FRIEND OF BPD

[If] you got a friend in me, you gotta friend with BPD….BPD meaning ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ (or ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’ as it is sometimes affectionately (?!) known)… I prefer to call it borderline fabulous disorder, but don’t usually as it is both slightly narcissistic sounding and also largely inaccurate, as most of the time I don’t feel all that fabulous at all.

Disclosing to someone that you have a personality disorder is not a decision to be taken particularly lightly. It also isn’t something to do when you’ve had a few too many vinos and feel in an impulsive mood for sudden carefree sharing! which you may well come to regret the morning after. If you are a typical-ish person with a personality disorder and you are not me (ie. not an ‘out there’ mental health blogger person), you may well find yourself telling virtually no one of your proud mental illness adjective. I can certainly easily imagine that could happen, and also why. I imagine it is potentially a totally desirable thing to go throughout your life barely telling a soul this horrible label that the psychiatrist gave you.

I really do fully get why people don’t like to disclose a mental illness such as this. Disclosing BPD to someone is tough. The spectrum of all forms of mental illness come under one HUGE mental illness umbrella. Some forms of psychological struggle are easier to admit to than others. Others are especially difficult. I would argue that psychotic-based disorders, dissociative identity disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and personality disorders are probably among the hardest ones to fess up to.

If depression is the common cold , and anxiety is the IBS irritant of common mental illness, lesser known forms of mental health disorder that typically involve psychiatric labels (which people may not even have heard about) are far tougher to bring out into the cold late of day and wear pinned on your sleeve with nonchalant self-assured self-confidence.

I wrote a blog post earlier this year about BPD for national Mind (A UK based mental health charity), about the stigma of my personality disorder label, and how attitudes of both mental health professionals and lay people changed when my diagnosis was altered from Bipolar Disorder, (which is itself fairly stigmatised). You can find the article if you’re interested by typing in ‘Imani’ in the search bar on http://www.mind.org. *click here

These days I make my choice about whether or not to disclose rather more pointless and non-existent, as I decided a year ago to start blogging about my daily life with the condition. Therefore, LOTS of people know this is what one of my issues is, along with my PTSD. Even more so, when the local news mental health story we filmed yesterday is aired along with a blog link, the net of people who may potentially look up my blog may well increase. Soon there will be virtually no-one that does NOT know I have BPD!

One of my simple life philosophies is DO WHAT SCARES YOU UNTIL IT DOESN’T SCARE YOU QUITE AS MUCH.

Talking about how I have Borderline Personality Disorder is one thing that has always scared me and still scares me, so I decided to chat it over with a reporter on the telly! QUALITY LOGIC THERE summerSHINES.

Nothing can be more exposing than exposing your vulnerability on the TV news. Not many things are scarier anyway… but since I’ve already braved many things that are already on the face of it VERY INTENSELY SCARY (things such as attempting suicide three times, being admitted to a psychiatric unit three times and doing video recorded interviews at a police station about having been raped and abused)….talking about having a personality disorder on telly is actually relatively tame.

So, in response to my life philosophy of doing scary things, what I decided to do [because I like to do extremely scary things because I find them weirdly “fun” and “interesting”], is to put out an open invitation on my personal Facebook page for people to contribute a paragraph or two for my blog about how it actually feels to be friends with someone with BPD. ie. me. face palm

Granted, I haven’t asked complete strangers so far. Only friends. But I asked them to be fully honest and frank about how they reacted to me, without bullshit or falsely complimentary descriptions.

Because I have two psychology degrees and find people and how they think and feel and react epically intriguing and fascinating, I do often like to transport myself into the mind of another as much as I feasibly can… (mainly because living in my own head can be a right pain in the arse).

So I now turn the rest of this post over to them….to my Facebook chums, the ones that volunteered. Some are bloggers, some are not. Every person who agreed to contribute something offered something different and compelling in different ways….here is what they said, word for word…I AM COPYING AND PASTING FROM BEHIND AN IMAGINARY CUSHION!!

Friend 1. Billy. Excellent supporter of mine, both as a friend and also my virtual running coach who cheers me on from afar X

I would consider Summer a very good friend.
Why do I like her?
When Summer is good, she is very good.
She’s sweet, tolerant, a good listener, kind, very intelligent, attentive and caring.
She makes you glad to know her.
Above all this she is a very honest individual.
Summer can be a very difficult friend however. She sometimes seems to push you away or resent things said or done with good intention. She can go from happy to sad in an instant which leaves you wondering if you unintentionally said something wrong. It can be difficult to confide in her as she wears her heart on her sleeve and you kind of think sometimes that she has enough to worry about without you bothering her.
Her frequent mood changes can be impossible to predict.
Why do I stick with her?
Because like I said, when she is good, she is a great friend to have. She can be very funny and very sweet in the same sentence. Out of the blue you can get a message from her that brightens your day.
The good far outweighs the bad, and because I know what her problems are I can tolerate the bad.
I love her, warts and all.

Friend 2. Jos. My spunky friend from the US of A. She is a part-time wise person & a full time unofficial comedian who sometimes dresses as a clown for fun :P X

Summer’s mood swings would give many people pause about close friendship, but at my age (and equally challenging idiosyncrasies), I’ve learned to appreciate the whole person. Her infectious candour and zest for the moment are irresistible. In life some of us are lucky enough to meet, in various capacities, a few people who can walk into a room, and light it up immediately, with just their personal energy. Summer is one of those. So far this ‘room’ spans over three thousand miles, but her light is none the dimmer for it. Something about her seems to bring out the best in others. I’d want her on my team.

Friend 3. Claire. REDBalloons mental health and fitness blogger/all round survivor badass and friend of lushness.

Being Summer’s friend is a true delight. Despite her mental health issues, which she is very vocal about, she makes the best of every opportunity. Her passion shines out of everything she does. Yes her bad days can be hard, but we talk about it, we share. It is hard being so far away when all you want to do is grab a quilt and hide away from the world together. I am honoured to call her my friend xxx

Friend 4. Anna. Unjumbling the jumble of shizzle Mondays to Fridays  @ The Daily Annagram

Knowing only online Summer means I don’t know the whole woman. I don’t know how her eyes change when she’s anxious, how her voice wobbles when she’s down, how it feels when she cancels an arrangement or lets you down when you need her. Am sure these things happen because that’s BPD, PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Online Summer is probably more honest than offline Summer. The distance means she can risk being open, can think a bit before she speaks, but still, within her words there’s often a detectable turmoil; some days very ‘up’, some days very low. I know how hard this would be to live with offline.

Her mental health challenges have certainly stripped her outer-layer. This makes her raw and true and overflowing with empathy, relishing sarcasm and gallows humour which all her readers love. But it also makes her vulnerable, which makes me worry for her sometimes.

As she grows alongside her diagnosis, I know she’ll develop ways to cope with the world without losing her authenticity and humour.

Most important is that Summer is a mother. This gives her a determination to overcome, to be as consistent as she can be, to reflect on mistakes and feelings. This is why I love her honesty and motivation for more people to understand MH issues. This is why, when I read her difficulties, I know I don’t need to rescue her because she’s already doing that, marvellously, herself.

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I won’t pass individual comment on these…I have already individually responded to my friends and massively appreciate their honest reflections on BPD me and how my mental health affects their response and feelings about me.

I will simply put these out there and ask you, the reader, to reflect on what the diagnostic term ‘personality disorder’ means to you….. How would you feel if someone disclosed they had BPD or another specific flavour of personality disorder?  Do you know people with personality disorders yourself? and what do you note as different, challenging or confusing about them/us? If you have a personality disorder yourself, what do you think about the term?  Should the label you are given mean you fall foul of stigma? Would you go on telly and out yourself as being diagnosed with a personality disorder like I have done? Am I right to be nervous about opening myself up to public scrutiny?

I am not asking you to form or change my opinions. I have my personal opinions formed already and I am happy that I agree with them LOL ;) But I am interested in different takes on this contentious issue.

I’ll leave you to ponder all this. Readers…the blog comments are open….let me know what springs to mind :)

The psychologist is waiting for you to share your personality disorder-related shine! :) I have explained BPD is several other places in this blog if you search for the categories. here is a little short educational film on it that I made a while ago for those of you who haven’t seen it….It’s called the Silent Enemy xxx

 

summerSHINES ©

 

 

 

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WARM GLOW GUSHING

Hello! I finally get to do my write-up of yesterday. WOWZER. I’m absolutely thrilled at my virgin experience of being interviewed for the telly. It went like an absolute dream and I’m still feeling super shiny and luminescent this morning….basking in ‘dreams coming true-ness’. I’m trying to blog authentically here without caring how I sound, despite the fact there’s a high chance the reporter who interviewed me might be reading this as she now has my blog link….so why do I feel a bit silly typing out how I feel? I don’t usually feel these inhibitions about sharing anything. I guess I wonder if I’ll come across as too desperate…too ridiculously enthusiastic…inauthentically gushing and overly keen perhaps?…but there is nothing inauthentic about the upcoming gushing you are about to read. It comes from the heart and the soul. It also comes from a deep place of very raw and unfiltered emotion. Today I am proud to be me.

This blog is called SUMMER STARTS TO SHINE. At other times during my mental health recovery process I have considered re-titling the blog to ‘summer falls flat on her face’, ‘summer struggles’, ‘summer feels absolutely SHIT’.

Summer has struggled to shine massively. Summer has not always been the brightest star in her ‘mentally-ill-pigeon-holed-by-society’ box.

But yesterday has a huge milestone in my personal development, and also a wonderful moment of registering how I have come full circle and transformed so much since reaching my personal rock bottom.

This blog is about post-traumatic shine (my name for post-traumatic growth). It is based on the concept that…

…NO MATTER WHAT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE TO DATE, the future stands untouched and full of positive potential.

Yesterday was a crucial vantage point to reach where I could survey where I am today relative to where I’ve been, and also where I hope to be headed. As I sat perched on a bench with the tripodded camera recording everything, I looked over the beach where the filming took place, I gazed at the waves which once nearly swept me out to oblivion during my first suicide attempt, and I felt seriously proud to be alive, so be strong, to be still standing.

Maybe that would be a good alternative blog title. SUMMER IS STILL STANDING

am still standing.

I am alive.

I am (relatively) well.

I am recovering.

All is OK.

Everything is unfolding just as it should.

I am incredibly prone to feeling frustrated with the speed of my mental health recovery progress. I feel like if I don’t recover enough fast enough I am letting my loved ones down. I know rationally that is not the case, but I have such a powerful drive within me to overcome my problems and conquer my destiny that I can never improve fast enough for my ‘very high standard pace’.

I spoke to my psychologist yesterday morning on the phone about this. She knows me extremely well and knows the amount of pressure I put on myself to be well and be capable and to support and inspire other people in their healing journeys. She knows if I have a bad day it is very easy for me to beat myself up for this and berate myself for not coping maximally well. She tries to demonstrate compassion to me in the hope I will internalise this relaxed feeling myself about myself…but habits are hard to break.

I said to her yesterday before filming “I hope I don’t fuck this interview up. Hopefully I won’t.”

The social anxiety is always there lurking at my heels, telling me I’m not enough and could have done better…As it is already this morning social anxiety post mortems have been and gone about what I said or failed to say. I am working really hard though to reassure myself of what an achievement yesterday’s filming experience was. I may not have achieved total perfection, but the point is, I did it. I braved the camera. I spoke honestly without self-editing. I shared the facts as I saw them, and I shared my views and feelings too in an authentic way. Not everyone will necessarily agree with them, but I was the volunteer. I was asked to do this media opportunity, and I grabbed it with both hands as this is exactly what I wanted and have wanted for such a long time! I put myself in the arena for social judgement, because I’m no longer scared to be myself. Yesterday was an absolute dream come true.

This is what happened…. :)

The build-up to the ITV crew arrival was relatively calm and serene. I had pangs of nerves, but not unadulterated TERROR fortunately ;) so I could deal with a few nerves no problem. The fact I managed to stay calm yesterday after only being off my long term anxiety meds for a week is actually pretty remarkable I thought! Go me!

The weather was perfect…warm, sunny and spring-like/hopeful…mirroring exactly how I felt inside. I had been expecting the reporter lady to arrive alone and self-shoot, but she had managed to find a stray professional camera man wandering about in telly land and booked him for a filming slot so two people arrived.

Even though he was a man (usually strangers who are men worry me due to PTSD,) I had a quiet word with myself, told myself not to panic, as he is a telly man. He will definitely have no need to touch me or even come that near me. He is safe and licenced and has a friendly smile and a nice voice which you can’t be scared at. So I got over that initial anxiety peak and travelled my journey along the valleys of the calm mountain.

‘CHILL THE FUCK OUT IMANI SUMMER’, I reassuringly told myself while driving to the nearest beach to film the interview. Not all men are scary and will attack me, especially not ITV camera men!

Driving to the beach with the ITV News emblazened car following behind me was a moment that was deliciously surreal. A “is this really happening?!” kind of moment. But I wasn’t nervous as I was just looking forward to getting stuck in.

I parked in a parking bay and got in the ITV car to drive down the hill to be dropped off there with the reporter lady as they had all the heavy equipment to transport. I sat in an ITV car with ITV people, yaaay! haha ;)

I have sat on the bench where the interview happened in all stages of mental illness. I have sat there when depressed, when anxious, when dissociated, when I’ve felt heart-breakingly sad and been grieving for losses that hurt more than I can say, I have sat when hearing voices in my head and even feeling like I were different people, but yesterday I felt content and excited and happy when I sat there, as I was there for a fantastically POSITIVE reason!! ….To tell my story, to speak openly, to hopefully shift public attitudes a little, and to destigmatise people engaging in open conversations about mental health.

Trying to pretend a camera isn’t there when a camera clearly IS THERE is not the easiest of things to achieve!!! particularly as the reporter and camera guy were periodically communicating about tellyish things that as a lay person I didn’t fully understand, but I tried to chillax as much as possible and just think to myself ‘I’m here chatting to a lovely lady who is interested in hearing what I have to say because she thinks what I have to say (as someone who has lived experience of mental illness) is actually worth listening to.’

Those positive self-talk inner chats with myself helped a lot and I remained calm and focussed and was able to concentrate fairly well. For once my PTSD and BPD brain actually cooperated and respected my expressed wishes! I wish it always would eye roll

Anyway, we did the speaky interview bit…..

Talking with the soothing white noise of the ocean in the background was both relaxing and a little distracting for my bonkers brain, but apart from a couple of occasions where I started speaking then forgot what the actual question was [LOL] my brain behaved itself and I did it!! …Not only that, I enjoyed it immensely. YAAAY!

Woop woop to successful telly interviews a week after discontinuing anxiety meds! Who’d have thought I could take that in my stride? Not me!!! :P

Interestingly, the most tense bit of all the filming was the naturalistic shots of me that were done after the interview, walking ‘naturally’ along the sands of my favourite beach. My husband and girls were there too with me. I chose for them to be involved. We worked on a sandcastle together. I am a family person, a normal person, a stay-at-home mum, a volunteer. I am nothing out of the ordinary. I am just a person who happens to also have a mental health history. It can happen to all of us and any of us, and most likely will at some stage of your life. I purposefully wanted to be filmed in context of the daily life I have with mental ill health. I’m a normal person, who nearly died several times due to mental ill health, and as my children are fully aware of their mother’s mental health I see no reason to hide anything.

So I strolled around the beach “naturally” while feeling inside very unnatural ;) did a cartwheel that went wrong, got wet shoes and socks and skinny jeans when a stray wave tried to claim me! All in all though it was amazing. Magical moments that remind me all that awful hellish shit is now behind me. Yes I have bad days, but I used to have bad months and years!

Once the camera had been packed up we headed back to the car chatting happily as though we film on the beach with ITV Tyne Tees news reporters and camera men everyday! The normalness of it all was reassuring. It wasn’t scary. I was given a lot of respect and dignity and control at all times. I didn’t feel exploited or that the questions were at all posed with a sensationalist bent to them (which was a slight fear I had about media volunteering)…it didn’t feel rushed, and if I made a slight mistake it didn’t matter. It honestly couldn’t have gone any better than it did :)

Yeah, of course since we gave the reporter and the camera guy a cheery wave goodbye yesterday I have thought of a million things I wish I’d added and included, but there is no such thing a perfect interview where you say absolutely everything that you want to get across. I am just proud I spoke candidly about my life with mental health issues. Dead proud.

My favourite question the lady asked was “do you think you’re brave for doing this?” It was a good question…and one I wasn’t sure how to answer. I don’t think I’m particularly brave, though I acknowledge that other people do, as they directly say they think I am. I guess I just try and accept myself, and hope that other people who read my words or hear that piece on the telly will accept me as I am too. That is all I want. Acceptance & a bit of compassion. Yesterday I got that in bucket loads from the lush reporter who did the interview, so regardless of how anyone who watches the clip will react, I connected on a human level with a real actual telly person who actually was prepared to give me the air time to tell my unique but also very ordinary story. I’m a mum. Bad things happened to me as I grew up. Adult mental health problems happened as a result. There’s no shame. I am worth no less than anyone else. I matter. Everyone matters. So what if your brain is a little wonky and you struggle more than the average bear? I told my story. I hope this is the first of many opportunities to do this :) and typing that gives me the warmest glow inside that you could ever imagine!

If you get the chance to go public, and you want to try it, go for it. Put yourself forward. Volunteer yourself. You matter! What you say matters! You are not only helping yourself but you may make an incredible transformative difference to someone else’s life too. I hope this happens for me. I hope my story does resonate with people watching and it might promt them to seek help and open up about the chaos inside. There is no need to hide the chaos. Embrace it! Vocalise it! Alchemise it to good use. Be that person who is prepared to speak out, and wait and see how many people’s lives you can touch just with a few simple heartfelt and meaningful words. That’s what I did, and I feel bloody fabulous for having done it :)

summerSHINES©

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TELLY DREAM :)

One on my main mental health blogger ambitions is going to be coming true later on today. Something very good and very excellent is due to happen!

Yes!….After all the false starts and false hopes that something might happen in the media, something IS going to be happening, and I genuinely couldn’t be any happier about this 😊

Yesterday was a very significant and special day for me. When I’d spoken to the lovely peeps at national Mind and confirmed I wanted to go ahead with filming, my mobile rang about a minute later and on the other end of the line was a truly lush and lovely sounding regional ITV reporter lady, who said “Hello Imani” (which is my actual name)….That felt seriously good!

Finally I get to talk all things mental health for a news segment with a reporter (which is getting pre-recorded later today), to be aired as part of mental health awareness week in early May.

Question: How LUSH it that!?!

Answer: Extremely!

I seriously CANNOT WAIT to do this….so in preparation this is some of what I did last night to get myself firmly in the telly filming zone….

I designate myself officially media ready :)

I also cleaned the house from top to bottom [!] and my husband mowed the grass (obvs) because I’m a decidedly house proud mental health type person, and if a lush telly lady is coming with her camera I want to be filmed in a calm, uncluttered, and clean environment so I can think clear and happy thoughts with no distractions.

My husband is DELIGHTED that the washing up FINALLY got done and the house now looks completely telly reporter ready [and if I’m honest cleaner than its done for several days/weeks] 😂😂

I have certain ideas of what speaking in front of thecamera may be like…I wonder what it will actually feel like though?….

By the end of today I’ll actually know, won’t I! That’s a crazy thought but a brilliant one :)

I do want to extend beyond summerSHINES and am ambitious and passionate. This telly opportunity is a great string to my bow…a fab opportunity too to shape public attitudes about mental health in the North-East of England in a compassionate, accepting and well-informed direction. That inspires me greatly :)

My greatest wish would be that any viewers watching this on telly during mental health awareness week will be inspired and it will generate thought, reflection and positive outcomes. I really hope so anyway :) I’m doing what I believe I was destined to do….to communicate publicly about mental health; about how I got here, what challenges I faced, exactly how I sought treatment and support, how people can help those with mental health issues, as well as my hopes for my future recovery and also my hopes for society in terms of stigma reduction eradication :)

I am really proud, really excited, massively grateful for this opportunity, and also hopeful that I’ll MASSIVELY ENJOY IT!!! :)

Wish me luck peeps! Eek!

SummerSHINES xxx (though known as Imani on telly, as that’s my name- don’t wear it out!) :P

I’ll post my write up of today, tomorrow :) I’m off to get in the media zone 😘

PANIC ATTACK!

PLEASE RE-POST THIS….I WANT IT SHARED AS WIDELY AS POSSIBLE.

(ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIVE IN THE NORTH-EAST OF ENGLAND.)

Here is my actual Facebook post which I want people to share…

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PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE THORUGHOUT THE NORTH-EAST AND BEYOND XXX

People of the North-East. Please help me track down my ‘angel of the north’ who helped me through my PANIC ATTACK at the Tyne Tunnel toll booths yesterday at approx. 1pm when I was en route to a meeting in South Shields.

You did everything *perfectly* to help get me through that horrendous experience, and I genuinely don’t know how I would have coped in that traumatic and terrifying situation without your AMAZING altruistic support.

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST AS WIDELY AS YOU CAN THROUGHOUT THE NORTH-EAST AS I WANT TO FIND THIS WOMAN AND PERSONALLY THANK HER!!!

I told my story about you and how you helped me to the national Mind media team in London today, and said I want to go public with the story of how you helped me. I am a media volunteer for the MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY MIND, and a fundraising volunteer for my local Mind (Tyneside and Northumberland). I also told my tale to a very lovely regional ITV reporter lady, so you are almost famous!

You didn’t care that you were holding up the drivers behind. You saw my distress and panic and responded calmly and kindly, talking me through what I had to do, keeping your voice calm, smiling at me, encouraging me, reassuring me. You gave me your bottle of water so I could sip water which helped a lot, and and you made me feel reassured that I was going to be ok and get through this miserable and embarrassing situation in one piece. You spoke to me through the passenger window of my car rather than the driver’s side which meant my PTSD wasn’t triggered as I felt at a safe distance to you. You were AMAZING!!!

**INFO TO ALL.

If you ever see someone who appears to be having an anxiety/panic attack in public, or a stranger approaches you and explicitly tells you they are having a panic attack, or maybe a PTSD flashback, the best thing to do is NOT PANIC yourself!

I told two men I was having a panic attack before this lady came to my aid. Maybe they were unsure how to help me or what to say, or perhaps were in a rush yesterday so got quickly back in their cars. I am not blaming you for that. I do understand being approached by someone who appears hysterical and in mental health crisis can be very stressful. I am sorry to those people that I made you uncomfortable when I approached you….Please understand though, the person having the panic attack or the flashback is always A LOT more stressed than you are (!!) and we are absolutely desperate for assistance. Our panic can be so OVERWHELMING that we may even have fears we are dying.

If this ever happens to you and someone having a panic attack approaches you asking for help, it helps so much if you can spend a minute or two talking to us in a reassuring way in a soothing relaxed voice, telling us “YOU ARE GOING TO BE ALRIGHT. THIS WILL PASS. YOU ARE SAFE, AND I’M HERE. YOU ARE GOING TO BE OK”. Over and over again if that is what it takes.

These are simple steps you can take to make a massive difference to someone’s day.

Offering us a drink is also massively helpful if you have one to hand, as the act of swallowing activates a calming mechanism in our brains which makes our parasympathetic nervous system kick in to reduce our adrenaline levels. Cold drinks like water are best as the cold temperatures refresh our brain, and help shock us out of our state of panic and dissociation.

We may be dissociated. You may never have heard of this word. What it means (in plain English) is our brain may shut down almost completely to protect us from the panicky feelings and to help reduce our stress hormone levels (which by now will have reached toxic proportions.) A sign we are dissociated is we may appear visibly spaced out to you ,or to not be able to process what you’re saying very easily at first or reply to you coherently, but calm persistence and continuing to talk to us soothingly (from a safe distance) and asking questions WILL engage the rational parts of our brains which will eventually activate the soothing systems in our brain.

These are very simple things we can all do to help someone we come across who appears in severe psychological distress.

There is always the possibility however that someone having a panic attack may NOT want you to go near them. They may have PTSD or a trauma background and be nervous of unfamiliar people. If we tell you to go away or are hostile please allow us some personal space, but continue to talk to the distressed person from a distance and be physically nearby. This will hopefully gain their trust. Most people will be grateful of help just as I was.

Having a panic attack in public is humiliating and terrifying, but thanks to this amazing woman (my angel of the north) my faith in human nature was restored.

THANK YOU TO THIS AMAZING LADY!

If you were this person at the Tyne Tunnel, please get in touch so I can thank you. I have attached a photo so you recognise who I am :)

Imani X

Mental health blogger @ http://www.summerstartstoshine@wordpress.com

Mind Media Volunteer.

Tyneside and Northumberland Mind Fundraising Volunteer.

XXX

MAN OVERBOARD

I was planning a duvet day today after waking up decidedly feeling lack lustre, to a backdrop of un-seasonally wintry weather outside my bedroom window. But I got the miserable wet and arctic windy dog walk out of the way early, and now I’m cosy and warm, in my favourite spot in the house, clickety clacking the keys, taking pleasure in choosing words and basking in the images that pop up in my mind as I write today’s blog.

I have blogged (usually daily) for over 12 months on various platforms and sites. I also post a great deal on social media. Sometimes I am more enthusiastic about it than others. Sometimes I wonder if I should carry on and if anyone really cares if I publish or not. Yesterday in therapy I said to my lady I was reevaluating a lot of things, life goals, purpose, what is working and what isn’t. I think it is healthy to question what you choose to spend your time on everyday, every so often. Is this my direction? Are there better alternatives? Am I really making inroads in arriving at any goal oriented destinations? How important is it to even have goals? Cue much analysis.

Insert drawing of my version of Rodin’s thinking pose ;)

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There is a whole load of analysis to go on- weighing up pros and cons in logical systematic fashions, and there are instincts to heed as well.

What is the point of writing? For the mind? For the body? For the soul? For yourself? For others?

I am both a writer who is bold and honest, and also I am a sensitive. That is a bonkers and nonsensical combination…but it is me…so I need to learn to accommodate my inner contradictions, to be aware of them, to weigh up their usefulness, and sometimes choose to prioritise one of those two aspects as being the more important one.

If I am bold and honest in my writing and words and way of expressing myself, the package deal is that I will be attacked more, especially now my audience is wider and more varied than it ever has been. My writing is not only on summerSHINES. It is out there in the NHS read by NHS employees, also in a health care publication for professionals. It is on the national Mind website. It is on multiple social media platforms. Then there are the YouTube videos, the Mind vlog and the spoken word captured by journalists for radio broadcasting. Many more outlets where people can find me, read me, and either love me or despise me.

I don’t tend to provoke indifference in readers. I tend to magnetise the extremes of other people. I draw people in and make them feel SOMETHING, never nothing. I don’t know how I do that, but my clever psychologist lady who knows me well and I trust her judgement says it’s because of my unusual EMOTIONALITY, and unusual bareness/rawness/authenticity/ability to take risks in sharing things that may expose me to very personal judgement.

I lay myself out no filter. That is rare. I personally believe the very best writer’s take this approach though. A writer with restraint doesn’t have any effect on me emotionally. My attention is not summoned or captured. They may as well be publishing their weekly grocery list. If I cannot feel the individual writer and hear their imaginary voice speaking their words, I cannot get what I crave out of reading.

I like people with a voice. I admire people with a voice. I don’t admire wallflowers, not because there is anything wrong with being more reticent or cautious (each to their own) but they do not arrest my attention like strong voiced people do.

The best compliment anyone can ever give me that thrills me the most is “you write well”. It is the only thing I believe I am naturally talented at in life, so when other people recognise that and add their complimentary viewpoint that they enjoy reading my writing, that make me buzz.

A close second favourite compliment is when people say I’m a nice person and have helped and inspired them. That is why I write….one of the reasons anyway, because I like to communicate in a way that influences people and helps them see new stuff about themselves. When someone says I helped them with a blog post, or a private conversation, I feel immensely proud.

Being complimented that I’m a good mum is another very reassuring and life affirming thing. My own mum failed me, so it is important I feel validated by others that I am not carrying on that destructive cycle with my own girls. That feels good.

What I am not bothered about or affected by however is someone saying “you’re pretty, I love your house, I love what you’re wearing etc”….things that to me are shallow and nothing connected with me and my personal identity.

I wish to be known as someone who writes well, who understands human psychology well and who influences people I befriend and support in positive ways.

Not everyone will leave a friendship with me however singing my praises. Why? Because I am ruthless with distancing myself permanently from people who start off as positive influences and become destructive to me emotionally. I view this as assertiveness. I know my worth. I know what is fair and unfair treatment. I won’t accept less that I deserve. My loyalty to myself and my close friends and family is far stronger than my loyalty to people who are peripheral to my life and I begin to realise are bad news for me and my ongoing recovery.

I try not to attract damaged people, but I know that is what I do.

My damage magnetises others who are also damaged in some way. We resonate on similar ‘damaged person’ frequencies.

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But I am an insightful damaged person who is mending my damage and fully understands my damage, how it manifests and what I need to do to progress from it. I cannot abide people who are in denial about their own damage-the people who tend to point fingers at everyone else- believing everyone else is to blame but their own self. I am willing to threaten my own psyche and self-examine myself and whether I may have made a mistake or gone too far in what I said or did. Not everyone has the guts to be introspective and apply that accurate self-examination to themself.

I won’t spend time with people who don’t want to grow. I won’t spend my time with people who are stuck, and going on observations of how they tend to react to things, are likely to remain stuck ad infinitum.

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I am growing. I am changing. I am transforming. That is what I find appealing therefore in others.

What frustrates me, is that because I openly identify myself as psychologically damaged person on this blog-because I am fully HONEST and OPEN and TRANSPARENT with no hidden agendas or one-sided accounts, that information and honest self-admission about my own problems is used as informational weaponry to try and destroy me with.

Because I am so vocal about what happened and how psychologically it affected me, some people (who are insecure themselves and envious) like to try and take me down with this information. They think they have got one over me by pointing out I am psychologically fuckedup. 😂

I bloody know that! This is what the whole point of the blog is!!! 😂😂 It makes me wanna chuckle…how people can poke the “you have a personality disorder and are fuckedup” stick at me. I say EVERYWHERE is my blog that I have a PD and PTSD and am fuckedup! My fuckedupness is nothing to be hidden and suffered with silently behind closed doors. I am brazen about my fuckedupness….yet some people still have their pop at me, jeering “YOU DID THIS. YOU DID THAT”………..”yes”, I feel like saying “….AND???!!!!”

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I have never hidden anything! I am an open book. I admit my faults. I admit my diagnoses. I admit what my problems are. I take responsibility for them. I work hard to change it all. I am determined to shine, but some people take issue with that.

In therapy yesterday we talked about how people tend to react to me. It is evident that I attract strong reactions of interest, sometimes admiration, sometimes envy, sometimes anger and frustration, sometimes hurt. That is because of my #NO FILTER approach to communication.

I am direct, can be blunt, can deliver factual information that is unpalatable to some. I am driven, hard working, and ambitious to make a positive difference in society. I am more of a leader than a follower. I don’t conform. I’m not a wallflower. I won’t apologise for my existence. I know my intentions are always positive…..But I can piss people off sometimes.

I think it is my personality type to be marmite.

People like me when I am supportive to them. It is harder to take though when I point out home truths or alternative viewpoints. Then I am despised. I am fallen off my pedestal because I dared to take a no bullshit approach.

I don’t want you in my life. You are destructive. No thanks. You’re not my Earl Grey cup of tea. I say that straight.

OUCH.

Ruthless….aren’t I.

But with me, what you see if what you get. Everyone starts off liked by me until proven otherwise. I believe everypne to be good unless proven otherwise. When your likability and niceness is questioned though, I don’t waste my time anymore investing into a friendship. If I stop trusting a person, if I see their dark side and they can’t see it themselves I point it out. I get hated for socially rejecting someone (by the person I just rejected). Fair enough. Rejection doesn’t feel nice to the receiver. 

All I am doing though is protecting myself from emotional harm. I am fully entitled to do that. I know what I deserve. I know what I need, admire, and respect in people. If someone is making my emotional boat fill with water and I feel myself sinking, don’t be shocked if a man has to go overboard so I can float and be psychologically safe again.

The person in the water doesn’t like this. They will flap in the water and protest and make a scene, but I know I have to paddle my own canoe and not allow passengers to overload my mental health boat. They are afterall people that will lead my summerSHINES boat to potentially sink. That isn’t ok with me.

Self-protection is something I never exercised when I was young. I was treated extremely badly back then. I didn’t protest because I was a traumatised child who couldn’t. I won’t allow it now. I won’t take shit now. If that makes me disliked by anyone, so be it.

You may call me ruthless and cruel, but if you were me, would you honestly be any different?

summerSHINES ©