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! :-)

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.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Understanding PTSD (Part Two)

This is a continuation of Understanding PTSD (part one) which was posted to this blog in May this year.

Read "Part-One" here.

Symptoms of PTSD may not be present for a while after the traumatic event or experience.

Forcing a person to talk about a traumatic experience before they are ready in increases the likelihood of that person developing PTSD.

After being raped in 2009, I went to the police; where I had to talk about the experience, in great detail; before I felt ready to talk about what had happened. This was not the first time I had been raped; but this was, however, the first time I've reported an experience like this to the police.

I believe talking, about this particular experience, before I were ready, could have brought the PTSD, (which I believe I did already have, despite not yet receiving a diagnosis of such from a qualified mental health professional) and it's symptoms, to the forefront of my behaviour.

Triggers, or reminders, of the experience, can not only bring back extremely vivid memories of the incident (flashbacks), and bring back feelings related to the trauma. It can also, even, cause physical "re-experiencing" such as an itching, and/or, a throbbing or stabbing pain, in an area of the body for seemingly no reason and possibly not in a place on the body associated with what happened.

With PTSD a person may find themselves avoiding situations and locations which are reminders of the traumatic incident or experience.

Complex PTSD

"Complex PTSD" is a diagnosis which given for a reaction to prolonged and repeated trauma which, generally, involves a person being held in a state of captivity - either physically or emotionally.

In these situations a person is under the control of the perpetrator and is unable to get away from them.

I found myself in this type of situation between 2005 and 2007.

I were in an abusive "relationship" spanning almost two years.

This abuse included:

  • Emotional abuse - name calling (directed at myself); being told that I were a "Bad girlfriend"; when I cried, usually after he had hit me, he would accuse me of "Blackmail" and of trying to "Guilt-trip" him; and, him convincing me that I was worthless and that he could do better.
  • Sexual abuse - he often had sex with me without my consent, when I was unconscious and/or under the influence; and, sometimes, when I was unconscious, and/or in a "drugged-up" state, he would invite his friends to "Join in."
  • Physically - he would lose his temper over all issues with me, no matter how tiny, responding by punching or slapping me.

During this period I remained in denial about what was going on - I would refer to him as "My boyfriend" - but, in reality, I felt trapped by him; I felt scared and unable to escape.

The memories of him make me feel sick, shameful and anxious. Often flashbacks, to my time with him, are followed by a panic attack (sweating, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath).

The symptoms of Complex PTSD are identified as:
  • alterations in a person's control on their emotions - which may include, persistent sadness, thoughts of self- harm and suicide, and explosive or inhibited anger;
  • alterations in a person's state of consciousness - which can include, forgetting traumatic events; reliving the traumatic experience; and feelings of dissociation (feeling as though one is detached from their body and mental processes);
  • changes in self-perception - which may include feelings of helplessness, shame, guilt, and a sense of feeling different from other people;
  • alterations in how a person perceives the perpetrator - examples, of which, include attributing power to the perpetrator, becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, or preoccupied with getting revenge on the perpetrator;
  • alterations in a person's relations with others - which can include distrust, isolation, or a repeated search for a rescuer;
  • changes in a person's system of meanings - which may include a loss of sustaining hope and faith, or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

During the two-year abusive relationship I often experienced "out of body" feelings - where I felt as if I were looking down upon my abuser and myself - I would disassociate myself from the situation so that it often feels as though what happened during that time, happened to somebody else.

Since the abusive relationship, I have developed a distrust of men, particularly  of those who are "romantically" interested in me. 

I have developed a negative perception of myself. Often, during moments of anger, I refer to myself as a, "Whore" - a perception of myself which I project onto others as if it is their opinion of me. 

I used to see my abuser as a "Boyfriend." It has taken me a very long time to come to terms with the experience. I have only, just recently, been able to admit the truth about what happened out loud, despite the relationship ending in 2007.

Stigma towards PTSD*

Stigma towards PTSD often ignores the deep level of impact a traumatic experience has on a person; which can lead to people, who don't understand the complexity of PTSD, to make unhelpful off-hand comments, such as, 
"Get over it."
"Move on."
"Stop living in the past."

PTSD can - and often does(!) - go ignored, due to others' disbelief of the occurrence of a traumatic event, or experience.

Common stigma towards PTSD also includes a "Blaming the victim" mentality. A person who has experience abuse repeatedly is sometimes mistaken as being of a "weak character". Survivors have been unfairly blamed for the symptoms they experience - i.e. survivors may be accused of having a self-image of victimisation. 

They may have, also, been misdiagnosed by mental health professionals as having Borderline, Dependent, or Masochistic Personality Disorder.

PTSD affects survivors for years and often has a deep impact on a person, affecting their self-perception and their relationships with others. But, despite its impact, the symptoms of PTSD may not be apparent to those who are around a survivors of abuse, leading to people underestimating the effect the abuse has had on the person. 

It has been found that PTSD can be overcome; with talking therapies - such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) - being shown to be the most effective treatment.

*After furthering my research on PTSD I found stigma towards PTSD to be more prevalent than I first thought.

Friday, 22 June 2012

5 Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A person with obsessive compulsive disorder usually has their mind stuck on a certain thought or image and simply can’t get their mind off of the thought or image, because it keeps replaying in their mind! That might be a lot to take in, but imagine being on the other end of this observation. If you think you or someone you know might have this condition, there are several helpful tips that can help you determine whether or not your hunch is on.

1. Anxiety Attacks 
Reoccurring anxiety attacks can be a sign that you have a compulsive disorder. Usually, when the brain or body is feeling many emotions at one time and does not know how to react, the brain sends out a warning system to the rest of our body, which causes us to feel anxiety. We experience anxiety because the brain is telling us we are in danger and need protection, when we may in fact need nothing of the kind. It might just be our mind stuck on one image or thought. Remember this if you’re feeling jumpy, anxious or worse.

2. Feeling without Reason
Another important sign to recognize is persistent feelings without justification. When you are feeling sad, angry, anxious or fearful for no reason, this may be because your brain is lying to you. If you are suffering from OCD, you brain wants you to feel these emotions, but it does not have a reason. It can be torturous actually, and don’t just brush off feelings like this.

3. Obsessions 
Typically, anyone with an obsession has a compulsive disorder. However, this doesn’t mean you need treatment. What does determine this is the severity. If you find yourself doing tasks or activities repeatedly throughout the day, and it’s inhibiting your ability to live your live, you have may have this disorder. If you find yourself thinking the same thoughts repeatedly, or become obsessed with a person, place or object and cannot get it off your mind enough to live life normally, you may need to speak with a physician or other specialist. For instance, many with OCD often are CONVINCED that they are sick with some serious illness when something small comes up, like a cough or a headache.

4. Inability to Socialize 
A person with OCD can sometimes have a hard time socializing, because they are too focused on the object or thoughts that are going through their mind repeatedly. The person is too focused to even think about other people in a room. People with OCD simply do not care about anything else other than the object or thought in their mind. Yes, the word obsession is quite literal here. Remember that people often don’t realize that they are being unreasonable.

5. Confusion 
Those with OCD also suffer from confusion. They aren’t able to focus on daily activities such as work or school, and may even forget they are supposed to be somewhere, take medicines for an illness, or even eat and bath daily. Sometimes, people with this disorder will not remember names, people or conversations with others. If you find yourself suffering from confusion like this and you’re not sure why, you could be suffering from OCD.

Bottom Line 

OCD is a varied disorder. There are numerous symptoms as diverse as the global population. For instance, other warning signs include feeling like you always have to be perfect, the fear of losing control, causing harm to yourself repeatedly, repetitive cleaning and pacing. The good news is that there are ways to be tested for OCD, and there are even more treatments out there that can help you. You just have to find the right doctor and therapist. Never be afraid to ask for help, or help out a loved one.

Bathilda Jorking writes about health, wellness, personal finance & www.homeequityloan.net

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What you should know about dyslexia

What You Should Know About Dyslexia

There are several things that a person needs to know about dyslexia. If a loved one suffers from this condition, read through the following info ASAP.

1. What is it?
Dyslexia is a combination of a Latin word meaning difficulty and a Greek word meaning words. Therefore, the word dyslexia means that a person has difficulty with certain words. However, it specifically refers to how some cannot read letters or words as they appear. Instead, they seem backwards. This can be very confusing, for example, when it comes to the word body. It is a LEARNING DISABILITY – nothing more and nothing less.

2. Family History
If a child has any history of dyslexia in their family, then they are more likely to have dyslexia. The chance of onset is about 50 to 75 percent more likely if only one of the parents has dyslexia. If one child suffers from dyslexia, then any siblings of the child are probably going to be dyslexic too.

3. What to Look Out For
There are certain signs that a parent should be on the look out for. Some signs of dyslexia are delayed language acquisition, trouble learning nursery rhymes, mispronouncing words, difficulty learning the names of letters and not knowing how to spell his or her own name. If a child has any of these signs and other kids their age do not, it would be worth consulting a doctor.

4. Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions about dyslexia that many people believe. For instance, the most common misconceptions are that people write words backwards, all have bad handwriting, are clumsy or tend to be left-handed. Many also believe that dyslexia can be fixed if a person starts to take vitamins. Most of the time, these myths will come from the lack of knowledge that people have about dyslexia.

5. Diagnosing Dyslexia
There is no actual test that a doctor can use to diagnose dyslexia, but there are plenty of tools that doctors can use to monitor children (and young adults) that they think might have it. If a child is older than seven, then they will have to go through several tests before the doctor is able to diagnose dyslexia firmly.

6. Treatments
Several treatments can be given to a child to help improve symptoms of dyslexia or at least help them to deal with it. Some of these treatments include educational planning, speech/language therapy, oral administration of tests and presentations in school, and even the use of electronic spelling devices. The best thing that a parent can do for their child is to get a tutor or a counselor with a specialty in the condition.

7. Help
Encourage anyone that you think might have dyslexia to get help. Let the child or adult know that just because they have dyslexia, it does not mean that they are not smart, crippled or anything else beyond dyslexic. Dyslexic people are normal too, and in this day and age, there are many tools to make their life just as successful, productive & happy as anyone else’.

Troy Glover writes about health, parenting & saving cash at www.dentalinsurance.net.

Guest posts contributed to Free Your Mind

The following two blog entries this month are guest posts which have been contributed to FYM.

Regular contributor, Nicola Edwards, will be back in July with "Understanding PTSD (Part-Two)."

Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Forgotten People

My original intentions for this blog entry were to post Part-Two of 'Understanding PTSD.'
Part-Two of 'Understanding PTSD' will be the next blog entry to be posted.

But, after an extremely brief stay on a psychiatric ward, this week, from 29th May 2012 to 30th May 2012, I worded a blog post onto my Tumblr blog about what I have called, "The Forgotten People" - a term which I use to refer to those whom have been severely let down by the NHS mental health services after being given a diagnosis of BPD (Bordeline Personality Disorder), which is one of the most highly stigmatised diagnosis's among mental healthcare professionals.

The link to the original Tumblr entry, posted this morning, has been provided within this post. But, I will also re-post the Tumblr post The Forgotten People below, word-for-word. 

The Forgotten People

The Forgotten People

I’m talking about the people who have been Forgotten, or Left Behind by the mental health services; those free services which have been set up to help us, prevent us from hurting ourseleves, and help prevent the breakdown of our mental health.

These are the people whom, like myself, have - in a sense - been “Forgotten.”

People, like myself, who have been bumped from service-to-service in such a way that we have become reluctant to continue engaging with the mental health services.

As I’m sure you may have already suspected, I will be offering myself as an example of one of the Forgotten People.

I feel I have been “Forgotten” - let down - by the mental health services.

I have been under the NHS mental health services from the age of fourteen.

I began my journey with the services with the sunny utopia of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services -  where therapy seemed in abundance, and available were all manner of satisfying flavours of talking therapies. A child in a therapy service store…

Hmm… Okay, my metaphor fell flat there, but hopefully you get the gist of what I were, albeit very badly, attempting to say.

As the years have passed the amount of services available for me, have been dwindling, as have the quality of those services available.

As I approach 25-years-of age, many more of those free services, services which offer treatment such as drug counselling, are soon to be cut off from me too.

I have a borderline personality disorder diagnosis and have come to the shocking realisation that no-one is really willing to touch personality disorders as we are viewed as being “Too awkward to deal with.”

Like so many with BPD, I am regarded as a “Trouble maker.”

I’ll admit, I’m by no means an easy person the deal with, but certainly I do not wake up and go out with any intentions of making trouble, whatsoever.

And, I can safely say, that the same goes for the large majority of other people with personality disorder diagnosis’s.

Very recently, I was admitted to hospital (again), staying for the duration of less than 24 hours.

I was admitted in the evening on the 29th May 2012. Then, discharged during the afternoon of 30th May 2012.

The hospital felt that I did not need to be there because, and I use their words, not my own,  ”My bed could have been used for somebody else, someone genuinely ill.”


I am genuinely ill!


(Don’t worry, the account of this admittance to hospital is relevant to the subject matter of The Forgotten People.)

Okay, admittedly, I put on a “Sane Front” during my very brief stay in hospital; which, in my defence, I did out of, what I felt was, a need to not cause trouble and be regarded as a “Trouble maker.”

Not forgetting to mention the fact that I was not familiar with the hospital I had been admitted to and, probably more importantly, they were not familiar with me. I was taken to a hospital located in an entirely different borough to where I currently live.

I put on a “Sane Front.” 

Meaning; I pretended to be fine, and found myself heavily skewering the truth when speaking to the doctor on the ward, as I did not want to be under their thumb, as it were; as well as using my Sane Front being a way of keeping myself out of trouble.

I put on such a good act that I was were discharged after just one night, not even a full day.

Putting on a Sane Front had backfired on me!

When I was told that I was to be discharged and that  my CPN had spoken to the Ward doctor, I was also informed that my CPN had been contacted and that my CPN would be contacting the Forensic Team, in an attempt to get the help I need.

When discharged and informed of the action my CPN would be taking I felt sorely let down and my anxiety flared - at which point, I removed my clothing, which is something I do to as a way of coping with the claustrophobia of anxiety.

(My coping strategies and mechanisms are not great, to say the least.)

Also, part of me had hoped that behaving this way would make them see how much I need their help; I was unsuccessful, however, and the hospital staff then proceeded to threaten me with police action if I continued refusing to leave hospital grounds.

In regards to my CPN’s plan-of-action; here is the thing, I have already been assessed by the Forensic Team, whom told me that with regret they would be unable to help me as they did not feel their services would be right for me.

When the Forensic Team told me this, I was distraught, as I thought they were fantastic!

I screamed, cried and begged them to take me on, but they told me they could not do that.

The NHS are severely lacking in treatments for borderlines. With the NHS website itself only giving an idea of what treatments should be available, rather than what treatments are actually available.

Which is shocking, especially when you consider that expertise in personality disorders are essential in order to provide treatment. The stigma among mental healthcare professionals against borderlines is far too vast and common.

Personality Disorders are mental health diagnosis’s which need a tentative hand, a person whom is tactful, someone who knows how to remain professional and keep clear boundaries - sadly, this is not something which is available from the NHS for us borderlines.

The mental health services are all too willing to pass the buck; offload their borderline patient onto another healthcare professional; whom will do the same and duly pass their borderline onto another; and this goes on, like a never-ending game of pass-the-parcel.

But my life is not a game, and I am not a parcel.

Even when calling Duty or the Crisis Team, they soon hang up on me due to my bad language, which isn’t directed at them, well, definitely not at first.

My mouth is ”Foul,” expletives do tend to have a way of tumbling from it. I swear when I  am engaged in light conversation, or when online perusing forums, or when watching television, or during the throws of passion.
In short, I swear, a lot.

However, when  I am swearing, generally, it is not aimed at other people.

Some aspects of my disorder are beyond my control, and I often feel as though I am being blamed for my mental illness.

I long for the days of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.

The days of current, of putting on a Sane Front, as one of The Forgotten People, are eating away at me.

The wolves are no longer at the gate, they have broken through, and are now devouring my sanity with a furious voraciousness, ripping me apart, tearing me limb-from-limb, and I feel as though I am bleeding onto the snow, struggling to catch my final breath.

At this time, I am screaming out for help, but there is none to be found. So, I feel I have been forgotten.

I feel like a forgotten person. I am one of the Forgotten People.

The Forgotten People:
Original Tumblr post.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Understanding PTSD

The title of this post was going to be ‘Understanding BPD and PTSD’; but, instead, I have decided to go with the more-accurate (in terms of this post’s content) and shorter title of, ‘Understanding PTSD’.

However, as promised, I will still be looking at the “crossover” between PTSD and BPD.

Understanding PTSD (Part-Two)  ~  posted 09/07/2012

The term Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to a range of symptoms which are a response to a traumatic event (or, events) which undermine our sense of safety and security.

(PTSD is also sometimes referred to as PTSS (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.)

Symptoms of PTSD may not appear for some time – weeks, months and, even, years – after the traumatic experiences or event.


Even if you’re not directly involved in a traumatic event, you can still be affected by the event and develop symptoms of PTSD.

It is perfectly natural to be affected by some of these symptoms after a dangerous and/or frightening event. 

Sometimes people are affected by very serious symptoms, which then dissipate within a few weeks – their symptoms could be diagnosed as ASD (Acute Stress Disorder).

When symptoms last for longer than a few weeks, and become an ongoing problem, then they may be the symptoms of PTSD.


It is within the symptoms of PTSD and BPD where the crossover between these two mental health diagnoses’s becomes relevant. 

PTSD causes many symptoms, which can be grouped into three categories; “Re-experiencing symptoms,” “Avoidance symptoms,” and “Hyper-arousal symptoms.”

“Re-experiencing symptoms” includes those symptoms such as, flashbacks - repeatedly reliving the trauma, which can include physical symptoms such as a racing heart or shortness of breath; disturbing dreams; and, upsetting and frightening thoughts.

“Avoidance symptoms,” also known as “Dissociative symptoms,” include symptoms such as, staying away from anything that is a reminder of the traumatic experience; feeling emotionally numb (also known as dissociation); strong feelings of depression, guilt, or anxiety; a loss of interest in activities which were once enjoyable in the past; and, difficulty remembering the traumatic event.

“Hyper-arousal symptoms” includes symptoms such as, being easily startled or “jumpy”; feeling tense or “on edge”; insomnia and/or disturbed sleep pattern; and, angry outbursts.

Those whom have survived a traumatic, and/or near-death, experience tend to prefer to think of themselves as “Survivors” - as opposed to the term “Victim” - due to PTSD being a sign of a mind which has experienced something which has been stretched it beyond the normal human capacity for coping.

Some survivors have objected to the term “disorder” - but the diagnosis recognises the events and experiences, beyond our control, which have a lasting and damaging effect on a person’s mental health.

Initially, trauma tends to cause feelings of “numbness” – a stage which is sometimes referred to as “Being in denial.” 

But, although a person may seem in a state of “denial,” it is likely that on a sub-conscious level they are beginning to process the traumatic experience.

At first, talking about their experiences will most likely be the last thing a person wants to do; and pressuring or forcing a person to talk about their experience before they are ready can be extremely harmful, and increases the likelihood of them developing PTSD.

Different types of traumatic experiences affect people differently; for example, reactions/responses to pro-longed trauma (such as, survivors of repeated abuse), may differ from those whom are survivors of “Single event trauma.”

Responses, or reactions, to trauma differ from person-to-person, and people should be allowed to work through traumas at their own pace.

The symptoms of PTSD are a sign of a person who has seen too much, and whose mind has been stretched beyond the normal capacity for coping.

Understanding PTSD (Part-Two)  ~  posted 09/07/2012

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Understanding BPD and Other Personality Disorders (Part Three)

Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder and Other Personality Disorders (Part-Three)
Within this blog post (and throughout this blog-series) I wish to further explore the thought processes, and behaviours, related to BPD (and other personality disorders); and how these relate to our rapidly changing states of mind, feelings and emotions.
(The mental health diagnosis I have been given is that of borderline personality disorder. ~ Nicola Edwards)
This blog post is a continuation of "Understanding BPD and other personality disorders" Parts One and Two.

One of the recognised symptoms of borderline personality disorder is "identity disturbance" - which is, a significant, and persistently, unstable self-image or sense of self - and is, another large contributing factor towards my own difficulties with communicating and interacting, with other people and the world around me.

"Identity disturbance" is also known as "identity diffusion" (terms which refer to the difficulties a person may have in determining who they are in relation to other people).

Often, I feel as though I am not a real person, I feel as if I am non-existent. 
Like, I'm a work of fiction; an invisible; a ghost.

Identity disturbance can make it hard for people, like myself, to find our place in the world; and difficult for us to identify, or convey, a "consistent" and "stable" personality.

Those with borderline personality disorder often report changing who they are depending on the circumstances and how they believe others want them to behave.
This I can certainly relate to: in most situations I will attempt to "blend in."

Often find I find myself "tailoring" my behavior to suit the circumstances or situation.

I observe the other people around me, and will then imitate them, in order to display behavior which I believe is deemed to be appropriate at that time.

Sometimes, upon observing and imitating others' behavior, their current behavior will seem to contradict past behavior or actions. When this happens, I find myself reassessing the appropriateness of my own behavior and actions.

Although it is true to say that everyone changes their behavior to some extent in different situations, but with BPD this change in behavior tends to be more profound.

Throughout this blog series on BPD, and other personality disorders, I have been referring a lot to the inconsistencies in those of us with borderline personality disorders, in terms of our thoughts, behaviors and actions.

The "definition" of a borderline personality disorder diagnosis is based upon signs of emotional instability, feelings of depression and chronic emptiness.

The inconsistencies and conflicts in thoughts, behaviors and actions - associated with BPD - tend to leave me at odds with myself; often with my own behavior, and actions, working in spite of myself.

For example:
  • Within my relationship with my parents.

Despite being in my twenties and living alone in independent accommodation, I'm still very dependent on my parents (I spend a lot of time with them, and they often help me out with day-to-day chores).

However, I also often feel "crowded" by them and feel that they are working against me.

I thoroughly enjoy my independence, but also long to be "looked after", or "cared for" by another person.

  • My thoughts and actions work in spite of myself in a similar way in terms of "Isolation vs. Socialising."

I go through periods of self-isolation - in other words cutting myself off from everyone. But, even during these periods of self-isolation, I become depressed due to extreme feelings of loneliness.

  • Within my relationship with my friends.

When I meet someone whose company I truly enjoy and feel comfortable with; I form "intense" relationships with that person, which can sometimes make my company feel quite demanding.

I focus on those relationships which I have "favouritised", which can cause myself to become partly-dependent upon that particular friend. This may include behaviors such as calling a friend for support at "unreasonable hours" (ie. late-night/early-morning phone-calls).

  • Within "sexual" and/or "romantic" type relationships.

My present feelings and ideas towards all relationships will be rooted in, and based upon, past experiences.

The abusive nature of most of my past "sexual" and "romantic" experiences, means that my present and current ideas towards those types of relationships are very "mixed-up"

I feel confusion and fear towards these sorts of relationships.

Due to past experiences I devalue myself in order to feel approval. I tend to distrust all those whom I "fall" for, I believe that they will use my feelings towards them against me as a form of control and abuse.

Understanding the "identity disturbance" in a borderline personality disorder diagnosis can help to understand the inconsistencies and conflicts in our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and actions.
Understanding "identity disturbance" can help to understand why those of us with the diagnosis behave the way we do.

The next part of this blog series will be titled, "Understanding BPD and PTSD" -where I will look at the crossover between a borderline personality disorder diagnosis and a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

Related previous blog posts:

'What is BPD?' August 2010

Friday, 27 April 2012

Understanding BPD and other Personality Disorders (Part Two)

Understanding BPD and other Personality Disorders (Part Two)

This blog post is a continuation of 'Understanding BPD and other Personality Disorders (Part One)'

Within this blog post (and throughout this blog-series) I wish to further explore the thought processes, and behaviours, related to BPD (and other personality disorders); and how these relate to our rapidly changing states of mind, feelings and emotions.

(The mental health diagnosis I have been given is that of borderline personality disorder. ~ Nicola Edwards)

People with BPD, and other personality disorders, are often - mistakenly - thought of as "trouble-makers", due to behaviours which could be misconceived as being "anti-social."  Misconceptions of the behavioural traits displayed in those with a PD diagnosis include seeing people with these types of diagnosis' as manipulative, attention seeking, demanding, and obstructive.

I have been accused of displaying all of these behaviours at one time or another.

To say that those of us with personality disorder diagnosis' are "manipulative" is an extremely harsh statement to make.

I'll put it this way:
I constantly find I am at odds with both myself (internal - thoughts and emotions), as well as, the world around me; often unsure of the appropriate
behaviour for (many) situations; and, when past actions or behaviours have produced the desired outcome, it can seem that in order to produce the same desired outcome in similar future situations it would be "appropriate" to conduct myself in the same manner as in the past.

Another personal example of behaviour that could be thought of as "manipulative", is the way in which I often find it hard to address a subject, or concern, head-on; I tend to skirt around my needs, wants, desires, and/or concerns - behaviour which is due to difficulties with communicating my thoughts and feelings.

A highly relevant point to note, here, is that those of us with personality disorders have often had our behaviours reinforced on many different occasions.

To say that our behaviour is purely "attention seeking" is also an unfair  statement to make.

Living with BPD can be extremely painful on a daily basis; personally, I often feel in turmoil, which can feel like my own personal hell. The way in which I tend to communicate these feelings is through screaming, shouting, and/or aggressive behaviour.

Personality disorders are long-term (life-long) mental illnesses with which its associated problems persist for many years, without real hope for a cure; although, symptoms are likely to lessen as a person ages. So, surely, it is understandable why this would make a person quite demanding, and impatient.

People with personality disorders are likely to be involved with mental health services for a lot longer from adolescence right into the late adult years. After years of being offered so many different services and treatments, a person can start to feel like a guinea pig, and then become reluctant to engage / continue with another service or treatment.

This is one of the reasons for why I have found myself to be reluctant to receive treatments on offer (particularly drug-based treatments). Behaviour which could be seen as being "obstructive"; in other words, this behaviour could be seen as me obstructing my own recovery by refusing services and treatments on offer.

However; there have been times when, because of my borderline personality disorder diagnosis, and the behaviours which come with it, the mental health services have been the ones to cease attempts to engage with myself, as opposed to the other way round.

Diagnoses of personality disorders, including BPD, are largely stigmatised particularly among mental health professionals with many of those with PD diagnoses being seen as "trouble makers". It is for this reason that mental health services can sometimes disengage with patients, which, in turn, can cause patients (or "service users") - like myself - to disengage with current, and future, treatment.

BPD and other personality disorders diagnosis' tend to carry more stigma than most other mental health diagnosis', and not just within everyday encounters with other people (i.e. those who aren't mental health professionals), but also with those whom work within the mental health services.

This blog series on BPD and other personality disorders will continue in Part-Three, coming (very) soon.

Related previous blog posts:

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Understanding BPD and other Personality Disorders (Part One)

Understanding BPD and Other Personality Disorders

This is Part One of a series of blog posts which will explore borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other personality disorders.

I have explored borderline personality disorder in a previous blog post (posted in August 2010) titled, "What is BPD?"

Within this blog post (and throughout this blog-series) I wish to further explore the thought processes, and behaviours, related to BPD (and other personality disorders); and how these relate to our rapidly changing states of mind, feelings and emotions.

(The mental health diagnosis I have been given is that of borderline personality disorder. ~ Nicola Edwards)

The fluctuation of moods is one of the main characteristics shared by those with a  borderline personality disorder diagnosis.

The rapidity with which our thoughts and feeling change is often extremely overwhelming and often can make a person with BPD feel confused. Which can, therefore, make it harder for that person to communicate their true thoughts and feelings clearly to not only others, but sometimes to themselves also.

I cannot tell you how many times close friends and family become frustrated with me because they feel I am "not making any sense" - which, in turn, frustrates myself because I feel "misunderstood" by them.

Other characteristics of this mental illness include; distorting reality, depression, a tendency to see things in "black and white" terms, and impulsiveness (a trait which I covered extensively in "What is BPD?")

Probably the most common trait shared by those with a borderline personality disorder is an overwhelming feeling of "emptiness" along with a chronic fear of abandonment.

I often feel as if I am being forced to live within a world in which I do not fit into, nor belong to; as well as it being a world in which, I feel, I am not wanted.

As is the same with many others with BPD, I have a damaged view of myself; often believing there is "something wrong with me" (i.e. that I am "defective"), and I would sometimes even go as far as to regard myself as "evil". Despite whether or not there is actually any real truth to this sort of "faulty thinking".

More often than not, this type of faulty thinking and damaged view of oneself is due to abuse during childhood, frequently sexual abuse, but it can sometimes also result from more subtle forces, such as a mismatch between the extremes in temperament, common among people with borderline personality disorder, and a not-so-accommodating parenting style (particularly during the BPD-sufferers childhood).

This negative perception of myself, or (to phrase it better) lack of self-worth, can make it very difficult for a person with a personality disorder diagnosis, like myself, to form and maintain relationships (of any kind); as well as, participate in social interaction at an "acceptable" and/or "appropriate" level. Feelings of "emptiness" and "not belonging" are also more-than a huge hindrance on day-to-day life; as are also the constantly changing thoughts, feelings, and/or states of mind towards real, or imagined, current life circumstances.

The thought processes, associated with personality disorders, are thought to generally manifest in a person's behavioural patterns in two different ways; either a person will either externalise their thoughts and feelings, or they will internalise them.

A person whom internalises tends to turn their anger inwards; even if their anger is directed at another person, they will not confront this person or behave in an aggressive manner towards them. Instead they direct their anger at themselves; for example, by blaming oneself, or through self-harm, or self-deprecation.

On the other hand, a person whom externalises tends to turn their anger outwards; which can manifest itself in aggression, angry outbursts, law-breaking and hyperactivity.

It is quite possibly true to say that either sets of actions, whether that be internalisation or externalision, are consistent with BPD; and that both can possibly occur in the same person, on the same day!

It is believed (particularly within personality disorder support groups and communities) that there are those with borderline personality disorder whom are "high-functioning", and these are those whom are "low-functioning". (Although some experts would dispute the existence of either of theses modes in the context of BPD.)

A person whom is "high-functioning" is thought to be able to present a stable and calm image when within social and professional circumstances and situations. In other words, they are able to "normalise" their behaviour when they are "in public" - and hide their illness from the outside world. However, when that same person is with close friends or family (i.e. behind closed doors), that "need" to hide their mental health problems, or to "normalise" their behaviour, no longer feels necessary. Often in situations involving close family and friends the traits generally associated with that person's diagnosis can become much more apparent.

A person whom thought to be "low-functioning" in relation to their personality disorder diagnosis is believed to lack control, or have no control, over the way in which their mental illness affects their outward behaviour when either in public or at home behind closed doors.

Again, both of these behavioural patterns are consistent in a person with a BPD diagnosis. In other words, it is possible for those with borderline personality disorder to fall into both the "high-functioning" and "low-functioning" modes.

When I am confronted with social situations where I feel uncomfortable or anxious, and where I feel I may not have made a good impression (regardless of whether this is true or not), I find myself "switching" from blaming myself for having what I feel are poor social skills, to blaming other people for people for not being wholly accommodating towards my lack of social skills and interaction.

I have a tendency to internalise when in social, and professional, circumstances or situations - i.e., blame myself for lacking in social and/or problem-solving skills - I tend to keep any bad thoughts of feelings to myself. I tend not to externalise my distress in those situations - I don't show aggression or lash out.

However, with close friends and family my tendency is to externalise my anger and/or distress by becoming aggressive or defensive. Behaviours which are often due to myself misinterpreting an off-hand comment from a loved one, as a thought-out personal attack on myself.

The constant fluctuation of moods (commonly known as Affective Lability), as  characterised by the borderline personality diagnosis, often causes distress in those with the mental illness, and can be very confusing, making it hard for that person to communicate their feelings clearly to the people around them.

In Part Two of this series I shall be further exploring personality disorders - focusing, as I have in this post, on borderline personality disorders - and the way in which people with these mental health diagnoses interact directly with other people, as well as the world around them.

Thank-you for reading; and I look forward to, hopefully, seeing you again in Part Two!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

New Poetry!

Eleven new poems have been added to the Free Your Mind 'Creative Bank'

The first new entry is a submission from a writer known as 'Spizzie 69'.

Past the Expiry 
The Darkness deepens as the pointless Plot thickens And the Black Clouds Weep at the memories of the past.
They have now just become shadows that fade into the nothingness of time
The once effective have became the rejected and now put aside to become The forgotten
Like the autumn leaf that now falls to the ground with its use expired
to be absorbed back into the soil and become the muddy foot print of something that once was!
Or as easily disposed of as the discarded waste from the night before!
So as the sunsets for the long night ahead, often wondering if there will be a dawn?
No new Day? No new Hopes? No new Dreams? No Life? No existence?
Best Before!....... Sell by! ..........Use by! .........Warranty invalid!........ Sold as seen....Dispose of carefully.....and Please DO NOT RECYCLE!!!

The following (10) poems, which have also been added to the 'Creative Bank', were originally posted to my Myspace blog in May 2010 and April 2009.
~Nicola Edwards
Falling in love is a common affair; 
a task arranged to be an ultimate end
to the loneliness that I bear.
I want more than just a one-night stand;
I’m looking for someone I can depend
on, and someone who is willing to care.
I want someone who will always be there.
To never know love just doesn’t seem fair.
They talk about love in songs and losing
your heart to the one they promised would come.
But, no knight in shining armour ever comes
to rescue me from life’s knocks and bruising.
So, I remain alone, my heart intact,
not knowing if love is fiction or fact.

Science Fiction
What wouldn’t I give to travel with Kirk and Spock
and boldly go
where no man has gone before.
Or run with the Doctor where nothings ever slow.
To enter the TARDIS and claim
“It’s bigger inside” before we go.
I’d leave this life and runaway.

if it were all real,
I wouldn’t plan this to be my final day.

Deep in the darkest part of her soul
is where her lover lies.
On the other side of the river, 
as far away from home as allowed,
she lives a double life
which will bring her trouble and strife.
But her heart tells her it’s alright.
She has hidden her fear
that her lover will find out
she is another man’s wife.
Love Hurts
With all the will in the world I push him aside
until he is nothing
but a distant memory;
until the pain he caused is fleeting.
No more will I be needing him.
From here on out,
it’s me, myself and I.
No more heartache,
no more crying
with him I made a mistake.
From here on out
I’m alone.
How I missed this painless bliss!

Lonely Woman
Whisky in hand,
in a dark, dingy bar.
It’s late and the bar is almost empty,
but the woman is unaware of the time
and even her
Only the no-smoking sign is apparent.
She downs her drink and rises from her stool.
Outside in the cold
she lifts a cigarette stick to her lips;
she inhales
and wonders what happier women do.
She exhales.
Time to call a cab; these streets aren’t safe for a lonely woman.

The Lonely Pupil
Troubled teenager, crouched in the corner
Shrouded in darkness, hair all a mess
Tear-stained face, lip split open
Covered in purple bruises.

The bell rings, and the student gathers her books,
Composes herself
Thinking how to explain away the damage
As the lonely pupil heads to her next class.

Do You See Me?
Do you notice I’m here?
Do you realize how I feel?
You’re oblivious
and it’s killing me.
Do you see me?
Do you even notice I’m standing right here?
My feelings run deep
and it hurts like tiny cuts.
Do you know I exist?
Do you even know I’m there?
My feelings for you
are like a cyst on my broken heart.
Will you ever notice me?
And how I can’t resist your tempting looks?

The End
The point-of-no-return
is getting closer.
Turning back
all I see is darkness
and the people I’ve left behind
Walking forward
I pick up my pace
making my heart race.
Unsure of what I’m heading toward
but I’m resilient and know I must carry on.
As I get closer
the light becomes brighter.
I’m scared of what lies ahead,
this path is unknown to me
and anyone who walks it.
I’m almost there now.
My breathing slows,
it becomes hard to think,
and my heart beats its final beat.
This is my stop. The end of the line.

Public Transport 
A curse on public transport

which bears the stench

of greasy takeaways;
and a curse on their sticky floor,
which invokes a sound like Velcro as you cross it to your seat.
A curse on public transport

for being unreliable, 

leaving me the commuter, 
to stand out in the drizzle.
A curse on public transport

for being a stifling oven 

in the summer,
and then below freezing in the winter.
But a final blessing on public transport

for without you I could not travel.....

On a bus
Looking out of a window
scenes rush by
- a woman drops her shopping –
on the bus a baby cries.