10 Things I Hate About You…

I was just 24 years old when I thought I had it all figured out. I had a good steady job, new and exciting yet serious relationship with a boy. (I say boy because he doesn’t deserve to be called a man.) I had friends, a social life… I was having fun! Everything suddenly fell into place and I could see the start of a faint sketch of what my life could look like. A decent blueprint. Or at least I thought.

It started with him telling me my friends weren’t “good for me” and that I shouldn’t spend so much time with them. He was very convincing. Slowly but surely, one by one, my friends stopped calling or texting to the point I stopped going out or doing anything but stay at home with him. Before I knew it, I didn’t really have any friends to turn to when me and my ex had a fight and I had no one to talk to.

Then somewhere along the line, whilst I was building him up, helping him do better in work and getting a new job (higher paid than mine, I might add) he started making small digs at me and my life. He kept calling me crazy when we had arguments, he sat and looked at me in disgust when he was supposed to love me. He told me over and over that my “skirt was too short” or that my “tits are on show” when they clearly weren’t and although none of it was true, he was making me feel self conscious and exposed and unworthy.

Then, when I managed to bag myself a job in the same office, doing what he was doing (the job I encouraged him to get) he clearly just couldn’t handle that and used it as another platform to abuse me from. He would walk past my desk making snide remarks about the way I looked, or the way I was dressed. Nothing so obvious that I could pick him up on it without causing an unwanted argument, but he slowly but surely chipped away at my confidence and self esteem.

I hate to say it but I was blind. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.

We moved into a new flat together, a flat which was miles and miles away from any of my family (who had been totally immunised with his narcissistic charm) or my friends (what was left of them). Granted, we had a bit of a drug problem together (something he also liked to blame entirely on me) so we did argue a lot and things got quite bad. I was starting to get depressed and anxious and started doubting myself so much I was basically an empty shell. A shadow of my former self. But we still spoke of a future together; we talked about marriage and having children together. There was still hope.

Then, like a punch to the face, he turned around to me one day and said “I’m not doing this anymore” and left. Just like that. He packed up his things, barely shed a tear and walked out on me and the life I thought we had been building together. Just. Like. That. We had only been in the flat a month or so, which my mum had bought as an investment for her property business. I had also just got a brand new car on finance which was in my name as the main owner. He was a coward.

And the worst thing? I STILL had to work with him.

Less than a week later after he had broken up with me, I went into work feeling like I had just been to my own funeral. I sat down at my desk, nothing was in focus. I felt weak. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe, my whole body was shaking. This is it I thought, I’m dying. I’m having a heart attack. And that my friends, is the first time I experienced a panic attack. It was brutal. This was the beginning of a dark and lonely journey into the discovery of who I was.

But in hindsight? I had a lucky escape. I could have had it worse. His behaviour shows common traits of a physical abuser too. I’m not saying his words didn’t physically hurt me, because they did. But I came out of it alive. I am now healthy, happy, and drug free.

In the end, I have to say I learnt a valuable lesson, in love and in life. And in a weird and slightly bitter way, I have him to thank for it all. Who knows he might be reading this now, relishing at the fact I’ve sat here and written about him, his narcissistic ego getting a fucking hard on. If he is then all I have to say is: “You didn’t break me, in the end you saved me.” I was given a new lease of life, a blank canvas in which I painted whatever the hell I wanted. And my life is beautiful.

These are the things I learnt from my emotionally abusive & narcissistic ex. Luckily, I got out. If you or someone you know has been or is currently being affected by emotional or physical abuse the hotline for victim support is 0808 168 9111 or go to http://www.victimsupport.org.uk.

  1. I am worthy
  2. I am good enough
  3. I’m not “crazy”
  4. I am independent
  5. I built you up and you tore me down
  6. You will most likely do it again…and again
  7. I am not a victim
  8. I was lucky
  9. It could have been worse
  10. Thank you

 

Medication: the good, the bad and the ugly.

There have always been many taboos surrounding mental health; if you go to therapy that means you’re crazy, or if you self harm you must be dangerous, or if you hear voices, that must mean you’re Norman Bates in the making. But one of the biggest qualms we all seem to have with mental illness is medication. Whether you’re a sufferer or not, medication seems to be the thing that solidifies the fact that you are “sick”. Yet ironically, people still don’t value mental health as a real problem, even when there is medication as a sort of “proof” of the illness being real. Crazy right?

When I was first diagnosed with depression at eighteen I refused to take any medication for it. Luckily at that point in my life Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was enough to help me make it through the really tough time I was having. But as I got older and life inevitably got tougher, I eventually had to succumb to the fact that I needed medication to help “stabilise” my moods and get me on the road to recovery with my BPD. However, it did take me a few tries on different medications to find the best one for me. It was a long and tiresome process over the course of about three years.

I was first put on Sertraline which I found really awful; it gave me terrible acid reflux and I lost a lot of weight due to the pains in my stomach. I also found it made me more jittery which obviously didn’t help with my crippling anxiety. I was also given Diazepam (Valium) and Zopiclone to help me sleep as I was also suffering with severe insomnia. Unfortunately with these medications they can cause addiction so the doctors never gave me too many at one time. They were a “quick fix” and they shouldn’t be used long term. The next antidepressant I tried was Seroxat/Paroxetine, which did an okay job for about a year and a half. Then finally and currently, the doctors put me on Mirtazapine, which is an anti depressant and Quetiapine, which is an anti psychotic. When I first started taking these meds, the side effects I had were drowsiness and just generally feeling “zoned out” like a zombie, but these along with DBT have helped me the most I think.

Another thing I would like to say is that with regards to coming off your medication, you should be really careful and obviously discuss this with your doctor or someone from your local mental health team. There are side effects of coming off medications and sometimes they can be quite severe if you come off them too quickly or go “cold turkey”. People can have whats called “brain zaps” or you could get night sweats. Worst case scenario you could really unstabilise your mood to the point of feeling suicidal. Obviously everyone is different but it’s good to be aware of these things when taking or coming off medication. If you do things properly and take advice from your doctor, side effects should be minimal. I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had too much trouble with lowering doses or changing medication, the main thing for me was the change in my mood and night sweats to the point I would have to change pyjamas three times a night.

Just remember everyone has different side effects and different meds work for different people. And yes it is a tiresome and life draining process (sometimes), and you may or may not have to try lots of different medications to find the right one for you, but all I can say is that be patient and don’t give up. The majority of the time medication isn’t there to cure you but rather there to help you “level out” and be able to cope with things a little bit better. You WILL find something that works for you eventually, I promise. I have to also point out therapy is a GOD SEND. If it wasn’t for the six months of intensive Dialectal Behavioural Therapy I’ve just undergone, I am not entirely sure medication would have been enough for me, but combining the two together has quite literally saved my life. Just try to find what works for you and stick to it. It will take some work and commitment but if you want to get better you have to try. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, but trust me it will be so fucking worth it.

Follow your dreams

Scared of chasing your dream because of your mental health? Me too.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been in love with words, language and literature. From a young age I would bury my head into a book to escape reality. My reality was my parents having violent arguments, being bullied at school for being tall or having a weird name and just generally being totally misunderstood. I would pick up a book and the words on the page breathed life into me and my unhappy childhood. The stories I read were a place I didn’t have to explain myself or give into fear. They taught me how to dream, to love and to believe.

It was from my younger self that I continuously grew this unconditional love for words and how they made me feel and express myself. When I was in my early teens, I tried to learn guitar so I could write songs to share with the world. Unfortunately I grew bored and frustrated with learning how to play it (I was always a little impatient, even now), but what was left instead of songs was my first selection of poems. I was just 15 years old. 13 years later to this day, I have a bachelors degree in creative writing and I still absolutely love to write, especially poetry.

So for me, my BIG dream is to one day become a well known and successful writer. Well, technically I am a “writer”, but I don’t make a living out of it properly and I’m certainly not well known or famous. Is that really how we measure our success? Not entirely I guess but it would be nice to be somewhat recognised for our “art”. Although I love to write and it is a massive part of who I am, it completely terrifies me that I am just not good enough, nor will I ever be. And this makes my dream feel even more unreachable.

You see, my “illness” is awful and unpredictable in every way possible. I wake up some days totally consumed with depression and suffocated with anxiety. It is crippling. On good days, I can get out of bed and communicate with people. I can even write a blog or two, go to therapy and go to the gym. But this is currently as good as my days get at the moment, and although it still doesn’t feel good enough, it is a massive improvement compared to a year ago, or even six months ago. I still lack motivation even to get up in the morning, even on my better days. I live in fear of not only not living up to my family’s expectations, but the expectations I have of myself. And those are the worst ones. My inner monologue haunts me every waking moment.

But these thoughts and feelings that hang over me like an unwelcome cloud of invalidation and deprecation will not force me to give up on my dream. I will not let it. Although it currently feels unobtainable, I know if I put my mind to it and work hard enough through the tears and anxiety, it will be incredible once I reach my goal. I believe hard work really does pay off, eventually. My experiences in life have taught me some valuable lessons and I will continue to dream, to love, to believe. Because if I don’t try and keep trying, I may never know.

It’s a huge climb to the top, but the view is magnificent.

Love Poem

I wrote this poem for someone a few years back.

Happy Valentines Day!

Athina x

Strings of telephone wires beaded with wild birds

sing in the wind

as I think of you and drive to infinite thoughts

consumed by madness or love or hate or confusion

and brought to the depths of what can only be assumed as utter despair

connected somehow by the way the sun sets and the heat rises

and the waves crashing and colliding as your chest falls

and I breathe you in

savouring the sensation as you flow through my veins

winding like a sidewinder around my heart

pumping the blood ferociously

seeping out of the pores in my translucent skin.

your love is transcendent and I gorge on your scent

to try evade this hunger

and yet you kiss my lips

and my body bursts into flames

it is impossible

irreversible

irrevocable

and irrational to attempt to extinguish.

Vast, empty, and infinite.

Today has been one of those awful days where I just can’t seem to shift my “bad mood”. For some reason I woke up incredibly grumpy and I just don’t know why. This is unfortunately one of the MANY things people with BPD suffer with. So yeah, not knowing why you’re in a bad mood sucks, sure. But the worst part? The worst part is STILL having to EXPLAIN yourself to close family members. They just keep on asking “What’s wrong?” or “Why are you in a bad mood?” or “What’s happened to make you feel like this?” I DON’T FUCKING KNOW, OKAY? If I did I would obviously say something, but I don’t. And it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened either. IT happens A LOT. And it’s EXHAUSTING.

Imagine having this incredibly overwhelming feeling in your chest, in the pit of your stomach and a lump in your throat. And the continuous inner monologue of ALL of the voices in your head telling you that “you’re not good enough”, “you’re not trying hard enough”, “everyone thinks you’re a failure”, “nobody will ever understand you”, “everyone hates you” “you’re a freak”, “you have so much to do today and you can’t even get out of bed, you’re a mess”. As I write this, I am sobbing at the sheer emotional pain of it all. I am in constant fear and I am forevermore at war with myself. Most of which takes part in my own head because I can’t fathom why I am the way I am, let alone try to explain this to anyone else.

I am suffocating with infinite sadness and yet I am terrified for asking for help because people just don’t understand. All I want is for love, understanding and a bit of compassion, but that seems all too much to ask, even from my own family. I can hear my mum in my head now saying “But I thought you were getting better? I thought you were feeling better?”. Like even my recovery or my therapy STILL IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Yes, I was feeling okay, and have been “coping.” But today I am just not doing so well. I have to accept it so why can’t anybody else learn to? Or if not, just leave me be. Leave me alone and I will come to you if I need you.

Basically, It’s hard enough having to deal with yourself as it is, let alone trying to help others “deal” with you. At the end of the day, I am on a journey to making myself better. And I am trying my god damn hardest to do that. And if that’s still not good enough? Well then that’s your problem, not mine.

Big girls (do)n’t cry

So today I had one of my one to one therapy sessions that I usually have once a week. We always start off with some mindfulness which, if you haven’t tried it, is pretty damn amazing. It usually helps to calm me but for today some reason I just couldn’t focus and my mind kept wondering off. It wasn’t until my therapist asked me “how have things been” that I realised why I couldn’t focus; as soon as he said this I just burst into tears. I sobbed, quite hard. I realised I had been bottling these tears up for some time and hadn’t let myself cry or let anything out for the sheer fact I was embarrassed to. I was afraid of being judged, of judging myself but mostly I think I was afraid of opening “Pandora’s box”. I know for a fact that once I start, I can rarely stop. And that’s with basically anything I do – eat, take drugs, exercise, drink alcohol…. you name it. But that isn’t my main focus here – it’s the fact that I was ashamed to cry. To express my feelings and emotions and to let my guard down.

Ironically, I grew up surrounded by emotionally unstable people, telling me that I was “too sensitive” and I needed to toughen up. So it’s no wonder that now, as a 28 year old woman, I struggle with showing my deepest emotions and my sensitive side. I try to hide it and lock it away, allowing it to build up and subsequently blow out of proportion. I was told in not so many words that it was “bad” to cry and “wrong” to show people what you were feeling or thinking. But as I’ve grown older I know that this isn’t entirely the case. I was just never around acceptance enough when I was younger. Rewiring my brain to think otherwise? It’s virtually impossible.

What I am trying to say is that it’s good to have a cry sometimes and let stuff out. Even if it really fucking hurts. We shouldn’t listen to other people telling us how to be, think or feel. We are who we are and we should be fucking proud of that.

So next time you feel yourself welling up, just let it all out. Take a deep breath, have a cuppa, and move on. It’s important not to carry these emotions with you; it’s only you who can feel all of that pain.

Stay blessed x

 

Every day is a new day.

Today I would like to share one of my coping strategies. It’s also a big hobby of mine and I try to do it at least three to four times a week. It’s a healthy addiction (believe me I’ve had many, most of them VERY unhealthy ones) and it really helps with my depression and anxiety. Can you guess what it is? That’s right… it’s THE GYM! Yes I am one of those annoying fitness people (sometimes).

I’ve recently started having personal training sessions with a guy at my local gym and it has been one of the most empowering experiences of my life. He’s teaching me and training me on how to lift heavy weights, correctly and carefully. I have to say it’s pretty damn amazing. I can feel myself getting physically fitter and stronger every time I go and I feel incredible for it. Strong independent womaannn 😉

However, I’m yet to discover any abs (extremely disappointing) due to the fact my nutrition is probably not 100%. I struggle sometimes with binging and overeating, mainly sugary and extremely delicious foods that are quite bad for you if not eaten in proportion to a healthy diet. I never used to struggle with this but my medications seem to make me crave sugar and carbs. Oh the joys of being on antidepressants and mood stabilisers*. Even though they do wonders for my mental health, they’re not so great for my physical health. Although I am slowly getting there with dealing with my cravings, it still feels like a bit of an uphill battle with this one. For any of you that has the same problems, I really feel for you cos it isn’t fun. Especially in today’s society where the need to feel perfect is so strong, people resort to starving themselves and worse. I will elaborate on this further in another blog, so hold up.

Anyway, sorry for rambling on, I sometimes feel the need to say a billion things at once! But the jist of what I am trying to say is that where there’s a will, there’s a way and if you want something bad enough YOU ARE CAPABLE of getting it. You just have to be patient and persist. I know this is easier said than done because when you suffer with depression it’s hard to sometimes even get out of bed or wash yourself or even eat. I know, I’ve been there and it’s a dark and soulless place. It’s all about those baby steps. I have faith in you. You might not see the light yet but it’s there; just behind those dark grey clouds, it is there. I promise.

So when all else fails and you feel like punching someone or hurting yourself? Go to the gym. It works wonders. Even if you struggle to get yourself there or get going, once you do you will feel a new sense of purpose. It might even clear those clouds. You just gotta hang on, it will be worth it.

xxx

 

 

*Mirtazipine and Quetiapine

 

My Journey Begins

I would like to first and foremost introduce myself. My name is Athina, I am 28 years old and I have Borderline Personality Disorder. Although this “diagnosis” does not to define me, it is (un)fortunately an overwhelming part of who I am and who I will always be.

I was first diagnosed with depression at the age of 18. It wasn’t until I had what I call my “mid-twenties life crisis” that I was diagnosed with BPD by the mental health team at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. This was in October 2015. On the 25th January 2016, a day before my 26th birthday, I tried to take my own life. Thankfully I wasn’t successful, as you can see. Two years on and my life has been an emotional roller coaster, a journey, a lesson(s) in life. This doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg and I guess that is why I am writing this now.

I am living proof that life does get better but that life goes on with or without you. It is yours for the taking. So if you, or someone you know has suffered (or is still suffering) with mental health problems, then please just know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. I hope that you will continue to read what I have to share with you and I hope even more that it will help you and inspire you. Be the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.

Fortune favours the brave. – Unknown.

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