31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 6

Hey everyone,

I hope you’re all well!

Here we are on day 6 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge, and so far this challenge seems to be making December go quite slow!

img_3293-1Today’s challenge is to list 3 personality traits I am proud of

Well, having a personality disorder could make this seem quite interesting!

I would have to say that I am proud of my creativity. I seem to be able to pick creative things up quite easily, although I would always in my head throw a tantrum if I feel unable to do something. I get worked up if I can’t pick something up, but I generally keep at it and if I do a bad job of it, I can at least say I’ve tried! My latest creativity skill has been learning to knit… Well, I’m not that great, but at least I’ve given it a go!

I would next say I am proud to be caring. There were times when I probably had my moments of not being as caring as I could have been. But the majority of the time, I am kind and caring to others. I wish I had been caring towards myself growing up, but I am still learning and I am getting there. I care about others, and I put others before myself, which sometimes can be a bad thing, so it’s about getting the balance right.

And finally, I would say I am proud to consider myself trusting. I’m someone who is often too open and honest, and needs to learn to bite my tongue, but ask me for an honest answer, and you can trust me to give it to you. I am trustworthy of holding “secrets” and information. I’m a good listener and able to give advice. You can trust me, so close your eyes and I will catch you (metaphorically speaking. I physically couldn’t catch you!)

So there we have it, three personality traits I am proud of: creativity, caring and trusting. Although, not necessarily in that order!

What are your three personality traits you’re proud of?

Please sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica

@ghostwithinme

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31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 5

Good evening all!

img_3293-1Today’s challenge is:
My Guilty Pleasure

Well, I guess it has to be watching cheesy television programmes.

It’s a bit of downtime when you can chill out and watch some “crap” TV. Numbs your brain, y’know what I mean?

I think that entertainment shows can be great for some downtime.

Of course, indulging in a glass of wine and some sweet treats also don’t go amiss!!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Please sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 4

Good evening everyone!

img_3293-1Here we are on Day 4, and today’s challenge is:

Earliest Childhood Memory

Not gonna lie, unfortunately a lot of my childhood memories are zilch and have to be triggered by photos or family videos.

I can remember standing in the rain when there was terrible thunder when we had been to Legoland, or getting scared when my parents were outside and it started to thunder and lightning, and I was indoors with my baby brother who was months old, and I was petrified they would get struck by lightning.

I can remember being in the garden, digging a hole to China. I didn’t get very far…

I can remember packing my plastic yellow Polly Pocket suitcase, and saying I wanted to run away, and I hid behind the car in the front garden for a short while before begging to go back indoors.

I mean, sadly a lot of my memories do seem to be quite negative and I don’t know why. I would love to remember the great times. Such as, dancing and gymnastics, parties and so on, and becoming a big sister several times!

I also can’t remember how old I was for any of these.

So, this is quite a depressing question for me to answer.

I’m really sorry guys…

Please sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 3

Hey all!

Here we are again, on day 3 of the 31 Day Blog Challenge.

img_3293-1Today’s challenge is:

Meaning of your business name

So, for me, my blog name is fairly simple… “The Ghost Within Me”, is reflected in how I feel when I dissociate, it’s reflection on mental illness and physical illness. Staring into the mirror for seconds, minutes even hours, searching for your soul. Looking into oneself. Watching from a distance. Feeling emptiness, feeling whole. “The Ghost Within Me” is about finding oneself and learning about who I am and growing as an individual. And I am immensely proud and privileged to have supportive followers as we break the stigma in mental illness and chronic pain. Thank you!

Please sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 2

Hey all!

It’s a bit of a late one because it’s been one of those days. Everything was running smoothly and then BAM!

img_3293-1Today’s challenge is:
20 Facts About Me.

These facts are probably naff, so if you have any other questions – Please ask me!!

So, here are 20 facts about me…

1. I changed my middle name and surname before I got married
2. I’m born on Halloween
3. I’m a typical Scorpio
4. I’m in a same sex relationship of 11 years
5. I love animals and have 4 cats, 2 rabbits and a hamster
6. I love music and learning the ukulele (I’m not very good at the moment!)
7. I’m studying Animal Behaviour and Psychotherapy
8. I’m starting my own business in Animal Assisted Therapy
9. I love to learn new crafts, make jewellery, pyrography, draw, paint and lately learnt to knit (the basics!)
10. I’m one of 6 and am the 2nd eldest and one of two girls
11. I have multiple mental health and physical illness diagnosis’
12. I’m registered disabled due to my illnesses, but will not be defeated or defined by them!
13. I enjoy reading and writing
14. I’ve appeared in a tv advert before
15. I’ve been in theatre productions
16. I love the theatre and musicals
17. Tim Burton inspires me and I have Jack Skellington tattooed on my back
18. Within Temptation are my favourite band and their music saved my life in my teens
19. My favourite programme is Casualty
20. I have many piercings and tattoos

So, there we have it! If you have any questions, please send me a comment! Thank you!

Please sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 1

Hey everyone!

I’ve decided to try something different to see us into the New Year!

This doesn’t mean I won’t have any other blog posts throughout the month, as I have some exciting news for you, but I do need to rest up and get my energy back before I can sit down and focus on sharing the news!

So, here’s the challenge – I found it on Pinterest. I may have to edit some of the challenges, but I do plan on sharing something new with you every day until the end of 2017! (I’ll share the image daily too, just so we can all keep up!)

Challenge number 1 is:
Introduction

This doesn’t state what sort of introduction, about me, or about the challenge?!

I’ve decided it will be about the challenge, because over the month you will (hopefully) find out a lot more about me!

So, if you’re interested… Please make sure you sign up to follow my page, and/or follow me on Twitter which is linked to the blog posts.

Here’s to a very interesting and exciting December 2017!

Stay strong Ghosts!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

HBO Therapy (week 4, again sort of!)

So, last week was my last week to complete the 20 sessions of HBO Therapy, before deciding whether or not to carry on with the treatment on a weekly, biweekly, or even monthly basis.

I had a session on Tuesday, which went well. I didn’t have any problems with the pressure and the time went fairly quickly.

After the session, I asked to hang around and see if they could fit me in for another session which would free up one of the days in the week. They said they’d pencil me in for an afternoon session and see if anyone cancels. So, I decided to hang around, and get on with some work. I’m slowly, getting on with Unit 5 of Animal Behaviour, but I am struggling to understand what I’m meant to do, or rather, finding it hard to stick to a word limit!

I’d seen an advert for a meeting which interested me and took a photo of it on my phone to remind me. But when I asked at reception about it, they said it was actually on the Tuesday afternoon. For some reason, the date on the poster didn’t scream out at me that it was the same date, as I had thought it was this coming week. I felt like an idiot, but I was grateful to have not missed it!

IMG_3053The reason why it interested me was because it mentioned the “Vagus Nerve”. And this caught my attention because my gammaCore device which I use for the Hemicrania Continua works by stimulating the vagus nerve. I thought I’d go along and see what it discusses, especially when it comes to people with MS and/or other chronic pain illnesses.

The group was a small group of members of the MS Centre, interested in the research of MS treatment, and the vagus nerve is part of the research, looking into how it can be stimulated to treat illness. I was able to discuss how gammaCore works (ish), and what the device looks like. I was slightly irritated that, had the meeting have been next week, I’d have been able to show them the device, but I didn’t have it on me because I was waiting for a new one to be delivered.

We watched a video on the BBC website, from the programme “Trust Me, I’m a Doctor”.
I’ll link it here, but I don’t know how long the clip will be available for:

Could electronic devices revolutionise the treatment of auto immune diseases?

(Gabriel Weston meets a patient whose life has been changed by bioelectronic medicine – A clip from: Trust Me, I’m a DoctorSeries 5, Episode 2)

It was quite interesting, but I have to say – also scary, with how they are putting implants into the body to stimulate the vagus nerve. I mean, if the gammaCore device works in a similar/same way, then surely there’s no need for implanting a device?! Though, I could appreciate the convenience of having a pain reliever, at the click of a button, so to speak, instead of faffing around with electrolite gel and holding a device for minutes at a time for relief. It’s also more embarrassing to use the gammaCore, as it curls the bottom lip on the side of your face you’re using the device, because it shows the device is on the vagus nerve. I don’t know if I personally, could have an implant. Though, that being said – I have had surface piercings, including microdermals. So, although not the same thing, the body jewellery still laid underneath the skin.

Anyway, at the end of the session – we were handed out a print out about how you can stimulate the nerve without the use of electrical pulses. It shows you just how the vagus nerve affects the body.

You may need to download the image to read it clearly (left click/save as).

IMG_3058

It was really interesting to be a part of the meeting, and I plan on going to future ones if I can make it (they’re held monthly) so I’ll let you know if anything comes of it!

Okay… So after Tuesday, my last session was on Thursday.

I don’t know if I was looking forward to it or anxious it was coming to and end. Hmm, maybe a bit of both?!

I made sure I’d finished reading “Tales of the Perculiar” on Wednesday night, as I had two stories to read before I’d finished the book. I shared on social media my thoughts on the book, which I’ll share with you here:

In total, it’s taken me 3 and a bit hours to read. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
Problem one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, but also one I feel has been rushed to write. I wonder how long Ransom Riggs had been working on the stories for. I mean, Miss Peregrines was so clever and imaginative, that I feel a lot more could’ve been done with the tales. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of Millard Nullings, and the foreword was entertaining and very clever (If you haven’t read from the first page, I suggest you read from the copyright page at the beginning!)… A very weird book, but a nice compliment to the series…

But, I do recommend if you’re a fan of Miss Peregrines!

I wanted to finish reading it, so I could get started on another book in the chamber.

My last session was in the small chamber, with just one other member of the centre.  He was supportive towards me needing to sit in a tilted chair, as the majority of sessions I have had, I’d been in a tilted chair, with a tonne of pillows for support because when I sat for so long in an upright position, my neck struggled with the weight of the mask, and my knees ached so much after, that walking was even more difficult.

I started reading the new book which I’d taken along with me, and even though I’ve yet to finish it – I 100% recommend it to you!

It’s All In Your Head – A Guide to Getting your Sh*t Together, by Rae Earl

I read so much in the time I was in the chamber, and I didn’t want it to end!

Once the session ended, I felt disappointed because I didn’t know what would happen next. I guess I’d come to the realisation that this was the last session, and what had I noticed? Absolutely diddly-swat. Bugger. I don’t know if it’s back to the drawing board with finding another therapy treatment to try, or if I should give it another couple of weeks and see if anything worsens, to be able to “notice” any changes.

A couple of things I did appreciate from the 20 HBO therapy sessions was, talking to people who I could identify with and also getting back into reading.

I mean, talking to people who I could identify with, is such a big part of it. I was able to discuss how I felt, and listened to how others deal with things on a daily basis. It made me feel not so alone, and I’ve found a community which doesn’t judge, and doesn’t “compete”, when it comes to things which are “wrong with you”, they simply accept that there are differences, and don’t make out they have all the symptoms you describe. They’re extremely kind, friendly and simply accepting.

Then, of course there was the reading element. I’m terrible when it comes to books. I hoard books. I love books. But do I read them? No. Will I read them? Eventually. I’m someone who would pick up a book, and read a few chapters, then put it down and not return to it until a holiday or just not finish it at all. Since being on holiday this year, and starting HBO therapy (so, since the beginning of September), I have finished reading “Alfie, the Doorstop Cat“, which I recommend if you’re a cat lover, because you’ll identify with a lot of the cat behaviour described! Then, completed all of Miss Peregrines:”Home for Perculiar Children“, “Hollow City” and “Library of Souls“, and the newest book by Ransom Riggs, “Tales of the Perculiar“. I’ve never read so much in such a short space of time! And this also includes the re-reading of pages as I’ve forgotten what I’ve read, or lost myself on a page! So, starting with what is essentially the fifth book in the space of 3 months, I think I’ve done a blooming good job, and I doubt I’d have got it all done if it wasn’t for the HBO Therapy. I’m just hoping I can keep up with it now. I’m sure I will, with the pile of books I have to read… I’m hoping I’ve caught the reading bug!

So, back to how the HBO Therapy was for me:

It was extremely tiring. After all, sitting in one position for an hour and a half with a mask connected to two tubes, listening to yourself and others breathing patterns for the duration is pretty boring. Taking in a book, phone, or ipod was a must, because for at least 1 hour, you’re sat there unable to talk, and it’s boring. It’s also a need to – go to the toilet before you enter, as you’ll need to take in a cup of water thanks to the fact that breathing in the oxygen, does seem to dry your mouth out, and the water also helps with clearing the pressure in your ears. It also gets incredibly warm as they increase the pressue. You don’t want to be sipping on water to then realise you need to release the pressure in your bladder, when you’re locked in the chamber!

I struggled with sitting upright. It’s easier if you use a footstool to take the pressure off your legs, but then stretching them out (if you can) is a must, otherwise your knee joints seize up, and getting up isn’t going to be very easy – As “easy” as it could be! Or, if you’re lucky and able to, ask for the chair to be angled, so you’re tilted in a reclining position. Use more than one pillow for support, on your back, and around your neck, and use a pillow on your lap to rest a book or whatever handheld device you have to keep you occupied. You want to feel supported in the chair. Make yourself cosy!

Try and note down any changes if you can. You may notice changes straight away, or it may take you a couple of weeks. Or it might mean not having a few sessions before noticing the difference it makes.

Personally, I haven’t noticed anything major. I think that at the beginning of the treatment, I was more alert in the mornings, but I don’t know if that was just a placebo, and the hopse of the treatment working. Obviously, I haven’t completed the treatment as suggestsed – which was a complete 4 weeks. Instead, due to illness, I had a break after 2 weeks for another fortnight. Which means, I may not have received the oxygen to it’s fullest. Although, I’m not too sure my body is back to “normal”, and that I shuld hopefulyl have a higher level of oxygen in my blood.

Here’s a link  from the Mayo Clinic, which gives you a bit more of an insight into HBO Therapy.

All I can do is suggest you give it a go. After all, it won’t cause you any harm to try. And you never know, it may actually be something you benefit from.

I am hoping I notice a slight change. I think I will try and keep it up even if it’s just once a fortnight or once a month. Just because it makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for my body, and whilst I may not feel like there are any changes yet. Maybe over time I will, and that it also helps me mentally with knowing I’m trying my best in looking after my body.

Thank you to all of you who have followed me on the HBO therapy journey.
Please let me know if you decide to give it a go!

Thank you all for reading ❤

Take care and stay strong ghosties!

Erica
@ghostwithinme

The Nightmare (Sort of)

Okay, so it wasn’t really a “nightmare” as such, I didn’t wake up in a sweat screaming and crying, but what I did wake up with was a huge cloud of anxiety.

Just great! As if I didn’t already have enough, eh?

I can only remember a couple of bits about it now, but the main point was going to a cafe place where the ex-friends sister was on their first day of work. For some reason, she was sat next to us in the cafe (I can’t remember who I was with), and all I could feel was her judging me about all the things that had happened between me and her sister (ex-friend), and as we were about to leave, I started yelling at her with how uncomfortable she made me feel and how I was trying to move on from everything that had happened and trying to make amends. But what ended up happening, was I’d caused humilation to the cafe, that they fired her – obviously being her first day, this was allowed. But of course, this then has repercussions, because she then went home to say what had happened and how I’d acted (I mean, I was yelling and pointing the finger, and this would’ve been after me trying to show them how much I’ve “grown up” etc), that I went onto all social networks, to find I’d been blocked from them all, and this sparked major paranoia.

Anyway, it got me thinking – My previous post which I’d written 2 years ago, and shared 2 years later, could have it’s repercussions in ‘reality’. I mean, I have changed for the better, obviously (!!), but I still struggle with managing my feelings. I mean, I can deal with them a lot better, as in, I don’t act out impulsively as much, especially when it comes to the thoughts of self-injury or anything. I don’t shout or scream as much, (it actually scares me if I do raise my voice), and I, most of the time, think before I speak. And that also goes for what I write! I’ll admit, there have been a few times since leaving therapy where I’ve acted on impulse, but it’s not been as severe as it could have been. That’s for sure! After all, I’m hanging onto the friendships I have, even if some may feel like they’re slipping away, but I’m trying to manage them in a healthy and positive way.

I guess, that with sharing the post yesterday, it heightened the anxiety, which was then elevated in my dream, and I worry about the ex-friend stumbling across my posts, and wondering what they truly do think of me, and whether or not they’ll truly let me know. Will we survive the anxieties we face and continue to try and amend what was broken? Are we “grown up” enough to move past what has happened, and acknowledge the flaws and befriend each other again? Honestly, it’s caused a huge cloud of anxiety and paranoia. I really wish things were different.

Ironically, when I logged into Facebook this morning, I noticed a post which was shared about friends on a “naughty/nice” list for Christmas, and she tagged a couple of friends from the naughty list, and I saw I was on the “nice” list. Now, I know that these are only silly quizzes or fake “analyzing” features all in the name of FUN, but for some reason, when I saw my name on the “nice list”, her “nice list”, I thought to myself, that I shouldn’t be on there. I wanted to comment on it, but I resisted, and I will resist. After all, I do try but I get nowhere. I seem to constantly be the one “throwing the ball”, and I’m not getting it back. I know I need to move forward, and I do have a lot I need to focus on and not worry about what people may or may not think of me.

We’ll see what happens in time with this, I suppose…

I’ll always have hope!

Stay strong ghosts! (Yes, I’ve decided that’s who my readers shall be called! (Or ghosties – Maybe I”ll hold a Twitter poll!))

Erica
@theghostwithinme

The Stigma Between Two Mentally and Chronically Ill Friends

This is going to be a long read, and I don’t apologise for that because it needs to be a lesson for everyone.

I wrote this post back in 2015, shortly after I started blogging. I was approached by another blogger about writing an article, and I figured, that in that time in my life, this topic was most relevant to me. I don’t believe the post was ever shared, and therefore, 2 years on, I have decided to share the story, because I’m developing these gut-wrenching feelings again (not necessarily with the same person – might I add), and I need to work through the feelings in a safe way.

All I ask of you is to not judge me, because I have already judged myself with this as well as learning that it is not okay to judge others. This is taking a lot of courage to share this now.
Thank you. 

I’ll be writing another piece about chronic pain and mental illness again soon.
I’ve been needing to, since…. Well, many, many blog posts ago!

I also would like to apologise to the “friend” – if they ever find themselves stumbling upon this post, as they will know who they are from the information – that I am truly sorry for everything that happened, and I honestly wish things had been different, and that I would really like things to work out so we can learn from this and help each other out in times of need, as those with mental illness and/or chronic illness need to stick together.

And also – a LOT has changed since writing this post, as you’ll have noticed if you have followed me since the beginning, and I know a lot has changed for my “friend” as well, and I hope she truly can forgive me.

This post contain triggers of self-harm and eating disorders. 

Okay, so here the story goes….

The Stigma Between Two Mentally and Chronically Ill Friends 

I’ve wanted to write a piece about mental illness and chronic pain for a while now. I just didn’t know exactly how to write it, until now.  

I want to talk to you about the stigma of these illnesses.  

I’d always thought I’d been quite lucky and avoided being stigmatized, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’ve been stigmatized by quite a few people, family, friends and work colleagues. But even more so, from those also suffering.  

This made me think about the way I treated others. Having a mental illness can alter situations from normal to extreme, depending on the situation and “filter” in your head.  

I want to be completely honest with this post, and share with you something, which quite rightly cost me a beautiful friendship.  

Throughout my teens I suffered with depression and anxiety. However, there was still something not quite right. By the age of 18, I was diagnosed with PTSD after a horrendous bout of domestic violence.  A few years later, I was diagnosed with hypermobility and fibromyalgia, and finally borderline personality disorder. With my mental and physical health in crisis, I sought to friendships for support.  

With the few friends I still had, I discussed with them my situation. How much I was suffering and how difficult I was finding life. The amount of medication I was on, the treatments I was seeking and how I felt about my entire life changing.  

I’d been a relatively fit and healthy teenager, sure my eating behaviour was AWOL, and I didn’t participate in regular exercise, but by my late teens, I was quite happy jumping around on the dance floors in clubs and drinking the hours away. The last thing I thought was that I’d end up in crippling agony, joints strapped up and dosed up on painkillers to the max. I started to blame my eating for the issues – My lack of nutrition for the lack of strength in my immune system. I felt as though I’d let myself down. I felt as though I was being judged by everyone; The inappropriate stares, looking at someone young with a walking aid, or being pushed in a wheelchair but able to get up and walk for short periods of time. Yes, this has become my life. (Let alone to the fact I can no longer climb and descend stairs without feeling utterly terrified I may fall!)  

It wasn’t long after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia that I briefed a friend who was visiting me after having moved away, on the illness. At the time, it was unheard of. No one I knew had even heard of it. I’d only heard of it through a friend who suffers with Elhers Danlos Syndrome, and she thought that the symptoms I was showing were similar to that of fibro, and after many months and many tests, it was confirmed.  

My friend seemed to take it all in her stride. I spoke of the trigger point test and that I’d gone from my GP, neurology and rheumatology before finally getting this diagnosis. At the beginning my pain was specifically in my left wrist and thumb. I was getting splints made for me at the physiotherapy clinic at the hospital, steroid injections and ultrasound, yet nothing seemed to be helping. My friend seemed to be interested, and quite supportive. However, it wasn’t until she arrived back home, that we got chatting in a private message via social media.  

She said that she’d been looking up Fibromyalgia, I assumed to help me, and I’m sure it was all in good faith that it was – originally. But it wasn’t long into the conversation that she said she too has a lot of the symptoms. She was a bit hesitant to mention this, almost scared of what my reaction might be. Of course the symptoms of Fibromyalgia come in so many different ways, that you could be “normal” and still have these symptoms. It doesn’t mean you have fibro, and that tests need to be completed to rule out any other illnesses.  

Of course, as she looked up the symptoms, as we all do at some stage in our life – Google tells us we’re going to die. She seemed to have convinced herself that she was worried about having a type of cancer. Now, I know that straight away, I shouldn’t judge such a horrendous illness, but when Googling symptoms – You do wonder what to expect. So, in support of this conversation, I said that she needed to see her GP and get a referral and try and find out what was going on. She took my advice on board and spoke to her GP, and to my surprise, she came back to tell me she had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. 

I was practically fuming. At this point in my life, I had yet to be diagnosed with BPD, and I was known to have my adrenaline outbursts of frustration and anger. I tried so much to be polite and supportive, but it soon turned into a vile, nasty argument.  

I’m not too sure exactly, when it was during this time but we also had a conversation about her having an eating disorder. She explained to me that she was seeing an eating disorder specialist, and I asked what for. I ended up asking her why she couldn’t talk to me about it, especially knowing about my issues with food. However, she was adamant she didn’t know about my issues, and knew that as soon as she said something, it would be something I could recognise and say, “I’ve got that”.  

From this, we ended up having argument after argument, all via our private social media chat. It was then when it entered the public domain when I, somehow managed to make an entire group hate me, and get kicked out. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d done wrong. It was easy to hide behind the screen and type the fury of thoughts firing away inside my head. It wasn’t so easy to erase them from the people who read them, and the friendship fell apart.  

It wasn’t long after our fall out that I went to extreme measures of self-harming. I was cutting and trying to break my wrist, which I felt was the cause of my pain, and seemingly the cause of the entire situation. I hated myself for being so reckless and thoughtless in my friendship, especially when I needed her the most.  

I got in contact with a local mental health services, whom then assessed me over the phone by asking a series of questions. I scored extremely high on both the depression and anxiety tests, as expected, and was offered a course of CBT. I was told the waiting list was about 3 months, and within this time of waiting I was diagnosed with BPD and offered a different therapy course called Stepps.  

I couldn’t accept that our friendship was over, and I tried to make amends, explaining this diagnosis, but I was ignored. I was pushed away from support groups, as it seemed word was getting around. I created a fake profile, trying to find out what was being said about me, the anxiety, the paranoia inside me was killing me, and I was breaking the law. I just wanted my friend back.  

At the time, of course I denied any knowing of myself, and continued to create this online persona. It worked for a while, but I soon found it frustrating that I couldn’t be myself, and even if this fake person was to be friends with the other person, it still would be impossible to gain a physical friendship, thus in theory, a complete waste of time for what I needed. 

When I started therapy, I decided to start fresh, I created myself a new profile, and invited all those I wanted to be friends with, and it felt like a clean slate. I named it “[name].business”, so that I would only use it for business purposes (Although, it’s not so much now!) this meant I couldn’t be “aggressive” or “rude”, I had to think before I typed out what I wanted to say. It was the beginning of something really helpful. In time, my now “ex-friend” and I were starting to be on speaking terms. Just the occasional comment here and there, but no hourly conversations. I did try to initiate conversations, but I never felt they got anywhere. My “ex-friend” had put up her boundary, and wasn’t yet ready to let me in. I get that now. She was still living away, and when she visited her hometown, we would never get the chance to meet up because she was busy visiting family (or avoiding me).  

Therapy flies past, especially when you need it the most. I’d completed Stepps, and even completed Stairways. My life still in chaos, but I felt as though I could control things a bit better. It wasn’t until I joined a therapeutic community, that I would feel the full benefits of therapy and learn more about myself and my life, than I ever thought possible. (And yes, I will continue to learn more as time goes on, because I am still “finding” myself). 

Even still, this process would be the most intense therapy, I’ve ever done. Battling with the demons of BPD head on. Discussing each and every brutal detail of the chaos inside my head, the twisted imagination and the hatred and frustration I felt towards myself, which was reflected off of certain people, often those I felt closely connected to, thus hurting those I loved.  

I’d spoken about the situation between my friend and I. I found it frustrating because I felt as though she was copying me. Due to a relative who used me as inspiration to become her own person, it meant that I become lost as to “who” I was. This was a similar situation.  

All throughout my life I have had people make small remarks, some weren’t even noticeable at the time. At secondary school, I was harming myself without even thinking about it. I would bang my head on the walls, not thinking of it as self-harm, and at the time I didn’t know why I was doing it, but my friends just thought I was “crazy” and “stupid”, and being an “attention seeker”. If I cried, I had a friend who would cry at the same time. If I dyed my hair, someone else would too. If I said I liked a certain band, or used a certain website, my friends too would say they loved the band or started using the website, which meant my “space” was taken over, all the time. If I got into crafts, they would start doing craft work too. There was no space to be me. I wasn’t allowed to be me. (This, unfortunately I still have to put up with. But I am learning to manage my feelings). 

During my time at the therapeutic community, I found communicating with people sometimes challenging. It took a while for me to open up and find my voice, but soon I was able to be honest about my feelings and be myself. I was in a place where I was understood, and during this place I was able to learn to speak up about how I felt and not be afraid of the outcome. I would be able to validate my feelings, and also understand others. I appreciated how other people felt and I gave time for others to talk, and I could sympathise with them all. 

In the “outside world”, I decided I wanted to try this with my friends and family, put my learning into actions and try and amend the things I’d broken. After all, I really wanted people to see that I had changed for the better, and learned from my mistakes and behaviour, and most of all, I appreciated them and wanted them to know how much they meant to me, but not in a BPD – I need you way. I have learnt to create boundaries and know when enough is enough.  

I tried so hard to get my “ex-friend” to like me. I wanted to show her I’d changed, and learnt to be a “better person”. I wanted to show her how important she still was to me, and that I was begging for forgiveness for my past mistakes. I invited her to my wedding, in the hope it would spark our friendship, and remind us both of what we had, as she had previously helped my wife and I out, and courageously performed our commitment ceremony a few years earlier.  

Unfortunately, she didn’t attend the wedding. She wasn’t the only one though, so the disappointment was evident anyway. Over the years, I’d gotten used to being let down, but at every event, it never hurt any less.  

At the beginning of the year I was diagnosed with Hemicrania Continua, a rare headache disorder. I have chronic migraine and stabbing headache, but these were already known by my peers. I decided that I would not “announce” this diagnosis publicly on my social media, but I would use the term “HC” instead. I was in hospital to get this diagnosis, when I saw online my friend had posted about her migraines being terrible, and about going to see a neurologist. Rather than me comment on the post, I simply avoided it, and I figured that was the best thing to do, considering the thoughts of the past running through my head.  

On her birthday I sent her a message, and I did my best to wish her well. It wasn’t long before she announced she was going to be moving back to her hometown. This meant, there would be high chances of us bumping into each other. I was desperate to get things sorted, and our friendship back on track upon her return. I asked about meeting up before we bump into each other, to avoid awkwardness between us. Except, I’ve already seen her in a local shop, and regardless of whether or not she saw me; I sensed high anxiety and judgement, as I walked alongside the trolley my sister pushed as I held on walking with my stick. 

Why am I anxious about seeing someone I am so desperate to make amends with? I guess, my anxiety will be that she won’t believe that my fibromyalgia has progressed. The doctors, they say the illness doesn’t progress – you just get more symptoms. There’s also no cure, but there’s managing it which can limit symptoms. It’s all fair and well if you can manage it.   

I sent an essay of an email to her, with my pleads for forgiveness and to explain my past behaviour, after all, I’d understood why I acted out in the ways that I’d done, jumped to conclusions that she was copying me, “seeking attention”, basically stigmatizing my friend, when she needed me, just as much as I needed her. I worked out that I was jealous. Her relationship with her sister was improving, the age gap far closer than my sister and I. Her diagnosis of fibromyalgia and her treatment for her eating disorder both happened very quickly, unlike me who spent months and years being tested and treated before finally getting the correct psychological help, and even yet there is more to be worked on.  I realised that I was so desperate to hold onto her friendship because she was the last remaining friend I had from secondary school, and if I lost her – I’d feel as though I’d lost everything, because y’know – that’s how BPD works – we go to the extremes! I was honest in saying that our friendship was an unhealthy one.  

There was a lot of envy… and the way I put it was: 

“For me there was a lot of envy. Something I know is not my strong point.  However, this envy doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from an idealization (great admiration and love). Then as soon as a conflict occurs, I feel worthless, feel disliked, an immense feeling of devaluation, and thus leading to me ranting and raving angrily at you through fear of abandonment, as though you don’t care at all. I need to say here, it is not just you that I have done this to. I realize that it has been a pattern in all of my friendships and that is why I lose them so easily.” 

It was probably the most heartfelt, kindest and honest email I’d ever written, and she responded in such a way, which made me realize that rekindling our friendship may be possible. She said she’d looked up BPD when I first told her of my diagnosis, and she’d try and understand why I was acting the way that I was, but at the time she was struggling with her own issues, and it was too much for us both, that someone had to be sensible and draw the line. So she decided that distancing herself would enable her to focus on her own recovery, which was most important. It just meant one of us was going to get hurt – me, and I would have to try and understand that – which I didn’t until later on. 

 She went on to state she was still having problems with her fibromyalgia, and that she’d been diagnosed with the eating disorder long before we met, that just happened to be something neither of us chose to speak about to each other. But then that could be down to the secrecy of living with an ED in the first place. It has only been the past few years when I have been open to it as I seek recovery.  

 She said that there were no hard feelings of the past but mentioned that my wife had maybe interfered with the relationship; of which I think my wife was more concerned with my behaviours at the time, than anything else, but perhaps wasn’t able to express it in a healthy way to us all.  I had sent an email back about it, but didn’t get a response. Since that email, we have been talking more on social media, publicly and privately. We’ve yet to meet up due to one thing or another, but I do often joke light heartedly that she is trying to avoid me.  

 We’ve spoken about our mental health and our physical health, most recently about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I tried my best at being supportive and helpful, and I asked if it was about her or someone else, and she said it was about someone else as hers isn’t as bad, and rather me jump down her throat or get annoyed about the situation, expressing my thoughts such as “How can it not be as bad?! It’s still PTSD!” …. I suggested things I have tried, resources I know of and may have used.  

 I have continued to try and help out on other levels where she has approached me about work and benefits. I have had many issues with employment, and I am currently unemployed due to being at the therapeutic community, and realising that finding employment whilst being registered disabled is actually a difficult thing to do.  When I am passionate about something, as I have realised this year – through my time in the therapeutic community – that I express an opinion very well, and can go on quite a bit – which is what I did, so the only thing I need to learn is when to hold back, and just answer the question instead of speaking from experience. 

 I don’t want to be that friend who competes with illnesses. The world is already full of “normal” people stigmatising those with mental and physical illnesses. We don’t need it going on from the inside too. The reality is that those of us with any physical or mental illness suffer at varying levels at different times. We cannot judge one persons issues against another because everyone’s situation, everyone’s worlds are completely different.   

 I stigmatized my friend by pushing her away didn’t believe she was ill, I felt as she was challenging me in a war of “who has the most illnesses”, when we both have two very different lives.  

 She is ill, with chronic pain and mental health, she is currently able to hold a job, despite being fatigued a lot of the time – of which I can completely understand. I have always struggled with employment, I have never worked full time, and my part-time hours were gradually cut as I struggled to work.  

Now with my physical health still continuing to spiral downwards, I am anxious about finding employment, as my tremors make me a “safety risk”, and I have to work on ground level.  

If I’m being stigmatised around me, I don’t want anyone to feel the way feel when I am pushed around and not believed.  

As I have previously stated in this post, I pushed a friend away, when she needed me the most. I am not letting that happen, ever again.  

Thank you for reading,

^ So there you have it. If you made it to the end, then well done, and thank you for reading. I did say it was a long post! I hope you don’t hate me too much for sharing this. You’re probably thinking, “Cor, what a bitch!”, “God, no wonder her friends her ex-friend”, “I wouldn’t want to be her friend, she sounds like a right judgemental cow!” Yes, I know, these thoughts run through my head, and maybe, maybe then I was, but I was also very misunderstood (Though, I know that is no excuse for any of my actions). Please remember this was written 2 YEARS AGO and a lot has changed for me now. Yes, I do still struggle with friendships and I do still find myself being destructive with them, but I am able to give/allow room for someone elses problems. In fact, I am more often than not, more concerned about someone else, than I am of my own feelings. And that, I know can also be a very dangerous thing to do. I’m working on it. I’ve been doing so well, and I’m worried I’m going to end up crashing and I really, really, really don’t want that!

So, if you too can forgive me for sounding like a heartless cow in the article, then please continue to follow me. Things have changed. I may still find things hard – but don’t we all? We’re only human afterall. 

Thanks for taking to time to read this.

Stay strong xx
Erica
@ghostwithinme

HBO Therapy (Week 3, sort of)

Hey everyone,

Just an update on the HBO Therapy really…

As you know, I took a couple of weeks away from HBO Therapy because I was poorly, and that I was back to the chamber last Tuesday. I had a set of 5 sessions during last week, and oh boy did it knock me for six.

My first two sessions back I was on my own in the chamber, which wasn’t too bad, but I did wish I was with someone at points, due to the anxiety of the pain in my ear happening again. But, fortunately with the tiny windows, staff were able to peek through and ensure I was okay. Yup! I just sat there reading my book. I was determined to finish “13 Reasons Why”… Which I did!

After the two sessions, I picked up Lauren and we went to see a friend before seeing Collabro perform. It was an incredible evening. We were both in awe of the talents of Collabro, and didn’t want the evening to end. When the event finished, we had a ridiculously long detour, thanks to roadworks, which meant we got home stupidly late.

My next session was on Thursday in the afternoon. I’d dropped Lauren off at uni in the morning, so I was hanging around the MS Centre for some time. It wasn’t too bad though. I’ve been determined to get back into my studies, and whilst I can see it is unlikely that I will finish the course this year, I am still pleased with myself for having completed at least the Animal-Assisted Therapy course. I spent the time working on a presentation, which I’ve been struggling with for some time. I put too much pressure on myself, expecting things to be more complicated than they are, so I need to try and simplify a lot of my work from the extreme over thinking that ends up in text form!

I also worked on a blog post (See previous) which I felt I needed to do.

I was also able to speak to a couple of the members again, and that felt good. I mean, sometimes I feel I don’t talk to many people these days, and I’m having a bit of anxiety revolving around friendships, which I know is nothing new, but it still causes me concern, and enough to be getting paranoid about, which I know I shouldn’t be doing… So, yes. It felt good to know it was okay to talk to these people, who don’t really know me well enough yet, to hate me… Aha! Well, no. I mean, they’re not judgemental, and to me, I think I need that in my life right now.

I was even told if I’d like to share my blog with members of the MS group, that I can do, as I’m obviously trying to discuss my experience with the HBO therapy (thought I can’t remember if I was told on Thursday or Friday about this!) I’m still erm-ing and aah-in g about this, as it’s always quite personal, despite my craving to speak out about mental health and chronic pain awareness. Again, I guess it’s judgement, and I need to try and brave it at some point. After all, we shouldn’t be shying away from things like this. That’s what creates the stigma!

Anyway, my session on Thursday afternoon wasn’t too bad. I started reading a new book, one I got for my birthday from Lauren – Tales of the Peculiar which follow on from Miss Peregrines Peculiar Children…. And so far – I can say I’m loving it!

The strange thing was, by the evening, I was struggling so much to walk. My knees were aching, but it was my legs which felt so tight, and every time the muscles stretched out, the pain was difficult to manage. I hoped that a night of muscle relaxants and a good nights sleep (one can dream!) would be helpful for me.

On Friday,  I woke up struggling to walk still, and I felt as though I hadn’t rested (Hardly surprising really!), but I had to head to the MS Centre as I had two sessions of HBO therapy to do. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning session wasn’t too bad. I was in the small chamber which was filled to capacity, and therefore slightly claustrophobic. I was sat next to a gentlemen in a wheelchair, who was with his carer, (I believe his wife), and I couldn’t help but feel such admiration for the carer, and heartache for the gentlemen. I see a lot of different people in the centre, with all varying levels of MS and other chronic issues. One of the things I find the hardest is seeing someone who has lost all ability to function as an individual, who relies on someone to hold their nose, to help them release the pressure when it increases in the chamber. How they can’t communicate through words, only noise. And that I can see the struggle is real, when you know how much pain they must be in when they are trying to release the pressure in their ears. I know what that pain feels like, and when I struggled to clear my ears, I was petrified it was going to burst my ear drum. So in a way, it was an eye opener to count myself lucky, and to appreciate what I do have in my life, despite having what I’d consider “slight” mobility problems (compared to this anyway), and mental health issues.

I didn’t read during the session because I was so tired, so instead, I listened to my iPod and tried to sleep (well, I sat tehre with my eyes closed, listening to the music and the noise of everyone breathing which overtook the sound from my headphones!)

The second session wasn’t until the afternoon which meant I could catch up on some work. Although, this didn’t happen because I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep. I sat down and was approached by a member of staff who’d seen my NYR Organic brochures, which I’d put out on the Thursday, and as you’d expect, I was expecting a telling off, and before she even got the chance to say what she wanted to say, I apologised for putting them out, and said that I should have asked before doing so. It wasn’t this, that she wanted to talk to me about, but instead whether I wanted to have a table at a fundraising fair they have later on in the month. I was thrown back by this question, and I felt a lot of confusion, what with feeling so tired as well. I think I will have a table there, it’ll be a good opportunity to see what the events are like, as I’d like to help out with fundraising if I can.

I was a bit annoyed on Friday because I’d put a repeat prescription into the doctors, on the Monday evening, and by Friday I was expecting it to be ready, and when I contacted them, they said it wasn’t ready, and I had to explain that I needed one of the medications – the dreaded Venlafaxine – as I’d run out, and would be ill over the weekend if I didn’t have it. So, they said they’d have it ready for me in the afternoon, of which I was coming out of the chamber, and I’d already booked for the wipers on the car to be changed. Eurgh. I was stressed to say the least.

Fortunately, my Mum was able to pick up my prescription for me, and the majority of it was complete. I went to my Mums, before then heading to town in the evening, to meet up with a friend who’d invited me and Lauren to dinner, and I’d suggested she stayed at ours, and goodness, I was tired, hungry and achy.

We’ve just got through the weekend, and I’ve not felt too bad physically. I’m trying to hold it together mentally – especially as I’ve said above – I’m having the anxiety around friendships at the moment. Paranoia and anxiety. And I’m feeling a bit fed up with it now. And….. breathe!

This week I’ve got my last few sessions of my block of 20. I can’t say I’ve noticed any positive benefits to the therapy yet. I’ve got a feeling, I’ll need to “restart” my 20 sessions, or at last add on another 12 sessions to make up another 20 sessions, without having a 2 week gap in the middle – as that’s not recommended. Of course with having been ill, I can’t notice any changes because the first two weeks of the therapy, I hadn’t noticed anything, and then I was ill, and now I’m “better”, I still feel like I’m looking too much into it, and hoping too much that I’ll actually “see” the results, when it might actually be subtle changes such as – feeling more alert (aha!), not aching so much (aha!), not being so wobbly (don’t make me laugh!) – okay… So yes, I’m still waiting for the changes. If I don’t see anything, I will disucss with the centre manager and see what they advise. Do I continue with the treatment, or should I try something else?

At the moment, it’s one session at a time… One day at a time…

For now, it’s getting late – and we’ve got to get up early. Busy day tomorrow. I’ve got HBO at 10am, and then I’m going to see about squeezing in another session if they can fit me in. If not, I’ll be hanging around until the afternoon when Lauren finishes uni, and we’re going to see a friend for their “early” birthday meal.

I just want to say – I’ve said about a couple of friends in this post – and I am aware I do have some friends… I just have anxieties around friendships and not just these ones, I mean – all of my friendships/relationships. The only one which seems to be solid, is that of me and my wife – which I guess I can be thankful for, and that’s also when we have our tiffs, or rather I throw a strop, because, well – it wouldn’t be a healthy relationship with the squabbles really, would it? Though, with friendships, I think it’s slightly different.

Maybe soon, I’ll explain.

Anyway, goodnight everyone.

I’ll be back again soon.

Stay strong peeps!

Erica
@ghostwithinme