Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Monday, 11 November 2013

Note From Nikki E.

As you may have noticed, I've not been updating this blog lately. This is because I have decided to stop writing posts for this blog. My reasons for this are largely to do with not having enough time to write new posts for this blog.

However; I would still like to keep updating this blog with new posts from guest bloggers.

Thank you for all your support and continued readership; it is (more than) greatly appreciated. Also I apologise for not posting this note at an earlier date.

Thank you, again, for reading and supporting Free Your Mind campaign.
~ Nikki E.

To get in contact with Free Your mind; email me at, freeyourmindcampaign@gmail.com.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

What is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)?

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) - which is closely based on Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-based stress reduction progamme (MBSR) - was developed by Prof. Mark Williams (Oxford), John Teasdale (Oxford/Cambridge) and Zindel Segal (Toronto).

MBCT integrates traditional CBT methods with Mindfulness and Mindfulness meditation.

It has been found to be effective in coping with stress, managing anxiety and depression, and improving energy levels.

Usually MBCT involves attending group sessions over the course of eight weeks. But the skills learnt in therapy should be useful, to the person partaking in the treatment, for a lifetime; with MBCT patients actively participating in their treatment.

MBCT has been gaining popularity in the past few years when being used as part of treatment on the NHS for people suffering with chronic physical pain and long-term medical conditions.

72% of GPs think that Mindfulness meditation skills would be helpful in the treatment of those with mental health problems.

68% of GPs think that it would be helpful for patients in general to learn Mindfulness meditation skills.

Over half of GPs think that MBCT is quite effective.

(Source: ICM survey June 2009.)

Ask your GP or CMHT about whether this treatment is available to you.


Mindfulness is enhanced attention to the world around us and understanding how we allow our circumstances and thinking to affect us.

An increased attention to our surrounding and thoughts can help a person to understand what it is we enjoy about living.

This -in particular- is one of the aspects of MBCT which appeals to me greatly. I'll be starting MBCT soon and it is this aspect of the therapy which has me feeling excited about starting therapy.

I was worried about attending group therapy, due to severe anxiety of being around, and communicating with, other people. However; the prospect of reconnecting with the things which make life worth living excites me, as this seems to be something I've completely forgotten about (allowing my depression to spiral out of control, like a slide in a Turkish water park).

As I will be attempting to get back to blogging regularly; I've no doubt that will include updates on my progress with MBCT.

I'd also be interested to hear of others' experiences with MBCT - so please do feel free to share.

Find out more about MBCT and Mindfulness at bemindful.co.uk.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Borderline Personality Disorder: A personal perspective

Borderline Personality Disorder: A personal perspective:

Empathy and amplified feelings in BPD

Research mapping brain patterns in BPD have shown that responses to stress (of any kind) in those with the personality disorder greatly differ from a ‘normal’ healthy persons responses. Research has shown that those with the diagnosis are physically incapable of regulating emotion. I have found this information helpful in understanding my mental illness.

Recent delves into the inner workings of my mind in relation to my mental health, including therapeutic type work, have inspired me to explore this particular diagnosis further on this blog, but this time to bring my thoughts and analysis of the illness and its stigma onto a more personal level.

I have been told that borderline personality disorder is easier to understand if it is termed ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’. I have found this terminology a great help in understanding my diagnosis; it is a clearer and less misleading term than ‘borderline personality disorder.’

Disproportionate reactions in BPD

Our reactions tend to be an over-reaction to a given situation, because we feel too much. We take on feelings of shame, guilt, anger, sadness, and frustration that may not be ours. We take those feelings, and those emotions, from the situation; from ourselves; and from others around us.

You may have noticed here that I have only used nouns for “negative” emotions, or emotions which can have a damaging impact on oneself; that is because we, as borderlines, we tend to absorb those darker feelings, or perceived feelings, from those around us – like a sponge, or a particularly self-destructive vampire.

Feelings felt by a borderline tend to be amplified, so our reactions become disproportionate to the reality of the situation.

For example:
I am constantly buying ball point pens – they are cheap ones, readily available at a local supermarket - I often break these pens, but it is very easy for me to buy a new pack at the shop (they come in packs of ten).

 However; when I step on one of these pens, which I tend to leave carelessly lying around on the floor, so I often do step on them causing them to break, my immediate reaction is to over-react. I want to cry; I want to scream and shout about the injustice of breaking yet another pen, because – although I have done this before, it will inevitably happen again, and the problem has a simple solution – the feeling is crushing, I feel like I must be a failure if I can’t even look after a cheap ball-point pen...

 My reaction is inappropriate, it is an over-reaction, and I understand this – in my rational mind!

But the response from my brain is telling me I should be this upset because my world is ending (although, rationally; no, it isn’t).

Amplified feelings and emotions

Borderlines often seem ‘too full on’; we get described as being ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’. But what must be remembered is that we have an ‘attachment disorder’.

When I walk into a room, or when I open up my web browser to my Twitter feed, I want to talk to everyone there; I want to be friends with everyone I see (as long as I have no idea what they might be like as a person, or seem like they might be a nice person). The reality is that I, more often than not, won’t usually talk to anyone out of a great fear of rejection; although I do always, consistently, want to get to know people.

I have always been like this; I was like this at school. But this sort of behaviour tends to scare people away (see the ‘clingy’ and ‘needy’ descriptors above) so I know, from past experience; the likelihood is that I will be rejected by these people.

However; my interest in people is often over-amplified.

When getting to know a person, my feelings are that I want to know all about this person; I envisage us being friends, us hanging out, going to a cafe, us laughing as we watch television together (I assume it must be a comedy we’re watching in my fantasy and not bleak news coverage of the day’s events).

Until that person expresses an idea or opinion I am opposed to (a bigoted view, for example) or explicitly expresses a dislike of me; then the ‘happy BFFs’ fantasy bubble remains un-popped,  and when it does burst, I become disinterested in the idea of us being such close mates.

Of course when life introduces me to these people who do become life-long friends, this fantasy dissipates as their flaws become noticeable to me (which is good!) it allows me to take them off a pedestal and get to know the real them, so that true friendship can grow.

When a stranger engages with me in a friendly manner I feel like we could become very close friends – and in some cases this might be true – but in most case, as is the norm for everyone I know, it will never amount to more than a couple of brief exchanges on Twitter or a non-personal discussion in a pub.

I understand this is the norm, and not a personal rejection of me and my friendship, but as a borderline my feelings around this differ; they are distorted, amplified, and unstable. On the whole people are just following customary social functions, and I am –due to my attachment disorder- amplifying that so that I feel as if I want to be their best friend.

This is not to say that my interest or friendliness towards people is never genuine – it mostly is! But the ‘clinginess’, or ‘neediness’, in myself as perceived by others is a misinterpretation of my amplified feelings. As this Amy Winehouse lyric explains, “...I’m not as into you as I appear to be.”

We generally feel very strong feelings of guilt and shame – we tend to feel so angry and hateful of ourselves – we come round to just assuming the rest of the world feels the same way about us as we do about ourselves.

Borderlines experience so much such great empathy for everyone, and the world around us, that it is highly frustrating when empathy toward us with the diagnosis of BPD is severely lacking and (I feel the need to add) extremely hurtful.

Borderlines have been characterised as ‘lacking in empathy,’ which I feel really isn’t the case.

If anything we are over-empathetic.

In general, the understanding of borderline personality disorder is woefully lacking; largely due to there being very little information, and also a great deal of misinformation, about the disorder. There is also a great deal of stigma towards those with the diagnosis, among actual psychiatric and mental health professionals, due those with the diagnosis generally having the most difficulty responding to treatment. We then also have to, on top of all that, deal with the general stigma towards mental illness.

At the risk of sounding like a moody teenager: I feel that we, as borderlines, live in a world which just doesn’t seem to understand us.

With all of the above: I sometimes this is it any wonder we are so angry, why wouldn’t we be? It can feel as if the world resents us for even existing – hell, most of the time we don’t even want to exist ourselves!

I believe I no longer run the risk of sounding like a teenager, I think I may have already crossed that line. But I think that in a similar way to which a teenager struggles to regulate their emotions, the borderline is unable to regulate theirs.

Empathy and BPD

We experience situations, and re-experience, situations from all points-of-view; or certainly what we perceive the reality to be through another’s eyes. With most experiences and situations, I find myself imagining a number of alternatives around how another may have felt at that same point in time, or during that same interaction or lack of (as the case may be). This level of empathy tends to make life for the borderline very difficult and painful.

In a recent episode of Doctor Who – ‘Hide’ (2013) – the Doctor meets Emma Grayling, a psychic empath.

“Empaths,” as the Doctor describes, are, “The most compassionate people you will ever meet, empathics. And the loneliest. I mean, exposing themselves to all those hidden feelings, all that guilt. Pain and sorrow and...” [At this point Clara tells him to stop talking as his words are clearly upsetting Emma whom is sat nearby within earshot.]

I wanted to use this quote as I felt as though this were a description of how it feels for me e as a borderline living with an over-empathetic mind.

I feel that the above Doctor Who quote also gives a small insight into what living with borderline personality disorder can be like in general.

So I will end this post here, having explored the BPD diagnosis a number of times on this blog I don’t wish to repeat myself, but hopefully this post written from a more personal, less clinical, perspective isn’t just covering old ground.

One thing before I go: a disclaimer, of sorts;

I use ‘we’ a lot.
I don’t believe I can speak for all of us with the diagnosis of ‘borderline personality disorder’ but I do know the “traits” of the illness discussed in this post are common to BPD.

Friday, 5 April 2013

FYM has a new contributor.


(Welcome Jack!)

Jack has commented on the following previous Free Your Mind blog posts:

'Sleep Disorders'

'What is Borderline Personality Disorder?'
Jack's reply to this post is in two parts; 
One & Two

'What is Bipolar Disorder?'
Jack's reply to this post is in two parts; One & Two

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

What Purpose Does Stigma Towards Mental Illness Seek to Serve?

Stigma is defined by sociologist Erving Goffman as, ‘the process by which the reactions of others spoils normal identity.’ Stigma is attributed to those individuals whose behaviour goes against societal norms.

Stigma aims to serve society in the form of supposedly providing protection for the people part of that society. Along with the aim to serve the ‘stigmatiser’ – in that it is meant to make them feel better about themselves as they look down upon the stigmatised.

In relation to mental illness; it promises to protect people from the stigmatised (i.e. those with mental health diagnosis’s) – as diagnostic characteristics are (wrongly) generally viewed as being ‘dangerous’ 

However; when 1 in 3 are affected by mental health problems, the stigmatisers are likely to be affected by the very issue they stigmatise and find themselves lumped into the very group they stigmatise, who benefits? 

It could be argued that stigma exists to serve the larger portion of society. But when such a large portion of society (1 in 3!) are affected this stigma can only serve to have a negative impact on our society as a whole.

Stigma towards mental illness does not serve the purpose it aims to in order to be useful to society as a whole. 

Stigma creates/contributes to mental health problems.

Take for example, stigma by association in regards to mental illness. Which is the negative impact stigma has on those people, who don’t necessarily have a mental health diagnosis themselves, whom are known to be in contact either personally or professionally with those who do have a mental health diagnosis.

The impact of this stigma on the stigmatised.

The negative impact this stigma has on the stigmatised include, limited job and career prospects; social isolation; decreased access to treatment, including general medical care.

I fail to see how this could serve society as a whole in a positive way.

The impact of stigma on those whom are already suffering from a mental illness is unhelpful. It does not protect people, like it ‘aims’ or ‘promises’ to.

Who exactly benefits from this stigma?

I would say that nobody does. Not when 1 out of 3 of us are likely to be affected by mental illness at some point during our lifetime.

Edit (05/02/2013): Statistics show that 1 in 4 are affected by mental illness. According to this 2010 Guardian article, there is no 'hard evidence' to support this statistic. Personally, I suspect mental illness is more prevalent than the current statistics show (I suspect that more than 1 in 3 people are affected!).

Thursday, 22 November 2012

My Current State of Mental Health (continued)

My Current State of Mental Health (continued)...

I’m not allowed to share the thoughts on my mind, because they’re violent ones.
I’m not allowed to talk about suicide because apparently that is “attention seeking”.
I’m not allowed to harm myself, because apparently that is, also, “attention seeking”.

People try to use the fact that a peado groomed me, used me and pimped me out, against me. I’m supposed to feel disgusted about that, apparently. Whilst the man himself is regarded as some sort of “hero” around Croydon. Never hear a bad word against him. Seriously?? He rapes children. But apparently I’m the disgusting one, whom should be ashamed of herself.

Got to love the Rape Culture.
NOTE: Heavy use of sarcasm.

People are disgusting. And they all seem to think suicide is easy. LMFAO. I wish!!
Ah; but of course I am nothing but an attention seeking whore. Why the hell should anyone listen to me? Since when did I decide to get above my station? I should know my place, right?

Above: Originally posted to Tumblr, 19th November 2012.


This is a personal post from Facebook:

I have been ostracised from my entire family. Cut off from every single member (including my brother). My cousins have come to a point where they have turned on me, and I feel as if I am being bullied by them. My parents have a restraining order against me. 

In short: I feel as if I do not know these people, at all.

I do, however, have an amazing and supportive small group of close friends (some who've been there for over 15 years).

They say you can't choose your family. But I have chosen my family; they're just not biologically related to me. 

It's going to be hard -- but I need to forget about those people who produced me, used me and abused me.

My friends are all that I will ever need.

Above: Originally posted to Facebook, 21st Novermber 2012.

My Current State of Mental Health

For all those who don't know me; I'm Nicola Edwards, the founder of Free Your Mind.

This blog has been severely lacking in posts; and the campaign, in general, has lost some of its momentum. I feel like things went a bit too fast for me to keep up.

I'm the sole-founder of this campaign; and my current state of mental health is holding me back.

My problem is that I am battling many demons, which I have not yet had the chance to deal with.

But do not get me wrong; this is, by no means, me giving up.
Both Free Your Mind, and me, are going nowhere!

But, currently, my top priority is the need to battle these demons; so that I can truly start living.

Some of my problems have escaped my head and have found their way onto the Internet, most notably across social media sites. Below are some of those posts (across Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr).

They're not all doom and gloom, mind. You will find some positives in there too!

Thank you reading; and for all of the amazing amount of support I have received these last few years. Thank you.
~Nicola E.

Twitter Feed:
From my personal Twitter feed @TitchBNikkiE

17th Oct. 2012 - Read, bottom to top

19th October 2012
25th Oct. 2012
26th Oct 2012 - Read, bottom to top
26th Oct- Read, bottom to top
13th Nov. 2012 - Read, bottom to top

21 Nov 2012 

21 Nov. 2012

My Current State of Mental Health (continued)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

THE BLUE VEIL (book) by Leigh Turgeon

THE BLUE VEIL, by Leigh Turgeon, is an honest and emotive account of a young woman - Leigh - and her struggle with depression. Keeping her depression a secret, Leigh hides behind a facade which she has created for herself; the Blue Veil.

Leigh takes us on her journey, allowing us to look behind the veil.

She has posted a video about her project, THE BLUE VEIL:


The Blue Veil causes a self-induced social isolation.                                                        -The Blue Veil, 2012, Leigh Turgeon

When I was younger and somewhat more carefree, if I went ‘off the grid’ for a bit it was usually because I had met a guy and was chillin’ with him for a bit. As the years wore on though, and my depression got so much worse, if I was unreachable by phone for a bit, there was a problem. I started avoiding all calls, all conversation and just stayed at home not speaking to anyone.

My girlfriend Amber was the first one of my friends to actually notice this. When a major relationship of mine went bad I literally didn’t speak to anyone for weeks. One day, Amber showed up at my door. At the time she lived in a city 5 hours away and had decided she had to come to town to get me out of my apartment and out of my pit of emotion.

As the years went by I started to recognise when I was doing it, over and over again. Frankly I’m surprised I still have the caring friends that I do! I would practically hibernate in the winter, and then feel like a vampire coming out into the sun come spring. I won’t know where I would’ve been if it hadn’t been for Amber that first time, when she actually pointed out that I had been isolating myself.  I hope everyone has friends as observant as Amber…perhaps from this people may start to take notice?

Leigh has also created a crowd funding project for the release of THE BLUE VEIL.

I did this so I can print the book and take it on tour, while organizing speaking engagements .... to spread depression awareness.- Leigh Turgeon

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Apologies for no posts

Dear Readers,

My apologies for no posts to the blog last month.

Unfortunately, personal circumstances took the driving seat.

However; Free Your Mind will be back this month.  :-)

Thank you for your continuing support (and patience!) - it is greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards,
Nicola Edwards.