Today, February 4th, is Time to Talk day. It’s all about getting everyone to talk about mental health, to challenge misconceptions about it and end the stigma.
I talk about my mental health a lot. With lots of different people. However, I am very aware that there are still certain people who I refuse to talk about mental health with. There are also still things that I am not completely open about because when I have been, the response is not usually very understanding.
But, I am a person diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This means a lot of things, including:
- I self destruct – with alcohol, self harm and self sabotaging behaviour.
- I experience something known as ‘splitting.’ I have no middle ground with people, I either love someone or, if they piss me off slightly, I hate them. I struggle to see that things can be both good and bad at the same time. It happened with a friend recently. I loved him and wanted to spend lots of time with him. He did one thing that made me a little bit upset. I switched from idolising him to demonising him in seconds. I think in extremes. All or nothing.
- I am prone to mood swings. Suicidal one day to completely happy the next. My emotions are intense, very rarely do I just feel ‘fine.’
- I switch off my emotions when they get too much to handle. This might come across as cold but really, it’s an attempt to protect myself.
- I can be manipulative. A common myth is that everyone with BPD is manipulative and evil. This is untrue. I often manipulate to get my needs met, particularly with mental health professionals when I feel unheard. Obviously, this is not a good thing to do but it is the only way I know how to be heard sometimes.
- I can act impulsively without thinking about the consequences.
- I experience anxiety, depression, disordered eating and low self esteem.
- I have a huge fear that everyone will abandon me.
- I also fear that everyone hates me.
- I can be paranoid and delusional, sometimes I hear voices.
- I love intensely, I care about others more than seems possible, I am passionate and a fighter.
- I am still a human being like everyone else on the planet. I have struggles just like you and some that are not like you.
- I am worthy of love and kindness.
- Just as someone with a physical illness is not defined by this, I am more than my diagnosis.
There you have it, my contribution to #timetotalkday. Now, if I can be this open about my mental health then I think you can too. I have a mental illness so days like today are particularly important for me and others who do. We all have a mind though, with complex thoughts and feelings that deserve to be talked about. Everyone deserves to be heard.
Not all conversations need to be about mental illness exactly, they just need to be open and honest. Ask someone how they are doing (mean it, want to hear exactly how they are) and really listen to what they say.
Talk about how you are feeling today. Because 1 in 4 people will, at some point, experience mental health problems. It could be you. One way to fight against it? Speak up. Refused to be ashamed of your emotions because they are what make you human.
If enough of us talk, the noise will make it impossible for our voices to remain unheard.