Tag Archives: mental health

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”.


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? 


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


Or started doubting if they are your friends at all?


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?


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


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.


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?


Maybe it has taken a toll on your relationships 😦


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


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.


Sometimes I see my disorder in everything.


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

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.

Sometimes I wish I could set the world straight…

Since I got so confessional lately, I guess I can keep the honest boat rolling and tell you that sometimes I get really mad. Entirely mad about how I turned out as a “borderline” person, and how this killed everything around me, and how it was not my fault, not the fault of my friends either, but this slowly ate up all the bridges that would tie me to anyone. They often say that this is characteristic of the personality disorder to cut ties intensely, but I have another theory. Why would anyone want to lose relation with a society which is the only place they can be safe? Because this society, out of its own will – I like to believe – is drowning in a cult of moralizing and stereotyping about mental health. For many years I did not want to even talk about that, thinking the world was a solid entity incapable of change.

I’m talking about how people are trying to help their friends with mental health problems and how they fail one by one, wondering why they ever got involved in the first place. This is a very painful process on both sides.

When they just laugh at you

I remember the very first people to whom I told – as a child – that I have strange experiences. (Namely that the world seems to drift off and become a frightening, bizarre dreamlike place where I am so slow that even crossing through the road bears enormous danger). The reaction was a laugh. I don’t know what was so funny about it, and probably never will know. Now I am aware what this experience was and what it was signalling, or what its name is.

When they think you are ‘making this up’

I also had a bizarre habit as a child. I used to believe I had a dead sister, who was buried under a tree not far from our block. I would take flowers there sometimes, and whenever something bad happened, which I wanted to forget I would put it on a piece of paper and bury it at the tree too, thinking my sister will come at night and take the paper and the thing I put on it disappears forever. I guess I made it up. Maybe I did not want to be alone and thought someone who is dead knows more than me and can help me. But this experience was still frightening and I still wanted to get rid of it. But when I told adults about this it suddenly was a lie and that “all in your head” crap commenced. Well of course it’s all in my head, genius! Where else could it be? This is like telling someone with Asthma “It’s all in your lungs”. The person already knows and it does not help them anyway… however, it is a good way to make someone feel alienated and misunderstood.

When you seem to be “making it for attention”

I had thoughts of suicide ever since I can remember. But at the age of 16 or so I could no longer contain it or fight it effectively. These thoughts crept up on me, like snares underwater that would not let go of my limbs, and the more I tried to break away from them the more they kept dragging me down to the bottom of the lake. Not a clear lake either. A stinky, blood steamed lake of tears. I was frightened and chilled to the bone. So I told someone. Did not listen or bombarded me with the stereotypes of cowardice or other. And came the next person and the next and the next, but nobody wished to fight for me. So I fought for me with the methods I had. Already told you, it was the cutting thing. So I told only one person about this at the start, and this person went home, read about it on the internet, and figured out I just want some attention. Question one, why do you figure out what I want when you could just ask me? Question two, how come ‘whys’ matter more than ‘how to make it betters’? This is where I started losing it and friend after friend I lost contact, lost interest. When someone can tell you things and you cannot do the same it suddenly becomes a relationship you are unable to fight for.

When some people are “just acting like they want to help you”

Once I felt very bad about someone. The person who read the stuff on the internet (mentioned above. So this person decided to sit and have a talk about suicide with me. Mostly it was them talking and me listening, which I know should have been the other way around. I learnt that later, that when you are feeling suicidal the last thing you need is a lecture on the devastating nature of suicide. You probably know more about that than they do anyway. No, when you are in distress you need to talk. Talking is like action. You should not be afraid when someone shares a suicidal fantasy with you – it means they want to talk it out because it saves them from acting on it. Anyway we were in a café with this person and I could talk a bit about what I was feeling and while I was in the middle of struggling over to breathe or not to this person sprung to their feet and started talking to the “bartender” asking what song was on the radio. Sitting back “So where were we”. Of course I did not continue….

When “Starving Africans and orphans have it worse and you should be grateful”

If you suffer from a mental health problem you must be awfully familiar with this approach. While it may be true on the physical level not having a toilet or starving is not a mental disorder. It can induce one – which is why starving Africans can also suffer from a mental disorder, what you really need to understand is that mental health problems are “way better than us” in a way that they don’t discriminate. They do not differentiate between rich and poor etc. So when you cannot get out of bed or have delusions it truly does not have to do anything with whether you are grateful or not. Besides when someone you know gets out of their brand new car to tell you that others have it worse than you when they do not know you might not even own a bed is another aspect, but it is not relevant for me now.

“Everyone has their fights”

I could go on for what seems way too much for a blogpost but just one more. This is the latest thing I heard. Again it is a cliché. Of course everyone has their fights. You too. You may be fired, you may be broke, you may be sad, you may be lonely etc. But to tell a mental health patient that everyone has their fights is like telling someone with malaria that everybody gets a fever every now and then. Why is it so hard to understand, that nor malaria nor mental disorder belongs on the scale of “normal life hardships” because they just don’t. You don’t tell someone with diabetes “you don’t need insulin” or “your illness is your fault” or “snap out of it”…. So why tell someone so who is mentally ill?  I just don’t get it.

This is not a judgement. It’s not an aimless whining. I want you to see these! So next time you could help a friend effectively! If your friend is in distress they do not need moral or religious – and preferably any – lectures. They need ears that listen and hands that hold. You may not be able to provide them, but that is what professionals are for and you can sure as hell convince them to seek that help. Do not promise anything you cannot or will not do, because it fills them up with false hopes they will regret later.

I don’t know if I can put up with this world forever. Maybe not for long, who knows. But until that point I sure as hell cannot be silenced about this one hope: that I and people like me do not have to lose anyone. That all the world needs is to be more educated on mental health for us to fit in better and live a relatively better life. If you want to help us, please come down from the chair of judges, believe me we can judge ourselves very efficiently. If we are worth the fight for you, please fight for us. For our rights, for our case. For our lasting friendship.1907610_375095252628514_4887125967851011397_n