Mental health and Unhealthy Friendships

friendship-broken

Being friends with someone who also has mental health issues can be great because they understand how you feel. Having a mental health disorder can make you feel lonely because you think “normal” people don’t understand you so finding someone who is going through the same thing can be a wonderful thing. You can both support each other and encourage each other to get better.

But it also can be incredibly detrimental for both parties. From personal experience, every friend I had who is also struggling with mental health issues, I lost. I have problems keeping friends in general due to my Borderline Personality Disorder but I have noticed it is more difficult to keep the friends I met at hospital and online with mental illnesses. It’s nice to relate to someone but sometimes, forming a close friendship with that person can make both parties worse. It can become unhealthy.

“Triggering” each other is one factor. Even if both have different conditions, there are ways we can unintentionally say or do something that can set each other off, causing each other to act on destructive behaviours. However, this is more common if both have the same illness such as an eating disorder or are struggling with self harm. I may be at a different stage in my eating disorder recovery and the other person may at a completely different stage. I may be in a relapse and the other person may find that hard to be around. I have had friends who openly said they cannot be friends with me because I am triggering them due to my behaviours and weight loss. I completely understand that as I don’t want to be the cause of someone relapsing. Ending that friendship can be the healthiest option for both.

Constantly comparing each other is another factor why a friendship won’t work. Mental illness isn’t and shouldn’t be a competition but it can unfortunately become one. Comparisons such as…

  • “They seem to be coping better than me but they have the same illness as me.”
  • “How can they manage a career, but I can’t?”
  • “She is in eating disorder recovery too, but why is she still skinny and I gained so much weight?”

I have come across people with chronic illnesses who constantly compare themselves with others with the same condition. “It’s not fair. She can do so much but I can barely get up in the morning.” It can send a negative vibe and it isn’t nice to be around.

There have been people who try to put me down because I can hold down a challenging job whilst struggling with mental health issues but they can’t. It can almost seem rather selfish. It’s like both of you are trying to drag each other down, not lifting each other up.

However, sometimes we can compare in a different way. Competing to see who is the most sickest. Trying to prove to each other that one of you is more sicker than the other by saying things like “Look, I have more diagnoses than you. I have attempted suicide more times than you. I have more pains than you. You don’t know the half of it.” That doesn’t mean the other person hasn’t had it hard. You cannot compare such things.

Everyone’s illness and journey is different and it is silly to compare. Everyone copes differently and have different experiences because our illnesses affect us differently and our lives are different because of this. But, unfortunately when it puts a strain in your friendship, when it gets extreme and competitive, maybe it is time to end it for each other’s own sake.

Reflecting on 2016

image1

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.

pjimage

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.

image2.PNG

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!

20151205_105757328_ios

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

4eb501f20bdaef10227591b41f394f4a-e1420415591811

World Mental Health Day 2016: BPD and ME

14159048_10209239834969417_360418956_n

As it is World Mental Health Day, I want to speak out about one of my recent diagnosis – Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

People often have a negative view about BPD and that is why I am reluctant to speak about it publicly. Why? Because it shows how I’m not as perfect as I want to be or as much I want people to think I am. My eating disorder doesn’t make me perfect, but at least I can control my weight and make it perfect for me. Whereas BPD makes people think I’m evil and a horrible person because it’s out of my control and brings out the worst in me.

I wish people would understand me but they don’t. There is always an explanation for the way I behave. It’s not because I’m a bad person even though it may seem like it. I promise the things I do does not come from bad intentions. It comes from a need to feel like I belong.

I’ve always found it hard to make and keep friends. BPD makes close friendships difficult. No one seems to stay for long in my life and I often become a burden for people because I am vulnerable, fragile, difficult and too dependent. I expect too much from people. I want to feel needed, I want to feel wanted and I want to feel like I matter. I want someone to be spontaneous and take me places, because I never had that as a child. I want to feel safe and cared for, because I never felt that as a child. I want to be treated as a first choice, because I’ve never been someone’s first choice.

I never felt like I fitted in as a child. I always felt left out. People hurt me. I was always on my own. I was my own best friend and own worst enemy. That is why whenever I get close to someone now; I fear abandonment and rejection which leads to me losing people because they get scared and back away as I try so hard to keep them. I would do anything for someone I love not to leave me. In the past – it has ended up with threats, multiple suicide attempts, threats of suicide and self-harm, in an attempt to blackmail people not to leave me. It’s not a selfish part of me, but a desperate cry for help. I have so much love and care to give – that’s all I want. I want to feel worthy for once.

If I make plans with friends and for some reason they cancel, it triggers me into thinking they hate me and they have probably found someone else they would rather hang out with. I get upset and mad. I don’t think about their reason, I automatically think it’s about me. The reason is always me. That is why I need constant reassurance from people that they still like me and care about me.

And only recently, I realised this part of my personality not only affects my personal relationships, but also affects my professional relationships and how I relate to people in the workplace. If I don’t somehow feel like I belong in a team, I feel unimportant which makes me feel worthless. If I don’t get praised at work and get criticism, I feel like it’s the end of the world and everyone hates me and get paranoid that I will lose my job. It comes hand in hand with perfectionism. I must do all I can to feel accepted because I never felt accepted as a child.

So, the cause of BPD is often deep rooted . Trying to keep up with constant feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness is exhausting, but with an intense form of Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT), it has made me understand why I do the things I do. I found out that my BPD is connected to my anorexia. With my DIT therapist, I found links to why I behave the way I do and it really makes sense.

Living with BPD is so hard – you will not understand how hard it is unless you have it yourself. The behaviours are only a reaction of what we fear the most – that have already happened to us before. For me, not feeling like I got enough love as a child, being used, being bullied, feeling left out – are all combination of things why it is hard for me to form healthy and stable relationships in adulthood.

However, as I recover, I am realising I have behaved inappropriately towards people which ruined a lot of friendships. I did those things because I was in a bad place and let my illness control me. I am not denying responsibility at all. I am at fault. I know I hurt people with my words and impulsive actions and I hate myself for that. I wish I could turn back time and start again. But, whats done is done and I can only work on it and improve myself for the better.

I am not a bad person, I promise. All I want is to feel is loved for once in my life. People think I only care about myself but that is not true. It may seem like I think the whole world revolves around me but it is far from that – it is a little girl, who hasn’t properly grown up, so desperate to give love as well as receive love. I am fun, funny, silly and caring – I just had a difficult childhood that has left me in this mental state, but I am still a human being.

If a friend or a loved one struggles with BPD, I just need you to know that they are not a bad person. They are just scared. Please please don’t leave them if you really love and care about them. It hurts. It hurts so badly when someone you love abandons you. Help that person. Be there for them. And if it gets too much and you decide to leave them, please don’t be harsh to them – try not to end things in a bad way. Reassure them that things will get better and that they are not alone. It will make every bit of difference.