Opening up about my mental health

Shortly after publishing my last post, I realised I’ve gone head first into encouraging people to open up about their experiences with mental health difficulties, to help increase awareness and fight stigma, when I still keep mine under wraps for the very same reasons many others out there probably do – fear of what other people will think. With the exception of members of Facebook support groups and medical professionals, only my immediate family and one or two friends know the full extent of my difficulties. I bang on about how we should be able to be open about our difficulties without judgement and how beneficial it can be once we do, yet I sit here behind a screen not taking my own advice and not fully supporting a cause I feel so strongly about. This isn’t acceptable. I may be many things, but I am not a hypocrite! So, here I am taking a giant kangaroo leap out of my comfort zone.

I first entered the system when I was 13, when I was referred by my GP to CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health service) because of my emetophobia (fear of vomiting). After an assessment I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with hygiene/germs and underwent some pretty intense Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Not long after my last therapy session for OCD, at a follow-up appointment, it was noticed that I had dropped some weight and I was later diagnosed with an eating disorder which I started seeing a psychiatrist for. Eventually I was transferred to an adult eating disorder unit as an outpatient where I recieved Cognitive Analytic Therapy. This wasn’t particularly effective, mostly due to me not engaging, and after the full course of treatment I was discharged back to my GP having not gained any weight. It wasn’t until I met Luca, my (now) husband, in my first year of university that I started to recover.

What I haven’t mentioned yet is throughout this I was also struggling with my mood and anxiety, and had been self harming, often daily, since I was 13. When I met Luca and fell in love I decided it was time to really, really try to get some help, because I was fearful I’d lose him if I didn’t. Under the supervision of my GP, I experiemented with a few anti-depressant medications over the course of 3 years, and had some more CBT, with little luck. It was eventually decided to refer me on for further investigation.

I saw a lovely psychiatrist in July 2014 who immediately picked up on my mood and emotional fluctuations, and made an initial diagnosis of bipolar II. After experimenting with a few more medications, he thought that perhaps it was time to start looking at other potential diagnoses, however we moved out of the county before we could investigate further and things got a little messed up!

Fast forward to now, after being passed between teams on multiple occasions, an assessment with a shoddy psychiatrist, a LOT of kerfuffle, a relapse which saw 3 years of being self harm free dashed, and shelling out a LOT of money for an assessment with a private psychiatrist out of sheer desperation, I now have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) along with the depression and anxiety difficulties. After a bit of pushing for referrals instead of discharges (unfortunately BPD is often seen as treatment resistant), I’m waiting on a referral to a team who will HOPEFULLY be able to provide Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is regarded as one of the better treatment options for borderlines. Until then I’m just riding the rollercoaster with the help of medication to help manage some of the symptoms!

Right, there we have it! I will likely be doing posts in the future that go into a little more detail about particular areas, such as the impact my diagnoses have on my life or my experience with the therapies I have received, to name a few. For now though, I think this will be enough, not only because this is a turning out to be a long post, but also because it’s taken me 5 days to write (and probably a few more days talking myself into publishing!). Hopefully this doesn’t change the way anyone thinks or feels about me which is my main fear, but as I mentioned previously, I’m no hypocrite!

Much love, Faye
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