Borderline Personality Disorder, My Friend.

You wake up the same as every other day but no.. Something is different. You’re exhausted, despite the full 12 hours rest. Your body is heavy, aching, in fact. You want to close your eyes and sleep again but you can’t. The atmosphere feels disturbing, dark, unwanted. You don’t know what to do because you can’t work out what’s wrong. Your chest tightens, it’s hard to breathe.

You slowly sit up, your body shakes, you are completely tense and panicked. Everything seems dark, not completely devoid of colour but the sun no longer shines through your bedroom window as it should.

Your head is so heavy, it feels like a shadowy entity is clinging onto your mind. It irritates. Your movements are forced, you’re not quite yourself, almost puppet like. You try and search yourself for a familiar emotion but it’s vacant. All you feel is emptiness. Tears swamp your eyes, they release in silent trickles.

You walk almost robotic into the bathroom. You’re naked, you didn’t have the energy to dress. You hold onto the sink with nervous hands, you steady yourself and look into the mirror. You see eyes meet yours, you study the features, it doesn’t feel like you. The person looking back holds no substance, there’s no depth behind the eyes, but you’re crying.

You sit on the toilet and sigh, that’s all the noise you can muster. You can’t speak, you have no desire to, you’re trapped behind the bars of your mind. You sit on the toilet for ten minutes.. Half an hour.. An hour. Not doing anything. You’re trying to gather your thoughts but they just won’t hold still.

Time means nothing, it all feels the same. You have no desire to eat, to speak, to move. It no longer becomes necessary. You know something is wrong but you can’t reach out, paranoia has made itself known. Nobody is genuine, nobody wants to hear it, you don’t matter, shut up. They’ll laugh at you, they’ll ignore you, they’ll get mad. They don’t care, you are alone, there’s not a single person in your life that cares about you. You know it’s all an act, right? They just pity you. Why bother? I don’t understand why you’re still alive. Why aren’t you dead? Think about it, how easy would it be to grab that knife, think of how happy you’ll be. Think of how peaceful you’ll feel. And it repeats.

You isolate yourself, you’re really scared. Someone finds you, you’re laid down in bed, hidden under the duvet. They sit beside you, ask you what’s wrong. You want to speak but wait, how did they ask? Was there a slight bit of judgement in their voice? Disappointment? Yes, of course, you aren’t imagining it. I told you they don’t believe you, they hate you, they’re so sick of your bullshit. You haven’t responded, now they’re really concerned. The dark voice keeps whispering, the pressure builds and you become frustrated. You lash out, you shout, become defensive and cold. You’re agitated. Why are they asking you how you are? The voice is right, they don’t care. Sometimes you see past the voice, you see that the other person does care, but you resent it. You resent that someone loves you, you can’t accept their kindness, you just don’t know how to respond. It isn’t that you don’t appreciate it, you’re just afraid to show weakness, to be vulnerable. You push them away because you truly feel you have no other choice.

See, you’re alone now, just like we needed. You don’t need anyone else, just yourself, you can’t trust these people. You know by now, don’t you? If you’re alone, people can’t hurt you. You’re safe.

Hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, it’s all a blur. There’s no distinction. The negative voice, your imaginary doppelganger, is your only company. People try to pop your bubble, to help, but you’re trapped behind glass. You don’t feel deserving of compassion, you hate yourself so much you genuinely believe you’re doing people a favour by hiding yourself away. Every touch makes you shudder, you feel dirty and disgusting, you feel so ashamed of just existing. After all, you destroy everything you touch, don’t you?

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This is My Fucking Title

I’m just so disgusting. I wish I didn’t write posts like this because I guess it feels attention seeking as fuck, but who else would I tell? I can’t explain why I’m so sad. I’m so ashamed of myself. I can’t recall the last time I looked into a mirror and thought, “hey, you’re okay.” All I see is fat, fat, fat.
All I can think is fat, fat, fat.
And people can say, “so just lose weight?”
It would not matter, I always see myself as fat, no matter how low my weight is, I still see the same disappointing monster.
I feel worthless. I don’t feel good enough to go out. I feel like an embarrassment to everyone. I feel like people are just laughing at me or looking at me in disgust.
I’m so paranoid, I stop myself from doing things because I’m so afraid of being ridiculed.

A glimpse of my double chin breaks my heart. Why does R love me? I’m just a freak. All these stretch marks. Love handles. Muffin top. All that fucking shit. I hate it. And I hate that I hate it. Why can’t I just be content with what I am? I don’t even feel human, I don’t look like other people, I feel like this weird sentient blob of fat.

I can’t describe how much I’d like to hurt myself. To inflict pain upon myself. My head tells me that’s what I deserve, a form of self punishment. I feel I should be punished for being so hideous.

All my pictures taken from specific angles, edited, all just to make believe I’m pretty. Trick my camera and I can trick myself, right? I’m sad and angry. So angry.

I want to scream and cry for a thousand years, feel the pain pour out of my soul. It festers. It clings and refuses to let go.

Stages of Insecurity

I was born in February 1996. 2 weeks premature, a little underweight, but generally healthy.

I was an average looking child, nothing unusual about me, aside from the ghastly outfit I was dressed in.

I was very fragile and sensitive. I liked to be alone, to play alone. My dad was never a present figure, departing at I hit the age of 3, and remaining distant until 4 years later.

My father was inconsistent with contact, I always blamed myself. He would often end contact for years at a time without warning.

I was obsessed with fantasy, with daydreaming. My worlds were very complex, I wanted to be completely lost in them. I always made classic nuclear family set ups with my dolls, the hurt of not having a father in my life wasn’t immediately obvious at that age, but the subconscious was very telling.

From my recollection, my childhood wasn’t lacking warmth, but I was shaping into a deeply insecure child. Very quick to upset, very quick to anger. Very “reactive”, as psychologists would say.

I was very shy. I’ve had social anxiety for as long as I can remember. I would speak to select people, I was very clingy to my mother.

If a teacher would ask me a question, I’d burst into tears, I hated having attention on me. I was desperate to please, I ached for friendship. I, even at age 5/6, felt like an outcast. No matter how much I wanted to connect with people, I just didn’t know how. Other children my age seemed to like me and I certainly had friends but others also sensed my weakness and vulnerability.

The bullying didn’t really start until I was around 7 years old. I had already been using food as a coping mechanism for at least a year, as a result, I was somewhat overweight for my age. I was born with an overbite, which was the main source of ridicule. These physical flaws coupled with my awkward, socially anxious personality made me the perfect candidate for being bullied. My appearance was always attacked. I started using humour as a defense mechanism, I thought if I could make people laugh, they’d forget about how ugly I was. I thought if I made a joke about how I looked, I’d have beat them to the punch. It didn’t work. I think making jokes about my appearance made it seem like it was acceptable for others to do.

I didn’t really defend myself when it came to bullying, not until I reached my teenage years. I was so desperate for friends that I accepted their cruel mockery, I figured being bullied by people still meant I had some form of company, and that’s what really mattered to me.

I was unpopular, I was very jealous and envious of other people. I was verbally abused on a daily basis by classmates, I tried to block out so much pain, but I felt they were right. I started to wonder if the reasons these children disliked me was the same reason my father left our family, was it my fault?

Before I even hit age 11, my mind had already decided what being beautiful was. Beautiful meant thin. I saw it at school, all the popular kids were lacking in body fat. I saw it on TV, the drop dead gorgeous models strutting around in bikinis, showing their ribs and hip bones. I wanted that, I wanted people to adore me, to be envious of me, to want me.

I went to a public high school. I made friends easily enough, though the attachment disorder was persistent in my heart.

I wanted to fit in but I had no self confidence, I think because of this, I chose not to engage in self care. My hygiene was poor, I often didn’t wash my hair, brush my teeth, wear deodorant. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, I was just so sick of my appearance being a talking point to everyone around me. I didn’t want to be seen or noticed, I wanted to disappear. Of course, my lack of care garnered the very attention I’d been trying to hide from. My heart shattered as those familiar, demeaning comments smothered me again. It made me resentful and actually, instead of making more of an effort with my appearance and hygiene, I avoided it more. I developed a “fuck you, why should I bother” mentality. It didn’t occur to me that by taking better care of myself, my confidence would have heightened. I was so focussed on what others thought, I didn’t consider what I would think.

I’ve mentioned before how my breasts have been a source of embarrassment for me from a young age. In primary school, they were already a C cup. High school, they were a D. I hated them, they gave me unwanted attention from girls and boys. A few girls would be cruel to me because they thought I was “cocky” or very self confidence, which wasn’t true at all, but they were jealous of these two fatty blobs I loathed. Boys would make a big obnoxious spectacle about them, laughing as tears formed in my eyes from the pure anxiety. In my first six months of high school, I refused to wear a bra. I naively though that if I didn’t wear a bra, it would be like I didn’t have breasts at all, and I could avoid the unwanted attention. For a week or two, it went unnoticed until I was sat in a R.E lesson one day. I was sat at my desk and the kids behind our row of desks were being immature and flicking the straps of all the girls bras, which resulted them swiftly finding out I wasn’t wearing one. Raucous laughter erupted as I held my eyes shut, the classmates proceeded to announce the entire class that I wasn’t wearing a bra, I was a freak, a weirdo. I was humiliated publicly, not for the first time in my short life.

The first year of high school spurned a change in me, I became very anal about hygiene. Bathing sometimes twice a day. Anxiety was worsening, I developed a habit of licking the tips of my fingers because they felt “dirty”. I would weigh myself often and spend hours looking at myself in the mirror. I craved an identity and to me, an identity was based solely around a look. Aesthetic. I dyed my hair regularly, I just wanted to be a different person. I started to wear make up, my mother never wore it so I started experimenting with it at a later age compared to my friends. I remember a time, just before I had begun to wear it, I was out with friends in a local park. One of these friends started to interrogate me on the way I looked and presented myself, she took out some powder foundation and coated my face. “See, you can be pretty too, you just need to be more normal”. It was a little comment but it had an impact. I would refuse to leave the house without make up, becoming very tearful and extremely agitated if rushed. I was obsessed with perfection. I started to restrict what I ate but I would also still gorge on sugar and fatty foods, never finding a healthy balance. It was during this period my “step dad” entered the home, emotional abuse was rife, impacting my self esteem tremendously. I didn’t feel secure at home or at school, I felt alone whenever, I felt unwanted in every environment.

As weird as it sounds, there was a year long period I was convinced I was transgender. I felt so uncomfortable in myself, in my body, I just didn’t feel right. In retrospect, this feeling was absolutely down to my low self esteem and the amount of comments I had about my appearance, had caused a form of dysmorphia.

When I was 13, I was offered braces for my overbite. They weren’t the typical train track type, more like dentures, like wearing a constant mould. Wearing them caused a huge lisp. I felt stuck. I wanted better teeth but as the orthodontist informed me, my teeth would never fully be corrected without surgery on my jaw. Should I just learn to accept myself for the way I am? Instead of obsessing trying to fix things, just learn to love myself? The lisp also lit my social anxiety aflame. I quit wearing them after a month or two, it just caused the bullying to increase, I’d reached a limit. Even my anxieties had anxiety.

Throughout my years of school, it was reinforced that I was ugly by most of my peers. I’ve spoke about this somewhat my post “The Opposite Sex”. The bullying was mostly by males but not exclusive to. Whilst this treatment did calm, it never ceased.

I barely attended school, my attendance finally being around the 30% mark at the end of my last year. I would turn hysterical when my mother tried to coax me into attending. It was a genuine fear. I was taken out of classes and put into a smaller class of around 5 other pupils, I would spend the full 6 hour day there, breaks included. The crying, the self harming, the depression. I was scared, no medical professionals were offering guidance or support. I was told to stop being dramatic, stop attention seeking. Teaches who didn’t understand mental health found it easier to simply treat me like a regular, disobedient student which was ironic, I’d never once been in trouble.

Teaches didn’t help and doctors wouldn’t listen, both attributed how I was feeling down to “teenage hormones.” It wasn’t until I was 21 that doctors finally acknowledged I had some serious, complex mental health conditions.

I left for college. I did want to do my A-levels, all the kids who bullied me went to the school that taught them, and I wanted to distance myself as much as possible. I was determined to shake this insecurity weaved into my core.

College was a vastly different environment. I made friends and the more relaxed structure was kinder on my nerves. I was still strict with my food intake but I couldn’t stop using food as a coping mechanism. As a result, I would dramatically lose weight to just put it all back on again in weeks. It was an extreme fluctuation. It left me with red stretch marks across my stomach, arms and legs. I preferred the environment but my social anxiety persevered. I was in and out of voluntary therapy from this age onwards. I dabbled with drugs and my drinking, which I had been engaging in since I was 11 anyway. I wanted confidence. I wanted to fit in. Walking into college, I would shake, I would vomit. I started skipping and after 6 months, I was kicked out due to low attendance. I took a break and tried college again the following year. I decided to study beauty, my insecurity tore that apart. I looked at all the other students and I sobbed, how could I study a subject like beauty? I was nothing but hideous.

Many of my sexual experiences shaped my confidence negativity, which I’ve documented in an earlier mentioned post. My sexual assault also took place when I was 17.

I always felt used and disgusting. Still fastidious with hygiene, using alcohol to replace meals, I began dropping weight again. In the midst of these awful coping mechanisms, I did develop a useful, healthy one. I was taught it by a wonderful counsellor I was seeing at the time, self affirmation. I would take my routine of spending hours criticising myself in the mirror and swapped the insults for compliments. And it worked! Okay, it wasn’t perfect and I was still using alcohol a lot to feign confidence but I did feel a difference.

It was a confusing period of confidence and complete lack of. I still couldn’t let go of the idea of perfection and the longing to be thin. I would continue to dye my hair, cover myself with piercings and eventually tattoos. I would style my hair but it would take hours, I needed to get it right or I would lash out. Scream, throw things, cry, scratch myself. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving the house with any perceived flaw. It took me years to work up the courage to leave the house on my own, to make phone calls, to catch a bus.

At 18, I got my first job. I cared for the elderly and I loved it. When I first started, I was lucky I didn’t lose the job, I would take days off because of my anxiety. I still had the fear around others, being in company meant I was opening myself up, I was vulnerable. I started to play around with different ways to work through my work anxiety. It took a few weeks but I finally struck the perfect combination. Three keys. 1: Music. I was a community carer, I would walk house to house, so I had ample time to get lost in music. 2: Fantasy. I would day dream again, like I had for the majority of my childhood and teenage years. I would fantasize about many things, often pretending I was a famous actress being interviewed. 3: Cigarettes. I wasn’t a smoker, a social one at best. I would have a cigarette before each visit with a service user. It wasn’t the best habit to pick up but that method worked the entire time I held that job. It actually became a routine every time I wanted to leave the house, it allowed me to somehow do things I was too afraid of before, such as travelling on my own. It came with drawbacks, I would become distraught if my earphones broke or I didn’t have any cigarettes. It wasn’t the nicotine that calmed me but the motion of smoking, the movements.

I did start to realise people’s comments were a reflection of who they were, not who I was and am. One night I was in a club, I bumped into a group of people I went to high school with. “Wow Lucy, your TEETH look SO much better!” I laughed and walked away. What kind of person uses that as an introduction?

My mood swings had and have always been heavy, especially after the assault. My dramatic shift in moods could be attributed to anxiety and trauma, most certainly my personality disorder. Appearance was and still is a bigger trigger for me. My self confidence was focused around whatever my weight was, I was resentful of that, weight controlled and does still control the way I think in many ways. My self confidence constantly fluctuates, and it’s hard. People sense something off about me, they like me, but comment how I’m not quite like other people. I get that, that’s how I’ve always felt, I’ve never known any different. A have a mix of pride and disgust about how BPD effects me. I like being seen as different but I hate the alienation that follows. It has taken me many years to understand confidence must come from within. No amount of drugs, alcohol or materialistic possessions can bring it. It didn’t matter how many times I changed my hair, pierced myself, spent hundreds on tattoos. It didn’t matter what friends said, what enemies said. It matters what my mind says, what it believes. I have missed out of many opportunities due to my insecurities, missed out on spending time with family and friends because I couldn’t leave my bedroom without hyperventilating.

Years have passed and I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. I know how it feels to have a massive surge of confidence but with that, it brought a large ego and arrogance, I was still just a forced persona. I know how it feels to feel like I am nothing, worthless, empty. I still have days where I cannot interact with people, can’t leave the house because I don’t feel worthy. I’ve tried to ease up on my idea of perfection but my gut instinct is to still correlate low weight with beauty. I do have a clearer vision of who I am, although sometimes that gets clouded, disturbed sense of identity being one of the key components of BPD. My hair is natural, I am not constantly adding piercings to myself. I’m myself. Everything we go through in life, especially childhood, determines who we become. It doesn’t have to be all that we become.

Fidget.

So, my fidget cube arrived! After struggling with my anxiety again, I thought I’d purchase a fidget toy after hearing really good things.

After a few weeks, I’ll let you guys know if it has an impact or not.

If you want to buy one for yourself, the link is:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XHVF1TZ/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_awdb_t1_6hLjBbPD9579K

It’s £4.99

The six sides:

Breathe- “Say goodbye to stress, the design of this face is inspired by traditional worry stones, tools used to reduce anxiety when rubbed.”

Roll- “The gears and ball on this side are focussed on rolling movements, with the ball sporting a built in click feature.”

Spin- “Circular motion fidget.”

Click- “3 clicker buttons and 2 silent clicker buttons.”

Glide- “Gliding action joystick.”

Flip- “Pivot the switch if you’re looking to fidget silently or more rapid for an audible click.”

Another Day, Another Attack (Or How My Mind Is Driving Me Insane)

Today has been hard.
This morning I woke up okay.
Didn’t really eat much, had a few squares of chocolate at 11am until around 4pm.
Around 3:30pm, I started feeling disoriented and like I was sort of floating, I usually feel like this before a panic attack and that’s exactly what happened.
I tried to ignore it but it was hard to stay grounded, I felt like I was literally being pulled from my body.
I tried to pull myself together and had some food, I had started to shake and I felt very sick. I wanted to burp but it felt stuck, this caused me to panic and head to the bathroom. I tried to be sick but all that came up was trapped burps.
I still didn’t feel quite present and I was aware that my heart was pounding and racing.
I sat back down on the sofa but I couldn’t eat. It got worse as I became fixated on my heartbeat, becoming increasingly paranoid.
I kept fidgeting and R was asking me what was up, I kept snapping at him agitated, before I could explain I was having a bad panic attack.
He held me against his chest and stroked my hair, I tried to calm myself and I tried to just listen to his heartbeat.
Sometimes R holding me is the only way to bring me back down, although it took around 15/20 minutes before I felt together enough to speak or move from his arms.
Since then, I haven’t had another attack but I have been very weak. I’ve pretty much stayed in bed all day and night, every step feels weighted. My mind has felt foggy, my head aches. I’ve felt very confused and not able to process things at a typical pace.

Musings.

I keep thinking a lot about my childhood, what shaped me and why.
I always thought my issues with attachment were caused from my lack of father and I do think that’s a big factor.
However, I’ve been thinking a lot more about the possible impact my mother had on my ability to connect.
Even at a very young age, I felt different and was I guess what you’d call a loner.
My mom didn’t really have many friends, I suppose she found it hard to make friends with other mothers she met at playgroups etc. This left me being stuck in an adult centred environment, my only company was those who were 20+ years older than myself.
My mom was a mixture of very communicative and playful to distant. Sometimes (but rarely) she would play with me but 90% was playing by myself, creating vast imaginary lands, imagination really was a key part of my childhood and even as an adult.
When I did start to have friends, I still felt this separation and uncomfortable feeling being around people my age. I didn’t quite understand how to interact. I chose often to remain in my imaginary worlds and play on my own.
My mother only really seemed to have a peaked interest in me as I became older, around 10+ when she could start having somewhat mature conversations with me. She always treated me much older than what I was, I became adept at holding conversations with adults but still had no idea how to socialise with children my age. I had friends but not many.
This theme has continued throughout my life. I’ve never had many friends, only choosing a select few to spend time with. It has always been hard for me to connect and even have an interest in having friends. I could and can only really form connections with specific people and still don’t have an overwhelming interest in other people.
I still feel a weird disconnect with people my age, even in my 20’s, feeling awkward and not quite knowing what to do in their company. Surprisingly, I’m not massively socially awkward, I just find it hard to relate to people and even enjoy the company of others, much preferring to take the loner role I slipped into in early stages of childhood.

Fragile Hearts.

My friend, J, is a very strong woman. Not everyone agrees with my opinion, most see her as simply naive and vulnerable. She isn’t, nor is she stupid, perhaps guilty of being far too empathetic. We’ve known eachother years and she is a perfect mix between reserved and brutally honest. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I found out deeper parts of her life, it wasn’t until a few days ago that she asked me whether I would write about it on her behalf. Her story is important but given her choices, she needs a cloak of anonymity which I am more than happy to provide. She asks me to write this exactly as she describes, not to be coy or shy away from the realities, to do this for every man or woman who can relate.

J’s older than myself by 9 or so years, early thirties, but doesn’t appear to have aged past her teens. She has a youthful glow but wise beyond her years. She’s moderately successful, while she hasn’t always held down work, she’s very skilled and intelligent. J is the kind of girl who can light up a room, an IT nerd who can hold hour long conversations about her favourite comic books and Sci Fi films. J was never short of friends but lacked decent relationships. She came out as lesbian in her early twenties, terrified, but quickly relieved at the warmth and comfort that surrounded her by friends and family. Despite the support, she found it hard to date, her experience very limited.

Four years ago, J was sat in a park reading, as she often did on warm afternoons after work. Time passed and she felt a presence beside her on the little wooden bench. She looked up from her novel and her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes connected with two inquisitive emeralds staring back. This was the most beautiful woman J had ever seen. Petite, long blonde hair, mesmerizing eyes, a smile you’d kill for. J realised she hadn’t spoken a word and the woman, noticing J’s awkwardness, laughed radiantly. She introduced herself as N, she had noticed J was reading one of her favourite books, and wanted to make conversation.

It all started from that day. The meeting at the park turned into coffee, coffee turned into dinner. They spent the entire evening together, parting at around 10pm with a dizzying kiss. J was in love, just like that. She knew is was quick but she couldn’t deny the butterflies. It felt pure magic, fairytale romance, stuff you only read about. They saw eachother almost every day, their connection was undeniable. Everyone would comment on how happy they seemed, how well suited. They made a promise to always be honest with each other, J had no doubts and that seemed reciprocated by N. They spoke about the past, present, and future. N was much more experienced than J romantically and sexually, ashamedly admitting that she had made a bit of a reputation for herself when she first came out. N was bisexual and when she was younger, she was confused and scared, she would be overtly sexual to compensate for this insecurity. Multiple sexual partners at once, everyone knew her as a cheat, a nice girl but never one to trust. Since, she had tried to redeem herself, J being her first real relationship that wasn’t based on lies. J appreciated the honesty and in turn, shared her experiences and how her own insecurity had lead her to having her heartbroken many times.

After a month of seeing eachother every day, J was told she would have to work away for a week in a different city. N seemed fine with this, predictably sad, but she understood the commitment to work. J spent the morning with N and hopped on a train ready for an exhausting week. The hours were long and grueling, breaks were sparse. The second day, during a much welcomed break from typing, J was bombarded with texts. N had text very unusually, threatening to break up with J for no apparent reason. J was broken, crying and frantically dialing N’s number, she begged to know what was wrong. N laughed, “got you! I’m just joking, God, chill out.” This repeated multiple times throughout that week. J didn’t know how to react, she was so inexperienced, she knew this behaviour wasn’t acceptable but what could she do? She spoke to N, who would half halfheartedly apologise, claiming she didn’t understand why the “joke” was a big deal. N was very charming, very charismatic, and J fell for it every goddamn time.

When J came back, N’s behaviour seemed to return completely how it was before the trip. J decided to let N’s behaviour slide, maybe she was just missing her? N suggested they visit her parents’ house for the weekend, which they did. The first two days were wonderful, her parents were very good and warm people, N was being as loving as ever. That Saturday night, they stayed up until around 5 AM, drinking and laughing, before heading to bed. The next day, they both awoke mid afternoon, still quite tired. J had barely opened her eyes before N’s bad mood became apparent. “Fuck, fuck, fuck! Here, just look at this!” She thrust her phone into J’s face. It was a text from N’s mother, saying that they were planning on inviting them for lunch at the local pub but when they realised they were both still sleeping, decided to leave them to get some much needed rest. J looked at N confused, not understanding what the problem was. “I’m fucking hungry, this is YOUR fucking fault. Are you fucking stupid? Are you actually fucking stupid? Why didn’t you set an alarm? Can you not do anything?!” J felt the tears pour down her face, they had been together 2 months and she had never seen any indication of this temper before. “Why are you fucking crying? Look how fucking pathetic you are. What, you want me to feel sorry for you at something? It’s so pathetic” and she spat on her. J was distraught but just like that, N was embracing her. “Oh, J, I’m so sorry.. I’m not like this. Shit, I don’t know why I did that. I love you so much, I really don’t know where that came from. I know it isn’t an excuse but I’m just still really tired, I haven’t woken up properly yet, I’m just groggy and moody. Can you forgive me?” She did.

After that incident, N’s anger remained hidden. There were little things that started bother J, though. At night, they would speak over social media and N would often say she was asleep but her media would say she was active. She would constantly be accepting friend requests. The night before, J took a picture of N sleeping, thinking it funny and sent it to her that morning. J was scrolling through social media and saw this picture, smiling, until she read the caption. N had captioned the picture, “When your friend catches you sleeping.” Friend. J scoffed, they were much more than friends, her heart sank. Looking through her profile, she realised N had no pictures of them together, no mention of her at all. She contacted N, justifiably pissed off, accusing her of hiding their relationship. “No, babe, you’ve got it all wrong. I was tired when I posted that picture and I just accidentally wrote ‘friend’ instead of ‘girlfriend’, it really was a genuine mistake. There’s no pictures of us because I just don’t really use the account, I hardly ever post on it. Please don’t make a big deal out of this, I know you’re insecure but I wouldn’t hurt you.” N was already putting the blame onto J, “I know you’re insecure but”, then reinforcing it with, “please don’t make a big deal out of this”. Minimising genuine concerns. N flirted with truth and lies. She had given J all her passwords to her accounts, always saying, “God, just fucking check if you want to be like that.” She knew J would never check, N was bluffing, the passwords were real but she knew J would feel too guilty if she actually signed in. She could do whatever she wanted.

3 months in, N took J to the park where they met and proposed. J was shocked but happily accepted, trying to ignore the little doubts she had. They moved in together shortly after.

N’s family decided to throw an engagement party for them. They went to a quaint restaurant and had a fantastic time, J was so appreciative. During that evening, sat at the table, N began to roll a cigarette. J, a bit drunk and feeling mischievous, jokingly knocked N’s hand slightly so a bit of tobacco fell onto her knees. J didn’t have chance to form a smile before she felt her arm being forcefully yanked under the table. The grip was tight and painful. N pulled J in close, everybody was engaged in their conversations and didn’t notice, she spoke quietly but assertively. “Don’t you ever fucking do that again.” Then she released J’s arm and got up smiling, leaving for her smoke.

Living with N was problematic. J was desperate to please, did all of the house work, made dinner every night. She didn’t notice at first that it was her doing everything, she was that in love with N that she didn’t even mind. N was loving but very distant at the same time. N would spend hours at work, then spend the rest of the night on her XBOX, playing games. Her short fuse became more obvious, as did other personality faults. She was obnoxious and lazy. When J would question N’s behaviour, it was met with, “I work longer hours than you, I work a fucking stressful job, so yeah I want to spend all my time playing games. Don’t you realise how selfish you’re being asking me to spend time with you? That isn’t normal, you know. You work less, so why shouldn’t you clean and make dinner? It’s honestly only fair. God, if only people knew about you, they’d think you were crazy getting on my back about shit like this.” J was losing herself, she started off strong, but was too mentally exhausted to argue back. She started to question herself, was she being selfish, would people think she was horrible? The more N said these things to J, the more believable they sounded to J. It was Jekyll and Hyde, N was everything J ever wanted in a partner at times, which is why she was so forgiving. N was funny, smart, she would donate her time and money to charity, would give J anything she wanted. Then the monster would come back.

Their relationship went by okay. To J, she honestly thought it was amazing, despite everything she was absolutely and truly in love. That love, coupled with her decreasing self esteem, was a dangerous combination. She was vulnerable. J recalls one night, they had got into a small argument about cleaning. N had backed J up against the bedroom wall, she pushed J hard into the wall, her head bouncing off it. J caught herself and sat back onto the bed, trying to work out what was happening. N held J down, once down, she placed a pillow over her face and began to suffocate her. “FUCK, WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME? I FUCKING LOVE YOU, REALLY FUCKING LOVE YOU.. AND YOU.. YOU JUST BRING OUT THIS ANGER, WHY? I DON’T WANT THIS, I DON’T WANT TO BE DOING THIS! YOU MAKE ME DO THIS. FUCK!” A few hours later, J was convinced she had provoked N, that it was a silly mistake and it shouldn’t be brought up again.

No violence appeared for awhile. It was somewhat peaceful, N still had an undeniable anger problem but would take it out on doors, walls, leaving holes in them. J reasoned that while it still wasn’t healthy, it must have proved N was trying to improve.

J was still suspicious of N. One night, a week before Christmas, N was fast asleep. J tried and tried to control her anxieties but she caved, picking up J’s phone, she opened J’s Whatsapp. She clicked on a conversation with a girl she had never heard of. It was of N trying to get to know this girl, phonecalls of two hours at a time, sexual conversations, sexual pictures. J lost all feeling, all emotion, all sense of time and reality. She felt physical heartbreak for the first time. The conversations were dated within the first few weeks her and N had began dating. She dropped the phone into her pocket and looked at N’s sleeping body. Her thoughts raced, her body shook, she walked downstairs. She sat on the sofa and cried. She thought about punching things, walls, anything.. but she couldn’t. She had no strength, no power, nothing. Eventually, she walked upstairs. She slammed the lights on, hurled the phone and N, crying so hard she couldn’t speak. N didn’t say anything at first, J was expecting a burst of anger or violence but it didn’t come. J calmed enough to explain what she found, bemused by N’s calm behaviour. N cried, while J was hurt and angry, her caring heart still longed to comfort her partner. It was J’s turn to be silent and N spoke. “J, I really love you, and you have every right to hate me. Not just for this, for everything. No matter what I say, it’s going to be a shitty excuse because I had no right to do that to you. I’ve had no right to do anything that I have done to you. I don’t expect you to forgive me. This is the only time I did something like this, I was scared. Scared of committing and I acted like an idiot. I don’t even know who that other person is, some girl off Facebook, I don’t even know her in real life. I was just being selfish and cowardly. I was high, too. I know it’s no excuse. Please, I love you. Don’t leave me.” J accepted the apology, accepted the explanation. She couldn’t sleep though, she didn’t sleep for days. She didn’t eat. She could do nothing but cry. Took a week off work. N tried to console J, but it meant nothing, J just bottled her feelings and carried on.

A week and a half later, they were sat in bed together. N asked to borrow J’s laptop to check her emails. As N opened her emails, the screen flashed with dating site confirmations. J lost her cool and N’s temper finally flared again. N threw the laptop at the wall, breaking the screen. “Look, see what you fucking did. Spam email. Fucking SPAM EMAILS, ever heard of them? That’s what that shit was. You get them, everyone fucking gets them. I’m not actually on any websites, I honestly can’t believe you’d think that. You’re crazy, you know that?”

The next few weeks were a blur. J sank into a deep depression, still not eating, still not sleeping. She remembered that she had all of N’s passwords and terrified, she logged into her apps. She told herself was being paranoid, believed with every part of her soul that she wouldn’t find anything. In the space of two months, she found: three separate Facebook accounts, further Whatsapp conversations, a KIK used for sexual conversations, POF, Match.com, a fuck buddies app, Ashley Madison account, a Meetme account, Badoo, Bumble, Tinder, Snapchat. Most of the emails/usernames used were in N’s emails she never bothered to delete. J sat and read every single message. There were hundreds, every single one of these apps and websites were being used daily by N. Every single day, whilst she was at work, it seemed.

“I felt myself die completely reading those messages. I know it sounds dramatic but that’s how it felt, how it still feels. I’m not a whole person since that. The violence was bad but was nothing compared to the emotional torture of reading the person you love saying they want to fuck people. What they’d like to do to them. Sending nudes. You know what hurt more? When I would see she would have phonecalls with them. It made it more real. Like, it wasn’t just dirty little sexts, it was actually conversing. I don’t know. I’ve never been the same person since. I read everything and sometimes, you know, it would make me physically ill. I’d have to stop and vomit. It was weird because on these messages, she would lead these people on and ask them to meet but then never see it through. That always confused me, they would send N messages asking why she’d stood them up.. She never actually met with one of them. I don’t know why, it’s not like it was any less bad because it wasn’t actually physical.”

J would confront N and the reactions would differ. At first, N would deny the accusations even with the proof before her eyes. It was always someone had hacked her or she would spend hours gas lighting J, convincing her it was in her head. The stress and pressure was all too much for J, she quit her job, she couldn’t function. She would beg N to just admit the truth, it took months for her to. In those months, J would find more messages and accounts every single day. Every day her heart would got torn out of her chest, the hurt never stopped, J thought about suicide a lot. The pain for J was indescribable, yet she couldn’t let N go. J felt helpless, she knew N had her completely. She knew logically that she could have just ended things but she just didn’t feel she could. She felt she needed N, that there really wasn’t an option.

It was quiet for awhile, a few weeks, J was still obsessively checking N’s media and messages and it seemed to have stopped. They’d had an amazing night, for the first night it a long time it felt like they had connected again. Sat watching a film, N’s Facebook notification pinged. J passed N her phone, but was confused as no active notification had come up, N mentioned that her phone had been playing up. J took the phone and checked, the Facebook notification was from a second account, she immediately questioned N. N laughed it off, saying that she hadn’t deactivated the account properly and would do it the next morning. J was silent and forced herself to sleep. The next day she tried to force it from her mind, as they were sat having dinner together. N took the plates into the kitchen to wash up and whilst in the room, her phone rang. J picked up the phone to hand it to N, noticing that it was a female’s name she had never heard N mention before. “Oh babe, it’s just my friend’s sister. I left some work stuff around their house, I’ll go sort it out later.” The following day, she checked the Facebook whilst N was at work. The “friend’s sister” was a girl N had been speaking with. N’s last message to this girl was, “I think I saw you in town, if I had known it was you, I would’ve kissed you.”

N finally did end the behaviour. 5 months after it had began. False promises and gas lighting, their relationship seemed completely irreparable. N tried to comfort J, it seemed like she was trying to accept responsibility. She stopped staying out late and dedicated more time to J.

“I know people won’t understand this but despite everything, I wanted us to work. When it was good, it was great. I know it doesn’t seem like it but N isn’t a bad person. I cringe as I say that because I know nobody will believe it but you know, good people can do really shitty things, doesn’t make them a bad person. Maybe I’m naive, I don’t know but I know that I love her. I hear people all the time saying, “If I was in an abusive relationship, I’d leave, but it’s not always like that. It’s not that black and white. I’m not encouraging or advocating people stay in relationships like mine, I’m really not. I’m just trying to give a different perspective or some insight.. I don’t know. It’s real. It’s no bullshit.”

The infidelity had ceased but J’s pain hadn’t. She became a shut in, didn’t socialise, didn’t really live. For the first few months, J was obsessed with checking social media. It became a compulsion. She would spend hours at a time, googling N’s name trying to find her social media pages. Typing her email into different apps. She never found anything but it didn’t silence her mind. She couldn’t relax, after daily hurt, it had become an automatic daily pattern to be on high alert. As time passed, this behaviour died down, but didn’t stop until 6 months after. They would argue a lot, J couldn’t and didn’t know how to process the emotional pain. N didn’t know how to support J, she showered her with reassurance but because of all the previous empty promises, it never felt real. It was never enough.

However, this horrible time period had opened communication up between them both. N was learning how to be more honest and speak about her feelings, sharing with J the dark times from her past, traumatic events that had shaped her life. N had been through emotional neglect as a child, which she acknowledged, had made her an emotionally neglectful adult for a long time.

N held a lot of anger within, which still would result in violent outbursts. The abuse would come once a month or once every six. There was no specific pattern.

“It’s weird. When you’re a victim of abuse.. or you know, you have been in the past, you can sense the incoming abuse in the air. From the moment I’d wake up, I’d know whether it was going to be a good day or bad day. I don’t know how, instinct? I’d just know. I’d immediately feel uncomfortable. N could still be fast asleep and I’d just know. The atmosphere would just be different and every single time I got this feeling, an abusive incident would follow that day or night. I really can’t explain it that well but I felt it in my entire body.”

The abuse would range and vary in severity. During the time, it would mostly be emotional.

“I’ve been called everything. Stupid, slut, worthless. I’ve been spat on and at. Had drinks poured over me, plates thrown at me, actually.. a lot of shit thrown at me. She’s broken four different phones I’ve had. I’ve been slapped, choked, thrown against walls. Kicked in the stomach, face, head. Punched in the body. She only ever punched my face once, which resulted in a black eye and a very bloody nose. It was terrifying.. I’d never been in a fight before, never been in any physical fight with anyone in my entire life. She hit me and it didn’t process at first, the pain wasn’t immediate, I was just in shock. Then the pain hit, the blood poured, I thought she’d broken my nose. I remember there was so much blood is soaked parts of my t-shirt. A month before I had started a job in an office, which I quit after this incident. I had to go into work with my black eye, I tried covering it but I didn’t know how, it was very obvious. Everyone was whispering or asking me outright. I lied, said it was nothing, just a fall. I could tell nobody believed it. That anxiety, knowing everyone was judging and talking about me, I couldn’t handle that. So, I just quit.”

The violent outbursts became more controlled once N sought help. This help wasn’t welcomed at first though. It had started as an argument, J can’t recall what it was about. J remembers seeing a rage in N’s eyes.

Her eyes would always glaze over when she became enraged. It was like a different person was stood before me, like her face physically changed. It scared me because not only did I know I was going to be hit, I knew that this person had no empathy, it was a complete stranger. Her eyes would be empty, she didn’t seem to recognise me, there was just nothing there.”

N rained down punches on J’s body. J was on the floor, curled up, holding her hands over her skull. It happened in a flash. The screaming, shouting, over in minutes. N stepped back and fled the house. She ran into the local woodland and hid. J reached to her phone and called N’s parents, who came and picked her up. They took her back to their home and J explained everything. The listened, completely astounded by what they were hearing. N’s relationship with her parents was complicated, they were people who could provide, but not always provide love and caring. N’s parents admitted that as a child, she would often lash out at people and inanimate objects but because they couldn’t control her, they often left her to it, believing she would grow out of it. The parents made multiple attempts to contact N, but it was finally J she accepted a call from.

J stepped outside to speak with her partner, who confided she was feeling very suicidal. N had a history of suicide attempts, so J was very cautious in what she spoke. She reassured N that she wanted to get her help but she needed to know where she was. This back and forth lasted around twenty minutes before N finally backed down and admitted to her location. J was still on the phone to N as she started walking towards the woods, when she heard N shout “fuck you” and hang up. J was terrified and called back, when N answered she was very quiet. “Why the fuck did you tell them, J?” J was confused until she heard N’s parents in the background of the call. They had left the house when J was on the phone, deciding by gut instinct to try the woods to find their daughter. N heard them shouting her name and panicked, she had just told J her location so could only assume that J had betrayed her trust and informed her parents. N’s parents took her into their car and picked J up, they decided to take N to the emergency room at the hospital. There, N eventually had a mental health evaluation, and was put into therapy and signed up to anger management lessons and classes.

“It’s really fucked up, I know that, we know that. I love her and she loves me. I’m still suffering from the aftermath. There’s been no violence since that day within our relationship but still, when N gets slightly annoyed at something, I shake. I get feelings of nauseous and have anxiety attacks. I find myself still struggling with self esteem and I apologise excessively all of the time for things and immediately try to take blame. From the cheating, though it was years ago now, it still haunts me in ways. I’m quite.. controlling, I guess, sometimes. I like to know exactly who N is with and don’t like her to really make plans without me. I still get flashbacks of those seedy messages in my mind, sometimes during sex, and I could just hurl myself from a window. There’s a lot of damaged to be healed, I don’t think it ever fully can repair. People question why we’re together, those few who know what we’ve been through, and I can only really put it down as love. I really want to spend my life with her and I hope our relationship can be healthy, I hope it can be normal. I don’t forgive the things she’s put me through but I see something in her, I just have this pure belief that she’s a good person and I really feel it. I don’t know what the future holds but I take each day as it comes, a lot has changed from those years ago. We’ve grown a lot as people as a couple. I don’t know, sometimes I think I’m stuck in confusion. I know I’m happy but this isn’t a conventional relationship, is it real? I think so. I hope so. I question a lot”

Distortion XL

I’m really struggling with body image lately. I mean, it’s nothing new, I don’t think I’ll make peace with my appearance.
I feel disgusting. Just so goddamn uncomfortable in my skin.
All I see is fat everywhere.
I find myself obsessing in every reflective surface. Double chin, flabby skin.
I don’t know if I’m really as fat as my mind tells me I am.
I’ve been this way since I was a young child.
I feel guilty for every bite of food.
I feel guilty for even thinking I’m hungry.
There are people that say you cannot be addicted to food, I’d argue with that.
The comfort eating brings is the worst.
I’d just like to feel pretty.
The way I walk feels “fat”, I don’t even feel comfortable moving around. I just feel huge. Every small footstep feels like a heavy thud.
Looking back at periods in time where I’ve been at my lowest weight, I was never happy because the truth is, I never realised I was thin. My mind couldn’t process it. I could feel my ribs and still, I just felt in my heart I was massively overweight.
It doesn’t matter how much weight I lose, it’s still the same in my mind.
It’s so distorted and it feels inescapable.

Absent minded.

I’m still actually feeling decent, it’s weird.
The more quiet my head is, the more I fidget. An anxious fidgeting, I don’t know?
I’ll constantly be tapping my feet or curling my toes repetitively. I don’t even realise I’m doing it until someone else points it out to me.

I’ve been unintentionally multitasking a lot. R will put a film on for us to watch but I’ll be reading things on my phone throughout, whilst still somehow been aware of everything happening throughout the film.

Bipolar, OCD & Sensory Disorder

Charli is 20 and currently lives in South Yorkshire, England. At 7 years old, when certain behaviours presented, it was presumed autism and at 15 she was misdiagnosed; her symptoms really beginning to peak at age 13. She did not receive a correct, official diagnosis until October 2016, when she was 18 years old.

She didn’t seek help herself, but was “ambushed” in school at age 13. During assembly, a stranger entered the room and led her into a room that contained her parents, two people she had never met, and the head of her house. Charli was admitted for two days and has been engaging with mental health services ever since. She admits to not being very open about her struggle, although her parents are very supportive and involved. Unfortunately, not all of her family are the same, her mother’s sister belittling her and being very inconsiderate.

From the ages of 13 to 16, the support she received for her mental health was quite negative, many misdiagnoses, lack of safe guarding, lack of support from crisis teams. Despite hospitalisations, complete disassociation and hallucinations for weeks at a time, she was always sent home after a few hours or days at most. The confidential nature of the situation was handled poorly at her school, with almost all of her classmates in her years were aware of the issues which resulted in bullying. When she was 14, she started to attend a school specialised for students with mental health disorders, meaning there was only around 5-6 people in her year group, she found the experience generally helpful.

Many SSRIs have been used to treat her over the years, and while over the past few months Lithium therapy has been discussed, she still remains on Sertraline. Most SSRIs have presented side effects but with Sertraline jaw clenching and teeth grinding are the only currently present. The withdrawals can also be very difficult with Sertraline.

Mental health has had a major impact on her life. She was unable to concentrate and complete school work, unable to go to university. It effects her work, the boss being somewhat unsympathetic to her health issues. It has had a substantial effect on her personal relationships, Charli and her father had a very abusive relationship because of her mental health, which caused her to move out of the home by herself at age 16.

A typical day is impacted by OCD and Sensory Disorder issues, currently she feels her Bipolar Disorder is stable, unless she becomes manic. Compulsions that accompany her disorders are becoming more extreme as time passes, which causes anxiety to accelerate. Her main sensory problems revolve around touch and sound, she cannot be touched, anything that is not expected will cause a major panic attack. Working in construction, having to travel via bus to and from work, the noises that come along with her career and the journey can be problematic and triggering.

During a manic day or what she refers to as an “overload” day, she is plagued by complete sensory overload along with dramatic mood changes and racing thoughts. On the worst of days, there is a lot of crying, screaming, confusion and withdrawal. Charli will often exhibit behaviours such as rocking and rolling around, manic fidgeting, her skin feels aflame. These periods can last for hours, the longest lasting 7 hours in total, and she has not yet found anything that can stop them.

Triggers consist of being touched, loud of abrasive noises. Unorganised plans cause anxiety and disrupted routines and compulsions.

Until fully qualified, she did not try for work due to her mental health and was subsequently, after qualifying, let go from a job after a 2 week hospitalisation following a suicide attempt.

Charli has both negative and positive coping mechanisms. She mentions self harm but also adds that she has not engaged in this for over a year! She does, however, purge which she finds soothes her anxiety. She disassociates often, one which she feels she has little control over. Her healthy ones are reading, running, 3:5 breathing, TIPP skills and the 5-1 grounding technique.