Managing Strong Emotions & Impulsivity

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One of the main Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) behaviour I struggle with the most is intrusive thoughts and impulsive acts. I have worked on it in therapy but it is still a major issue I currently face when it comes to relationships and how I relate to others.

My impulsive thought and behaviour is triggered by criticism – by that I mean the tone of voice (someone being rude to me/shouting at me), rejection and being ignored in one way or another.

When I am triggered, I automatically end up in a crisis. It doesn’t matter where I am, I’d either start crying, get angry, hurt myself or just freeze and not move for hours. Depending on who the person at the receiving end is, I could also blurt out stuff I don’t necessarily mean.

“I hate you”

“I am fat”

“I am disgusting”

“Everybody hates me”

“I should die”

“Why can’t I just be dead?”

“I am never eating again”

“I hate myself”

These actions is driven by anger. If someone is critical towards me, I feel attacked and feel like they don’t care about me. Saying and doing impulsive actions is a way for me to tell the person that they’ve hurt me. As I was being bullied at school, I bottled up my emotions and now it all seems to be coming out in impulsive and destructive ways. I feel emotions too strongly, can’t control it and lash out.

“Control” is another big word in situations like this. I’ve realised that, I lash out because I feel “out of control”. But what is it that I am losing control over? I don’t know. But there is something there, deep down.

After I do and say those things, I am left feeling deflated. Having not spoken for hours, my voice hardly comes out. It is also embarrassing. Acting out and then suddenly acting normal again? That is hard to do. It takes me a while to return back to my normal self.

In therapy, I learnt how to handle situations like this. Keeping a thought record and using the DBT skill STOPP! is really helpful.

Stop!

Say it to yourself, in your head, as soon as you notice your mind and/or your body is reacting to a trigger. Taking a step back helps to put in the space between the stimulus (the trigger, whatever we are reacting to) and our response. The earlier you use STOPP, the easier and more effective it will be.

Take a Breath

Breathing deeper and slower will calm down and reduce the physical reaction of emotion/adrenaline. Focusing on our breathing means we are not so focused on the thoughts and feelings of the distress, so that our minds can start to clear and we can think more logically and rationally.

Observe

We can notice the thoughts going through our mind, we can also notice what we feel in our body, and we can notice the urge to react in an impulsive way. We can notice the vicious cycle of anxiety, sadness or anger (etc). Noticing helps us to defuse from those thoughts and feelings and therefore reduce their power and control. Are you feeling hot? Sweaty? What is your hands doing? Are you feeling tearful? Just notice.

Put things into Perspective

Challenge your thoughts before you act. Thinking differently. When we step back emotionally from a situation, and start to see the bigger picture, it reduces those distressing beliefs. We can do this by asking ourselves questions. Is it worth it? How would I feel after acting on the thought?

Practise what works

Rather than reacting impulsively with unhelpful consequences, we can CHOOSE a more helpful and positive response. I like to walk away, get out of the situation, because staying will not calm me down. Getting away and doing something else can make me calm down.

 

My Birthday Trip To Paris!

For my 24th birthday this year, I decided to challenge myself and book a trip away to Paris with my friend Hannah. I’ve only ever been to Scotland, which is of course in the UK but going to France was a massive step in my recovery. It’s the first ever proper country I’ve been to.

Travelling for me has always been something I have avoided all my life due to my anorexia and anxiety but I have always craved to travel somewhere (except for Bangladesh which I do not count as a holiday).

Of course, I had other fears – the increase in terror attacks in France for one. That’s why before, I never really wanted to travel to Europe because of the fear of Islamist terrorism – and that really increased my anxiety and panic levels. But what will you achieve if you just avoid going to places because you are scared a terror attack will happen? That is letting the terrorists win. You cannot stop living your life because of terrorism and unfortunately terror in Europe is the norm now, so you must be vigilant but not afraid.

On this trip (we stayed for 3 nights) I realised what I can actually do. I can be spontaneous and I can let go and have fun. I realised that I don’t have to be confined inside this little shell of myself anymore. I can go out and I can socialise and I can eat! Surprisingly, the pressure of eating eased off during this trip – I think mainly because I was in a different place and my hotel had a gym – so in a way, I felt safe. I have to say, I purposely chose a hotel that had facilities to suit my needs, where I know I can workout at the end of the day, so I don’t get too overwhelmed with what I’ve eaten.

Of course, I did feel overwhelmed but having a friend with me who understands what it’s like really helped me.

It was the perfect time to be in Paris because it was of course the French elections and the campaigning was in full force when I was there. An election, or anything to do with politics rather, is right up my street as I cover it at work. Being on holiday didn’t stop me from asking people what they think about the candidates – and when people found out that I am a BBC journalist, they did not hesitate to ask me what I think about it. As soon as I mentioned Marine Le Pen, the French people immediately wanted to debate with me. It was interesting to see what people thought about a Le Pen win. It was also interesting to see what the French think about Brexit. Now, it’s against Macron v Le Pen – we had Brexit, we had Trump, a Le Pen win could be a massive possibility!

Places we’ve visited…

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Louvre museum
  • A cruise across The River Seine
  • Arc De Triomphe at the Champs-Élysées
  • Sacré-Cœur

I completely forgot that I had Bangladeshi relatives (an auntie + family) who live in France. They found out (from my parents) that I was in France and decided to call me up and invite me to my cousins’ wedding! If you know me, you’d know that I hate Asian weddings and in the UK, I always avoid going to them. But since I was in a different country, I decided to go! My friend Hannah also wanted to experience what an Asian wedding is like, so this was a good opportunity.

All in all, I had an amazing time away and ready for my next adventure! I just experienced what recovery can be like and it is great, so maybe, I should keep going?

13 Reasons Why ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ Doesn’t Raise Awareness of Mental Health


I came across Thirteen Reasons Why randomly on Netflix about three weeks ago. It sounded good so I decided to watch it. I didn’t know it would end up being this popular amongst young people around the world. I wouldn’t have watched if I found out about it later on, because generally I don’t jump on the bandwagon when the entire world is obsessed with something. It isn’t me.

Anyway, it was very weird and confusing during the first few episodes. This isn’t a review of the show, I wanted to address why it doesn’t help raise awareness of mental health. So this is Thirteen Reasons Why this show does more harm than good.

1. It isn’t realistic at all 

2. Hannah puts the blame of her suicide on her friends, which they will have to carry around their whole life, thinking they “killed” her 

3. The school only started raising awareness of suicide AFTER a suicide happened

4. After Hannah’s suicide, the school didn’t even offer help to her family and friends who are clearly affected by it – counselling would have been beneficial 

5. Hannah didn’t even leave a note or even record a tape for her parents. Surely they have a right to an answer about why their daughter felt she needed to kill herself?

 6. Why would you blame a suicide on someone who was “scared” to love you? Personally, I think Clay shouldn’t have been on the tapes. He did nothing wrong. You can’t save someone from suicide just by being nice to them 

7. Rape shouldn’t even be justified. Justin should have confronted Bryce and told the police about what he did to Jessica. Why let it happen in the first place? It was his girlfriend!

8. Hannah should have told someone about what Bryce did to Jessica. Why would you keep that to yourself?

9. They showed Hannah actually self harming. I couldn’t watch. Why would you show a graphic scene of someone self harming really badly and bleeding to death? It triggered a couple of my friends’ self harm. It shouldn’t have been shown. 

10. That scene also gave people ideas on how to go about killing themselves

11. If the show is supposed to raise awareness, then why does it not even mention the words ‘mental illness’ or ‘depression’? 

12. Mr Porter telling Hannah he “can’t do anything” because she isn’t giving the name of her rapist and telling her to “just move on” is going too far. He could have got a name out of her or done something to reassure Hannah that what happened to her isn’t her fault and justice will be served. He did the opposite by telling her he can’t do anything, making her feel more worthless.

13. The show glamourises the planning stage of suicide. How Hannah records her suicide tapes, decorates them, put them into a pretty box. Realistically, people who want to kill themselves won’t even have the energy to do that as depression is draining. 

Having discussed this with a lot of my friends who have mental health problems, we all came to the conclusion that the show shouldn’t be watched by those who suffer with similar issues. It brings back flashbacks and can give ideas to those who are currently mentally unstable. I personally think it should be taken down by Netflix and/or banned.

Anorexia: A Letter From My Body

I have been told to write a letter from my body to myself as part of my treatment from anorexia, so I thought sharing it publicly may help.

TRIGGER WARNING

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Dear Habiba,

I wish this was a positive letter but I’m afraid it isn’t. I’m going to have to be blunt with you. You made most of my 23 years of life a misery. You denied me food, the most important source of energy. You made me sit through hunger pangs for hours, even days. I was begging for you to feed me. Even a sip of water would be enough at times but you denied me of that too, leading me to suffer severe dehydration which destroyed my kidneys.

You made my hair fall out and made my nails become brittle. You made me work through the pain, even though I couldn’t concentrate properly. You made me fake a smile, pretending everything is alright, when I know all you wanted me to do was hide away. When my stomach made a hunger noise, you’d punch me, telling me to be quiet and that I don’t deserve food.

On the rare occasion you did feed me, it wasn’t enough or too much too quickly, so much food crammed into me until my stomach hurt. Then you would make me put my head down the toilet, with fingers down my throat, forcing me to throw up everything you just fed me. It happened so often that sometimes nothing but blood used to come up. Then you’d be lying on the bathroom floor crying, telling yourself that this would be the last time but we both know that was a lie. You never allowed me to keep food down no matter how much I needed it.

You never allowed me to enjoy food. You never allowed me to nourish myself. You constantly called me fat and other horrible names. The lack of nutrition made my skin look awful, which you attempted to cover up with a face full of make up.

You made me dizzy and weak but never allowed me to take a rest. You took me to the gym, made me workout for four hours on an empty stomach. You put exercise before anything. You never let me see friends, you isolated me. You never allowed me to sleep or take a rest day. You made me stay awake every night, waiting for 4am on the dot, so you can force me to do exercise in your room whilst everyone was asleep. God, I was so tried and just wanted to sleep but you never allowed me that luxury. Even with an injured foot, you still dragged me to the gym and forced me to burn the calories of the one digestive biscuit you fed me last night. Everyday was a waking nightmare. I was exhausted but you kept on wanting to punish me. Your body. What have I ever done to you?

You destroyed me. You put me on death’s door. You wanted to kill me so many times. Overdosing on 25 pills. Attempting to jump in front of a train and nights spent planning suicide. Thank God you failed. You’re lucky to have me, to still be here.

I know this wasn’t all you, Habiba. I know anorexia was the one who made you do those things. But you are better than that. You are not Habiba the anorexic. You are Habiba the journalist. You are Habiba, who is kind, gentle and funny. I know you can recover. You have been doing well recently and I am proud of you for that. You’ve been socialsing more and going on holiday. Why and how? Because you’re starting to feed me. You’re starting to give me the energy I need to live a fulfilling life. Just think of the more amazing things you can do if you keep feeding me and nourishing me? You only have one body. Please don’t hurt me anymore. Please please take care of me. Haven’t I been tortured enough?

 

Lots of love,

Your body

How To Look Stylish At The Gym

Let’s face it, most of us still want to look glamorous in the gym but think it’s impossible due to all the sweat. Sports clothes is something I will never wear out in public as I don’t feel comfortable or feminine in them. BUT, since I’m a regular gym goer, I have transformed by gym wardrobe into a more stylish one so I can feel confident and comfortable whilst working out.


First of all, outfit! As it’s the new year, I decided to mix up my gym outfits and buy tops with motivational quotes and slogans. I bought a lot of slogan tops from Missguided, Boohoo and Forever 21 recently. I put together this ‘Sweat Squad’ slogan vest from Boohoo.com and a pair of Live The Process floral print leggings. Complimenting the sleeveless vest, I like to add a Mesh or fishnet crop top underneath the vest. I love this one from Mesh Panel Crop Tee by Ivy Park along with the brands Double Layer Camo Sports Bra. To finish off the outfit, I’ve added a sturdy yet stylish pair of trainers such as this Adidas Gymbreaker Bounce, which is perfect for training.

I know a lot of people will be raising their eyebrows about wearing make up in the gym but what is the point of working out if you’re not feeling your best? Makeup makes me feel confident and makes me work harder in the gym. But is makeup while you workout good for your skin? It depends on what you use. I’m not talking full makeup. It’s all about natural and light.

I like to use a tinted moisturiser for the gym with a bit of sweatproof powder on top. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser (oil-free version) is perfect and lightweight for the gym. Rimmel London Waterproof Exaggerate Liquid Eyeliner is one of my favourite eyeliners. I always wear it at the gym and after an intense workout, there isn’t even one bit of smudgeness – looks good as when I first put it on. I recently discovered Waterproof Sport Mascara by Eyeko and as the name says it, it is specifically for sports conditions. I love this mascara so much. And last but not least, lips! Stila Stay All Day Matte Lipstick is perfect for those sweaty workout. I make sure not to go all out on lipstick when I’m working out, a little goes a long way! Also, don’t forget a cute little make-up! I’m loving this Rose Gold Dita Make Up Bag from Skinny Dip.

Reflecting on 2016

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As 2016 is coming to an end, I thought I would reflect on the past year. Let’s be honest, this year hasn’t been one of the best for many people. For me, it has been up and down. There were a lot of bad times but there were also a lot of good and memorable times in both my professional and personal life.

Taking work for example, I’ve had the pleasure of working on some of the biggest news stories that will go down in history. 2016 has definitely been a historic year for politics. Britain voting to leave the European Union had split the whole of the United Kingdom and it was a truly fascinating campaign. One word following the Brexit vote was ‘unpredictable’. Things suddenly started happening and changing. David Cameron resigning as Prime Minister after Brexit vote, then the Conserative leadership election was cut short after Andrea Leadsom quit the race, which made Theresa May the Prime Minister. Another Labour leadership election won by Jeremy Corbyn. It was so exciting yet so emotional. Following that was the victory of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The “impossible” kept turning into possible. It was such a fascinating year of politics and one that is unforgettable.

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I’ve learnt a lot about myself this year. I do get upset and angry very easily and take everything personally and lash out. This is something I definitely want to work on in 2017. I need to learn to take criticism and know that I cannot always be perfect. I need to realise that not being perfect is okay. It hasn’t been a good year for my mental health. I am still in this period of ambivalence with my eating disorder. I want to get better but I don’t at the same time. That is ongoing and something to work on in 2017. Then again, I still have a job that I adore and have been holding it down pretty well, despite my mental health.

This year, only recently in November, I went on my first ever holiday. It was only to the Scottish Highlands – Loch Lomond, but this was a big deal because I hadn’t travelled in 12 years. So, going on a plane and staying away from home for a couple of days with friends was a challenge for me. It was a good challenge and a learning experience. In 2017, I hope to travel some more and who knows, hopefully I can be brave and go somewhere abroad. The only place I have been abroad, not in the UK, is Bangladesh and heck, I do not want to go there again. I don’t see it as a holiday. I would like to visit Australia and somewhere in the US, like New York. But, my kind of holidays are quiet places, peaceful and relaxing – I live in the city so it is nice to go somewhere with less people (that’s why I chose to go to the Scottish Highlands for my first trip!). I like places with nice scenery and big mountains and not that hot – I also love the countryside.

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Now this one might be controversial for someone in my condition, but I got back into training since the summer. I was on exercise ban by my treatment team (even now they’re still weary about me working out) but now I feel I have a much more “healthier” mindset to exercise – less focus on weight and more focus on getting stronger and a better mental health. They say exercise helps with depression and it certainly does. I joined Gymbox and I have to say, it has made working out so much more fun and sociable. In all honesty, it has changed my life. Gymbox isn’t just your average gym – it is literally like a club but everything fitness. You walk into the sound of big heavy beats and the atmosphere is so cool and fun. I go to a lot of different classes, mainly dance and HIIT classes, that consists of circuits. I also do spin class, pilates and some weights based classes too. I also adore boxing. My goal for 2017 is to keep working on that core and get it stronger so I can do planks for longer than 50 seconds and just have fun. The best thing about Gymbox is that it has helped a lot with my confidence too. In classes, you meet new people and make friends and you all have something in common – fitness. If you’re someone who hates the thought of the gym – join Gymbox. Trust me, you will not want to leave!

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I enjoyed doing a lot of photoshoots this year, stepping out of my comfort zone and being in front of the camera really did help my confidence. I also got signed to a modelling agency, which is so exciting, so hoping for more shoots in 2017. I was also very pleased to be featured in Cosmopolitan magazine, where I spoke openly about being a high functional women with an eating disorder. It was such a cool opportunity.

When I first decided to write this, I was quite disappointed that I didn’t have any big memorable happy moments but I guess I realised that I should be grateful for the little things that happened. Sometimes, actually wanting to live is hard for me, but here I am, I am still here. I haven’t let this illness taken me and I will still fight every single day in 2017 to survive. A lot of this year I battled with feeling lonely. It’s not the lonely where you think you have no friends, it’s an empty feeling inside. But, I am where I am and I can only improve it slowly. Life isn’t a rush and it isn’t a competition. There are things I haven’t been able to achieve this year, for example, my driving – I failed one test and haven’t had any since but my aim for 2017 is to pass it – but if I don’t, I shouldn’t be hard on myself. The only thing I can do is just enjoy the journey and not focus too much on the destination – and I suggest you guys do the same too.

Happy New Year!

xxx

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