Self Injury Awareness Day

“I hurt myself on the outside to kill the thing on the inside”

Today is self injury awareness day and I was not going to post. BUT losing Claire has sparked a fire in me. I am determined even more now to break down barriers surrounding Mental Health and to speak out to end the stigma.

So yes my name is Jenny and I self-harm through cutting. You do not know how hard it is to write those words down. Or even to say ‘I am a self-harmer’ out loud. But I am and have been since I was 14.

I did not really know what it was at first. I did not understand why I was doing this to myself. Punishment, for me, was a big part of why I started as it was also when my Anorexia first started to take over my life. I punished myself for eating. I punished myself for being ‘fat’. I punished myself for being me.

The negative thoughts bombarded me and I felt worthless, useless and a burden to others. It soon became my way of coping with day to day life. It gave me a release. The pain was a distraction from the internal pain I felt inside. It was not long before my friends found out and told a teacher. And it was probably the best thing that could have happened. I finally had someone to confide in and I could talk about my problems or what I was struggling with. It helped. She was by far one of the best teachers I ever had- and I am so happy to say I am still in touch with her today. She has seen me through some very dark places and continues to support me. I am eternally grateful for I do not know what I would have done without her support.

But unfortunately the self-harm continued. It became an addiction. It was soon out of my control. I have stopped for periods of time over the years. But usually when my eating disorder has been fully in control.

In the past few years my self-harm has gone from bad to worse. What started as a few scratches turned into deep cuts frequently requiring medical attention. I have even needed blood transfusions a few times.

HOWEVER, all self-harm should be taken seriously. I was lucky in the sense that the ‘minor’ self-harm I was engaging in at a young age was taken seriously by the school and I was referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). I received help and the school continued to give me on-going support all through my teenage years.

I would have liked to be able to end this by saying I no longer engage in self-harming behaviours. But the truth is I do. However, I do not give into the urges lightly any more. I fight them with all my might. I try my hardest to NOT cut. But when it’s the only coping mechanism you have it’s incredibly hard.

I really wish I never started. I wish I had never made that first cut. My arms are a mess now. And I am ashamed of them. I have to wear long sleeves all the time – even in hot weather. It is uncomfortable. I worry all the time that someone might see them and be disgusted. I’m scared I will be judged.

But I shouldn’t be afraid. I should not feel ashamed. They are a part of me and a part of my story and while I may hate having them and wish for clean arms again I am starting to accept them. Slowly, but surely. In the same way I tell everyone to love their bodies no matter if you have cellulite or stretch marks or any other problem, I want people to not be ashamed of their scars.

I also want people to know that there are many ways a person may self-harm. I personally cut but others burn or insert objects into their bodies.

If you suspect someone to be self-harming please please step in and offer them your support. Listen to them but do not judge. You will likely have no idea what they are going through. Self-harm is an addiction yes but like all addictions it can be overcome. And I have faith that the day will come when I do not feel the need to self-harm anymore and where I am content in myself. One day I want to not feel that deep desire to punish.

I hope I have opened your eyes into why people self-harm – it is not a phase or a trend. It usually comes with Depression, Eating Disorders or Personality Disorders. And is feature of them.

Take care guys

xx

Battling On

“You have survived 100% of your worst days”

Jungling several Mental Illnesses at once was never going to be easy. For me, when my EUPD gets better my Anxiety and Anorexia gets worse. I am so black and white, all or nothing and I struggle, really struggle, to find any shade of grey.

Since leaving hospital I have tried my best to get back into a normal life – to find that grey area where I am successfully in control of my Mental Illnesses. And for the most part I am managing. I have been attending my supported work placement and meeting friends for coffee and drinks. But it has been tough, so tough. I still get days when depression cripples me. When the thoughts of harming myself are so overwhelming that there is nothing I can do but to give in or fight hard against them. I still get days when Anorexia controls me. When every bite kills me and food feels like poison infecting my body and seeping into my cells. I have days where my body image is so bad I cannot bare to shower, let alone get dressed as I feel no-one should have to see me looking like this.  I get days where Anxiety renders me house bound because the world outside is too frighting for me to face on my own.

But above all, I still get days when EUPD is the front runner of them all. When my impulses get too strong for me to control. When my mind races and runs to places that I cannot bare, straight into the dark corners of my mind. Where the images and thoughts that cause me so much pain and upset are replayed over and over again like a video tape stuck on repeat. The same thoughts. The same pictures. The same voices. They taunt and torment me. They take over my my mind and turn me into someone I don’t even recognise.

But in all this I still have hope. I still cling onto that glimmer of light that things can and will get better, get easier. Because without that hope where would I be? Alone. In darkness. With no light to guide me. And in my worst moments I remember the good things I have in my life. I have wonderful friends. Both with and without Mental Illnesses. I have a fantastic family who support me and are fighting with me. I have amazing professionals who do there upmost to help and never give up on me. They pick me up each and every time I fall and we start again and build back up. And I have you. My wonderful readers who bare with me while I ramble on about my struggles and through comments and messages have helped me so much. So thank you.

To those of you suffering from any kind of Mental Illness – don’t give up. Even at your worst times, try and find the light in darkness. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Take care guys

xx

Trying to Find my Feet

“Rock bottom is good solid ground and a dead end street just a place to turn around.”

So its been a long time since my last blog post. At the beginning of the year things were going OK – I had thrown myself into university and was managing as well as I could have hoped.  However, it did not take long for things to deteriorate and I was back in hospital by the end of February. University was causing me too much stress and as a result I was forced to give it up for yet another year. Things became easier after that. I was ‘coping’. Nothing was perfect but things were going well in terms of my supported accommodation. And that stability continued for a few months. Food wise things were good although I was and still am by no means happy with my body shape or weight.

We are now in June and at the end of May my Mental Health began to worsen for no apparent reason. I was doing fine, then all of a sudden I was not. I guess that is the nature of EUPD. For this reason I was admitted back to hospital for some respite. Although things have steadily gone from bad to worse and I am severely struggling with my mood and thoughts and I do not know what is going on or how long I will have to stay here for. Everything is up in the air at the moment. My supported accommodation are extremely concerned and are unsure if they are able to cope with me. I do not know where to go from here. I do not know how to get better. I do not even know what better is. My head is a mess at the moment. My food intake has suffered as a result of being sectioned and all control being taken away from me.

So things are not great but I am hoping they will improve and I will be allowed back to my supported accommodation, but I just don’t know If that will happen. I feel like I have lost my fight and positive attitude to recovery. I am so tired of this illness. It is draining me and it is taking everything in me not to do something drastic and dangerous. But I am not done yet. I am still here, and still trying to re-gain some of my energy to continue fighting. But just. In this moment. I feel lost.

Take care guys

xx

Back to University I go

 “Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.”

A year ago I was in hospital, a year ago I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act, a year ago I could not keep myself safe, a year ago I was miserable and a year ago I was engulfed by Anorexia. Today I am out of hospital, today I am no longer sectioned, today I can keep myself safe, today I am content and today I am fighting.

Wow, it’s been a quick few weeks. I started back at university after a two year break and it is safe to say it has been a tough two weeks. I went from virtually doing nothing to suddenly being in third year of a Law degree and it has not been an easy adjustment. Going back to university was never going to be easy so I know I am going to have to push myself to stick it out. I will not lie and say the thought of dropping out has not already hit me. The negative thoughts come thick and fast, bombarding me with feelings of unworthiness. But the negative thoughts are just that – thoughts – and I alone have the power to fight them. Fighting the thoughts makes me stronger and I have learnt that I need to believe in myself. I may not be the cleverest in my class or get the highest marks but that is OK. It is OK not to be the best whatever my head tells me.

Being back at university is improving my Mental Health by giving me a focus and an end goal. When I was doing nothing, I had time to wallow in self-pity but now I’m keeping myself busy and it feels so good. I’m trying hard to make this work as I am enjoying my course – it is just a lot more work than I anticipated. I forgot how intense Law is and the amount of reading I have to do is phenomenal. But I am determined to keep going and keep fighting. Unfortunately, the stress of university has meant that my Eating Disorder has tried to worm its way back in again. But I know the warning signs now and I know how to fight back. I point blank refuse to relapse because that road only leads to hospital and I am not going back.

Battling Mental Illness and studying a Law degree is so tough but I know I can and I will do this. I want to make people proud but I also want to make myself proud. I am sick and tired of Mental Illness ruining my life. It is time to take control back and not allow my illnesses to jeopardise this opportunity for me. I refuse to let it beat me. I am stronger than the thoughts in my head. I think I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Take care guys

xx

2016 in Review

“You won’t know until you’ve tried”

So it has been a while since my last blog post. If I had one word to sum up the last month it would be “turbulent”.  New Year can be tough. Every year I feel like this is another year of my life that I’ve wasted. Another year of starvation and engaging in bad coping mechanisms. But I do not want to think like that. I could sit here and wallow in self-pity. I could focus on the negative (the countless hospital admissions, my struggle with food and the loss of some of my independence). I could think about all the things that have gone wrong and all the mistakes I have made, but part of recovery is giving yourself credit for what you have achieved. And believe me it is tough. But most things can be turned into positives. The amount of progress I have made this year is something I should be very proud of. And I honestly struggle to write that. A year ago I was in hospital, a year ago I has stopped eating entirely, a year ago I was intent on hurting myself in any way possible.

After I was discharged in the spring of last year I went on holiday with my family and ate out every night. I ate what JENNY wanted not Anorexia. I managed better than I could have hoped and I need to allow myself to realise that. I had such a good time and was able to enjoy myself for the first time in months.

However, after a few difficult weeks, It was suggested that I should move into supported accommodation. This was probably the toughest decision I had to make in 2016. It was hard because I had to decide what was best for me and my health and put that above everything else. Of course I wanted to stay in my flat with my dog, but the reality of the situation was that I was not coping at all. So my social worker and I agreed that we would give it ago and honestly it was the best decision I could have made. Having the support of staff is amazing and I get on well with all of them.

At the end of 2016 I made another hard decision – to go back to university. I decided that I could keep putting it off and waiting until I felt “ready”, but I realised that that time might never come. So I made the choice to go back. And honestly I am terrified. My anxiety is sky high and I am worried about so many elements. But I am trying to be excited about the prospect of returning and I plan on enjoying myself to fullest. I am worried about whether I will be able to stay well and get through it, but as my psychotherapist says “you won’t know until I’ve tired”. I am nervous about meeting new people and trying to make new friends. But I am hoping it will be ok and that everyone will be friendly. I am also scared of failing and letting everyone down but I do have resources in place to help me through my studies.

2016 has not been an easy year for me. There have been a lot of changes and a lot of ups and downs but focusing on the moment is important. And right now I am keeping myself afloat, reaching out when I am struggling and preparing myself for the next chapter of my life.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year.

Take care guys

xx

Friendship is the Greatest Gift

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Through my journey with mental illness I have met some amazing people. It may be hard to believe that you could ever make friends for life in a psychiatric hospital. But I have. These are girls that have supported me through the darkest of times. Who have laughed with me until I’ve cried. Who have seen me at my very worst and held me while I have been distraught. They have been with me through a journey that some of you can only imagine. It is one filled with pain, torture and anguish. Yet in those dark times we have smiled and held each other’s hand as we have made our way through the storm. They have picked me up each time I have fallen. They have dusted me off, collected the pieces and helped me put myself back together. And I have done the same for them. I have held them while they have cried. Talked to them for hours. And convinced them to keep fighting. We have had to be so strong. We have had to fight so hard, but we made it through.

While inpatient we wound up the nurses, shared take aways and watched films. We tried to make the most of a bad situation. So we found ways to have fun. One girl and I bought plastic bows and arrows and spent the day shooting at the nurses. We also bought plastic swords and played in the garden.

Friends can be found in the most unlikely of places. True friends stick by each other through the good and the bad. I am lucky that I have met some of the most genuine, kind, caring and lovely people through Mental Illness. They are my rocks. I know I can always count on them. They have carried me through some dark places and I will always be eternally grateful.

However there are others who, while not suffering from Mental Illnesses, have been with me through everything. I have the most understanding and compassionate school and university friends. They have never once judged me or been put off by my Illnesses. They have done a fantastic job supporting me in any way they can. If I have needed help, they have been there. If I have needed a shoulder to cry on they have been there too. And if I just needed a night out to get away from everything they have done that too. I am incredibly lucky to have such fabulous friends.

But sadly many people suffering from Mental Illness do not have that luxury. Many have no-one and have to suffer in silence. Others feel unable to open up and talk to those closest to them. It is sad that anyone would be in that situation. The first step is trust. If you are struggling, opening up to someone you trust might really help. People can be amazing and with a good support network recovery from Mental Illness is possible.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picking Myself Back Up Again

“The best way out is always through”

Relapses happen. If anything, that is what I have learnt from living with Mental Illnesses. I am currently struggling. My EUPD feels like the worst it has ever been and all I can do is to keep treading water. Depression is overwhelming me. And I feel like I am trapped behind a glass wall in darkness with the promise of happiness on the other side. And I am willing the glass to shatter so I can feel a fraction of the joy and hope that lies before me. But no matter how hard I hit it, no matter how hard I try to push, the glass will not give. I am backed in a corner, crippled in anguish as I watch the world I so long to be part of, yet find so difficult to comprehend, pass me by, Maybe they just do not take broken people, or those tarnished with badness. Maybe they do not accept people who are empty and have nothing left to give. Or who have lost themselves so entirely that they no longer know who they are. I feel like I am in the pit of despair. But I must keep going. I must keep looking forwards as I know I have reached better places before and I can do so again. Yet in these times of darkness it can be hard to see the light. I feel like I have been ill for so long that I no longer know what being well is like. I don’t know what it is like to not be consumed my Illnesses which are the devil in disguise. They do their upmost to kill you until there is nothing of ‘you’ left. EUPD turns me into someone I do not even recognise. I become impulsive, reckless and needy. It is exhausting. And I am tired, oh so very tired of fighting. Christmas and New Year are always a hard time for me. It marks another year of this torment. Another year full of unhelpful behaviours. But they are my safety net. They are my armour. And I am too scared to show myself.

But I will keep fighting. I know recovery is possible and no matter how long it takes I will not give up. No matter how hard, no matter how treacherous the journey is, I believe I can do it and that is what counts.

This weekend has been one of the worst of my life. I had to go back into hospital due to my impulsive and reckless behaviour. I had to be kept safe as I was unable to do so myself. But I am out now and ready to begin the journey back up. I must find the fight in me to continue with my recovery and avoid any more readmissions to hospital. I am determined. I am strong. I am worthy. And I am ready to do whatever it takes to be well again.

Take care guys

xx