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Mental illness, work and the concept of being selfish in the post-postmodern world

webcam-toy-fenykep50The first problem with mental illness is, in several countries you can only get a diagnosis after you’re eighteen, and anything that happens before that is either “teenage angst” or ADHD (not on paper of course) They will laugh at you and say “oh all teenagers are suicidal”, which is where I would stop in awe and at this point I would love to ask back: “well do you think it is normal, or does it show something about society?”. However, I will not start to write a novel about how this would be the most intricate age for treatment and everything that comes after is just a struggle from medicines, side effects and empty behaviorist conversations.

When you are eighteen, depending on your country or level of insurance you may try to ask for help. Chances are you will end up with a false diagnosis (because the hospital just gained EU money for that or simply by non-professionalism, and overworked carelessness) and in involuntary treatment, which will forever shatter your trust in psychiatry.

So here is the story of what might also happen to you afterwards.

At the university I was aware all along that I would have the talent to go on after BA. But mental illness took that from me. Hospital treatments and new medications with horrible side effects would take away my energy to go from the dorm building from the university building, which would have been a 20 minutes’ walk, but if I eventually started going it took me an hour or more. The rest of my motivation would be swamped by suicidal feelings. I struggled through these years and finally ended them.

I was in and out of workplaces. I had an anxiety which would not let me pick up the phone. Most of the time I was pumped with bumming-out, drooling, no concentration kind of drugs, and doctors had no idea what would work after the 10th and 15th one. If I dropped them it was all the same. I got in a hospital day care with older people, and I can honestly say it was the only year of my life where I did not feel threatened. I told people at the clinics that I would like to ask for disability, so I could work and illness-friendly places and gain a low amount of government money, please add to the equation that I had no family to even give me a place to live!

They said I will be fine in the workplace, it is a different era now. One of integration. And let me call bullshit right there. In my home country recruiters told me my face looked depressed, and that was enough for them they did not even bother to test my skills. (Then they cry on the news that there is no workforce). After 2 years of not getting any work and living off freelance translations I and my partner came to the decision to leave home. We found a job in another country and could finally build up some financial security.

There are all the regular inequities in within the workplace, and employees equal rats. But I now held a contract in my hand that said “no discrimination can harm the individual on the basis of any illness.” I will not go ranting on all the injustice of the 9 months I have spent there. I am on my notice period now anyway. Mind you this is a EU country where a limited number of people speak English, and I am not so good at their language yet.

Let’s say you had a depressive episode at this place. I won’t go into telling you how that looks like, if you are reading this you probably know it very well. The last one for me just happened recently. And let me break it to you that doctors are taught not to take it seriously and think you’re simulating like “all those colleagues of yours who came in here before with a headache”.  I went to my team lead and told her, well you know, just put me on an unpaid leave (this is a place where people use unpaid leaves to have vacations btw.) so I could somehow get on my feet before I start at the new company.

She did not give me unpaid, but she referred me to a doctor. So today I went, and he told me “this is not serious, because it is just depression, and your company has raised various scandals with us in the past, so I will not give you sick leave (was asking for 4 days)”. So, the company that has issues with the only English speaking healthcare center is no longer welcome at it. Yay, right. Apparently not being able to sleep or eat for days and barely walking is not a serious issue as it seems – according to my company. Now what will I get? Unauthorized leave! That will probably end up in me being fired before my resignation period actually ends. Fired on grounds of discrimination based on an illness that you can not get sick leave for because your company turned against the doctors who could give any. So here is another contract breach on top of the other ones that are not mentioned here. Mind you, when I am well, I work like a horse.

So dear world, can you finally decide what you want to do with US, people who suffer from any form of mental illness. Do you want us to live on the streets as many of us already do because you closed institutions instead of making them less cruel? If yes, then why are you so upset by the idea that we could ask for euthanasia? Do you want us to go to work, then why not create jobs and promote companies that are able to actually integrate us? If you are puzzled and cannot pass these questions let me ask you just one more!

Is suicide selfish when the whole society makes you feel useless in many different ways?! Is suicide selfish when we no longer want to be a burden on anyone? Is suicide selfish when we feel the need to say sorry for our bare existence?

And if we lay in that coffin why do you suddenly start being sorry and say things like “I loved that person”.

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How are you holding up? Lol, I am not…

Another morning. I wanted to deny it… Turn off the alarm on my phone, shut my eyes tight, and pull the blanket up to my chin. I wanted to rewind and rewind so I could sleep like forever. But the morning registered in my mind painfully, still numbly. I laid awake, slowly gaining awareness of the apartment. The wardrobes were all open; our clothes were flowing out from them and onto the floor. The carpet was so dirty that I could see dead curls of my hair gathered by the door. The smell from the kitchen bothered me, reminding me that I did not do the washing up in ages. The state of this place troubled me beyond measure, causing several sleepless nights, but every time I tried to tidy up I found the barriers of my physical strength knocking me back. By the time I tidied up a small part in the room the bathroom would be sticky with mess… and by the time I could finally do that little by little the room would go all messy again. Maybe I am losing strength and interest lately at a higher rate. – I thought. But I did not dwell on it much because my whole life seemed to be a slow-paced series of losing strength and interest. I saw her standing in the corner again. The ghostlike figure of a girl I kept seeing these past weeks. She nodded, smiled and disappeared. She is my only friend now. Silent for sure, but at least undemanding. Sometimes she is what you call scary if you are not me. When I am in a very low mood blood flows from her eyes. Well, I can’t find it scary. It’s like normal emotions have been blocked by the fog clouding my mind. I opened up a book and sat down to read a little. In two minutes I realized it was too much to ask from myself. I will probably never be able to read a book again. Just cannot concentrate long enough to understand a sentence. One hobby is clearly departing from my life forever; I have to make friends with that thought. It was time to get on the computer and look for work like I have been doing for the past few months. Nothing in this wretched town. Nothing I could do anyway. I chose the wrong education or had too little of it. I am looking for a cleaning job or something I can do mindlessly, because clearly my mind faces difficulties functioning. I turned off my monitor and laid back to bed facing the ceiling. I thought, what I cannot stop thinking, that maybe it is high time for signing off. I remembered having an mp3 player for years that slowly went wrong. At first the back cover loosened so I had to duct tape the thing together but it worked fine. After a while the player did not want to turn on. You had to press the button repeatedly and frantically to turn it on after 20 attempts… but then it worked. Then, after a short while every time I turned it on it only stayed on for minutes… then it lost power. In the end I had to press the button a 100 times but it refused to turn on. It was broken beyond repair, gone forever. I feel like my life came to the same point. The point where there is no reason to keep it running. Later that day I sat in the therapist’s office. I wondered if I should make it my last visit. What was the point anyway; I was a waste of her work hours throughout all these 3 years. Others would give like everything to have someone like her supporting them. But me? I started feeling even angry. Feeling like she keeps on lying to me. Telling me everyone can be healed. Lying to me that I don’t have depression like I suspect… it is “just” the borderline… that’s what’s causing me all this. Not like it mattered at this point. Or ever. Lately I started feeling therapy was like throwing a chicken off the 10th floor saying it will learn to fly on the way down because it has wings after all… and then… when it is dead on the ground standing above it and saying “it did not want it enough I guess”.  Maybe I should just stop trying with those stupid, deformed wings and give her working hours to someone else who actually has the strength and potential to put in the needed effort. Because I have ran out of efforts. Have not talked to any of my friends in weeks either, hoping they would just forget I ever existed. No more efforts to put into anything. I feel like I have turned against the world. The night came and I found myself not keeping up with my tries to look out for cheerful things. I pulled up all the suicide songs I could from my music player and just let myself get lost in them. Someone made me think of hell lately… but I think even hell is better for me than this world. In hell everyone suffers… no one puts on the smiling face or expects you to do it. Maybe I should opt for hell?alice-madness-free-returns-in-278337

11 Ecards that sum up my Borderline Personality Disorder

Not saying everyone has the same symptoms, but I will post some e-cards borderlines will probably understand. The struggle behind these is real and unrelenting, but I also believe we have to learn to laugh at ourselves. So here goes:

Have you ever had one of those phases where you just want to be invisible while terribly afraid you will not be visible? 

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Or the feeling that although you have friends, you have to suffer in silence?

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Or started doubting if they are your friends at all?

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Or have you consciously taught yourself not to go with the spikes of idealization when you meet someone new because they were gonna hurt you or leave at one point anyway?

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Or have you ever had to convince yourself that you are actually you, alive, breathing and feeling? That you are not in a dream?

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If you’re like me, you probably have suicidal thoughts and feelings every day… And maybe you do the same as I do and binge eat sweets.

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Have you ever refrained from a dinner at someone’s house in the last moment because you did not feel ready to meet people and act normal or you felt you’d be a burden and the invitation was just a formality?

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Maybe it has taken a toll on your relationships 😦

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It is one of the saddest things to have to listen to an advice from someone who does not understand what’s going on…

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Sometimes I feel like my therapist has known it for long that I cannot be saved or helped but she will not admit because how would that look.

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Sometimes I see my disorder in everything.

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I hoped you enjoyed these cards, and maybe now you can make some of your own and share it with me. 🙂 Also, I think you are awesome, you kick ass and just keep trying! That’s what I’m doing.

What the stigma of BPD feels like

When I got my borderline diagnosis I was almost even relieved. Relieved that I am not alone, that my condition and dissociative experiences actually have a name. That there were others who self-harmed. Others who have felt suicidal for most of their lives. That I wasn’t just a standalone individual who was affected by an unrelenting curse others seemed to have evaded. Every question I ever had about myself seemed to be answered as the pieces of the invisible puzzle were finally grafted together. But it turned out this diagnosis will hurt me more than it helps me. It did not take long to take notice of how people treat borderlines. I remember reading a website that told you to run if your significant other turns out to be borderline, Christian pages that insisted borderlines are destined to hell by nature… and most sadly ”professional” articles that made us all look like attention-seeking, manipulative, promiscuous, unbearable drama-queens who do not deserve to be cared for by mental health professionals. The media did not help us much either. Almost every film depicting borderline employs unlikeable characters, who pose an immediate threat to everything they touch. At first, I wanted to write about how I don’t fulfil the stereotypes, but then I thought of something different. The story I want to share is how it feels to be stigmatized. How it feels to never be taken seriously even when you get to the verge of suicide.

It feels like being buried alive. Just imagine it. You wake up in the darkness. At first, you are just confused. You don’t know where you are, how you got there and how you will get out. Then you tap the four walls of the coffin and slowly realize you’ve been buried alive. Suddenly the air runs out. Not because all air is gone but due to the panic that chills your bones in an instance. You scream with your heart in your neck for hours but then you have to make the terrible realization that no one is going to hear you. You are just buried too deep. You don’t know if it is night or day outside but inside it makes no difference anymore. You start scratching the lid of the coffin as if to claw your way out. It takes immense effort. Meanwhile the thoughts just race through your head. Thoughts like ”Has no one seen I am still breathing?” or ”I have to die now just because people thought I was dead”. In the end your strength leaves you and you just don’t fight anymore. Years later they exhume you… just to find the marks of your nails on the lid. Then come the ”should have-s” and the ”could have-s” but that does not save you now does it.

It feels like becoming a ghost. The people shift by you, step through you… talking about wishing you were there. Wishing you were something else. Visibly present. They reminisce on how different you were before. So full of life. So pleasant for the eye. They wish they could get through to you but in reality it is you who cannot get through to them. You wave, scream, shake your head frantically… Try to tell them you are still there. In vain. You are no longer one of them. They can no longer accept you.

The only difference is… when you are a ghost no one blames you for becoming one. When you are a borderline you have to face such a vast amount of shaming. Blame. Suddenly everything you say is a lie and everyone who encounters you should just run for it. Suddenly your condition is your fault, and you just don’t get better because you are not trying hard enough. Even today these sentences make me want to crawl into a hole and hide. But I will not hide. I will no longer succumb to silence.

Because maybe you have the same experiences, which is why I want to leave you with some good thoughts. You are not a monster. You are worth caring for. You are lovable, and I wish you would join me in standing up against the stigma in any way you can.tumblr_mj97mqo2HX1s3iwqdo1_500

Nine life lessons I learnt from Harry Potter

 

  1. There is more to reality than what we see

When Harry Potter was locked up under the stairs, without any friends and basically without any light in the seemingly dark tunnel that was his future, he would never have thought that a day might come to transform his life in basically minutes. He never would have thought that one day Hagrid would arrive with his first birthday cake under his arms. He never would have thought there was a world where he mattered and where his voice would finally be heard. Point is you should not underestimate life’s ability to write unimaginable twists. Good ones too.

  1. You sometimes have to lose the battle to win the war

Whoever catches the golden snitch gains 150 points for their house in quidditch and ends the game. This usually means instant win. But do you remember those occasions when Harry must not catch the snitch? Because I do. There was at least one time when 150 points were not enough for Gryffindor to win. Harry saw the snitch but needed to wait until the team gathers enough points so that catching the snitch would make a difference. We imagine the road to success would be straight. That once we see the snitch we should just jump at it because we might never see it again. Sometimes however patience and planning work better than pushing forward. You lose a battle when you let the snitch out of your sight… but when it comes again, and you are finally ready to catch it you win the war.

Also… Do you remember how Umbridge punished Harry with a pen that drew his blood and carved words on his hand? ”You must not tell lies”. With every word he cut in his hand he lost a war against Umbridge in that room. But later, in the forest, when Umbridge was given to the Centaurs and she begged Harry, Ron and Hermione to tell the centaurs not to hurt her because she came with good intentions, this very sentence was Harry’s victory over her as he told her: ”I can’t…. I must not tell lies”. I guess what I am getting at is just because you lost the battle – does not mean you’ve lost forever. The bricks that are thrown at you might later be used to build your fort.

  1. In tense situations people can exhibit traits you never thought they have

What did you think of Neville first? Of Luna Lovegood? Would you have thought Neville would defeat the snake? Would you have figured Luna can see Thestrals and is not repulsed by them because she is brave enough to face her demons? Would you have thought she would play a key role in the end? I sure as hell did not see these coming. This just reminds me that I might be surrounded by heros everywhere I go. Villians too, but there is a vast amount of goodness hiding in the people around, waiting to unveil itself in the light of an unusual event.

  1. You have to go to the roots of the problems

It was not easy to kill Voldemort. He seemed downright undefeatable. In order to kill him they had to deal with all of his horcruxes. They could not just miss one. This just reminds me that the problems can only be solved once they are througoutly investigated and their background is completely eliminated. Otherwise they just grow to the point where we are afraid to call them by the name.

  1. Level of education is not everything

Just one word here: Hagrid.

  1. Teamwork makes the dream work

Harry did not win the triwizard tournament alone. He did not save Sirius alone. He did not defeat Voldemort alone. He could not have no matter how big of a hero he was. It was always about the team.

  1. Sometimes you have hidden friends and unseen enemies

Remember how Snape saved Harry from falling off his broomstick at quidditch? Or that moment Harry shared with Snape when the professor was dying? This black haired man never failed to show resentfulness and hatred to Harry…. meanwhile saving his life. Who would have thought he is actually on Harry’s team? Or who would have thought the prisoner of Azkaban, from whom Harry was so strictly guarded will become one of his most trusted people?

Also there was Scrabbers. Everyone’s favourite rat from book one… Look what he turned out to be in the end. He was an enemy hiding in plain sight.

  1. There is a story behind evil

We like to think that people who do evil are just born that way. We assume that a moment of losing one’s mind makes a killer. We need to study Voldemort. How he was treated at the orphanage, how he grew up and how much it has to do with what he has become. I think initially he was thrown into darkness and did not feel too good there. Then – to cease his pain he learned to surf this darkness like a sea, to use it and to enjoy it. Noone is born evil. Society makes evil happen.

  1. Darkness does not last forever

The Dursley’s will not be your caretakers forever. You will not always live under the stairs. You will not stay ununderstood forever. You will not stay in the lair of spiders forever. Umbridge will not be your teacher forever. The minister of magic will not be corrupt forever. Hagrid will not stay in Azkaban. You will not fight all your battles alone. Ultimately: Voldemort will not live forever. 

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Thoughts about a song I loved at 15…

]Today I just found a folder on my computer which had in it almost all the songs I listened to at 15-17. I pondered how long ago that feels to have been as I loaded the playlist into my winamp. Looking back I guess I did not change much… Back then I had this huge inventory of sad songs with melancholic topic. My taste was a bit wider than it is today. Nowadays I am all for goth and metal, but I guess the thematic preoccupation has not changed much. Anyway, I guess what I am getting at is I found Rehab’s “Red water” in the list.

I wonder what I used to think it means, but I remember thinking it was a little silly. The song is about a man who recalls the time he was 12 and had this, rich organized, happy neighbour who was the luckiest man alive – he assumed- with the most beautiful wife, tidy house, brilliant job, happy son and all the wealth a 12 year old could dream of once having. Then one day this neighbour went home, laid back in his bath and opened up his veins… The song expresses this inconsistency between what can be seen, what cannot and what can never be unseen.

Listening to this song now, I do not think it is silly at all. It is rather mind-wrenching to hear lines like:

“And he was laying in an overflowing bathtub of red water
The first and the last time he ever relaxed
And they said, he had a smile on his face
His final offer, the steam on the mirror said
One more thing to say”

I do not mean to put down an analysis of the song, but these lines say all about it that can be said. But I understand a new aspect since then, that is humans were not created to live the way they do. The only chance to relax (while we are trying to gather riches or just earn enough to buy all the products that we are told we need) should not be while we are bleeding out in a bath… We are not meant to be the pretentious, malicious, shallow little things we pretend to be… which implies that too many things are left unspoken so badly that the steam on the mirror knows more about us than we know about each other – or sometimes even – ourselves.

See, these lines are the confessions of the most ‘un-brave’ person there is in this world right now. A person who cannot calm herself with inspirational quotes about how we should shoot for the stars… because I just want to stay on the ground. A person who craves to just put this computer away, sell her things and just build a hut in the forest and reunite with nature… and is still unable to do that. I guess the reason I love series like The Walking dead is the concept of man re-thrown into nature…  Maybe when I get older I can just give it a try, who knows. I guess all I meant to say is how well this song depicts this corrupted human nature. It makes me think of something ‘biblical’…

We always think the fruit we were not supposed to eat in Eden was an apple. I wonder why, but anyway apples and men have something peculiar in common, that is, we can still look okay from the outside while the worms are chewing us from the inside. I wonder how our beautiful red apple of a society will last anyway.

A note of thank you to my friends, teachers!

This week a long and leaden era ended for me in many ways. I graduated from the university, when I never even hoped to last through secondary school. I also got a job, which I am hoping to be able to keep. My dragons are hatching and I still don’t dare count them.

Sometimes when someone asks how I have done this – I really do not know. I cannot be that glorious story – the person, who climbed up and got an education on her own. Because this was never true. I never had a special talent, or extraordinary craft and will. And today – it is high time I say thanks to everyone who contributed to showing me I might be worth saving

Firstly. The friend who let me live in her home for a year and encouraged me to go to the university. Secondly all the friends from the university who helped me in times of need – with food and other supplies. Thirdly all the teachers who stood by me. I would never have imagined people to be this good. The head of the institute was the one many times, who saved me from falling out. Another teacher got me a psychologist, which contributed a lot to me finishing this year. The administrator was always there to help me, and when I came to the state exam sick she arranged to postpone it. I got e-mails, helpful numbers, and many of you know that a vast number of people from the university contributed to my crowdfunding campaign without any moral strings attached. I will make announcements about that soon. Thanks to one of teachers – this campaign reached many.

So I went to the university to attain a degree, but I see that it was the least I could get out of it. I also regained my faith in humanity. I will miss all those lessons in literature that kept opening up my world. They were occasions when I felt utterly understood and cared for. In the final year – thanks to groupmates and teachers I finally could open up, and be very plain about everything. And nobody laughed. And no judgments were told.

My personality developed enormously in these past years, and I now feel more ready to face life. I am no longer afraid or ashamed. We are who we are, and whoever we are can be understood. The key was always so close. I just had to speak. Why was it so hard to use this key? I still don’t know. When you speak out, you learn who your friends are, and lose your enemies. They either flee or become your friends.

A teacher of mine told me he thought people crave honesty if you say it right. I disagreed, even raged in myself and I swore to prove him wrong. I couldn’t. And that makes me happy.

Lastly I am grateful for the family, who acted like my very own family. The people who called me to dine with them at Christmas, 6 people who kept believing in me. Thank you! Never would have made it without you.

I wish I could give something back to all of you in my life.

Why I am writing all these is to tell you that I never could have survived alone. I don’t want to think of where I would be now without all of your help, people!

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