Amy Cullis

@amy-cullis-1 | contributor
I’m a spoonie (Google “The Spoon Theory”) from the UK with a keen interest in mental health, intersectional feminism, and disability activism.
Autumn Aurelia

What It's Like to Experience Mania in Borderline Personality Disorder

Tonight I can do anything. “Take me to the cinema,” I say to my carer. “No, no… let’s go bowling,” I beg. “God, I really wanna go visit Megan,” I say. Or wouldn’t it be awesome to take a flight somewhere and just get out of here? I think to myself, secretly Googling prices and times. We could leave now. We really could. While most of these suggestions might seem perfectly harmless, they are the workings of my manic mind — a mind currently high on life, ready to fly, though likely to burn out at any given second. I have borderline personality disorder and am more prone to experiencing borderline’s depression than I am its mania, so I am familiar with suicidal thinking, hard-hitting depressive episodes that last anywhere from hours to days, feelings of worthlessness, lack of hope, etc. But once in a while, I will experience small bursts of mania. I can’t quite decide if these small bursts are positive or not. On the one hand, they fill me with energy and drive, but on the other, they consume me and fill me with a dangerous sense of urgency. Largely due to my severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which I have previously written about on The Mighty, I have spent the past seven years inside and fully dependent on my carer. Realistically, I can’t set foot outside my front door without panicking. Right now, however, in the height of a manic episode I tend to forget about my illness. It’s with extreme anger and rage that I tell myself I can “defeat” it, that it doesn’t exist at all. When my carer gently reminds me I shouldn’t push myself, I want to scream at him and tell him he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t understand. I want to run outside into the wind and rain. Literally. I want to run and keep running – it doesn’t matter where I’m going so long as I am moving forward, away from this illness. There are times, rare as they are, that I will give in to the mania. Take the past weekend for example. I woke up early and asked my carer to take me into Belfast, the largest city in Northern Ireland. He was shocked and wary, but I convinced him I’d be fine. See, that’s one thing I’ve gotten really good at – manipulating myself into believing I’ll be OK. It’s so convincing that I managed to fool us both. Now, Belfast was hard, really hard… but I did get through it. And as I expected there was a lot of mania: compulsive spending, wanting to go everywhere, to experience everything. I talked to people, I laughed, I later cried. I felt alive – and that felt wonderful. What I failed to prepare for, however, were the days that followed. After our trip into Belfast, I had to spend three days lying in bed recuperating. I couldn’t move. My energy levels were low, my muscles ached to the point of crying. I was massively emotional and suicidal – all because of one day out. I experienced extreme guilt and shame at my reactions to things. I mean, if you could have seen me out there, running around Belfast like a kid on too much candy, and that’s just it; my moments of mania are extremely childlike. I was wild and free, but then something terrible happened. The child became afraid and ashamed for having “lived,” for having felt excitement. And then I go into myself again — tired, torn, eaten and spat out by the world, scared I would never feel that excitement again. I cannot begin to explain the fear I experience when I feel the mania slipping away from me. It is like watching a beautiful sunset dissolve into darkness – never to reappear. I can feel the energy inside of me dying. I watch as it turns from happiness and possibility to despair and hopelessness. I begin to loathe myself for having wasted it. Ten minutes ago, I was ready to book a flight to Glasgow, just because. Now the idea alone would give me a panic attack. Once the mania has worked its way out of my system, it is replaced by a dark and gloomy, heavy depression which tends to last for days. And even though I know this cycle never changes, that the mania leads to depression, I still crave it, still desperately hold on to the next time I’ll feel those small bursts of energy, those giant waves of possibility. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock image by ninanaina

Community Voices

The Potential Cost of Dismissing a Patient's Concerns

(Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide, self harm, trauma, and overdose)

I ended up in A&E recently. I’ve been there before for fairly minor things; such as a hairline fracture of my toe (after a friend accidentally stepped on my foot) or the time I hiccuped while eating a piece of apple; and somehow got it stuck up my nose.

This time, however, I went for #MentalHealth reasons.

This was after a particularly unhelpful assessment with my local Community #MentalHealth Team triggered my suicidal ideation and I took an overdose. Let me explain:

I have experienced various traumas in my life. For this, I’d been having counselling. By my last counselling session, my #MentalHealth‘ symptoms had worsened and I was having graphic intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, as well as suicidal thoughts and strong urges to self harm. My Primary Care team decided because of this, I was too unstable for them, and needed to be referred to Secondary Care (aka Community #MentalHealth Team) until I gained stability. The CMHT appointment was booked for the following week, and although I had some hope that they may help, I also tried to prepare myself for the possibility that they may not be able to help.

The CMHT assessment was worse than I expected. I was assessed by a very condescending, judgemental nurse. She asked me to fill in a very short questionnaire (something to do with how often I feel useless, demotivated etc) then told me she’d only ask me a few questions because CMHT had seen me a few times before & they knew my history. She also told me that if she felt I was any risk to myself or others, she would have to inform a colleague. She wanted me to tell her how I was feeling, at first. I told her that I had been struggling recently with flashbacks, graphic intrusive thoughts, suicidal thoughts, and urges to self harm. I made it very clear to her that I was definitely going to harm myself once I got home. She didn’t appear to listen to this. She asked me the usual questions about what stops me from harming myself, what the flashbacks and intrusive thoughts were about etc, but every answer was met with a disbelieving, almost smug, look.

She then asked me how I expected CMHT to help me. I wasn’t completely sure, and I told her this, but I felt I needed to be monitored in order to keep me safe. She replied by bluntly saying that the team did not have the resources for this. I said that I needed a medication review as I felt my antidepressants had stopped working. She said no to this as well. She believed that the antidepressants were helping at least a bit (I do not know what evidence she had for this, I at least knew, from monitoring my moods, there had been a sharp decline in my #MentalHealth). I told her that I may as well stop this medication if it’s not working. She insisted I stay on it.

She asked me if I still had paperwork from my previous sessions of therapy with my support worker. I said I did, and I tried to refer to them when in distress, but I found I could not concentrate and needed some face to face support to help me get that focus back. She was disappointed that I had not carried out the suggestions on the paperwork as often as she would’ve liked. I explained how difficult it was when feeling like this, but she dismissed this.

She suggested the usual things, volunteering, joining classes etc. She asked me about my hobbies, and then decided that I was on my computer too much, and that was the reason for my mental health problems and symptoms. I admitted I did spend a bit too much time online, but it was not the only factor. She assumed I spent all my time there, and pretty much insinuated I was lazy. I brought her back to the reasons I had been referred to her, and tried to get her to understand that I really was struggling and needed help.

A few of my other suggestions were met with a “no” and honestly I felt as if it was me versus her. A battle rather than an assessment that is supposed to help me. By the end, I was in floods of tears, with a desperation to harm myself. I felt as if I was completely on my own, and there was no help left. No hope left even.

Long story short, I ended up attempting suicide. I attended the urgent appointment she had booked for me, explained everything to the GP, and was told to go straight to the hospital. The term “high risk” was used.

From the GP appointment, to the triage nurse, doctor, and psych liaison team, my treatment was excellent. They listened to me, took me seriously, treated me as soon as they could, attended to both my physical health and #MentalHealth. Unfortunately the only place I would’ve been sent to from the Psych Liaison Team, would be CMHT, and they simply would not take me on. The Psych Liaison Team explained everything in a much calmer, informative, and compassionate way. They answered my questions fully, and did not hide anything from me. Although they couldn’t help practically, they gave me advice and signposted me to organisations that could possibly help. I was also told to go back to my GP; where he could either do the medication review himself, or refer me directly to a Psychiatrist (something the CMHT nurse did not tell me).

I am now being monitored by my GP, I have new antidepressants, as well as an emergency prescription to help me sleep. My parents are looking after my medication, and keeping an eye on me. Although the self harm/overdose urges are still there, I do feel safer and more supported.

The treatment I had from the CMHT nurse, and the GP and A&E staff, were poles apart. Even if you are unable to help your patient practically, you need to be compassionate, honest, and informative at least. I know that in the UK especially, resources have been cut to the bare bone. We deserve to be treated with respect and maybe even a little understanding though. Without this, there is a potentially high risk of a vulnerable patient harming themselves. This is the cold hard truth, and it could make all the difference.

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Paige Wyant

Ridiculous Ways People Have Dislocated or Subluxed a Joint

One of the most common symptoms among folks with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is joint hypermobility – in other words, extremely flexible joints that move beyond the typical range of motion. Though being super flexible may sound like a neat party trick, hypermobility can actually be incredibly painful and damaging to the body. In fact, some EDS-ers may have such bendy joints that it’s a common occurrence to dislocate or sublux (partially dislocate) a joint. Dislocating a joint is no laughing matter. When it happens regularly, that pain and discomfort can really begin to wear on you, both physically and mentally. But sometimes, dislocation or subluxation might occur in the middle of the most ridiculously mundane task, causing you to roll your eyes at your body and laugh, “Seriously? This is what did it?” When you’re facing the challenges of EDS day in and day out, a little humor can be a welcome distraction. That’s why we asked our Mighty EDS community to share some of the most ridiculous ways they’ve dislocated or subluxed a joint and rounded up our favorite responses below. While the injuries themselves aren’t funny, hopefully, the silliness of the situations can brighten your day and remind you that you’re not alone in all the weirdness of EDS. Here’s what our community shared with us: “Getting my nails done this weekend – the manicurist grabbed my finger too hard and popped it out. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or her.” – Haley Q. “I’ve subluxed my hip while in bed with my husband. Fantastically embarrassing way to kill a romantic evening!” – @2up2down “I dislocated my wrist picking up my backpack. My backpack wasn’t even that heavy, my wrist just popped out! No one would believe me when I told them why I was in a brace.” – Amy B. “I was lying in a hospital bed and my shoulder subluxed. Freaked the ER nurse out a bit. I also pop my fingers literally all the time when picking things up.” – @bloodanube “I dislocated my thumb doing up my bra.” – Oliver B. “Was out swimming with friends. But I didn’t mess up my shoulder by swimming while pulling a friend of mine nor did I hurt my shoulder diving. No. I was walking. In the pool. I was walking and my shoulder popped out. I swim with one arm for 20 minutes cause I couldn’t get it to be ‘right again’ (could move my arm but it felt wonky and painful). My friends still joke that I’m better swimming than walking.” – @griffinbean “I popped my knee out attempting to put my hip back in place.” – Bastian H. “Pulling up my jeans one day… It was just one day that I didn’t want to wear leggings.” – Catherine M. “I mainly just dislocated things in my sleep, however, the other day I just moved my finger and it popped out of place. My jaw also dislocated while yawning once. It is a pretty common occurrence that I dislocate my jaw while eating as well.” – @madithefighter “I was playing fetch with the dog and dislocated my shoulder throwing it harder than I should have.” – Mary H. “I bent oh so slightly to put a teaspoon in the dishwasher… and bam! There goes my left SI joint! Had to be picked up by my OH and moved (in some half slide half-carried fashion) to the nearest chair… from some bizarre position between the kitchen side and the floor. The pain was unreal.. as I’m sure you fellow EDSers know so well!” – Chrissy B. “Subluxated my finger getting toilet paper off the roll.” – Katherine L. “My massage therapist told me she stays away from my spine because if she touches too close to it, there’s a wave of moving vertebrae which shouldn’t be moving like that…” – @emunahstark “Once I dislocated my shoulder… by trying to relocate my other shoulder. It was like playing whack-a-mole with my joints. Another time, my hip came out of place when I sneezed. My thumbs also sublux whenever I hold a doorknob or a water bottle.” – Charlotte P. “Walking downstairs. Missed the last step on the landings and rolled my ankle pretty good, I almost thought it was broken! Grace was never my forte.” – @ fjcbolton “Sleeping, my shoulder subluxes most nights. Pick up a shovel, my elbow subluxes. I dislocated a finger rock pooling, and ribs sneezing, jaw chewing. My daughter once dislocated a finger plating her hair, that was special.” – Lydia C. “The most ridiculous one for me is always when my hips sublux just from sitting in one position too long.” – @algaedad “Walking across a parking lot, my left ankle forgot how to be an ankle. Brushing my teeth, subluxed my jaw. Sleeping, subluxed my jaw, knee, shoulder, wrist. My thumbs hyperextend backward around 90 degrees, so without my splints, I hyperextend them doing pretty much everything.” – Elise L.B. “Dislocated my shoulder pulling a towel put of the washer. I have also dislocated it by picking up my purse.” – Mel D. “My husband has EDS and epilepsy. When he had a seizure, he subluxated his shoulder. At the ER they couldn’t find anything and refused to give him a sling, so it took a while before his shoulder recovered.” – Emma Z. “Not me, but my son age 1. My little sister and him were playing, she pulled on his arm as tickling his belly and his elbow dislocated. Apparently, it’s a thing called nursemaids elbow and I cringe when I see anyone pick a child up by their arms.” – @ cannm123 “I was laying in bed, video chatting with my boyfriend and I sneezed and subluxated my hip…” – @aileenchicken “On a swing! There was no weight on it and I didn’t accidentally put it on a weird angle, I was just happily swinging away and dislocated my knee – as in my kneecap went round to the back of my leg and then came back again. I was 6.” – Christina O. “Sitting in the car too long on a bumpy unpaved road – dislocated my kneecap literally just sitting there as we were on ‘backwoods cabin’ vacation about 60 miles from the nearest town. Fun times.” – @sbitt “Sneezing! There’s nothing like a nice loud sneeze followed by a shriek when a rib decides it’s time to take a break from my body and try life on its own. Silly rib, my EDS might make you want to leave but the ability to touch my nose with my tongue always draws you back!” – Kelly P. “I shivered too hard on the boardwalk and popped my shoulder out.” – @ brionnakiser94 “I have subluxated many joints, but the craziest was probably just from touching my hand. I woke up with a painful hand so decided to press on my hand. [Silly]. One touch and it subluxated and the pain was 100 times worse, I almost puked and passed out from the pain. What I’d like to know is the craziest way you’ve fixed a subluxated joint?? For me… my husband slid a hardcover children’s book in between the mattress and my kneecap… popped it right back in.” – Elle S. What’s a ridiculous way you’ve dislocated a joint? Let us know in the comments below! Connect with other EDS-ers 24/7 on The Mighty to give and receive support, distraction, advice and encouragement. To read more about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, check out the following stories from our Mighty community: 14 Ways to Describe What a Subluxation Feels Like The Unexpected Symptoms of Hypermobility 14 Photos That Show the Different Ways Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Can Manifest When Your Invisible Disability Becomes Visible 26 Everyday Tasks, and What They Feel Like for a Person With Joint Hypermobility

19 Signs You Grew Up With Borderline Personality Disorder

  Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a highly stigmatized and misunderstood mental illness that affects about 14 million Americans, or 5.9 percent of adults in the U.S. But because the symptoms usually first occur while a person is a teenager or in their early 20s, it’s too easy to dismiss those early signs as “bad behavior” or “teenage angst,” when in actuality the person is really struggling. To find out some ways people knew (in hindsight) they had borderline personality disorder, we asked people who live with it in our community to share what it was like to grow up with undiagnosed, or maybe not-yet-developed, borderline personality disorder. Here’s what they had to say: 1. “Ever since I can remember, even as far back as first grade, I have always been extremely sensitive to everything. I remember I would always feel different and really alone… Looking back, it really set in around age 14. That’s when the anger started coming out, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, the impulsivity, very rocky relationships — basically all the symptoms of BPD. I’m 20 years old now and I have gotten some aspects under control, but it’s still a battle I fight every day.” — Julia F. 2. “The impulsiveness, reckless behavior and trouble maintaining healthy relationships. The black-and-white thinking, self-harming behaviors… pushing and pulling people in and out of my life.” — Melissa R. 3. “I always thought I just felt everything a lot more than other people. I would get super excited about things other kids didn’t seem to care about. I can remember jumping up and down because my team scored a point and looking around wondering why no one else was as excited as me. I was told over and over to calm down, be quiet and even when I expressed outrage over an injustice, I was told there is nothing I can do.” — Melanie M. 4. “A friend of mine, who I thought was my BFF, wanted to sit next to another girl in class next. When she told me that, I threw myself on the ground and cried my heart out as I thought she hated me. In that moment I hated her with my very soul. I was crying for days because of that.” — Lenka W. 5. “It was like no matter how good things were, I could always find a negative in everything… [it was like the] wall that was up was always getter higher could never reach it.” — Stephen J. 6. “Extreme sensitivity. I would idealize people, then push them away. I had the biggest fear of abandonment. Anger would consume me, and I felt I could not get rid of it unless I self-harmed. Then, I would feel horribly guilty and ashamed about it. I remember scratching at my face and hair as early as 4, I think.” — Amy W. 7. “Going from being best friends with someone to hating their guts, and then going back to being best friends after a while… My self-harm as a teenager… having only two to three close friends growing up. I found it very hard to make and keep friends. I was very emotionally sensitive and would get hurt easily. All these things I can see now as signs of my BPD.” — Michelle M. 8. “I was only diagnosed a year ago, but looking back it all makes sense. As far back as I can remember, I was extremely sensitive, had highly fluctuating moods including intense anger and I would self-harm. I would freak out over any sudden changes in plans, and I was terrified of abandonment. It wasn’t until years later I realized it was something much more than just depression and anxiety.” — Kelsey M. 9. “Making impulsive, life-changing decisions without thinking through the consequences, moving from city to city and job to job thinking my problems would go away if I moved to another city. I now have a very unstable work history and am finding it very difficult to find employment.” — Pam M. 10. “Dissociation. Feeling like you’re out of your body — like it’s not even yours, is the most terrifying feelings ever, and was the main symptom/sign that I had something different from depression. Nobody ever really talks about dissociation, and I have no idea why, it horrified me more than anxiety attacks ever did. It’s like this huge seemingly endless brain fog. You can’t think, you can’t talk, you just can’t function. You feel completely numb from the inside and out. To me it gets so bad it feels like I don’t ‘exist,’ and it’s terrifying. Especially when you think you’re the only one who felt this way (which was the case for me for months).” — Alexis W. 11. “I felt like I’d always be alone, like I was not worthy of having friends. I’m in a better place now and have been in treatment for five months.” — Isobel T. 12. “Being extremely sensitive, wanting to be everybody’s best friend, being insanely hard on myself, thinking everyone was talking about me behind my back, loving people way too much, being co-dependent, thinking in absolutes, being very black and white, constant fear of abandonment.” — Marissa L. 13. “My whole life I have been extremely sensitive. If an adult so much as raised their voice a little, I would burst into tears. I also once I hit puberty could never seem to have a steady relationship with peers. My friendships were always very up and down and one-sided especially as I became a teenager. I never had a self-esteem and I started cutting when I was 13. I was misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety first. I always wondered why I was so different, why weren’t other kids like me? Now it makes perfect sense.” — Jessie B. 14. “Black/white thinking. Am I a good/bad person? I love/hate you. Don’t ever leave me/I want be on my own. With everyone of these issues it is extreme and intense, there is no middle ground, no balance or stability.” — Roma S. 15. “It was a constant up and down. I didn’t have steady friendships. I felt insecure and had a low self-esteem. Oftentimes social interactions induced intense emotions that completely overwhelmed me and made me feel isolated and invisible. I felt anchor-less and didn’t know where I belonged or if I would ever find someone who would love and understand me. I was so afraid of my friends leaving me that I tried everything to make them love me. I started self-harming at 14, desperately trying to keep me grounded and gaining recognition.” — Mona B. 16. “As far back as I can remember as a little kid I’d deliberately push people away to test their limits and kind of prove to myself that I wasn’t a lovable person. As a teenager it mainly showed in my complete inability to handle breakups and extreme impulsivity, self-harm, constant suicidal thoughts, etc. This was all shrugged off by everyone around me as ‘being a teenager’ and ‘attention seeking.’ As a result I struggled for years without treatment. I’m still in shock that I survived that to be honest.” — Lucy R. 17. “I have had a serious problem with overspending money and self-harm. I would get so emotional at things that were not even real (fictional things or playful things) and the constant changes of my moods were hard for me to handle. Now I have been diagnosed with BPD and as I look back I see that I’ve had this for quite some time. It feels good to have a name for it now.” — Mackenzi D. 18. “I felt alone, unwanted and so different.” — Seth B. 19. “Definitely getting overemotional at almost everything. Sensitivity to violence, I couldn’t even handle violent TV shows like CSI. Even reading books would put immediately in a mood related to the book — it would make me happy or sad depending on how it ended. I was and still am more sensitive in my interactions with people. I would get easily upset even if they didn’t mean to upset me. I thought for years that something was wrong with who I am. That everything about me was wrong and it was all my fault. Even at age 9 I was self-harming. I hated myself and had no self-confidence. I was dual diagnosed with borderline and bipolar at age 19, and everything finally made sense. All the things I thought were wrong with myself actually had a name. Not that that made it any easier to accept. I’m now 24, and I’m finally starting to accept this is just how I was made. And it’s not my fault.” — Meghan W. *Some answers have been edited for length or clarity. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 .

What Is Emotional Abuse in a Relationship?

This post might be triggering for women or men who have experienced abuse. This post might also be hard for my family and friends to read, but it’s important for me to write this. I want to share my experience so that, maybe, I can help others. I started to think about writing something the other day after an incident reminded me of where I was and why it was a bad situation, like when putting ketchup on bacon can make someone angry enough to cut you down. Sometimes, I wish he would’ve hit me. Maybe that would have made leaving easier, but he didn’t. He never laid a hand on me in anger, except for that one time when he pushed me out of the way because I had pushed his buttons just a little too hard. What he did to me was worse, because no one could see how he cut me down. My family had clues, but my friends had no idea. I didn’t have to hide how he treated me because it was so unbelievable, I didn’t believe it myself. I thought that’s how love grew. Eventually, I shuddered at his touch because the idea of being intimate was no longer exciting, but it scared me a little because he didn’t have boundaries. I thought that’s how love was supposed to be, that eventually “no” didn’t matter anymore. I pushed myself to the far edge of the bed each night, cranky, unlovable, and prayed he’d just fall asleep. Sometimes, it wasn’t always like that, but most of the time it was. Like when he told me my hopes and dreams were stupid and unattainable. I needed to be more realistic. He turned my heart to stone. I wasn’t funny without him because I stole all his jokes. My five years at university didn’t matter and were a waste of time. I should learn to put my time in at a company instead of jumping from dream to dream with no direction. I hadn’t been told I was pretty in six years. I stopped spending time with my friends because he didn’t like them. He told me they were “wishy-washy.” Maybe some of them were, but I know now that was my decision to make. He told me my dad’s military accomplishments were nothing to be proud of because he never fought in combat, but he would never know what my mom felt like to raise two small children on her own while my dad was away providing for his family. And we would fight. About my family, the dog, the food I never cooked right or the dishes that still had spots. He put ideas in my mind that I didn’t believe but eventually accepted because his personality is strong and mine is weak. I would forgive him and forget because I was comfortable, I could buy nice things, and I loved his family more than they’ll ever know. But this isn’t love. Feeling sad, worthless and lonely in the company of another was a warning sign I ignored because four years, six years, eight years is too much time to throw away. I watched friends get married and have children, with a tiny itch in my heart knowing I wanted that too but pretending I didn’t for him because when I was 20, I made the mistake of saying I didn’t want that, but at 27 maybe now I did. I was deceitful for changing my mind. I thought I was on the right track, and that I’d never find anyone who would treat me better. Who could possibly love me as much as him? Control isn’t love. Changing someone to fit your ideal isn’t love. I was never the person he wanted. I think he simply saw someone who was easy to influence and manipulate. Maybe he didn’t know that’s what he was doing but that’s what he did to me. I spent so much time under his thumb that I still dread going home some evenings even though I know I’m going home to another. The drive home sometimes is just too similar that I slip back into those thoughts. I see small glimpses of my personality shine through, but I know I’ll never get it all back. I know I’ll never be who I was before I was abused. It’s difficult for me to say that word, but regardless of what anyone says or feels, I know that’s what it was. I know that now that I’m in a proper, loving relationship with a man whose dreams are bigger than mine and who tells me we can achieve anything together. I’m with a man who tells me I’m beautiful every day. I still feel shattered. He asks me from time to time if I can forget that other man, and I think I can. It’s hard to imagine a time when I can erase all the bad things he did to me. They were often so small that the silliest things will remind me of that time, and I’ll get a pang in my heart — a shitty little feeling that maybe I’m ridiculous or not good enough. I start to question how this new, amazing man could love me as much as he says he does. I wait for the time when maybe he changes his mind or suddenly his personality will change. It hasn’t yet, and I don’t think it will, but it’s hard not to worry. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Amy Cullis

Why I Ended My Friendship With My 'Favorite Person'

Author’s note: This blog post has been inspired by this article on The Mighty. A “favorite person” (or FP) in the borderline personality disorder (BPD) community is someone you absolutely love, to an extreme extent. They really are your favorite person and often you place the responsibility of your happiness onto them. They can make you feel on top of the world, or in the deepest pit — depending on whether they are paying attention to you or not. Looking back on past relationships, friendships etc., I can think of one particular person who became my FP. Let’s call him M. M and I met while I was studying, and had a close friendship from the start. I was in an abusive relationship at the time, and M was always there for me. I confided in him a lot and the worse my relationship became, the stronger my friendship with M was. We continued talking after university and when single, we’d flirt as well. I always felt so grateful for how much he’d been there for me. We started flirting more, and even started talking about dating. I wasn’t sure at first, but then the more we talked, the more attracted to him I became. I started to put him on a pedestal, and relied on him to talk to me constantly, and be there for me constantly. At first, it didn’t seem a problem. I felt like I was his favorite person too. But then he started dating others and I resented that. I really thought he was the best person ever, and that I was the only one he wanted to be with. I fell for him and saw him as the “one.” If we talked, everything was great, he was the best person ever and I loved him more than anything in the world. If we didn’t talk for a day, or didn’t talk much, I resented him and at times, I hated him. I felt so hurt and betrayed by him. I got very jealous of women he dated. I resented the closeness they had because I thought it should be me and him. I wasn’t a very nice person to be honest. He did mess with my feelings. I’m not denying that. He made me think we’d have a relationship soon, then next thing I know, he was in a relationship with somebody else. He should’ve told me. I wouldn’t have liked it, but in time I’d accept it. But the way I was with him, the way I placed that responsibility of my happiness on him, wasn’t healthy. We’d have big arguments because of it. I ended our friendship when I found out he’d got engaged, and not bothered to tell me. It would’ve been nice for him to tell me this big news, especially as we were such close friends, but I think I made a bigger thing out of it than I should’ve. I saw it as the ultimate betrayal, and ended up blocking him for it. Nowadays, I worry about getting another favorite person. I know I ask for reassurance constantly, and think someone hates me if they don’t reply to me or start conversations with me. Whether it be with friendships or romantic/sexual relationships, when I love, I love extremely deeply. I have to be careful of that, and it has affected forming relationships. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty Images photo via berdsigns

Amy Cullis

The Self-Care New Year's Resolutions I'm Making for 2018

The end of a year can be difficult for many people, bringing up mixed emotions and putting expectations on us to make resolutions for the new year. I find resolutions difficult to make/stick to, and the guilt and failure I feel when I don’t stick to those resolutions can be very damaging for my mental health. Mental health problems, such as depression include symptoms such as guilt and feeling like a failure, so another dose of that is definitely not welcome! I have general aims I’d like to meet, but no strict resolutions. I decided to put them here, in case they may be helpful for you. Of course, you can tailor them to your abilities/what you feel able to cope with! 1. Be kinder to myself. Specifically, I want to try not to say such horrible things about myself and focus on the more positive things I can find. I can’t be all bad, right? 2. Do my best to set boundaries. If I am not comfortable with something, it’s OK to say no! If I am finding a friendship is becoming toxic, it is OK to step away and even end that friendship if I feel able to. 3. Stay connected to loved ones. I am terrible at starting conversations. I know I expect people to talk to me first, and I feel very alone if no one does even for just a day. I want to take that step and say hello to someone first. 4. Let friends/family know if things aren’t going well. I don’t need to bottle up my physical or mental health problems. If I’m in pain, it’s OK to say! If I’m feeling down, it’s also OK to say! That bit of support I hopefully get in return can really help my mood. 5. Take time for myself. Although I shouldn’t isolate, it’s OK to take some time out for myself. Being round people can be exhausting and overwhelming, so it is a good idea to have that time and space for myself. 6. Do a nice thing for myself every day. This could be watching a movie I like, playing a game, treating myself to a favorite snack, or putting on makeup and taking a few selfies! Whatever I consider a positive, mood lifting thing counts. 7. Stay hydrated! I know I don’t drink enough water, so I often try to remedy that. 8. Try not to put too much pressure on myself. There’s quite a few resolutions here, but I need to remember these aren’t set in stone. They are just guidelines, suggestions even. If I only manage one or two next year, that’s fine! I’m not a failure if I can’t manage to meet all of the above. Are you setting any resolutions for 2018? Comment below with your suggestions! Whatever you do, I hope next year is the best year so far for you. See you then! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Getty image via khorzhevsk

Amy Cullis

The 5 Stages of Grief I Experienced After Becoming Chronically Ill

They say there are five stages to grief, and I feel this is something I can relate to when it comes to chronic illness. When you realize your chronic illness is here for good, you do go through various stages. Here, I will explain how I went through these stages: 1. Denial I simply wouldn’t believe my chronic illnesses would last forever. I thought that somehow, some treatment would at least lessen my symptoms enough that my conditions would be very mild. I think some doctors played a part in my denial too. They seemed to think I’d be walking without a stick, and back to working in no time. Seven years on, I am worse than I was when first showing symptoms. 2. Anger I felt so angry for so many reasons. These included the fact that I couldn’t just push past my symptoms. Before I became ill, I was such an active person. I’d go on nights out really often, I’d take on various hobbies such as gymnastics and cheerleading. To go from this to struggling to walk, aching all over and slowing down so much, really did make me feel angry. Why couldn’t things just go back to how they were?! 3. Bargaining I tried resting a lot. I pushed myself to exercise a lot, I tried to eat healthy. I thought that if I did the “right” things, my symptoms would lessen. Unfortunately, nothing changed, apart from having a lot of flare-ups from exercising too much! 4. Depression I felt so low, because these illnesses were leading to so much loss. I lost friends, I was dumped, I lost motivation, plus much more. This also led to suicidal feelings. I hated that I couldn’t control my health, and I felt so awful about myself. Because I’d lost so many friends, I felt as if I was the worst friend in the world, and that I’d lose everyone eventually. I felt completely useless because of how much I had to give up. I worried so much about the future, and whether I’d ever be able to work again. Our society seems to base someone’s worth on their productivity and ability to work. Political parties focus on working families, and rarely mention anyone out of work – unless it’s to say they’ll cut benefits. I felt like this world was better off without me. 5. Acceptance This is a stage I find myself frequently moving towards, and then away from. I feel like, for the most part, I’ve accepted that I am chronically ill and it will not go away. I try to manage my days, listen to my body, but remember to enjoy life as much as I’m able to. Sometimes I conserve my energy, sometimes I push myself so I can do things such as meeting friends. I pay for it afterwards, but sometimes it is worth it. I do have times when I go through the stages again. On a day where I don’t feel so ill, I may deny I’m even ill. On worse days, I might feel angry, or my depression might worsen because I can barely do a thing. What stages do you feel you’ve been through, or are going through, when it comes to chronic illness? Can you add any more? If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 o r text “HOME” to 741-741 . Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: javitrapero

Amy Cullis

What My Good and Bad Days Look Like With Fibromyalgia

On a good day, I’ll wake up in the morning feeling like I can get through the day. My fatigue is bad, but not unbearable. It will take me about 15 minutes to get out of bed, and once the dizziness is gone, I can go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. I will rest after this, and have a wash or shower once my pain medications have kicked in. The pain medication does not completely rid me of pain, but it makes me much more functional than I would be without it. I will need to rest before getting my breakfast, and rest again before drying my hair. After getting dressed and putting on makeup, I will have just enough energy to leave the house. On a really good day, which is rare, I will meet a friend for lunch. Anxiety means that I will need to be picked up by them, or given a lift by my dad, but the main thing is that socializing. Once I’m home, I will rest for the duration of the day, having a few hours nap in the late afternoon if I’m able to sleep. Tea will be something easy to prepare, or it might be a luxury. My bad days tend to be very bad. I’m in a lot more pain. Pain meds won’t touch it – even though I will need to take more than on a good day. I’m dizzy, headachy, shaky, nauseous, and absolutely exhausted. I will get up in the morning, but it will take me at least double the time as a good day. I will struggle to stay awake because of fatigue, but I will struggle to sleep because of pain and nausea. I won’t have the energy to shower or wash. I will make it to the living room for a coffee, brush my teeth after a rest, and “wash” myself with face wipes, after another rest. Breakfast will be anything I can – such as an apple. It’ll have to be something light. I will struggle to brush my hair, and I will find the comfiest, loose clothing I can find. The fibromyalgia makes my skin very sore (as if I’m burnt and bruised all over), so I have to think about the tightness and the material in the clothes I wear. I will take my laptop into the living room, and try to concentrate on a program, casual game or video clips. My mood will be low, because I’m not able to do much at all. I will feel fed up and I’ll be likely to isolate myself from others. I will stay sat up for as long as I can, and then will go back to bed until teatime. I may be able to nap, but I’m very unlikely to feel much better for it. Tea will be served and my dad will have to wash up, as standing for more than a few minutes will make me so dizzy – and I’m very likely to fall. Most of the time, my days are something between good and bad. I’m able to manage basic things, such as personal hygiene and preparing simple meals. But, things like housework and socializing are extremely difficult or impossible. I manage my symptoms by balancing rest with trying to keep moving and doing my physical therapy. I do this to lessen the chances of my joints seizing up, and also for general health. How do you manage the symptoms of your chronic illness? Do you have any hints and tips that you would like to share? Comment below! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: Dreamerjl83

The Advice No One Tells You About Therapy

  The first time my mom took me to see a therapist, I made her promise she would never take me back. I was 15. Then, at 21, I tried again — this time at my college’s counseling center. I was unimpressed, but I stuck with it, happy to ramble to someone for free. When I moved across the country after school, I started with a new therapist. I liked her at first, but it became quickly apparent she wasn’t meeting my needs. I didn’t like how she made assumptions about my family life, and felt like she invalidated a few of the experiences I confided with her. It took a while, but I finally listened to my gut and left. Now, I’m with someone who’s sweet, who listens to me and who makes me feel like what I’m going through matters. It’s made an incredible difference, and I’m happy I persisted and found someone who works for me. I share my experience because while we all know what to expect when we visit the dentist or go in for a routine exam, therapy is this often this scary, unknown experience we don’t hear a lot about. Because of this, many don’t know what to expect. To find out what people wish they knew about seeing a therapist, we asked people in our mental health community to share a piece of advice no one tells you about going to therapy. Here’s what they shared with us: 1. “ Therapy leaves you feeling drained, raw and/or vulnerable. You have to give yourself time after a session to process what was talked [about] and rejuvenate. That could be taking a nap, taking a warm bath, exercising. I find I have to practice the best self-care after my therapy sessions.” –Chaia G. 2. “ You [may] have to repeat your story over and over. It starts to not feel real in your own head and you will feel guilty about being there. But remind yourself it’s OK to be asking for help.” –Sasha H. 3. “ It’s all about connecting with your therapist. Therapy is not ‘one size fits all.’ It’s important to allow yourself [the] opportunity to make sure you have the best person working with you. Having a trusting and open relationship with your therapist is vital! Don’t be afraid to speak up if you find your therapist isn’t the best for you.” — Lauren L. 4. “ You have to be 100 percent honest and if you don’t feel comfortable telling the first few therapists, then it’s OK to change them. Not everyone is a good fit.” –Abigail M. 5. “ Therapy takes effort and work.” –Melissa G. 6. “It takes time to see improvement. You need to continue seeing your therapist so they can evaluate your mental state over time.” –Lisa C. 7. “Advocate for yourself. It’s worth it if you work it. You’re worth it.” –Amelia L. 8. “You [might] feel worse before it gets better. Learn how to ground yourself so you have a safe strong place you can go to within yourself.” — Mandy M. 9. “Therapy is not a one-visit fix.” –Marissa D. 10. “In the beginning there will probably be many times you feel like giving it up because it seems like the easier option. Stick it out though. It’s worth it in the long run.” –Angela E. 11. “ It’s not about laying dramatically on a chaise lounge only talking about your feelings. The therapist is there to help you challenge yourself to be the best that you can be. But it comes with a cost. It can be extremely painful at times and you may feel really bad for a few days reflecting on what was brought to the surface, but then you’ll learn how to heal correctly. You just have to continue going.” — Allyson L.   12. “The therapist is there for you. You (or insurance) are paying for their time. However long your appointment is, that time is yours. Use it to your advantage and talk about whatever you need to. Also, be open and honest with the therapist. That’s the only way it’ll work for your benefit. If you can’t be honest with them, it’s important to know you can find another therapist you’re comfortable with. The first time or first therapist might not be the right fit, but there is one that will be.” — Michelle D. 13. “Building and establishing a rapport with a therapist takes time. It’s like a building a relationship with anybody else. The difference is, however, is that the therapist is an objective voice and perspective to the chaos going on in and outside of your head.” — Sean C. 14. “There’s no shame. ‘Therapy’ can be treated as such a scary word, and although yes, the experience of starting sessions can be daunting, I know, but really, that word should be about how you have every right to be there to help yourself feel better and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or like a failure for deciding to go. It’s your first step to getting better and the road may be long and challenging at times, but you won’t be alone for the journey.” — Eimear D. 15. “You deserve and have a right to be there. For awhile in the beginning, I was always worried my therapist would tell me my problems aren’t legitimate enough to take her time away from people with real issues that need real help. Your problems are different from everyone else’s, but they’re 100 percent valid and deserve just as much of your therapists attention as anyone else.” — Ashley M. 16. “Even if your first, or second or third therapist isn’t right for you, don’t rule it out. My CBT therapist actually cried in my sessions, while I was explaining my history. She was also very stereotypical in the fact that I mentioned one small disagreement with my mum and suddenly everything wrong with me was my mum’s fault. But my other counselor was wonderful! She did everything she could to help me. What I’m saying is, just because you may have some therapists who don’t mesh with you, don’t rule it out entirely.” — Rebecca B. 17. “You’ll have moments where you doubt why you’re even there in the first place, it leaves you emotionally exhausted and crying, or even completely drained – but it works. There has never been a day when I’ve had therapy and I haven’t felt incredibly safe and supported. It’s crucial to have that support.” — Erica A. 18. “Try to plan an agenda before your session so when you go in, you’re more prepared. Often times, I would be down to the last five minutes and I would just start to bring up something important that I needed to discuss. The therapy 45-minute window goes by quickly and if you have a plan, you’ll feel more satisfied afterwards.” — Alyssa P. 19. “As a therapist, one thing I always hear is, ‘You won’t believe it’s true but…’ or, ‘I feel so ashamed of…’ There is no judgment going into therapy. Each person has their story and no story is alike.” — Jessica C. 20. “Sometimes you honestly don’t know what to say and it’s hard to get across exactly what you want in the time you have. This can sometimes make you feel like you shouldn’t have gone at all because you wasted their time, but you haven’t! They are there to help you.” — Jessica S. 21. “Skip the awkward getting-to-know you crap and get down to business. Their job is to see people at their worst; you’re not going to surprise them. Don’t waste sessions (and money), just jump right in!” — Ashleigh R. 22. “Therapy is about finding your own answers for yourself. You need the time between sessions to discover the answers for yourself, and those answers can lead you in a completely different direction.” — Samantha L. 23. “It’s like a dirty wound. You have to open it up and poor on peroxide and it will hurt so badly you’ll wonder why you’re doing it, but in the long run you were just cleaning it out so it can heal better. Therapy will be difficult but worth it.” — Katie S. What would you add?