A life with mental health problems: learning to live again.
Hey, so i am Noush, i am a 21 year old female who loves cats and shoes, i am incredibly partial to a nice bag of malteasers and a cuppa tea, and i am doing a degree in psychology. I sound like any normal girl of 21 years, but there is one major difference. I have a severe mental health disorder which affects me every day, i was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at aged 18 after a long stint in mental health wards, i take 300mg of quitiapine and 50mg sertraline daily, and i see a psychiatrist once a week. When i first was diagnosed i was ashamed to be classed as "crazy" (as i saw it, even i, someone who suffered with mental health problems had this initial pre-judgment that so many have). But learning to live with this disorder i came to realize that i am just sick as many people are, people get illnesses in different formats, some have problems with arthritis, others have difficulty with asthma, i had problems with my mind. It took a long time to realize i am not ashamed to have BPD, but i still am conscious of who i tell because of the pre-conceptions many in this country have. But i have learnt no matter what people think, i am a normal girl, i go out, i like shopping, and I just take tablets to control my emotions. It’s still difficult to entrust people with my diagnosis, but more often than not, people do surprise you at how understanding and non-judgmental they can be. So im here to share my story with you, so that perhaps if you know someone or think you may suffer yourself with a problem, you can see that the way I ended up getting help was not the best way, had I gone to a doctor sooner I could have had the answers I needed so much sooner and saved myself and others a lot of pain.
From the age of about 10 I knew that I felt different to most children, whilst they were all around happily playing I would spend every minute worrying that they didn’t like me, I would try mold myself to be whatever they wanted me to be so they would like me. All the way through school I would go home and sometimes cry myself to sleep so worried that everyone hated me. At 13 I took an overdose of paracetemol, I have absolutely no explanation for this other than I felt such utter despair it rocked straight through my core leaving me with emptiness. For years after this I just sailed along trying to handle my up and downs and my paranoia, then at 16 I was sexually assaulted by a boy and from this moment on everything flared up and I became a direct danger to myself. I started slitting my wrists, the first time I ever did it I remember I was sat listening to a my chemical romance song, and I said to myself that I wanted to die. I never started cutting myself as a release (which it inevitably became) but I started as I wanted to end my life. It didn’t work and I ended up with 26 stitches in my wrists. From this moment on I realized I needed to be smarter, so I became sneaky until I knew I could be free.
I moved to London at aged 18, I never believe I truly came to terms with being sexually assaulted at just 16, and when the opportunity to run came (for me it was through university) I took it with both hands. I felt like I could completely reinvent myself, and through this reinvention perhaps I could change my past. I was very wrong and in fact it was the start of an incredibly downhill spiral that almost resulted in my death. I began to starve myself, my obsession with reinventing myself began with grasping for control in every aspect of my life I could, and the main way was with food, I would partake in other destructive behavior such as drinking and spontaneous spending which as a result I am now in approximately £3000 worth of debt. But in my eyes there was nothing wrong, I was finally in control and I loved every minute of it. That’s what I thought, until the highs would leave, and all I would be left with was an incontrollable loneliness, a despair which I could not even describe, so I began to slit my wrists. There were some of these states where I genuinely would not remember what had happened, and had no Idea I had attacked myself until I came out of that episode. I call these moments, where I dissociated “episodes” it’s a term I find easier, mainly because I still struggle to see that it was me who committed these acts, and this gives me some sort of distance. One night just before Christmas I had a particularly bad episode, my dad passed away when I was ten, and this night I was hearing voices, his voice, telling me he could rescue me if I joined him. I slit my wrists so bad the only thing I remember is waking up in hospital. Needless to say I spent the next 3 weeks in a mental institution, luckily I was released for Christmas, but that was an incredibly close call. It was here they diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder, and it was here my life finally began to make sense.
I immediately was moved away from London, now being 19, and this meant leaving my degree. I was under constant supervision ensuring I ate and didn’t self-harm and started on a strict regimen of drugs and therapy. I moved back home with my family and began to get myself back on track, I still find myself on the edge, I am always worried that a trigger will come along and set my BPD off, but I decided I wasn’t going to let it rule my life. I registered back at University near my home, and switched to do a psychology degree, I have done volunteer work with the police station, and I am a restaurant supervisor in an Italian. I still have days where I feel empty and filled with despair, I still have days where I will ring my mum and tell her I need to be put back in the hospital because I can “feel” a bad episode coming, but now I also have days where I smile, im managing to slowly clear my debt, and im managing to see a life not just surviving with mental health problems, but a life where I am actually living with it.
Everyone needs to realize that there are always those who judge, but there are those who judge because people smoke, are overweight, have ginger hair, I just get judged because I have a problem with my brain. To everyone who reads this I want you to understand that you cannot see mental health problems, we don’t look “crazy” and half the time we don’t even act crazy. Mental health is not something to fear, I was placed in a mental health unit in a hospital and I was not wearing a straight jacket or rocking in a corner. Sometimes it takes realizing that normal people can have mental health problems for individuals to see that it is okay to go to your doctor and ask them questions, I always knew there wasn’t something quite right, but I never was brave enough to say anything, I always imagined that someone with mental health problems was sat shouting on the bus, or spending their entire life in a hospital ward. I was wrong, it turned out that person was me.
If you have read this and it has touched a nerve, or you recognize the emotions I feel, or you just have questions, I am more than happy to answer them. I have come to accept that BPD is a part of me, and whilst i have my bad days, i wouldn’t change me for the world, because my mental health problems make me who I am. I am Noush, I am a 21 year old female, and i have borderline personality disorder. And I am not ashamed anymore, and if you have any form of illness, be it mentally or physically you shouldn’t be either.
Remember, for support TheSite.org can help: