This evening is possibly the last time my Mum will see my sister and it’s also the last time I will see her for some years too. Jo has been over from Australia for seven weeks now, initially flying here when Mum was so unwell after her recent accident. We thought then that she might not make it. She is recovering but is far from well. I said my farewell earlier and know that it’s going to be much, much harder for my Mum to say goodbye. I had Jo here to stay with me a couple of times this trip, but mostly, she has been spending valuable and quality time, staying with my elderly Mum. They have been almost constant companions during that seven weeks.
I’m very concerned about Mum as she has rather got used to my sister being around and is going to miss her terribly. I don’t know how my Mum is going to adjust to the change. She has become used to being with someone as opposed to being on her own. I know she is scared at the prospect of living alone again, and I can’t say I blame her, living in that big, old, rundown house as she does with not even a friend or neighbour nearby who could pop in from time to time. She is two hours away from me, by train so I’m not able to do that either, as much as I would love to. However, I’m in the process of looking at finding some care and companionship for her although I know she will be reluctant to accept help, having always been such an independent lady.
Jo has a very long journey ahead of her, 27 hours including a brief stopover in Dubai for the plane to refuel. Her family, back in Australia have missed her. She has her husband and two grown children waiting for her to return. She is leaving our rather mild but wet summer and heading back to an icy winter. Once she gets back, we will have to get used to the time difference again – Australia being ahead of us by quite a considerable number of hours. She always has worse jetlag flying back home than she does coming here.
The flight leaves tonight, and I wish I were able to travel to the airport with Jo to see her off. I’m so pleased my youngest sister can go instead as Mum isn’t well enough to go to the airport either. Families can be living miles or kilometres apart and yet remain so emotionally close. We all talk on the phone frequently, and I’m going to encourage our family to start using Skype. I already have it downloaded on my laptop, and I am hoping that both Mum and Jo will acquaint themselves with it too as they are both fairly staunch technophobes.
It’s 9 pm here, and as I look up into the sky and see the golden sun just going down over the rooftops, I am aware that very soon, my sister will be flying into that orange sky and will be on her journey to her home on the other side of the globe. I’m going to miss her.
Farewell and Bon Voyage, my precious sister. You will be in my thoughts and my prayers tonight as you travel the 10,000 miles between our respective parts of the world. I love you so very much.
Harvey was killed in July of 2008. He would have been almost 18 years old now. This young boy was the son of my daughter’s work colleague. He died, crossing a busy road where the traffic moved far too fast and there was no safe place to cross. Hundreds of flowers and messages were left at the foot a tree nearby the spot he was killed. That tree is now called ‘Harvey’s tree’ by the locals.
The young lad wasn’t the first person to die on that stretch of the road. A van hit an elderly man who was with his dog, some years before that, and there had been several accidents causing various non-fatal injuries. Numerous minor incidents and near misses had also occurred over the years.
Following Harvey’s tragic death, a group of us got together to form a campaign to fight for traffic safety measures to be put in place. We organised a petition of all the local homes, shops, businesses and doctor’s surgery to present to the local council, asking for a zebra-crossing to be put in place. Nearly everyone supported us. A few of those that didn’t were very plainly more concerned with getting to work or home in a hurry regardless of the consequences.
The council considered our application, not carefully enough, I thought and after eighteen months, they turned it down due to financial constraints. The number of people from the original group gradually started to dwindle until eventually, there were only four of us left. We continued to fight, this time with the help of the local press who came and took photos of the fast-moving traffic there, with us four plus a small crowd of schoolchildren and parents standing nearby. The article was on page two of the paper and at least got people talking about the situation again. We appealed to the council again but were turned away once again.
After that, we enlisted the help of our local radio’s presenters who broadcast the plea to the county. We were beginning to look like we had a chance. We petitioned the officials at County Hall again. This time, they said they would consider new safety measures and then proceeded to dig part of the road up to install chicanes on either side. When done, this did slow the cars and vans but long queues built up on either side. Not a great success so back to the drawing-board.
We pleaded for our zebra-crossing. It was vital to the safety of adults and children alike, all of whom took their life in their hands every time made their way to school, to work, to the shops, etc. If it hadn’t had been illegal, we would have been sorely tempted to creep out to the danger-spot and paint the stripes on the road ourselves. Meanwhile, another school summer holiday came. Gradually, we saw that roadwork signs were being erected along the pavement.
Digging commenced. After, three weeks, the appearance of the beginning of speed-humps was noted. We queried this, to be informed that this indeed was the new safety measure and that there was no intention of installing a pedestrian crossing! At this point, we thought we were going to have to admit defeat in a minor way, but we had to agree that the road was safer, also thanks to the addition of the double-yellow line down the middle of the road. Now, six months down the line, and there hasn’t been a single accident and barely a near miss. Finally, we have safe passage for all pedestrians and cyclists across that road and far fewer collisions between cars and other vehicles too.
It is so tragic that it took the loss of the lives of a young boy and previously, an elderly man before anyone would to listen to local people and take action on this obviously dangerous stretch of road. Harvey B. RIP.
Why does everything have to be a battle? I think, sometimes, the world revolves around money, [as well as politics, religion and small-minded people who think they have a right to take innocent lives, but in the light of the very recent killings in Orlando, I don’t intend to go into that here].
On a much more personal (and perhaps selfish) note, I have spent the last three months fighting for funding to allow me to keep the basic disability care that I need every day. I appreciate that I am very fortunate to have any care at all when there are so many people without care, both in developed countries and even more so in third-world countries. You may ask why I don’t provide fully for myself financially – the answer being that I am not able to work because I am studying – and that is in order to get back to some useful work. I only wish I had a wealthy or affluent partner or family on tap but that is not the case.
Currently, the Social Care Department are now arguing with me as to whether I need my electric wheelchair as opposed to a manual one. They are prepared to supply me with a standard wheelchair which, yes, would get me about in my home with some assistance needed but would be hopeless if I wanted to have more than an indoor or very limited lifestyle.
There would be no more getting into the town for food and shopping as well as going to University, where I am studying for a degree in Psychology and Public Health so that I can go out [ironically, in my electric wheelchair] and operate both economically and productively in society. Other necessary journeys would also be curtailed and therefore, out of the question. Don’t they get it? My wheelchair is my legs. I feel it would make far more sense if I were able to live a life outside of my home where I can function, independently, realistically and be able to earn enough to enable me to buy my own electric wheelchair which would solve the problem altogether.
Can’t they see how short-sighted they are? If I can’t remain as independent as I currently am, it is very likely to impact on my mental health. I could require more care from mental health resources which would, in turn, affect my physical health. This would lessen my chances of returning to work. This would be more of a drain on the Government Health Department and cost them much more in the long term.
My mental health, that is my Emotional Intensity Disorder (EID), also known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is no secret from them, nor my friends and family or indeed my WordPress followers. It is a day-to-day struggle just to stay on an even keel as things are now and attempt to support myself. I live my life positively in general, and I wish for that status quo to remain. However, it does affect my life in a big way but, I neither feel sorry for myself nor expect the world to be handed to me on a plate. When it comes down to it, I just want to live a fulfilling and useful life and be of much use to my friends, family, society in general and the world as possible.
Currently, I now feel physically and mentally exhausted. Is it selfish, at this point, to say that, yes, I do also want to be as happy and content as I can possibly be for myself too?
I know this image looks a bit melodramatic but for anyone who hasn’t experienced BPD – yes – it is this dramatic some of the time. I was going to write a post about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in more general terms but have instead decided that I would explain how I feel, being open and honest about what it’s like to be me. This is how I experience living with my condition; in other words – me from the inside, out as the title says. Although I may appear tough and more often than not, smiling; I am in fact emotionally very fragile and often experience severe distress.
I am an exceptionally sensitive person – it is said that an individual with borderline personality disorder is akin to an individual with third-degree burns so that means that I can feel the equivalent severity of pain, not physically but emotionally. I feel everything at a very much more intense level than most people. I get emotionally hurt, extremely quickly and the ensuing distress is almost intolerable at times. I’m not terribly good at handling it although at least I don’t replace my pain with self-harming tactics anymore. Self-harming, as you may have read elsewhere, is an attempt to distract myself from the huge amount of emotional pain I am in.
On the other hand, I also have a tremendous capacity for huge amounts of love and joy and compassion to share with the world and those around me and that is something I make the most of and feel as strongly about as I do the agony.
I am also what is sometimes known as a quiet borderline, meaning that (contrary to popular belief), I rarely have fits of rage although of course, I have anger like everyone else. I have never wanted to be the centre of attention – in fact, I wouldn’t be even remotely interested in being the life and soul of the party – I can’t think of anything I’d like less of on the social scale. Give me a cosy corner, a book and a blog to write and that’s more my idea of amusing myself although of course I enjoy the company of a few good friends to share coffee or a meal with. Neither, do I like to draw attention to my inadequacies in a public way.
As those of you who know me well will recognise, I am frequently apologetic or forever saying sorry for who I am or for what I have written. (My self-esteem isn’t the greatest because of my experiences of severe childhood trauma), and I’m often being ‘told off‘ for putting myself down which I find only too easy. I rarely feel ‘good‘ enough and will often need your reassurance and approval to make me feel ‘ok‘ or ‘acceptable,’ even when I think that I might just be alright. This probably explains why I often go to bed at night or wake up in the morning worrying whether anyone has read/liked/hated/ignored or commented on my blog, or why I have endlessly fretted about what my WordPress ‘stats’ are doing. This isn’t as pathetic as it may at first sound – it stems from a chronic fear of being rejected or abandoned which is classic in BPD.
I’m sorry if this sounds like a plea for more attention to my blog, (it definitely isn’t), which I feel is mediocre at best compared to most blogs I read. I feel inadequate and not good enough most of the time despite reassurances, and this isn’t particularly a nice place to be. Please, don’t believe, for one minute, that this is ‘attention-seeking‘ behaviour. I hate that phrase – it makes me feel like a spoilt child who is having a temper tantrum and stomping my feet because I can’t get my way.
I ‘mind read‘ a lot, attempting to guess what people are thinking of me because I always feel people are thinking the worse of me. I worry about what you might be thinking of me despite your reassurances. I cannot help it. It is the way my brain is wired as also goes for all my other BPD traits. I don’t choose to be this way. My physical disability is far the less debilitating than my emotional tolerances.
Impulsivity is a ‘biggy’ in my life. It gets me into endless amounts of trouble and is the thing I find most difficult to control. It can vary from something obvious like spending money I haven’t got (usually on Amazon) to saying yes or no to a demand before I’ve thought it through properly. I then worry that if I back-track, changing my mind, I am not going to be ‘liked’ very much which ties in with the fear of rejection or abandonment, as mentioned above. I have also been known to get into trouble, (usually by the poor, embarrassed friend I happen to be with) for suddenly doing something entirely unexpected, like hugging that kind lady on the bus (or the waiter in a restaurant) because they were kind and I feel honoured because I don’t feel worthy of their kindness or praise.
I have to say that I am also prone to quite sudden mood changes (and I don’t mean Jekyll & Hyde style). I can be feeling as happy as apig in clover one minute to being so low that I am down in the depths of the basement the next, often without any apparent cause. I can assure you, it is just as confusing for me as it is for you, especially when everything can be reversed and or is interchangeable within minutes and I swing from one mood to another so intensely and so quickly.
I found this great YouTube video that is very different to all the others that I have seen about BPD that make me sound like some odd species or alien. It shows some of the most interesting points of living with this condition. As with everything, there are ups, and there are downs. Please take the time to watch it …
However, I have come a long way in my recovery, which is an ongoing process. I count myself as very blessed when I think of how ill I once was and the fact that I took so many chances, gambling with my life with drugs and alcohol, self-harm, and numerous severe overdoses. I’ve not had a drink for nearly four years and I’ve not self-harmed in any way other than bingeing on food occasionally, for four-and-a-half months.
I now lead a very active and busy life despite my disabilities, with college, art, drama, University speaking, coffee with friends, and getting out into town and church with Charlie (that’s my electric wheelchair, not my ballroom dancing partner for those of you who have not met me before)!
My next goal is to take a ‘do-it-yourself’ certificate in something called DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) which is a very effective method of learning to live and cope successfully with BPD. It’s usually studied, and practised in groups under the Health Authority but this has been axed because of government funding cuts. Once I’ve done that (although that is something I’ll need to practice for the rest of my life), I’d like to move on to do my Public Health degree at my local university.
So, when all is said and done, I fight a good battle against one of the most difficult to cope with mental health conditions that many psychiatrists don’t like dealing with because it can’t be treated or controlled by drugs. Yes, I still take medication, but that’s more about dealing with the often accompanying symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, etc.
I know and am grateful that I get a lot of support from some of my family and friends, both real-life and cyber friends, from my mental health team, my GP, college and university. I do indeed, count myself as extremely blessed and very fortunate. Thank you to you, for your support and your time and patience in reading this far in what I am aware is probably one of my longest posts. I truly appreciate it. Ellie x ❤
Why write a blog? Why write a blog at all? Why do I feel the need to share with total strangers, my innermost thoughts, my idiosyncrasies, my Pandora’s Box of secrets that if written in a diary, would, without a doubt, be kept under lock and key?
When I write, I pour my heart out, as if I were talking back at myself, as if I were confiding in a much-trusted friend or a therapist. I write under a pseudonym to protect my anonymity and to keep the contents away from those prying eyes outside of the blogging world that would tear me to pieces in disbelief if they read the fairly shocking truth of my actual life.
One dear friend who has discovered I keep a blog and just cannot understand the logic of it, has said so many times, “what do you want to put your innermost secret of secrets out there for?” Then adding, “Why on Earth do you want to air your dirty laundry in public”?
I hesitate, giving this careful thought, cautious not to make their opinion of me worse. I fail miserably by saying things like, “I get to know other people who often feel as I do or at least are interested enough to want to read past the first few lines”. “I get support”, I say. “Who from?” is the next question and they then add one long string of complicated technical words like, “What a lot of rubbish you are mumbling. These computers are just machines that speak to each other”. They then sometimes state the obvious in that machines don’t have emotions or character, but plainly, they completely fail to understand that there are people with thoughts, worries, ideas and feelings, at the receiving end of these much-criticised machines.
I feel I have made good friends; friends who I can share humour with or occasionally share my darkest, deepest thoughts with who do not rebuke me, nor criticise my language skills. And I feel very privileged to be thought of as trustworthy enough to read of other blogger’s inner worlds.
The world of bloggers is as secret as it is public: We spill the contents of our hearts onto the paper under glass, usually under a pen-name so as not to be discovered, and before we know it, we’ve pressed the PUBLISH button, and there it all goes, spewing out into the world for all and sundry to see.
Personally, I feel it helps me. It is the time I can let go of my thoughts and inhibitions and just share what happens to be in or on my mind and that it always a relief. However, when my words go out into the universe, I am self-critical about what I have written, and find myself thinking, ‘Well, that wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on! Who on Earth seriously wants to read my thoughts?’ But occasionally, I get feedback to say I have helped someone feel less alone, or that we have shared some humour, so that makes at least two of us who have benefitted at least somewhat! Sometimes I don’t get feedback, or I have doubts about what I have written and am only too ready, and sometimes do actually hit the DELETE button, and there it all goes, gone, out into the ether, unspoken and unheard.