PD presenting and suicide prevention
It’s been a very busy few days.
On Saturday I travelled up to London for Proms in the Park in Hyde park to celebrate the last night of the Prom season at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a great event - secretly 10,000 of us Rock Choir members had infiltrated the audience and managed to pull off a huge flash mob at the start of the show! It was quite something to see so many of us amongst the 30,000 other audience members who hadn’t expected our surprise performance at all. Along with all the rock choir leaders on stage, we sang five songs altogether. It was fab - oh, and the rest of the show was alright too! It was an exhausting day out for all of us that attended but everyone went home happy.
Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day and was the day I had been invited to talk at a nationally attended Trauma conference on Recovering from Trauma in Personality Disorder. As I have discovered is now normal for me, I was very anxious on the run up to the event and in anticipation of speaking on the morning itself. However, I managed to hold it together and stay calm enough to deliver my presentation successfully! I think it went down well - there were a couple of times that there were murmurs of agreement from the audience as I spoke and I got a good round of applause at the end so what more could I ask for?
Afterwards I barely had chance to get any lunch as so many people wanted to come and speak to me - that was both quite surprising and yet reassuring for me. It made me feel like I must have connected with people, which is ultimately what I aim to do through my talks and this blog and that felt good. There were several people who were interested in joining my campaign for a personality disorder service in the county, which has really boosted my motivation on that project. Knowing that it is not just me who thinks provision is currently not good enough has made me even more determined not to give up on that fight - even though my MP (or members of his team) have to date, failed to respond to my queries as to how their investigations are going.
I also had the pleasure of speaking to some people who had unfortunately encountered similar stigma and stereotypical treatment of EUPD either personally, towards loved ones, or professionally. This further highlighted to me that the diagnostic label of ‘personality disorder’ can be so disabling and destructive. Every single person who had experience of the condition talked of how the label led to negative attitudes in others, often those who were supposed to be the care givers. At times when we need help from others, for example at times of crisis, acknowledgement and validation are key in people with personality disorder, and yet whilst the stigma towards our diagnosis continues, this is exactly the opposite of what we are likely to receive. There isn’t something inherently wrong with me as a person or within my personality that means I don’t deserve to be treated seriously and with respect. I can’t help thinking that if the label given to us reflected the condition better, myself and countless others might receive more appropriate care.
I left the conference feeling positive and like I could make a difference. Much like when I go running, the anticipation of the thing is far worse than the doing it and then afterwards, the feeling of exuberance by far outweighs it all.
Tomorrow I go back for more EMDR work and I know that things will no doubt slide again after that. However, now I have this positive experience to hold onto and show me just what I can achieve despite, and perhaps even because of my mental illness. Yes, I might have days at the moment where I struggle to function but I also have days where I can stand in a huge room full of people and talk about important issues. I need to remember that.
As far as World Suicide Prevention Day goes, it provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the outcome of my own attempt almost two years ago. Whilst I remain saddened that it took things getting so bad to provoke the sea change in my treatment and my own outlook on life, I am incredibly grateful now that I have been given this second chance. I hope that I can be living proof that feelings do change and that things can get better, even from the very darkest of times. Yes, things are sometimes still very hard but at least now I have the opportunity for things to improve and life to get good. Please, if this applies to you, don’t give up, the same will be true of you. And if you are reading this and are worried about someone else, ask them if they are ok. They might not want to talk but they might and that question could be the one they have been waiting for.