From scratch.

In addition to basic obedience (sit, down, stay, recall, loose lead walking) there are so many extras we need to work on to the point where nothing could distract us:

  • Be able to walk past any person/s without showing any interest
  • Be able to walk past any dogs without losing focus
  • Be able to be calm and focused around all other animals – cats, squirrels, sheep, rabbits, at zoos, farms etc
  • Be able to remain calm in any shop (pet shop, shops selling food at ground level, shops full of shopping trolleys and screaming out of control kids etc etc)
  • Not only be able to remain calm in that environment, but to focus on tasks too
  • Ride on public transport whilst remaining calm and on point; this involves things such as…
  • Ignoring people
  • Getting used to the noise and motion of transport
  • Learning tuck / under (sit out the way) and other positioning
  • Be able to hold a down stay the entire journey, no matter the distractions
  • Be able to ignore all the utter morons who try stroke service dogs, pet them, call to them, bark at them etc
  • Be able to cope with automatic doors, elevators, shopping trolleys, check outs, intercom messages, ignore dropped food etc
  • Learn all the behaviours you want your dog to be able to perform – DPT, interrupting various actions, blocking by positioning body in way of other people, circling, fetching items etc etc etc

It feels VERY overwhelming.

Most service dogs trained by professionals have 12-24 months training, who knows how long it will take us?!

I’ve really enjoyed our training so far and I’m so incredibly impressed with my pup. I have this awful tendency to expect too much from my dog, and get frustrated with her when she ignores something I’m asking – even though 99.9% of the time it’s MY fault, because I’m expecting too much too soon!

In the 3 months we have had this dog she has changed my life so much. Now that I take her almost every time I leave the house, my anxiety has fallen right down, and even when I’m struggling with my mood or psychosis, I’m better able to cope. In the house I’ve had a lot of panic attacks, moments of intense sadness, crying etc – and every time she has helped me, and calmed me down, and got me back on track.

I can only imagine how much she will help in the long run.

This has been a really long, jumbled, messy post. My head’s quite messy at the moment and I’ve been writing this post for the past two days, so it’s all…weird. And it’s 5.30am in the morning, I can’t sleep, so obviously that’s a great time to edit and post it XD

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I’m so tired

I’m so tired of fighting. The constant changes are exhausting and horrible.

My partner turned to me in alarm this evening and said “What’s going on with you sweetpea? You’re flitting from happy to sad so quickly.” I replied, completely expressionless, “I’m bipolar, what do you expect?” Which at least is amusing, even if that isn’t what bipolar is at all!

My partner was dot on though. I’m so tired from yo-yo’ing and having to deal with super fast switches of energy and impulsiveness, happiness and sadness, confidence and hopelessness.

I’m tired of trying so hard to focus, on ANYTHING, and it being such a struggle because all I can hear is things that aren’t real and I know, I *know*, that there’s something sat watching me at the other side of the room – but don’t look, DON’T LOOK, must appear normal.

The other day two noisy things played at once on our computer, a game and some wrestling my partner was watching. The noise immediately drove him to distraction and he raced to the volume to mute it whilst he got it sorted. He literally couldn’t cope.

Grinning, I said “Now you know what auditory hallucinations are like!”

Although it was a joke, it was true. Fighting so hard to concentrate, understand what people are saying to me or what I’m reading or watching, AND trying to appear normal is just…exhausting. And impossible.

Please world…just give me some stability. Just give me some moods that don’t rate 10/10 on the richter scale. Just give me something.

Again, anybody reading, please don’t tell me that things ‘will get better’ or that I should ‘go see a professional’. It won’t help, even though I know you mean well, and will just make me feel more hopeless and alone. Thank you for your understanding.

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Just let me know what you’re doing, brain…

One of the things I’m struggling with SO DAMN MUCH at the moment is the unpredictability.

When I had severe bipolar I thought it was the worst thing ever.

Months and months of suicidal depression followed by weeks of psychotic manias, on repeat, over and over. I really thought it was the worst.

But I’m struggling even more now that my mood swings aren’t predictable and don’t follow a pattern. Alongside the constant psychosis (which is really, truly awful. Like living in a horror game) I now have extreme mood episodes that last just days.

It’s exhausting and confusing and upsetting.

It makes planning days impossible – what we might have wanted to be a nice relaxed indoor-day can’t be because I’m bouncing off the walls and if we don’t go out I’ll do something ridiculous.

Day visits with my parents have to be cancelled because my psychosis has reduced me to tears. Plans for enjoyable walks with my beloved partner and dog in the countryside abandoned because I’m so depressed all I can think about is suicide and I can’t leave the house.

I’m talking a day or two so manic I don’t sleep. Maybe a week where all I suffer is psychosis, constant, LOUD psychosis. Then depression where I can’t imagine, and don’t want to, living like this anymore. Then psychosis. Then depression or mania or more psychosis.

Yesterday and the day before I was manic. Can’t-sleep-spend-money manic. Today started okay. I felt a little off but I think I had a med-head or a psychosis overload. Late this evening I noticed myself getting panicky and sad and anxious.

The feeling got worse and more extreme. I had a panic attach. I freaked out.

There’s this tight feeling of overwhelming dread inside me. I’m struggling to breathe normally and behave normally and look normal on the outside. I can’t talk about this with my partner and I don’t 100% understand why.

I’m scared and trapped and oh so sad and numb and blank. I feel so completely overwhelmingly depressed and hopeless.

I could tell myself to just wait until tomorrow, because how I feel is changing almost daily now, but everything I switch between is horrible.

Mania – frustration, a frantic need to move and talk and beand zero need for sleep.
Depression – hopelessness, numbness, despair.
And psychosis – voices, scary thoughts, scary people, visual hallucinations that are all real, so so real.

This is all I get. This is me, this is my life.

Please don’t anybody advise me to go see a professional, or that things will get better. I know you mean well, but neither would be very helpful or appropriate right now. Thanks for your understanding friends.