Update

Okay so it’s been a while, I spent 8 months in a secure unit with my weight dropping and my mental health declining, then in December an eating disorder nurse from my home team came to see me at 8am in the morning. I remember being woken at 7am and having a shower on a chair because my legs would not stand and then being whisked off to the relaxation room to see her.

The nurse wanted to admit me to a general hospital for refeeding but I refused as it was so close to Christmas and I just wanted to be where I felt settled for the festive period. That night I was driven back to my home county and admitted to a general ward. I felt like I was living in a nightmare. I had an NG tube inserted and was started on a feed straight away, drips were in my arms and blood tests taken.

A month later, here I am, still in the same bed, still being fed through a tube and struggling enormously. I feel fatter with each day, the sips of ensure are getting harder and not easier. The plan from here is to go to an eating disorder unit in London which I’m super scared about. I don’t know any more. This battle is hard.

I Need You to Know That I Have a Personality Disorder

I need you to know that I have a personality disorder, it is the diagnosis that I don’t speak about publicly and rarely talk about to anybody because I’m scared that telling you what I have will make you think I am a bad person. I desperately need you to understand what life with a personality disorder is like. It isn’t an excuse for the way I behave, it’s an explanation.

My personality disorder makes any kind of relationship difficult. No one seems to stay long in my life and I often find that I am ‘too much’ for people as I am vulnerable and dependent. I feel inadequate a lot of the time. I struggle to fit in and often my efforts lead to me embarrassing myself. I have powerful relationships and a lot of love to give but they are full of terror and fear. I fear abandonment and rejection so much that it normally leads to the relationship breaking down. Being close to me is a challenge and I find myself constantly asking for reassurance in relationships but in the end the mistrust and need for reassurance pushes the other person away. The slightest change in a relationship feels unbearable. I find it hard to believe peoples’ excuses for not seeing me and I take it as rejection. I often end up attacking those who are close to me ensuring the very abandonment I fear. I can’t control myself. I’m like a tornado destroying everything in my path. Personality disorders are destructive. Never think that I don’t care about others, my struggles with relationships make me think I should be alone forever and stay away from everybody. Self-hatred is always with me and the hurt I’ve caused plays on repeat. I’ve lost so many people because of my personality disorder and it’s agonising.

I struggle with my identity, I don’t really know who I am, and neither do I understand myself. Things can change dramatically one moment to the next. In two minutes I can go from being full of hope to completely hopeless. I can be motivated to change the world one minute and the next not have the motivation to wash myself. I am impulsive which leads to me spending money I don’t have and getting into a financial situation that I need help to get out of. I struggle with bursts of anger that take over me and often lead to me self-harming. I struggle with suicidal tendencies but no wonder death is appealing, my world is very confusing and painful. The mood swings, paranoia and delusions on top of the confusion and anxiety in relationships is exhausting. I’m terrified of the future, what if I’m always like this? Will I ever be able to have normal relationships and get married and have a family? Will that ever be a reality for me?

I can explain my personality disorder to you but I can’t make you understand it. I just hope that somehow this piece of writing helps you to understand how complicated life with a personality can be and I hope that the people in my life that read this can give me their time and patience to remain in my life.

Section 3

I’m sitting on the end of my bed in hospital. Numb but in pain. I don’t understand anymore. Utter confusion. Dreaming of a future like a child, imagining I’ll be a vet or a teacher but seeing reality like an adult…I am just a psychiatric ward patient….I probably don’t even deserve the word ‘just’ in front of that. I’m a nothing, a no one. Three months locked away has completely detached me from the world around me. I belong nowhere and with no one. The world outside the window doesn’t feel like mine. It’s like I don’t remember what the rolling hills look like, nor the supermarket aisles or petrol stations. My ballet shoes disintegrated when my life turned into compost. Maybe new flowers will grow out of the soil but I doubt it. It feels like I’ll never feel the sun on my skin again and that my heart will never vibrate with the bass of loud music. Will I always be gone? Will I ever find me again?

Stop With The Stigmatising Headlines

When something goes wrong in society and a horrible tragedy happens like a brutal murder or someone on the loose with a gun the media often instantly blame mental illness for the tragedy. This week an incredibly upsetting and heartbreaking incident occurred when a Germanwings plane crashed in The French Alps on Tuesday killing all of the 150 people on board the flight. It is such a sad and tragic occurrence and I cannot imagine what the families of those people are going through right now.

The media, however, have not dealt with this situation in the right way. As a society we tend to blame groups of people, for example when a terrorist attack happens we blame an entire religion. When the news emerged that the co-pilot appeared to crash the plane on purpose and he had depression, the media gripped onto the fact that he had a mental illness and immediately put the blame on that releasing stigmatising headlines. The Daily Mail printed on their front page, “Suicide pilot had a long history of depression. Why on earth was he allowed to fly” This headline is unacceptable. The majority of people with depression are not dangerous nor are they bad people. I have depression and I would never dream of killing one person, let alone 150 people. I have never hurt another person physically and I highly doubt I ever will. I know many people with depression some of which are charity workers, scientists, nurses. Why should a mental illness mean that someone shouldn’t be allowed to do their job? 1 in 4 of us suffer from mental health problems and I’m sure there are many people working in ‘trusted’ positions that have mental health problems whether they are diagnosed or not. Anyone whether unwell or not can be impulsive. We all have a heart that could stop beating at any time, are we saying that anyone with a heart shouldn’t be a pilot or a surgeon?

The Daily Mirror’s front page involved a huge font with the words, “Killer Pilot Suffered From Depression” So? The pilot may have had depression but correlation does not imply causation. We don’t know that it was his depression that made him crash the plane and we may never know but it is wrong to speculate and turn to blame a vulnerable group of people. The pilot had his own thoughts and choices, individuals are responsible for their own actions. This tragedy is not an opportunity to stigmatise those with mental illness. People with mental illness are still people, people who are capable of achieving great things. Let’s not blame mental illness every time something goes wrong.

If you stigmatise and shut out certain groups in society then society loses out. People have much to offer the world regardless of age, race, religion and disability. Let’s focus on people’s gifts and talents and see them as individuals rather than grouping people and tarring them with the same brush in order to cope with the horrors that happen in our world. You cannot group people together, mental illness is a huge umbrella and no two people are the same. One pilot with mental illness may be overly cautious. Another pilot with mental illness may be impulsive. People are people, each individual unique in how they respond to the world around them.

Bad things happen in this world and maybe people blame things like religion or mental illness because it makes it feel easier to them or helps them to make sense of things but we need to accept that bad things happen and individuals alone can cause trauma and nightmares. Blaming innocent groups leaves people outcasted, alone and puts unnecessary fear into society.

We must remember that we all have mental health, we are all on the scale somewhere. People with mental illness are not scary or dangerous. They are not ‘crazy’ or ‘lunatics’ they are simply people like you and I and there’s a high likelihood that at some point in your life you will struggle with mental health problems.

I am not standing up for the pilot, not at all. If he did crash that plane on purpose then it is beyond wrong, heartbreaking, horrific but I do think that if the pilot’s depression did contribute to the crash and he had a long history of the illness like the media suggest then questions need to be asked about why he didn’t have the right help. I do not know the situation here but I know that I have cried out for help in the past and been ignored by services and ended up making serious attempts on my life. It needs investigating, did services let him down? Should they have stepped in? Had he made hints or comments and if so why weren’t they taken seriously? I am not saying that it was his illness, we do not know that and it is wrong to speculate but I am saying that this is why it is so important that help is there and accessible for those battling mental illness.

People are mainly good, there are a small minority of people in society who are dangerous and it is wrong to think that the whole of that minority have mental health problems. There are many good people with mental illness and I have been so lucky to meet some of those amazing and inspirational people. In some ways my mental illness has actually helped me to become a better person. I am able to understand what it is like to struggle and I use my negative experiences in a way that turns them into positives whether this be through my blog or speaking out in the media. The night spent in the cell due to lack of hospital beds was one of my worst but I have used it to speak out, raise awareness and to help make change happen. I have a mental illness but I have never attacked anyone or killed anyone. People with mental illness are more likely to be the victim of crime than the criminal. I used to struggle to leave the house but I began baking cakes for homeless young people and it helped me to get out the door and they got some yummy food in their stomach. I honestly believe from the bottom of my heart that my mental illness has helped me to learn and grow into a fairly good person.

The Damage Of Katie Hopkins

I don’t hate Katie Hopkins, in fact her appearance on Big Brother made me see her as a human being but I do think that the career which she has created through saying outrageous and offensive comments is far more dangerous and damaging than she realises. Her opinions do not personally upset me, I do not care what her views say about certain things I do or am because I am comfortable with myself and with what I do. I speak out on radio, television and online about mental health to both raise awareness and bring about change whilst Katie Hopkins throws unintelligent and offensive comments at her choice of group for that week.

It does, however, worry me. There are many people in unfortunate situations, desperate situations and her comments not only have the potential to cause harm to these people but also send out the message to the general public that it is okay to say these things, it is okay to be a stigmatising bully and outcast people who are different from ourselves when actually no it isn’t!

Her TV programme aiming to show people that weight loss is as simple as eating less and moving more was frankly ridiculous. Yes, if you eat less and move more you will lose weight but not everyone can. How can you move more if you are disabled? How can you lose weight when you have binge eating disorder? And YES BINGE EATING DISORDER IS AN ILLNESS! Katie Hopkins’ ‘experiment’ of gaining weight and then losing weight to ‘prove her theory’ didn’t work. Someone who has a naturally low BMI gaining weight and then losing it in a short amount of time is not the same as someone who’s genetics mean their natural BMI is 23/24 and have been overweight for 10-15 years. It just didn’t work. It proved she could do it but not that anyone else could.

Katie Hopkins has far over stepped the line saying that people who need psychiatrists are idiots who cannot cope with their lives. So are people who need doctors idiots too? If I were to have a heart problem then I would want to see a specialist. A psychiatrist is a specialist in dealing with illnesses of the mind. We need to stop this stigma, this view that mental illness is suffered by the weak, stupid or just made up. I know many people far stronger and far more intelligent than Katie Hopkins who see psychiatrists. It’s comments like these that stop people seeking help but also feed the people who bully and stigmatise. It makes this behaviour seem acceptable, it’s not.

I debated writing this post, I don’t like the fact that the media give her attention and I don’t want to give her attention but I feel we need to balance her comments with the truth. People who see psychiatrists are unwell, that is all it means. There is no shame in seeing a psychiatrist. Don’t allow this woman to make you feel bad about yourself. At the end of the day Katie Hopkins has made a career out of being horrible, you would have to be both talentless and unintelligent to achieve that.

“It’s All In Your Head”

I am certain that I am not alone in suffering from mental illness and dealing with comments from others such as, “It’s all in your head” and “Just get a grip” and so on. To a certain extent it is ‘all in my head’ but that doesn’t make it any less real and most importantly it is an illness that I can’t help and did not choose to come into my life.

So what is ‘all in my head’? Chemical imbalances, physiological and scientific medical conditions that manifest themselves into psychiatric diagnoses. These illnesses are with me constantly, I can change my thinking, think positively and that will give me hope but it will not dissolve my illnesses and leave me a free man (or woman). Telling me that it is all in my head is no more helpful than telling someone with pneumonia that it is all in their chest. I am aware that I have mental health problems, that my brain is poorly and that my brain is located in my head, I don’t need it pointing out.

Unfortunately I still come across many people who see mental illness as a choice, as weakness or even laziness. I still converse with people who think that depression is just feeling a bit sad and wallowing in it. It isn’t like that at all. It isn’t just the occasional negative thought or scary thought. Mental illness is with me constantly, I might be fighting it and appearing bright and doing well but the thoughts are still there, the illness is still there. A good day doesn’t mean an illness free day, it means a day where I am able to feel a positive emotion or do something good. Yesterday was a good day, I still weighed myself, I still engaged in anorexia behaviours, I still battled depression and tried to push off bad thoughts, I still had to line things up and check them but I felt love in my heart for my family and I smiled and laughed.

A lot of the people who will say things like, “it’s all in your head” will often be against medication for psychiatric conditions. Frowning upon anti depressants and installing the fear into people that they will get ‘hooked’ and be on them for life. Would you be against me taking salbutamol for my asthma? Or my Grandfather taking insulin for his diabetes? Would you be against someone having chemotherapy for cancer? Psychiatric illnesses are serious, they have the potential to be fatal. Why would you discourage someone to take life threatening medication? I know that some people get well with talking therapy alone but I know that without my medication I would still be in hospital. I am not ashamed to say that I take antidepressants, antipsychotics and sleeping tablets because right now I can function at a basic level. Without them I was detained under the Mental Health Act, unaware of what was going on around me, I was seeing things, hearing things. I was hurting myself constantly because I couldn’t bear to be alive. I rarely got out of bed and was watched 24/7 and pinned down and injected if need be.

My medication helps because I suffer from an illness, not bad choices like many assume. My severe and enduring psychiatric conditions become more manageable when I have these life saving tablets and who knows, maybe I will be on them for the rest of my life but at least I will be alive and not detained under the Mental Health Act.

So yes, to a certain extent it is all in my head but someone saying that isn’t going to make me go “Oh yeah so it is, no worries I’m better now” it’s just going to make me feel guilty and shameful. But it’s important to know what’s in my head is a chemical imbalance, a medical condition that medication can help correct.