Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder: The basics…

“People with BPD are like third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” – Marsha M. Linehan

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder diagnosed in around 2% of adults – making up 20% of those using mental health services. BPD is diagnosed by noticable symptoms. Symptoms are, as listed by MayoClinic;

  • An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
  • A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person doesn’t care enough or is cruel
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values, and seeing yourself as bad or as if you don’t exist at all
  • Periods of stress-related paranoia and loss of contact with reality, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours
  • Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection
  • Wide mood swings lasting from a few hours to a few days, which can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger, such as frequently losing your temper, being sarcastic or bitter, or having physical fights

 

Abandonment. Don’t we all fear that though? Yes. But not as drastically as those with BPD. People with BPD will go to extremes to ensure they are not abandoned or feeling abandoned, even if the threat is non-existent to others. This results in behaviours that are less than ideal. Suicide attempts are often a means of this fear and an attempt to keep the person around. Fighting can be a result of this fear too. A negative reaction is still a reaction and at times people with BPD will start fights to ensure they still are in the persons attention.

No sense of self image or identity. There is no real understanding of what they enjoy and what they dislike. People with BPD tend to not be able to list favourite things or list too many. Sometimes they look to those around them for an identity ie: “I like Italian food.” “Oh me too!” – even if they may not have ever had it. It may sound fine and harmless, but it can lead to a very destructive behaviours to fill the void. Things such as drug use, continuously quitting jobs, putting themselves in harms way. Many people with BPD are diagnosed with an eating disorder as they have taken the label to gain some form of identity. This is not to say an eating disorder is a compulsory symptom of BPD.

The biggest part of BPD, for me, is the emotional roller coaster it creates for you. You aren’t just upset, you are devastated. You aren’t just happy, you are elated. But isn’t that like normal human emotions? It may sound like it, but the reality is there is no words to explain just HOW intense the emotions are. The best way is to use images.

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First we look at the “average” human emotion. While it can spread away from neutral, the span is very small. You can experience a jump in the emotions from neutral to sadness etc, but the span is, say, 2 metres.

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Then we look at borderline personality disorder. This is intense. The whole span is, say, 10 metres.  The whole span of the average human emotion fits within the BPD span, with plenty of  room to spare. It is severely intense.

So isn’t it just like Bipolar? No. Bipolar is from manic to depressed (in it’s most basic sense). Some say that those with BPD experience the same 07emotional length when at those stages, i.e; when someone with BPD is sad, they are at the same level of someone diagnosed 02with depression, and when someone with BPD is happy/excited, they can become manic at the level of someone with bipolar. But this is simply a way for people to understand the severity of the emotions of those with BPD and is not a clinical diagnosis.

There is no real knowledge about what causes BPD but it is thought to be environmental – childhood abuse/neglect, genetics, and/or brain abnormalities. There are beleived to be risk factors that can include hereditary predisposition, a stressful childhood – this doesn’t necessarily stem down to childhood abuse/neglect but any kind of stress including the loss of a parent(s), or hostility such as family fighting.

BPD is an annoying son of a bitch and it sucks. There are good things about it, like if you love someone you love them with everything you have (because you only know go big or go home), people with BPD are passionate. About loving, about art, about anything. Although frequently called manipulative and harmful, people with BPD are actually very sensitive. They know how hard it is to feel sad, because to them sadness is not just being sad, and they want to prevent other people from feeling that way or to give them answers to help.

If someone comes to you and tells you they have borderline personality disorder, do not run to google the ins and outs – because all you will find is negativity. Ask the person themselves; ask them what you can do to help – maybe sending them a text every so often to remind them you have forgotten about them, ask them what it feels like for them – every person with BPD experiences it differently. Lastly, do not treat them as the monster under your bed, they are human and they have feelings. They don’t mean to be manipulative or impulsive or irrational, it’s a fight or flight mechanism. Work with them to create a way to ensure you are going to be able to give them the best chance at your relationship.

 

BPD Quotes:

“She feels more than you, you have to understand that about her. She feels the edge end the details of things and when she gets close to someone, she feels their happiness and pain.” – Jim Storm

“She is strong but not in the way people think. She loves more than she will ever get back & she knows it… Yet she loves anyway”

“I feel everything, all the time. It’s exhausting. But it also makes me passionate, which is beautiful.” – Alicia Sarah Raimundo

“Sensitive people suffer more but they love more and dream more.” Augusto Cury

“I don’t know what living a balanced life feels like. When I am sad I don’t cry, I pour. When I am happy I don’t smile, I glow. When I am angry I don’t yell, I burn. The good thing about feeling in extremes is when I love I give them wings but perhaps that isn’t such a good thing, cause they always tend to leave and you should see me when my heart is broken I don’t grieve, I shatter.” – Rupi Kaur

“You are so good. So good, you’re always feeling so much. And sometimes it feels like you’re gonna bust wide open from all the feeling, doesn’t it? People like you are the best in the world, but you sure do suffer for it.” – Silas House

“My skin is so thin that the innocent words of others burn holes right through me.” – BPD Pieces of Me Community

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Environmental vs. Chemical Depression

I’ve had this theory for a while. That there are two cloud causes for depression. There is environmental depression – caused by the environment around you, and chemical – caused by your brain chemicals.

In 2013 (I know ages ago, but New Zealand statistics are impossible to find) the amount of children and teenagers diagnosed with a mental health condition had almost doubled over the previous five years. But it’s known that the rate of those diagnosed with depression and anxiety is on the rise and we’re seeing some of the highest numbers yet. I think this is down to environmental depression becoming more prevalent. We have put pressures on academics, friendships, extra curricular, university entrance, job options, etc that adolescent are understandably struggling under the pressure. The way to distinguish environmental depression is if you were to have no stresses would you still be depressed? If you were climbing a mountain and no essays were due, you had just won the lottery so money wasn’t an issue, and you had a steady job source – would you still be depressed? I believe environmental depression still sees a decrease in serotonin but as an after effect – as a direct result of the environment and the situation one is in. The simplest way to determine environmental depression from chemical depression is it typically starts around adolescence and puberty.

Most people won’t admit that the environment has caused their depression, some think it makes it less real, others just don’t want to have to change everything in their life to cater to their depression. But it’s not any less real, and it’s important for one’s health to be in a position where you are able to live as stress free as possible. Of course in this consumerist, money hungry society it’s hard – and that’s on us as a nation and a globe. We have to change the demands if we want to see environmental depression decrease.

Chemical depression is as it sounds. Just like ADHD, and other chemically changing disorders, chemical depression changes the serotonin levels in your brain. Not when you reach puberty or stressful times, but from birth. It would 9/10 times go unnoticed, because children aren’t good at explaining their emotions, but it can produce as shyness. A child may seem shy on certain days and not shy on others. Looking back on my childhood I wonder how no one noticed I was depressed. It’s this lingering sense of “what’s the point of it all?” I remember thinking – as a child, about 6 or 7 – about being killed and aside from it hurting and me being scared of the person should they be a stranger, I didn’t really think it would make a difference. It wouldn’t matter if I was alive or dead – it was all the same. That’s chemical depression. And it typically goes away with anti depressants and minimal counselling. I have never received adequate counselling because it never helped. It was just annoying to me. And I think this is why. Because it wasn’t anything that happened to have caused it – sure things had happened to me, but talking about them and learning to cope with them wouldn’t make it all go away. It was just the way my brain was and when I found the proper medication, I saw my mood rise. I still get sad about the things that happened and happen to me, but they aren’t the reasons I want to kill myself. They’re just “life” to me. But for those with environmental depression they are the root of their depression.

Why does all this matter now? I’m sure we’ve all heard about or seen the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why”. There are numerous reasons I am against this series, but this is a very crucial part. By killing herself, Hannah has stopped all living. She cannot grow to see the happy. From the portrayal of the story on her tapes, all her reasons were a direct result of her environment. If she was removed – flown to a remote island – she would most likely not want to kill herself. In 5 years from when the suicide happened, Hannah could have very well not even believed she was going to kill herself – had she made it out alive. But because she threw it all away at high school, she will never be able to see anything she could have accomplished. Her story ends there. She could have done so much to raise awareness on bullying and sexual assault, she could have become a spokesperson for mental health, but instead she killed herself.

This means so many of those struggling with environmental depression will see this as a plausible and very real option. But they will fail to see that the situation will change. That school will end, and 90% of your friends will be people you haven’t even met yet. But because of this ill filmed and poorly devised show, people will think that it isn’t worth fighting for. That it’s better to just quit. It is not. It is worth staying alive for. There are so many great things out there that you can’t dream of because of school stress, and peer judgement. But it’s there and you can see it, but you have to stick around.


NOTE: Chemical depression is in no means a reason for suicide either. With the help of medications and a steady plan you can enjoy life. Please if you are feeling suicidal contact a 24/7 helpline

INTERNATIONAL:

LIST A (Wikipedia) LIST B (Suicide.org) LIST B.5 (Suicide.org, USA)

LIFELINE AUSTRALIA: 13 11 14

KIDSHELPLINE AUS: 1800 55 1800 (Ages 5-25)

NATIONAL (NZ):

LIFELINE AOTEAROA: 0800 543 354

SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 – or free text 4202

YOUTHLINE – 0800 376 633

KIDSLINE – 0800 543 754 (0800 KIDSLINE) *up to 18 years old


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Why I Refuse To Watch Split – And why you should too.

Why am I writing this when the film released a whole month ago in USA? Well a friend of mine was asking for someone to see it with and it reminded me of this exert I had written as a blog topic when I first heard about the movie’s release at the beginning of the year. So even though some – if not most of you – have probably seen it, I’m going to write this. Why? Because it’s important and people need to know.

From the Split movie trailer we see the main character – a man – depicted as a villain, a bad guy. We are already plastered with the image of a violent person. A criminal. The main character is said to suffer with multiple personality disorder, having 23 personalities (or alter’s).

Multiple personality disorder – now diagnosed as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – is a mental illness that affects both men and women. It is classically diagnosed when the patient is presenting with multiple personalities (alters) that will vary in age, race, and religion, and are different to the patients. Typically, but not always, DID is caused by childhood trauma. Child abuse (neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual) abuse can be too severe for the patients mind that the body creates alternate personalities to deal with the abuse. The alters are essentially protecting the patient from pain and allowing them to evade the trauma as the alternate personality is present.

So what does this all have to do with the film? The film is contributing to the stigmatism we see facing mental illnesses. We have come leaps and bounds on how we treat those diagnosed with depression and anxiety (still with a long road ahead), but we seem to have left other mental illnesses at the way side due to them being “too much” and not as “pretty” as depression and anxiety. We seem to have forgotten that there are more than two existing mental illnesses – a conversation for another day. DID is a very real, and very serious condition. It is not a plot line to a feature film and it is not a punch line for that conversation with your friends.

There is so much the public, and even the mental health community, do not know about living with DID. I am in that boat. I know next to nothing about living with DID and I’ve watched documentaries and followed people’s own personal journey’s. So if I’ve gone out of my way to learn about DID and still know barely anything, I can’t imagine the amount of nothing your average person knows. Can they know negative nothing?

Watching a film that adds to the stigma of DID being a violent and horrifying illness is teaching yourself the wrong idea of DID. I won’t lie, it can be messy, it can be scary. But that doesn’t mean you should actively make films teaching people to be afraid. It’s not about the person diagnosed being scary, but the person approaching them being aware. Work with them, not against them to figure out how to be together.

This film is a horrible idea and it didn’t have to be made like this. It could have been a whole family of people as the “identities”. It would remain the same. But now we have people believing that, because DID has been portrayed as a violent and scary disorder (and not for the first time in cinema), it is something to fear and avoid. People we should run from. Should they make a film on DID? A feature film documentary yes. Give society the truth, not a butchered version of what it’s like. We have had enough of your #alternativenews

Realistically, I can’t make you stay home instead of going out. But there are plenty of other films that have been released – I hear 13th (2016) is a good film. If you have already seen it and now wish you hadn’t, don’t worry. There’s nothing you can do about that now. But what you can do is not buy the DVD, let others who are thinking of watching it know. Make sure that we are helping our brothers and sisters in the mental health community and not hurting them. We already think you had us, don’t prove us right.


OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT SPLIT FILM:

Business Insider // Hollywood Reporter // The Guardian // Healthline // Kern Golden Empire // The Verge

SUPPORTING DID:

Wikihow // Sybil’s Friend // DID Legit // Healthy Place

ImageLior Shkedi


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Why Did I Say That? – Understanding unfiltered words among disorders.

*Please note this is not a professional account but a personal one. This is merely a way for people to see the perspective of someone struggling with a disorder. This can be helpful if professionals don’t provide a means of understanding or if a friend wants to help their friend. Remember that each person is different and I am only one of many.*

I’m so annoyed when people say “You can’t blame your disorder for saying rude and insensitive things!” But they are an impartial judge. They don’t know, they don’t understand.

I don’t “blame” my disorder. I have to own what I said and take responsibility for the consequences. However, many times I, and those I said it to, have no idea why I said it. Why was I so insensitive and rude when I’m usually not? Admitting that it was because of my disorder that I said it helps provide me, and those around me, with reasoning and answers. Do you know how confusing it is when you can’t figure out why. the. fuck. you just said that? Why it seemed to just slip out before you could even determine if it should be said? Multiple times each day. It’s hell. It’s exhausting. I’m not blaming my disorder but I am also not my disorder.

I would also like people to understand that I try so hard to filter things and I try really had to slowly process every word of what I’m going to say. And it’s hard – really hard. Many times things slip out and I cannot control them no matter how much I try and wish I could. They just zoom right by me and out my mouth before I even know I’ve thought it. I have to spend a long time ensuring my thoughts are appropriate, not just that they are kind but that they are suited to the situation. Most times my brain doesn’t give me time, others I might not even know the answer. It’s not like I just randomly had one really fast thought. All my thoughts are fast. Sometimes I can’t stop them from spilling out of my mouth. I wish I could. I offend people, I lose friends and relationships, I sometimes lose myself.

It’s like you’re playing chase with your thoughts and sometimes you’re in front winning the race, sometimes you’re right beside another and it’s a close call. Other times you’re behind because you’ve been running for days and you’re tired and so you aren’t fast enough. And it slips out. You couldn’t catch up.

I don’t just think “oh well, who cares if I say something offensive or inappropriate because I always have this back up option to excuse my behaviour.” It’s not a “back up” option. It’s every day and it’s every moment of my day. You only see a small portion of the disorder. There is a reason it’s called a mental illness…it’s happening inside my head. It’s hell and it’s not my fault and I’m tired of feeling like a bad person for saying that. Yes I said it and I have to take the consequences, but you know when your sibling does something naughty and you get blamed? That’s what it feels like. It feels like I have to deal with the aftermath because of my disorder. Because my disorder wouldn’t, couldn’t, didn’t let me filter my thoughts.

If someone says “hey I’m sorry for what I said, my disorder got the best of me and I’m sorry” do not tell them that they shouldn’t use “the disorder card”. As if it’s a full house in poker and I’m lucky to be holding it. It’s not a card. It’s my life and it impacts a lot of my day and my life. Please don’t make me feel sorry for apologising. I am trying to fix the mess that my disorder made and I already feel like hell. Please don’t make it worse.


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What’s your child worth – Childhood Cancer awareness month

September is coming to an end and so is childhood cancer awareness month. As we say goodbye to the month designated for awareness of ALL childhood cancers (don’t worry I’ll get to that in a sec) I can’t help but think these kids are just being left in the rubble of October…which we all know is breast cancer awareness month.

I’m not against it, not at all. I think it’s important that with the amount of people diagnosed with breast cancer that there is a month dedicated to raising awareness and discussing mammograms and ways to stay ahead. What I’m not okay with is that breast cancer is ONE adult cancer. Just one. It’s not a cluster of brain, lung, organ, and blood cancer. It is solely breast cancer. One. Breast cancer gets it’s own month. A whole 31 days – September only has 30…And while I’m thankful that September is childhood cancer awareness month, I’m mad that all the children’s cancers are thrown into one month. I know there are only 12 months in a year, I get that. But it’s not fair to give these children the short end of the stick. These are our children, our future.

Our children are the one thing we claim we protect and fight for. That we want to make this world a better place for them. Yet when I look at statistics for childhood cancer research I find it hard to believe. According the TheTruth365, over 15,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer each year. That’s a lot of our future being forced to grow up too soon. Once diagnosed they are faced with the reality that they must fight, or they will die.

With more than 15,000 children being diagnosed, the expected funding should be a big percentage. Our children are our future right? Well apparently not. It’s at this time I’m going to remind you that the term “Childhood Cancer” includes 16 major types of pediatric cancers and then over 100 sub-types. For this many types you would think they receive more funding than breast cancer, more funding that single adult cancers. When I thought about the funding I thought all childhood cancers would receive AT LEAST 30% if not more. How off was I? Only by a mere 26%

That’s right. Childhood cancers receive a whopping 4% of NCI funding. Are our children really worth 4%…do we really think that 16 types of cancers deserve 4% of funding? Are we that naive?

Yes. And it’s okay to admit that we’re naive. It’s okay that you don’t know these statistics, because that means you haven’t had your life completely shattered by the horror of childhood cancer. And that’s great. But right now, our children need us. We have to be more aware. These children are fighting for their lives and do you know what they do with their spare time? Go to school? Play dolls? Dress up? No. They have to further fight for more funding. If they aren’t fighting the cancer they’re fighting to be heard. No child should have to attend CureFest and ask for more attention, more time. No child should have to bear this weight. But they do. And it’s time we take it off our kids and carry it ourselves.

I urge you if you’ve read this, to please do one thing. It doesn’t cost, and it’s easy. Click >HERE< and press “Like”. TheTruth365 is a dedicated non-profit foundation that uses social media as a way to raise awareness and shed light on the reality of childhood cancer.