Over a month ago I wrote about how I had managed a full year without self-harm. An entire year despite some challenging times but I managed a whole year without self-harm and I was over the moon! Proud of myself, glad I finally felt like I was making real progress and I was ready to continue on with my life free from self-harm. About a week or so after that post things took quiet a turn.
My mood dipped, my sleep became disturbed my appetite was disappearing and I was finding it increasing difficult to manage my constant changing emotions and soon I found myself battling with the urges to self-harm once again. It was almost as it had just creeped up on me, I almost didn’t notice this relapse taking over; depression had engulfed me in a matter of days.
Simple tasks become a struggle, going to college, scouts, athletics the youth café and even work became a struggle and the enjoyment I got from these activities soon decreased and they simply became the things I had to do to make people think I was ok, that I was holding it all together, that there was nothing wrong. But just like this relapse running through the motions of life soon became very tiring and I broke, entering back into the negative cycle of self-harm.
Like many times before it started out with just one act, just one simple act to get relief but it progressed and it progressed to a stage where I could no longer hide it. I was dying on the inside, feeling confused, lost, broken, hurt, angry and sad. I felt there was no hope, no future and no point in life but it was then that I somehow managed to find the strength I needed to open up and so I went to the doctor who immediately started me back on my anti-depressant medication followed with a referral back to adult services and daily appointments with her to keep an eye on things.
It took a while and things continued to go downhill and to go down hill fast! I was self-harming at an alarming rate but somehow managed to keep myself out of hospital. I was on medication, seeing doctors, waiting for referrals to take place and I just felt like I had entered back into a world in which I didn’t not want to be in. I was once again face to face with my illness, I was again battling with my borderline personality disorder trying so desperately to be the bigger person, to come out on top, to put it back in its place but I didn’t have the strength, I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t have the power to keep fighting. I felt defeated, isolated, scared and lonely. I wanted to give up, I wanted to find a way out, but the only way out was up and so I let people in. I told my family, I told some close friends and I got the support I needed.
I’m not quiet back on top just yet but I’m on my way. I’m attending regular appointments with a doctor along with regular appointments with the adult mental health services. I’m exploring some of my DBT techniques again and I’m talking to those around me who are providing guidance and support. I challenged this before and I’ve come out the other end so I know I can do it, I know I can get back on top but it doesn’t happen over night and that is important to remember. It will take time and I must be patient but I will get back on top and self-harm will become a memory once more rather than a reality.
I’m trying so hard to focus on being nice to myself, to look after myself, to smile as much as I can and to remember that I have the power to change things but it is hard. I look around me and I see so many people who appear to be happy, who appear to smile just like me and I want to be able to smile just like them, to be happy but the reality is I have no idea if they really are happy. We live in a society while although it is changing there is still a stigma attached to mental health, one that prevents people from asking for help and this needs to change. I know its ok not to be ok and I know its ok to ask for help but when you live in a society in which you are looked at different for asking for help it discourages you from doing so.
If I had caught the sign of my relapse earlier I might not have gone back to old ways of coping but if there was no stigma surrounding mental health I might have spoken out sooner the very first time I starting experiencing mental health issues and indeed at this relapse.
People don’t understand the effect stigma can have on a person, the shame associated with having mental health issues because of it, the fear of judgment and ridicule and the sense of not being ‘normal’ or fitting in. nobody is immune to mental health issues and for that reason it is everybody’s responsibility to tackle this stigma! I’m slowly on my way back up, slowly but surely I will be back on top my borderline personality disorder and I will be back to my old self, but It will take time and so too will breaking down mental health stigma.