Your scars don’t make you less worthy or lovable
My battle with mental health has been a long and difficult one, and it’s still very much ongoing. Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder back in 2015 explained a lot to me, and it explained a lot of my behaviours throughout childhood. When growing up I was very aggressive towards family members and I was prone to angry outbursts. I was easily agitated and I would throw things around. My neighbours must have hated me.
Thankfully, I’ve calmed down a lot with age. My anger outbursts are now much less frequent, pretty much a rarity. Despite calming down with age, I realise I put my family through a lot and I feel bad for that. I’m filled with guilt, and this is perhaps something I need to get past. Getting to this stage of calmness was difficult and took a long time, but here is the story of my recovery:
My journey to recovery started in 2015 when I booked myself in for an assessment with the depression and counselling services in Newham, London. Within only a couple of weeks I was seen and offered an assessment which was where I disclosed the hard time I had been going through. They diagnosed me with depression, anxiety and binge-eating disorder and I was referred for CBT at my local GP surgery. This started a week or two after the appointment (the mental health services in East London don’t mess around).
My first appointment with the CBT therapist went well and was mostly an introduction to what CBT actually is, but it was my second appointment where things didn’t run as smoothly. I disclosed my self-harming behaviours and immediately the therapist informed me that CBT would not work for me and he can’t continue the therapy. I was referred to the mental health team upstairs so I could be seen by people who are more able to deal with my behaviours.
Within a day or two I had the mental health team knocking on my door saying I missed an appointment – an appointment I wasn’t even told about. They rebooked the appointment and I was seen a day or two later by a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist adjusted my antidepressant medication and started me on sleeping tablets. After just two sessions with the psychiatrist I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
For the next several months I was in regular contact with both my mental health team and the crisis team. I was regularly in and out of A&E with self-harm and suicidal ideation. On one visit to A&E after a friend forced me to go and accompanied me to make sure I went, I was admitted to the inpatient psychiatric ward as if I was allowed to go home that night I likely would not have seen the next day. I knew deep down I needed to be in there to keep myself safe, so I admitted myself voluntarily so that it wouldn’t go on my record as being sectioned.
I had a relatively positive experience on the mental health ward, and it gave me the space and time I needed to reflect. I had my own room where I spent most of my time and I was allowed to keep my phone so I stayed in contact with family and friends whilst in there and I listened to music. The worst part of my time in there was that it was the holiday’s from university so friends were unable to visit me, I felt very alone and cut off. I wasn’t allowed outside for some fresh air and a smoke until I begged one of the nurses and she took pity on me. I’d run away from A&E before so I understand now why they perhaps didn’t trust me to go outside alone. Eventually they began to trust that I would not run away and I was allowed out for regular smoke breaks, helping me to calm down a lot more.
On the ward I was started on an antipsychotic by the psychiatrist and once again my sleeping tablet and antidepressant were adjusted. These are the medicines I take to this day, after much changing around I’ve learned that this combination is what works best for me.
Eventually I made the decision to leave university for a year and head back home so I could focus on getting my mental health in order. I was referred to the mental health team back at home in Hull, which took several months for me to secure an appointment. This was a difficult and distressing period for me. I went to A&E twice during this time – once with self-harm and suicidal thoughts and another following a large overdose of my antidepressants and antipsychotics. Ultimately however, being at home aided my recovery and allowed me to focus on myself and getting better. Being around familiar sights and having the home comforts certainly helped me to improve mentally after what had been a very difficult period for me.
When I was finally seen by the mental health services again I was referred for recovery skills therapy and assigned a care coordinator who I saw regularly and was only a call away if I was in crisis. I didn’t get along with my first coordinator that much as I didn’t like her and didn’t trust her, but my second coordinator was lovely and helped me a lot. After months of waiting I was accepted onto the recovery skills course, which was the biggest help to me. I was terrified about being in a group situation, but ultimately I found it useful and it helped me to grow my confidence. The team were amazing and highly supportive of us all, and I’ve now learned skills that will help me for life and have literally saved my life.
After completing the recovery skills course I was discharged from the mental health services and I moved back to London to resume my studies. I’m now doing better than I did last time, and I’m feeling better in myself.
I have relapses now and then, and I’m currently going through a pretty severe relapse that I’m seeking help and support for. But all in all, I’m past the worst of it in my opinion and I’m living a life I’ve long wanted to make a success of. I’ve beaten the worst of my demons, I just need to continue the fight so I can recover fully and live the most amazing life.
Recovery is always possible, you just need to fight hard to make it happen.