Mel Lee-Smith

@mel_lee_smith | contributor
Freelance writer, blogger, and editor. I write because I want to make a difference. Doing my best to battle BPD using self-taught mindfulness and DBT techniques.
Community Voices

Looking for people who understand

I’m looking for someone who understand and gets all the extreme feelings and the feeling of abandonment being so f**king real... I don’t even know if this is allowed... but I’m truly looking for friends who can handle the ups and downs and help me through it... because the diagnosis is new but the loss of friendships is old...

#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Friends ?

16 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Confused in trying to find the fine line between taking responsibility for my actions vs attributing my behaviour as a symptom of BDP

Hi there!

I am 23 years old and I was diagnosed with depression earlier in September then later with BPD last week Saturday. I must admit that I felt so much shame and was embarrassed with my diagnosis because growing up, I was the one who would always have it together.

So actually attributing some behaviours as a symptom of BDP has been so tough because where do I draw the line between being responsible for my actions versus understanding that the way I act is a symptom of a mental illness? For example, outbursts, impulsive behaviour and extreme mood swings are some of the symptoms of BPD. How do I find the balance between taking accountability and owning my mistakes for someone who has been on the receiving end of that (this is in regards to my past partners and when I was undiagnosed and untreated as this is obviously something that has been recently attributed to BPD) vs recognising that I was acting and behaving in a certain way due to an undiagnosed mental illness?

I think I also harbour a lot of internalised ableism and have internalised some of the stigmas I've seen of people saying that people with BPD are manipulative and abusive and that's not me. I am working through unlearning that and letting that go. I am truly a kind, caring person and I immediately apologise when I become aware of how I act because I would never want to hurt someone I love, ever. I gladly take accountability for anything I've done.

#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder
#BPD

3 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Don't be afraid to start over.

CW: #Selfharm

I've battled #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder and SH for about 12 years now. That's close to half my life.
I've been clean from SH for 1 month, 21 days.
This isn't where I'd hoped to be at 25.
My longest clean steak was 3 years, 10 months, 15 days.
When I relapsed in 2017, I was heartbroken. Disappointed. Disgusted. Ashamed.
Starting back at Day 0 was the hardest thing I ever did.
Since then, I've started over, and over, and over, and over.
I'm struggling with SH urges tonight, but instead of resetting the clock again, I'm talking to you.
I want you to know how proud I am of you for fighting this war.
If you've relapsed, if you're fighting urges, I want you to know that it's okay to start over.
Doesn't matter how long you were clean before.
What matters is that you care enough about yourself and your recovery to get back up and walk this road again.
Remember that you're only human, and you can't make it through Day 1,414 until you make it through Day 0.
I want you to know that I love you, I'm proud of you, and I believe in you.
We can start over together.
We can walk this road again, together.
We can win this war together.

Take care, and stay Mighty. ❤️

1 person is talking about this
Community Voices
Mel Lee-Smith

What to Know If You’re a Mental Health Writer or Artist

This is to the scribblers who bury their darkness deep in notebook pages to get it out of their heads, where it can no longer hurt them. This is to the authors who wrestle their monsters to trap them between the covers of a book, something they can hold in their hands and be proud of. This is to the bloggers who craft their posts with equal parts emotional prose and SEO syntax to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is to the bullet journalers who spend hours sketching beautiful mood trackers so they can review their emotional health and take action. This is to the writers, the artists, the creators of all kinds: Thank you for finding the courage to create something so beautiful and meaningful out of something so messy and dark. You may not know this, but your art has saved a life. Mine included. Yours included. On behalf of everyone who finds comfort and relief from their mental illness through art — thank you. Two things inspired this post, the first being the To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) 2018 calendar hanging above my desk: This calendar features quotes from blog posts on TWLOHA. December’s message reads, “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” I’ve looked at that quote every day in December. I’ve sat under that calendar after nights of fitful sleep and bad dreams, feeling so low I couldn’t even cry — but I looked at that calendar, and I chose to stay. The past few months have been rough for me. I’ve battled immense grief after losing someone special to me, as well as one of the worst depressive periods I’ve experienced since I was hospitalized and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I’m choosing to stay — and writer, I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the reminder. The other thing that inspired this post was a comment on another post I wrote for The Mighty. It simply said, “Thank you for writing this.” Reader, I just want you to know I’ve thought about that comment every day since you sent it. Being open about my mental health on public platforms like my blog and The Mighty hasn’t been easy. Sometimes, I wonder if I should share these parts of me with the whole world. But one of the reasons I have that TWLOHA calendar in the first place is because my own words are featured in it, in the month of March, from my blog post Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Start Over: “It doesn’t matter how many times you start over, as long as you start over.” Those are my words! In a calendar! And the only reason my blog post was chosen was because I dug up the courage to write and publish it, even though it was a very candid account of my struggle with self-harm. But I battled that monster. I got it down onto the (web)page, and someone at TWLOHA saw it and thought, “That’s one of the top 12 most inspiring quotes on our blog and we should feature it in this calendar that thousands of people will see.” Now, I have something I can be proud of, something I can hold in my hands, all because I chose to do battle. And maybe someone else, somewhere in the world, looked up at their calendar in March and thought, “Wow. I really needed to see that today.” Just like I looked up at my calendar every day in December and thought the same thing. And to the person who wrote December’s message: it saddens me to know you’ve sat exactly where I have, begging for just one sign. I know writing that wasn’t easy. Whatever battle you fought that inspired those words was hard-won indeed. But thank you for staying strong and giving me, and thousands of others, the sign we so desperately needed. Your art saved my life, and it gave me the courage to create again. Our art wouldn’t be possible without you, though, dear reader, so I hope you heed December’s message, too. “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” Six years ago, when I was lying in that hospital bed wondering “what’s wrong with me,” I never thought I’d eventually move halfway across the world, earn my master’s degree in the subject I’ve loved all my life, and build my dream career from the ground up. It will, and does, get better, I promise. So please choose to stay. And writers, artists, secret scribblers — keep at it. Don’t ever stop creating. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only soul who ever reads or sees your work. Get that monster out of your head and turn it into something you can be proud of. Even if the only life it ever saves is yours, your art still saves lives.

Mel Lee-Smith

What to Know If You’re a Mental Health Writer or Artist

This is to the scribblers who bury their darkness deep in notebook pages to get it out of their heads, where it can no longer hurt them. This is to the authors who wrestle their monsters to trap them between the covers of a book, something they can hold in their hands and be proud of. This is to the bloggers who craft their posts with equal parts emotional prose and SEO syntax to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is to the bullet journalers who spend hours sketching beautiful mood trackers so they can review their emotional health and take action. This is to the writers, the artists, the creators of all kinds: Thank you for finding the courage to create something so beautiful and meaningful out of something so messy and dark. You may not know this, but your art has saved a life. Mine included. Yours included. On behalf of everyone who finds comfort and relief from their mental illness through art — thank you. Two things inspired this post, the first being the To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) 2018 calendar hanging above my desk: This calendar features quotes from blog posts on TWLOHA. December’s message reads, “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” I’ve looked at that quote every day in December. I’ve sat under that calendar after nights of fitful sleep and bad dreams, feeling so low I couldn’t even cry — but I looked at that calendar, and I chose to stay. The past few months have been rough for me. I’ve battled immense grief after losing someone special to me, as well as one of the worst depressive periods I’ve experienced since I was hospitalized and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I’m choosing to stay — and writer, I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the reminder. The other thing that inspired this post was a comment on another post I wrote for The Mighty. It simply said, “Thank you for writing this.” Reader, I just want you to know I’ve thought about that comment every day since you sent it. Being open about my mental health on public platforms like my blog and The Mighty hasn’t been easy. Sometimes, I wonder if I should share these parts of me with the whole world. But one of the reasons I have that TWLOHA calendar in the first place is because my own words are featured in it, in the month of March, from my blog post Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Start Over: “It doesn’t matter how many times you start over, as long as you start over.” Those are my words! In a calendar! And the only reason my blog post was chosen was because I dug up the courage to write and publish it, even though it was a very candid account of my struggle with self-harm. But I battled that monster. I got it down onto the (web)page, and someone at TWLOHA saw it and thought, “That’s one of the top 12 most inspiring quotes on our blog and we should feature it in this calendar that thousands of people will see.” Now, I have something I can be proud of, something I can hold in my hands, all because I chose to do battle. And maybe someone else, somewhere in the world, looked up at their calendar in March and thought, “Wow. I really needed to see that today.” Just like I looked up at my calendar every day in December and thought the same thing. And to the person who wrote December’s message: it saddens me to know you’ve sat exactly where I have, begging for just one sign. I know writing that wasn’t easy. Whatever battle you fought that inspired those words was hard-won indeed. But thank you for staying strong and giving me, and thousands of others, the sign we so desperately needed. Your art saved my life, and it gave me the courage to create again. Our art wouldn’t be possible without you, though, dear reader, so I hope you heed December’s message, too. “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” Six years ago, when I was lying in that hospital bed wondering “what’s wrong with me,” I never thought I’d eventually move halfway across the world, earn my master’s degree in the subject I’ve loved all my life, and build my dream career from the ground up. It will, and does, get better, I promise. So please choose to stay. And writers, artists, secret scribblers — keep at it. Don’t ever stop creating. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only soul who ever reads or sees your work. Get that monster out of your head and turn it into something you can be proud of. Even if the only life it ever saves is yours, your art still saves lives.

Mel Lee-Smith

What to Know If You’re a Mental Health Writer or Artist

This is to the scribblers who bury their darkness deep in notebook pages to get it out of their heads, where it can no longer hurt them. This is to the authors who wrestle their monsters to trap them between the covers of a book, something they can hold in their hands and be proud of. This is to the bloggers who craft their posts with equal parts emotional prose and SEO syntax to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is to the bullet journalers who spend hours sketching beautiful mood trackers so they can review their emotional health and take action. This is to the writers, the artists, the creators of all kinds: Thank you for finding the courage to create something so beautiful and meaningful out of something so messy and dark. You may not know this, but your art has saved a life. Mine included. Yours included. On behalf of everyone who finds comfort and relief from their mental illness through art — thank you. Two things inspired this post, the first being the To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) 2018 calendar hanging above my desk: This calendar features quotes from blog posts on TWLOHA. December’s message reads, “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” I’ve looked at that quote every day in December. I’ve sat under that calendar after nights of fitful sleep and bad dreams, feeling so low I couldn’t even cry — but I looked at that calendar, and I chose to stay. The past few months have been rough for me. I’ve battled immense grief after losing someone special to me, as well as one of the worst depressive periods I’ve experienced since I was hospitalized and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But I’m choosing to stay — and writer, I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the reminder. The other thing that inspired this post was a comment on another post I wrote for The Mighty. It simply said, “Thank you for writing this.” Reader, I just want you to know I’ve thought about that comment every day since you sent it. Being open about my mental health on public platforms like my blog and The Mighty hasn’t been easy. Sometimes, I wonder if I should share these parts of me with the whole world. But one of the reasons I have that TWLOHA calendar in the first place is because my own words are featured in it, in the month of March, from my blog post Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Start Over: “It doesn’t matter how many times you start over, as long as you start over.” Those are my words! In a calendar! And the only reason my blog post was chosen was because I dug up the courage to write and publish it, even though it was a very candid account of my struggle with self-harm. But I battled that monster. I got it down onto the (web)page, and someone at TWLOHA saw it and thought, “That’s one of the top 12 most inspiring quotes on our blog and we should feature it in this calendar that thousands of people will see.” Now, I have something I can be proud of, something I can hold in my hands, all because I chose to do battle. And maybe someone else, somewhere in the world, looked up at their calendar in March and thought, “Wow. I really needed to see that today.” Just like I looked up at my calendar every day in December and thought the same thing. And to the person who wrote December’s message: it saddens me to know you’ve sat exactly where I have, begging for just one sign. I know writing that wasn’t easy. Whatever battle you fought that inspired those words was hard-won indeed. But thank you for staying strong and giving me, and thousands of others, the sign we so desperately needed. Your art saved my life, and it gave me the courage to create again. Our art wouldn’t be possible without you, though, dear reader, so I hope you heed December’s message, too. “Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.” Six years ago, when I was lying in that hospital bed wondering “what’s wrong with me,” I never thought I’d eventually move halfway across the world, earn my master’s degree in the subject I’ve loved all my life, and build my dream career from the ground up. It will, and does, get better, I promise. So please choose to stay. And writers, artists, secret scribblers — keep at it. Don’t ever stop creating. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only soul who ever reads or sees your work. Get that monster out of your head and turn it into something you can be proud of. Even if the only life it ever saves is yours, your art still saves lives.

Mel Lee-Smith

Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health and Menstruation

People often make assumptions about the effects of menstruation on mental health that can ultimately strengthen stigma. When a woman gets angry, she must be “on the rag.” She’s sometimes accused of “PMS-ing.” She’s told to “take a Midol” or “eat some chocolate,” then maybe she’ll feel better. During his campaign, the president of the United States actually suggested that Megyn Kelly’s comments on his own history of misogyny were attributed to the “blood coming out of her wherever.” I think every woman, at some point in their lives, has endured these ridiculous comments. The fact that women still face stigma over their menstrual cycles in correlation to their mental health in 2017 is unbelievable. Considering that women make up half the global population, you’d think people would be more considerate. Instead, the menstrual cycle is a joke. Schoolboys might snigger when their female classmate takes her purse with her to the bathroom. Women have to whisper when they ask for a pad for fear of being laughed at. Girls shuffle awkwardly to the counter when purchasing tampons, keeping their heads down while shoving the box into the bag. When it comes to stigma, I think women with mental illness are hit with a double whammy, even though both men and women might experience stigma for their mental illness. If people miss work or school because they need a mental health day, they’re accused of using their mental illness as an “excuse” to skip work. But women with mental illness can also be shamed for a natural, biological occurrence we can’t control. The side effects of our mental illness are often shrugged off as PMS. If women miss work or school because they can’t physically move because of period cramps, they’re “using their period as an excuse.” A chocolate bar or over-the-counter pain medication can solve all our problems. Our menstrual cycles often become a scapegoat for our mental illnesses. Our mental illnesses are erased. Let’s talk about another aspect of menstruation and mental health: self-care. Health experts tend to encourage women to exercise, eat healthy, drink enough water and get plenty of sleep to lessen the effects of the menstrual cycle symptoms. That’s easier said than done, especially for women struggling with mental illness. People with mental illness aren’t always shining examples of self-care. Practicing basic self-care, even on the good days, can be difficult. But for women, like me, who experience debilitating menstrual cramps that sometimes keep us in bed for an entire day, self-care becomes almost impossible. Yet I don’t see much practical advice on what to do in that situation. Why is that? The answer is simple: our menstrual cycles are taboo. Many women don’t feel comfortable talking about our mental health or our menstrual cycles because of the stigma associated with both of them. The hormones released during the menstrual cycle influence our mental health all month, not just during our periods. It’s easy to see how this can worsen the emotional and physical effects of mental illness – yet there seems to be little we can do about it. So what’s a woman to do? Simply accept the double-edged sword? Struggle in silence? Not anymore. I, for one, will not sit idly by and accept this stigma as “normal.” I want to start a conversation about mental health and menstruation. We need to do more for women whose menstrual cycles exacerbate their mental illness and vice versa. We need to teach our children that it’s OK to talk about both menstruation and mental health. Our menstrual cycles are not a joke or an excuse. Menstruation is a perfectly natural, biological event that most female mammals experience. There’s no shame in talking about it or experiencing it, and it’s high time we stopped telling women otherwise. And if this article makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps you’re part of the problem. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via ARTQU

Mel Lee-Smith

We Need to Change How We Talk About Borderline Personality Disorder

Trigger warning: This post briefly mentions self-harm. About four and a half years ago, I paid a routine visit to the psychiatrist I’d started seeing after admitting myself to the hospital for self-harm. Up to that day, I was unaware I’d spent most of my life battling a mental disorder. Even after I went to the hospital, I was still in denial. During that visit, she diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder (BPD). We talked through it while I nodded along, leg shaking in my chair. She handed me a packet of information on BPD, advised me to do some independent research and sent me on my way. By the time I left her office, my temper was simmering under the surface. I wasn’t impulsive! How dare she? I didn’t have unstable relationships… did I? Surely not. I definitely didn’t have signs of dissociation. Right? I sat in my car thumbing through the materials she’d given me, trying to process my new diagnosis. The only useful thing in the packet was a worksheet on coping mechanisms. The rest of the pages were printouts of book summaries. The titles? • “Sometimes I Act Crazy”• “I Hate You – Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality”• “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder” These titles are quite popular among people who have BPD, and many consider them helpful and enlightening. I’m not knocking anyone who has read these books and found them useful. I’m always supportive of anything that helps people battle their BPD. And no, I haven’t read any of these books because I absolutely did judge them by their covers. I scoffed and tossed the packet into the passenger seat before speeding off. Not only was she insinuating that something was actually wrong with my brain, but she was essentially calling me crazy! How could she get away with that as a mental health professional? Those printouts were one of the main reasons I refused to believe my diagnosis for several months. I knew I was certainly battling something that was bigger than me. I knew I couldn’t control this “monster” inside me as I’ve always called it. But I knew I was not crazy. I was just going through a rough patch, and I needed some help. As time went on, my resolve softened, and I researched BPD for myself. One day, it just clicked. I was able to recognize many of the characteristics of BPD in my own life, which kickstarted my recovery. But those book titles were my very first impression of BPD, and I think they’re a dangerous introduction to the disorder. And it’s not just books. Check out some of these article titles: • Toxic People Part II: Personality Disorders continued• Dangerous Liaisons: How to Deal With a Drama Queen• Borderline Personality Disorder: Is It Just an Excuse?• Personality Disorders Are Not Illnesses Look, I know I can be a lot to handle. Believe me when I say that no one knows better than I do. On the same token, no one wants to be written off as crazy, or dramatic, or accused of making it all up. Not only do these terms have negative connotations, but they’re also counterproductive. What are you accomplishing by calling us crazy or trying to convince us our disorder isn’t real? You’re writing us off. You’re marginalizing us. You’re telling us that our disorder is inferior, that we’re just “being crazy.” It’s not inferior, and we’re not being crazy. BPD is just different than other mental disorders. Yes, it’s intense for us and everyone around us at times, but that doesn’t invalidate it. If you know anything at all about BPD, you know it’s characterized by hyper-emotion. We don’t take anything with a grain of salt; we take the whole saltshaker. How on earth do you expect us to react when you say we’re crazy? It may be all we think about for hours, days, or weeks. We may physically punish ourselves for an illness we can’t cure completely. Talking semantics may seem oversensitive, but the rhetoric surrounding BPD has got to change. Stop painting us as delirious, insane, selfish, dramatic, manipulative, etc. We’re battling a cruel, ugly monster that most people won’t understand, and we need help just as much as anyone else living with mental illness. You wouldn’t say those things about any other condition, so don’t do it to borderlines. Giving us these incredibly hurtful labels may only send us spiraling. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via artlazareva