Accepting achievement

All my life I have been the kind of person to ignore and overlook my achievements but recently I have noticed a change within myself, one that is becoming increasingly more aware of what I have achieved in my life. What brought this on your might ask? Well this coming Thursday I will be graduating from college, that in itself is a huge achievement but for me when I took a closer look at it, it became so much more.

3 years ago I started out on what I thought was going to be the best thing in my life, I had worked hard to get through secondary school, sit my leaving cert and get onto the course I so desperately wanted to be on. 3 years ago I set out for college, anxious and uneasy but feeling like I knew where I was going, feeling like I knew exactly how my life was going to pan out but little did I know that would all change.

I started college on the community and youth work course, all ready to become a fully qualified youth worker and do what I love most- work with young people but that is not where I finished. Struggling through second year saw me make a decision I was unsure about which was to change course but became the best decision I have made yet. My perspective widened, my values changes and opportunities opened up.

It was only recently that I realised just how much I have achieved, I finished college, I faced challenges head on, I overcame daemons and I made life changes. Looking back over the last three years which comprised on one major surgery, one overdose, endless amounts of therapy, a change of college course, becoming a See Change Ambassador and speaking to hundreds of young people in the RDS I can sit here and finally say for the first time in my life that I am proud of myself and it feels fantastic to be able to say that!! When I finally accepted that I achieved something deep inside me something changed, who I am as a person has been influenced by the positive step to not only recognise my achievement but to also accept them. 

I have come a long way over the past three years and for someone who once thought should wouldn’t make it through secondary school to have finished college, have a job which is constantly presenting me with new opportunities and have a world of opportunities laying in front of me including everything from travel to going back to college I cant help but be beaming with pride and feeling like I have achieved something. Accepting these achievements has changed me, allowed me to become more optimistic and finally allowed me to see that there is a future for me, what the future holds I’m not sure but right now, for the first time this past year I can finally see a future and I have a reason to fight another day!

The Break I Needed

The past six weeks or so have been particularly difficult. They say an increase in anxiety, low mood self-harm and suicidal thoughts, the past few weeks saw me enter an unwelcomed relapse. This relapse kind of snuck up on me, I thought I had caught it in time but I was wrong and within a week of visiting my GP and getting a referral to adult services I found myself sitting in A&E waiting to be assed for possible admission and inpatient treatment because quite simply, I couldn’t trust myself and reality was that I had every intention to take my own life that very evening. But I caught it and I recognised that I needed help which is why I went home from work early, went to my GP, then to adult services where I told them I couldn’t keep myself safe, it was at this point that I recognised I needed more help and went to A&E.

To cut a long story short I spent my day in A&E, spoke to doctors and a decision was made that we would search for an inpatient bed which was a search that didn’t go to well and as we were branching out further and further around the country it was decided, collectively by my family, my doctor and me that I would begin attending a day hospital, twice a week in order to help keep myself safe and in the interim I would be given medication to help me sleep and control my anxiety in the short term to see me the next few days and it help, without a doubt.

I began attending the local day hospital about a month ago, a service that I have found extremely useful and now as I write this I feel like I may be ready to reduce my time there once my new care plan has been prepared. It was through my time at the day hospital that I began to realise the stress I was under, the pressure I felt and the expectation I was trying to live up to and so I decided it was time for a break and I took a full week of holidays from work. This week off included a scouting weekend away for training and speaking at a youth conference in the RDS and while I was kept busy it was exactly what I needed, a chance to do something just for me.

The summer was hard, I was flat out with work, the youth centre, scouts and athletics, I had no time for myself and it took it toll on me without even realising that, that was the cause. There were other contributing factors also but I think the biggest factor was that I was taking on too much and not being able to have any time for myself, the day hospital allowed me to have time for myself, time I desperately needed, structured time that allowed me to interacted with others and learn about myself.

I’m still struggling but I beginning to emerge from this relapse, I’m beginning to enjoy things again, I’m beginning to want to do to athletics, I love going to scouts every week and I’m beginning to laugh again. The day hospital has allowed me the space I needed to get back on track and in many ways this relapse was a blessing in disguise, it has defiantly thought me one very valuable lesson, that I need to dedicated more time to just me, time to do things that I want to and that I enjoy, time for me to be selfish.

I have begun to realise that all the relapses I have faced and quite possible face in the future happen for a reason. I may not want to experience them but as a result of them I learn something new about myself, come out on top, stronger than before and with each victory over a relapse I feel like maybe, just maybe there is a small bit of hope that one day I will be able to live free from the fear of a BPD relapse. I still have a ways to go to get me through this current relapse and to be at a point where I feel good but I’m on my way and for the first time in a few months I feel like I can make it through this one, I feel like I can get up in the morning and get through the day without hurting myself, I feel like I can do 

Getting back on the horse

Back in July I choose to take a much-needed break from blogging. It was a break I needed in order to help reduce the pressure I was feeling and to give me a chance to begin to feel like I wanted to blog and allow me to find enjoyment in my blogging once more. It has been a ling two months without my blog but it was a much-needed break. I have struggled during the past two months and I am back receiving treatment for my BPD so my break from blogging has allowed me to focus more on myself.

As I find myself trying to figure out who I am and what I want to do in life I cannot help but describe myself as a blogger and find a desire within me to write and who knows one day it may become my career. I have decided that it is time to get back on the horse but I want my blog not to be written with the sole purpose of helping and supporting others but also as a means of helping and supporting me.

I have removed all pressure I once felt in regards to my writing. The desire to remain at the top and win awards has diminished reducing the standard I feel I must keep my blog at. I know I have a standard to maintain but I no longer want to feel pressured into maintain that standard. I want to write regularly but I don’t want it to become a chore so I will write when I feel like it rather than making a specific commitment.

Right not I feel like my life is picking up speed, with work, hobbies and of course treatment for my BPD I know I may struggle to find time to fit in blogging everyday which is part of the reason I am writing this post. I want to get back to writing but I want to do so because I need it in my life, because I want to enjoy it and because it is part of who I am and I know with that comes responsibility and so I will ensure I write clearly and well but I will also ensure I write appropriately, something which I have felt I have also intended on doing.

My blog has grown from strength to strength in the past six years and I want to see it continue to grow which is why I needed a break, it is why I recognised that writing under such pressure was impacting my blog. Now I am taking on a much different approach, a relaxed approach and one, which will enable me to enjoy what I am doing. I am committed to writing but for writing for pleasure and enjoyment, which is why I have decided it is time, I get back to doing what I love. I cannot commit to a set number of posts each week but I can commit to trying and giving my writing 100%. Over the next number of weeks I will be revaluating my blog and maybe redesigning but what I am sure I will be doing is letting my passion for writing shine through my blog.

Time for a break

I haven't been keeping the blog updated very often recently and there are a number of reasons behind that.I have become worried about my blog and about my readers. The blog isn't what it used to be and I feel I have let you all down as a result of that. I've been blogging for close to six years and right now I have come to a stage where I am in limbo, am I keeping the blog going because of the expectations that come with having won awards or am I keeping the blog going out of love, passion and desire to make a difference in peoples lives through my writing? Ideally it would be the latter but I'm not sure at this moment if it is or not.
I feel an overwhelming sense of pressure to try and write, to try and get something up so as not to let you all down but that pressure has become too great and it is deterring me from doing so. As the pressure build I loose my passions, writing begins to feel more a chore, and that is not what I want.
It's hard to put myself out there all the time, laying my insecurities out for everybody to see. It takes a lot out of a person and sometimes I find myself questioning if it does more harm than good.
I have reached a point now where I am not sure if I want to keep my blog going. I feel there is a huge sense of pressure on me, like I have to keep up to a certain standard as a result of winning awards and Im not sure if I am able to do that. I have reached a point where Im not sure if sharing my story, my experiences and my life with mental health issues is helping me in any way or if it is causing more damage. 
I don't want to let my readers down, you have been supportive and encouraging throughout my years of blogging, but right now, Im not sure what I want. I feel right now I need to take a break, remove the pressure and expectations and allow myself to write because I want to and because I love to, not because I feel I have to. Maybe when the pressure lessens my passions will increase and my blog will be what it once was but for now Im taking a break from the blog and giving myself a chance to figure out what it is I want from my blog and my writing.

Don't Stare

You think that I don’t notice you staring at my scars, but I notice your eyes darting to my arms within minutes of our conversation starting.

You think its not obvious but it is, and while I put on a brave face, continue looking you in the eye I’m hurting on the inside because I know the look you are giving me. I’ve seen it many times before, the look of judgment, disgust, sympathy and the overwhelming lack of trust crossing your face, of fear, of wonder, you ask yourself “why would she show her arms like that?” telling yourself “she must be crazy to do something like that to herself” I see it day in and day out, I face judgment, silent judgment. I don’t go out of my way to cover or hide my scars; in certain situations I make the personal choice to cover them to protect myself more than to protect those around me.

I have scars littering my arms, from shoulders to wrists and hands too. I have scars covering my thighs, from hip to knee and indeed some on my calf too. I have scars across my chest and down my stomach. These scars, once a sight which symbolised strength are now beginning to loose their meaning and the love/hate relationship I once had with them is slowly developing into a relationship full of hate and yet full of acceptance. You see my scars and you cast judgment, you may not say it directly to my face but I can see it in your eyes, in your expression and in your silence. But you don’t understand, you don’t understand the war that I fought for many years, the war that I’m sill fighting, the war within my mind.

I may have days without self-harm, weeks, months even but that doesn’t mean my temptations have been weakened, the urge to silence my thoughts have disappeared but it means I am coming out on top, fighting fit and desperately trying to win the battle. My healing scars don’t excite me any longer, they don’t give me relief any longer but they do remind me that I am strong, strong enough to keep battling through. For every scar I have made it means I have not taken things a step further and ended it all, they remind me that I have got through some pretty rough times.

I have given many years of my life to self-harm and indeed to depression and BPD. I’ve pretended to be someone I wasn’t, acting as if everything was fine, putting a smile on my face and reassuring people I was fine when in fact I wasn’t. You look at my scars and wonder “how could she do that to herself?” I look at my scars and I think the same thing, how could I destroy my body as much as I have? How could I have done that to myself? I’m 21 and I’m covered in scars, some may fade, many will not. At times it disgusts me, looking in the mirror seeing what I have done to my body, regretting it but unable to change it. This disgust only fuels the urges and the desires to do it again, because what else do I have to loose? What difference will one more scare make?

If I could go back to when this all began I wouldn’t make the first cut! If the 13 year old me could see me know she would be shocked, like many of you who see my scars. She would be ashamed, like many of you feel I should me. You might think that your just staring, like your not conveying your thoughts or feelings but when you stare your eyes speak a thousand words, and each word sticks in my mind like superglue. Your eyes are the windows to your mind, showing your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

When you stare, when you look and stare I can see that you think I’m looking for attention, I can see that you think I should cover my arms, I can see more than you think I can. Self-harm is hard to talk about and I understand how some people may not want their children exposed to it, and so I try where possible to keep it hidden, and if it is still in sight I will never tell a child I cut myself because they wont understand it and I know its not my place to do it.

These scars belong to me, the show the battles I have faced but these battles are mine. These scars are part of me whether I like it or not. I’m working to fight self-harm, I’m working to get control of it and make it a thing of the past for good but your silent judgment, you untrusting eyes and you disgusted expression make it that much harder. Your whispers to the person next to you, your stares and your sympathy make me feel worthless, isolated and increase the disgust I feel towards myself.

For anyone who is staring at my scars, please don’t. I know they are there and they are not on show because I want you to notice them, they are simple visible because sometimes I get too warm in a jumper just like you. Don’t stare because I have a hard enough time loving myself that I don’t need others to make me feel self-conscious. Don’t stare because even though you don’t realise it, your eyes are showing your thoughts and your judgments. Don’t stare because I know they are there, I know they are part of me and I know they make me somewhat different, I don’t need to be reminded of that. Don’t stare because you can see my scars because you never know who might be hiding there’s, don’t stare because you don’t know that my scars might empower someone to seek help. I’m sorry if my scars make you uncomfortable but your staring makes me uncomfortable and I just have to deal with it or cover up to suit you.

Don’t stare because it does more damage than you realise.

Life after a suicide attempt

I have had a number of suicide attempts since I was a teenager with my most recent only being a fewmonths ago. It’s a strange thing, when you feel that taking your life is the only option. It’s a lonely feeling, feeling as if there is no one else around you who can understand what you are feeling. And it is a scaring feeling when you realize for whatever reason that your attempt has not been successful.

Why is it scary? Well depending on your method you think what could the long term damage, if any, be. I know that might not seem like something that could cross your mind but for me, particularly after the most recent attempt it was an issue that created a large amount of fear among other emotions. But it’s scary for other reasons too. Your scared of how people will react, how you will go about getting on with your life, will you try it again? When it doesn’t work your scared, how will I be able to live when I can’t think, feel, or function normally? Did I really want to die? What happens next? But sometimes too you may feel hopeful, hopeful that this attempt will get you the help and support that you so desperately desire and need.

Life after a suicide attempt isn’t easy. People are not always sure about what they can do to help you, how they can support you, and often they find themselves treating you differently although that may not be their intention. Sometimes after a suicide attempt people expect you to go back to your life, doing what you did before and pretend that nothing ever happened but it doesn’t always work that way. There are some things that people, in order to be able to help you, need to know after a suicide attempt and these things are:

Going back to everyday life is hard.
Its not easy to get up and get back into your routine after a suicide attempt after all I wasn’t planning on being here to do that so it takes extra energy, strength and support to ease yourself back into a routine. Its an overwhelming time, full of emotions, and in order to help someone you need to be patient, you cannot expect everything to just go back to “normal” and even if things do go back to “normal” that doesn’t mean you are support the person experiencing a crisis because what is normal for you may be hell for them.

You want me to recover and so do I but that doesn’t mean it is going to be simple and quick. Recovery takes time and it has its ups and downs. It is a journey that needs time; it’s a journey that requires you to take a few wrong turns in order to find the right path. It is a process and although it might not be apparent I do desperately cling to the idea that there is some hope, some possibility that I can and will recover. But most of all I need you to know that I need you to help me recognize and claim the small victories, getting out of bed on a bad day, going for a walk, just making it through the day is essential for recovering.

I care.
I know you will feel that I don’t care; you will think if you cared about me you wouldn’t leave me, am I right? But the fact is that it is because I care about you so much I couldn’t stand to watch you see me hurting. I couldn’t face being the reason for your sadness. It is because I care so much that I hope you will have a better life without me, without me as a burden, weighing you down preventing you from doing things. Anything I have ever done was not to hurt you but to stop hurting me and to prevent me from hurting you. I thought I was protecting you, solving the problem and giving you your life back. I didn’t do it because I didn’t care; in my mind this was my way of showing that I care.

It’s not your fault.
Your going to ask yourself is this because of me? Did I do something to make her want to die? To make her try and take her own life and the answer is no, this is not your fault. In order for me to recover, to cling onto that little bit of hope I have left I need you to stop blaming yourself, I need you to know that you are not the reason for my actions nor is it your responsibility to “fix” me. It was my decision, my choice, the only choice I felt I had left. It was not your fault and you need to believe me.

I need you.
There will be times when I wont want to talk to you, I will push you away and tell you I hate you but the truth is I need you because without you I wont be able to recover, I wont be able to come out the other side and I wont be able to live, to be happy, to feel positive emotions. It will be hard because I wont let you in, I will shut you out, screen your calls, slam doors in your face, and call you every name under the sun but I need you. I need you to stick by me, I need you to know that with you by my side I will be able to come out the other side because if I loose you what else do I have to live for?

Suicide is a scary thing not just for you but also for the person who attempted it. Life after a suicide attempt requires time and patience but must of all some love and care. In order to recover, and I do believe recovery is possible, we will need each other, to walk hand in hand and to come out the other side!

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