Radio and realisations
October was a month of ups and downs. As I discussed this time last year, the month is quite a difficult one for me. It brings around the anniversary of me ending up in intensive care as a result of trying to take my life and then the resulting traumatic inpatient stay and being sectioned.
However, like last year, I tried to mark the specific day in a positive way - focussing on what I have achieved in the last three years rather than how bad things were then. I actually went swimming for the first time in over a decade, rather impulsively, and then treated myself to coffee and cake in a local cafe. It was nice and once again I saw the benefits and importance of self care.
Naturally though, things weren’t suddenly easier once that day had passed and I had to work hard to remain upbeat.
On World Mental Health Day I helped on a stall that the social inclusion team of our mental health trust had in the headquarters of the physical health trust. It was good to raise awareness of mental health amongst those working to support physical health across the county (especially since the two trusts have just merged into one superpower!) and we got a good response to our ‘what one thing could you do to improve mental health in the workplace?’ prompt.
Being there and listening to people talk did make me realise however that people without EUPD / BPD who have experienced suicidal crisis usually refer to that crisis as ‘the time when I was suicidal’. It struck me that those of us with the condition generally can’t do that.
There is no ONE time that I have been suicidal, I feel that way far more often. It sounds shocking, if not melodramatic to the average person but the truth is, people with EUPD do feel extremes of emotion and sometimes this becomes so overwhelming that ending your life does cross your mind.
Of course, sometimes the thoughts are just that - fleeting ones that cross your mind that can be brushed aside. Sometimes though, they can be all-consuming and lead to very dark times indeed.
Obviously, I am glad that those who have experienced suicidal ideation generally don’t have to go through it regularly but it was a sad realisation that for people with BPD it can become a way of life - and one that is rarely talked about.
A few weeks ago, as a follow up to me recently presenting my petition asking for a local specialist personality disorder service, I was asked to pre-record an interview with the local BBC radio station. I talked about my personal experiences of treatment here and how the one thing that really acted as a catalyst to me turning my life around was the time I spent in the therapeutic community, specialist inpatient personality disorder service in Surrey. I explained why I feel we need a specialist service here and how it could help people. The BBC did ask the local Clinical Commissioning Group to come in live, when it was broadcast, to respond to me but they declined, sending a written statement instead. That was a shame but I did receive good feedback about the piece and I hope it helped raise the profile of personality disorders in the county if nothing else.
More recently I also helped co-facilitate a large event on the personality disorders strategy that is currently being written for the county. We had attendees from different sectors, including those with a diagnosis, their carers and professionals who work with those with the condition, and the general response was that the event was a positive and interesting one. We certainly collected lots of feedback on the strategy as it is currently, which will definitely help us fine tune it moving forwards.
Personally, the event and the radio interview also increased my confidence in public speaking and made me realise that I do know what I am talking about when it comes to these subjects. Often I feel like a bit of an imposter in meetings or at events but the fact that people actually approached me after both things to ask my opinion on something, and that now people have often heard of me and my work before they meet me, really helps me feel valued and genuine.
We are all experts in our own experience and that can be used to help us grow in any way we want!