Author Archives: Penny

Writings for my Mother

Day 14.

Tick by tick, drip by drip our life unfolds

It unravels before my very eyes and I am left here, starting at you, wondering why?

I reach to touch your hand, it feels so odd and I don’t understand, but I have never held it.

I go to stroke your hair and hope to God you are still there, and I am left cold.

Some days I am numb, some days I am warm, some days I can barely cope with the pain.

The pain that I may never see you again, the pain that you will never hold me, and the pain that in-spite of all this, I still have hope.

The pain that for the past year I have challenged you, cried in front of you and begged you to show me you care.

I counted the days, one by one, to see how long it was before you called.

My therapist told me to let you go, that you would never come through for me,

Somehow, I could not.

I never gave up on the fact, that one day, just one day, I may get a glimpse of love, a shard of light that actually you care.

The little girl inside of me, is still screaming out for her mummy, and I am so happy that finally she has a voice.  She is still there and no longer hidden behind the perspects wall when all she could do was stare.

Why have I allowed you to cause me so much pain, I came back over and over again, I am told to walk away more times than I can say, but you are my mother.

And so I wait. I wait to see if you live or die, I wait and see that now I can cry, I wait and see what happens next and I wait as I slowly let you go.

You have caused me so much pain, you have told me over and over again how crap I am, and very sadly I believed you.

I slowly grieve the loss of you and whatever happens, either way, I now know I have to walk away.

I have to leave all the shit behind, I have to let go of all the bad things you put in my mind, and walk into my life either way.

You will always be who you are, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot change you. The biggest lessons of my life are staring me in the face, I choose to be me and I choose to be free.

I wish you well and I hope you come through, I thank you for all you did for me, when you were you.

Thank you for giving me life.

A Day at a Time

I am in a learning period, learning to allow myself to be held, to allow myself to be just where I am, right in this moment. Learning to trust, on a much deeper level, that everything is going to be alright.

At the moment, I have nowhere to live, I am staying with various friends, thought I had found somewhere to live and once I mentioned Housing Benefit to the potential people who were trying to help me, they closed down the offer.  It is a test of my self, to trust that there is something so much better around the corner.  At 52 years old I find myself crashing on friends floors, living with most of my stuff in the back of my car and traveling around as I look for somewhere to live. I am grateful for all the provision I am being given. One of my friends has allowed me to base myself at her house, so I actually have an address!

Two weeks ago tomorrow I moved from my home of 3 years, and this is the best thing that happened, because I had no choice, the house was sold.  I have wanted to leave Surrey and move back to London for so long, and this dream it is on it’s way.  In the meantime, I get to see just how loved I am by the generosity of friends.  What a gift.

I feel scared, I feel excited and I feel closer to myself and God than I have done for so long. Each day is a new beginning. I guess it always is but somehow this is so much clearer than before. I am sitting with my computer in a lovely  place, near to Pinewood Studios, that opened it’s doors and a kind young man helped me get onto the internet, not my strongest skill!!

I am loving being here, it connects me with the me that drove here many years ago to sound edit my graduation film in the Bond Studio, driving to Denham to do the negative cutting and the colour, oh how I love film making.

I have asked for help, I have received it with open arms and I am actually more in touch with the generosity of mankind than I have been for so long, it is a wonderful feeling, it is also very humbling and that is always a good thing, maybe not always comfortable, but I need it.

Moving On!

I have decided to write my way through the next few weeks, as I prepare to move home and move back toLondon.  I wanted to catalogue the things that have to be done and how I believe miracles are going to happen, to move me on.

The past almost 3 years, I have been living in what can only be described as one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen in my life.  It is stunning.  I used to drive past here 3 times a week on my way to therapy.  I would sit in the traffic every morning looking at this house thinking, God, I would love to live in that house, and now, I sit writing this looking at the passing traffic………..it is amazing.  Little did I know that the people who live here were hoping that somone would rent the property that they would get to know. This was all happening around 2008/2009 and I moved in here on 1st Oct, 2009 after everything had been brought to a head in my old property and I had decided, wth the help of a friend that enough was enough and I had to move out!!

We were made homeless because the council had absolutely nothing to offer me, and private landlords are not happy to have people who are living on Housing Benefit, so we were truely stuck.  My son was moving to London, and I was so mentally unwell I was on my way to re-hab for six months.

I prayed and prayed and had a dream about setting up a company called Addicts4Addicts, at this time I had absolutely no idea what to do about this, but the vision was there.  Today I have a business plan with it in it and am in the process of moving things on, all being well.

We were selling all my jewellery on ebay to buy food, we were scratching around for all we could find and counting the coppers all around the house. Then a friend very kindly offered to give my son and I our deposits so we could move on with our lives, and before I knew it I found a wonderful landlord who had absolutely no problem at all with me being on welfare and who gave me a beautiful home, which has been my refuge for the past 3 years.

Now, we are moving, the house I have been renting is selling and I have decided that I want to take this opportunity to move back to London. I left 26 years ago, to move to Hong Kong, then Portugal then Bristol and then Surrey, where we have been for the past 19 years………….it is time for me to go back, to the place that I call home.

So, this is the situation.  I am currently living on Housing Benefits and Income Support and sickness allowance, due to my Mental ill health, which I am hoping and praying will slowly improve as it has been a really tough year.  I have not heard from the estate agent since I told them I am living on Housing Benefit and so not sure what will come next.

I have been told that most landlords do not like to have people on welfare renting from them because some Councils tell them to stay there, even thought their tenancy has run out, that they can stay there and wait to be evicted………or, as another one told me, we advise people to lie to landlords, otherwise they will not be housed. So, this is my dilema and so I have decided to write about it.

I am 52 years old, I have a degree in film-making, which I absolutely love and I am planning on somehow, as I get better, to work in that field, never give up on your dreams they say!! I am extremely grateful for the welfare, having lived in countries where there is none. I would so appreciate any help with the move back to London.  I need to be out of here by the 29th August. So, lets see what happens. Please pray and keep your ears and eyes open for any opportunity. I almost got caught up in a huge scam last weekend, but I still believe in the good and putting it out there to God and the Universe. I am looking for a beautiful, either one bedroom or large studio appartment in SW London. I am so hoping one day I will be in the position to buy again, it feels wierd going back having lost everything in the 1989 crash.  I have just never managed to date to get back on the ladder.

Last week my main concern was finding another address for my currently rather dormant company and my tax returns and an accountant to do them………within hours this was sorted and we are just waiting for that to tie up. I have done a couple of car boots to get rid of my stuff and made a huge decision when getting rid of a few very important things. I also burnt loads of old bills and paper together with old bank statements………….it felt so good!

I have finally, after 26 years and 11 months, given away the contents of my maternity case.  Boy that was painful………I realise that it is time to let it all go.  I feel better for it. And as I embark on all the rest of it, papers, diaries, address books of people who have moved so many times from there, I realise I have been stuck in the past, distressed and traumatised by many things and now, I am slowly and very painfully letting it go…………and I am grateful.

I was talking with someone yesterday who told me the most beautiful story of her life and how everything has eventually been restored, it has given me so much hope, in the middle of chaos, it is all going to be alright, I just have to keep doing the work, be brave enough to let go and trust God to provide me with so much more than I could ever imagine.

Todays task is finishing my bedroom, so I have all I need in a suit case, the rest into boxes ready to go to storage…….the process is slow, but who knows how much I will eventually keep…….what do I really need and what is actually just ready to be let go of?

On Turning 50 – Recovery and beyond

It is a very odd stage in life, and for me one that has taken me a long, long time to come to terms with, a year to be precise. I am not totally there yet, but it is getting easier. When I told friends last year that I really could not cope with it, that I was grief stricken, mostly they did not get it, comments like ‘Oh Penny don’t worry 50 is the new 40 and on they went, it did not help, it just made me feel even lonelier. The year has been really difficult and I think that maybe that is because I am not where I had hoped and dreamed I would be, which is what I am really struggling with, facing that has been such a hard thing to face, but also so liberating, now I can do something about it.

I have to face the fact that I will not have any more children, the fact that I have one is a miracle, and I am truely grateful.  I had a fantasy of a wonderful husband, a lovely home and all that and I have to face the fact that I am responsible for screwing that up, because I did not think I was worth it, something else was driving my bus and it has taken me a decade to find it. I have lost most things, including my mind at one stage, mainly due to my mental health and addictions. I am faced with the fact that I still live on welfare and that no matter how hard I try, some days are still hard to cope with, just because.

I feel like I went to sleep at 36 and woke up at 50, wondering what the hell happened and that I have lost so much of my life and I don’t know how or why.  I am sure that for many women this is not what they want to hear but for me it is part of my recovery process. I also know that when I hear of other women who struggle with this it helps me so much so maybe me sharing this will also help others, who knows.  I do know that it always helps me to write my truth.

I turned 51 a few weeks ago and I still feel the loss, the transition is something that I have not been able to take graciously.  Some people say that women over 47 are invisible, no longer attractive, I choose to ignore such negativity, thank goodness.  I do remember hearing older women talking about things when I was much younger, such as you feel so much grumpier, no longer attractive and I could not understand what the hell they were talking about.  Now I kind of get it.

Something inside me, a kind of urgency is now however helping me to decide what I really want in my life, understanding no is a full sentance and that actually, I am the person who is responsible for my happiness, nothing new I know, but there is something really different when you begin to truely realise that you are the person who leads your life. Such a relief.

Russell Brand on Addiction

What a breath of fresh air Russell Brand is…………….I have to say I am so grateful that he said what he did……….it is time to treat Addiction as an illness instead of a crime……..absolutely.  It is an illness, it is not only a physical one it is also psychological and spiritual one.  Russell goes on to say that what really needs to be addressed are the symptoms of the illness, the route of the problems.  Once these are addressed, with good quality, supportive and compassionate treatment, the chances of recovery are greater. Sadly, even after almost 33 minutes, the government people on this clip still seemed to be missing the actual point!

This is so very true and something that seems to be missed all over the place.  Punitive, punishing approaches have been the way to deal with most things of an emotional nature over the generations as a rule, and lets hope that in the not too distant future we will see the wind of change.

Below most addictions, if not all is, as Russell says, is a lonely, sad, unhappy and detatched person who uses drugs or alcohol, or both, or food or anything else they can to stop the emotional pain.  The real problem comes in my humble opinion, when the addiction is addressed and the addict is left with the emotions, the reasons why they use whatever it is they use…………….that is where the real work is and where compassion is essential for anyone to get well.

I was horrified the other day when talking with my NHS Psychologist, she told me that new evidence has shown that Compassion is the new kid on the block, so to speak, when I said it is not rocket science……….I was told it is in the NHS………compassion for oneself, most of her clients have no idea of how to be compassionate to themselves……..and I am one of them, although I am getting a lot better than I was at taking care of me………the reason for this in my opinion is simple………to be compassionate towards oneself, one firstly needs to know what that is, what it looks like and then why they are not able to do it, and the worst thing of all, what is missing because of the lack of it.

As babies and children, we learn how to treat ourselves by how we are treated, we internalise it and then do it to ourselves.  If we have had a compassionate carer, we are naturally self compassionate…………….and the same goes for if we are treated badly.  I believe this is a social epidemic. Love and compassion are the way forward and they always have been………we have just lost sight of it in the crazy stressed out world we live in.  I salute Russell Brand for his candid honesty and hope that the government finally begin to listen to what the real issue is.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder….what’s worse? Finale

What a ride……….I have not been able to write for a couple of weeks due to the overwhelming feelings that have come up with this realization. I feel like I have had a psychic shift so huge and it is taking me a long time to reformulate, my life will never ever be the same again…….I feel like the Iceberg that has had it’s head poked above the water for years and years, but it is only tip, and now, it has crashed, no more iceberg………… it is all reforming………….it is quite an incredible state to be in and I am actually grateful, painful as it is.

I feel like I have been staring at a jigsaw puzzle with a thousand little pieces and no box to match them to, no idea where the pieces go and now, I am slowly getting the completed picture to follow, bit by tiny bit, as I put the pieces of my fragmented mind together.  It will take time, and that is OK, I will give it time.

I have made the decision to put a hold on the Social Enterprise I have been working on, as the person who really needs my help right now is me. Painful as this decision has been, it is the best thing I can do, if I cannot be there for myself, how the hell can I be there for anyone else.  It has all come as a huge shock to me, and I am still processing all the ramifications of what this all means.  It is not the diagnosis that has rocked my world, it is the realization that the way I have seen the world is due to the level of abuse that happened to me, and that I now need to heal.

I have also made the decision to leave the STEPPS group with the advise of my psychologist and therapist, for me, it was not working. I think the information is amazing and really helpful, but I needed support along side the group on a regular basis and this was not available due to lack of funding on the NHS, it is patchy and that is the way it is, but it doesn’t help me. Many of the people who are on it are doing really well apparently, but for me, I needed something different.

I will not give up my search and will always be grateful to have finally seen that there is a clear reason for me being the way I am and that I am not actually the cause, I have been reacting to what happened to me……….this is not blame, it is just fact.

If I am not around for a while, it is because I am taking it slowly and will be here when I can and when I have revelations to share.  Thank you for all the amazing support I have had since doing this series of blogs, I have so appreciated it and it is so supportive for me.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 6

What a week I have had……….it has been like the big dipper at Blackpool amusement park, on the highest ride of all.  I have found fellow suffers, blogs, videos and so much out there, now I am finally focused on what the issue at hand is.  I have had difficult decisions to make, but made them and in the midst of all that, I feel like my heart is breaking……………the grief is overwhelming and then I tell myself who really wants to read all about that? Surely they all want positive nice and fluffy stuff, then I decided that maybe you would like identification and one day may be good, the next bad and the next utter crap!! That is how life is for me at the moment and I think and hope that it is that authenticity that you will actually want to connect with.

I am finding this STEPPS course so difficult and even wondering if is for me, seriously.  I actually need some support as well as the course on a regular basis from someone who is aware of the course and helping me to deal with what is coming up, and that is not happening as yet and I am finding it very very hard to manage without it.  This week we did Challenging, challenging the thoughts that are in your head, the thoughts that come up that are not real!! Well, what if you actually believe they are real?  As some of you may see, I am on the road to recovery, and it feels like a very long road at the moment! At the same time when I am going through the questions on the sheets to answer how could you challenge this particular thought, for example, ‘it is wrong to have your feelings’ ……..I am struck by grief and rage at the fact that if I had been allowed to have my feelings I would not be in this position, I cant seem to just answer the question………each and everyone of them is bringing up more and more stuff that is not anything to do with me really, it is all their crap that they have put onto me and now I have internalised it and am doing it to myself……………its a process, and one thing I am grateful for is I am feeling my feelings!

I have found two resources that are helping me to not feel so alone and help me to connect with my feelings. I would like to share them with you.  One is a video and the other is an article, all things I have discovered as I research my tribe.

I hope you find them helpful whether you are a sufferer yourself or helping someone who is.

This video is one of the most beautiful and clearest descriptions of how it feels to be me. Although I am not in as bad a place as I was regarding the more severe behaviour, the feelings are there.  Sometimes words are just not enough.

I have also found this article so helpful and what an inspiration Marsha Linehan is.

Thankyou for reading my post, I hope you will continue to follow my progress!

Penny

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 5

I hope you find this week’s entry informative and helpful. I have really been struggling this week, trying to put the pieces of what sometimes feels like my shattered mind together.

I found the group this week hectic. Digesting what is happening is still very difficult and I am wondering just how much theory one can actually process when things are so emotional, not a lot, it seems for me.  I need the middle bit, the bit that embraces my comments and not a theoretical answer. One thing I do know, I am learning what I need, and what I don’t need and having my thoughts about what I already know reinforced and actually speaking up.  But sadly, somehow I feel that the missing bit for me is not really happening.  The bit that addresses the part of me that was so left behind and not listened to and is still screaming out to be taken seriously and empathised with in a loving, soft and gentle way.

I am even wondering if I will share anything because it can feel too re-traumatising to open up and then not feel supported in the way that I need to be supported……….I am feeling very confused, and I am sure that that is not really the purpose of it all.

One of the things that is becoming more and more apparent to me is that this illness stems from childhood trauma, lack of support and something happening.  One of the facilitators said that one of her clients told her that when she was not with her she may as well be dead, as she could not hold her in her thoughts, it is exactly like that for me and it is excruciating.  That is why one of my therapists told me that being with me is like groundhog day, I can’t hold onto people being with me even if they are away.  I am realising more and more what I have already known, this is because when I was a baby, my mother did leave me, when I was a month old, for hours at a time and never came back. I had nannies, one after the other and I did not have a care taker who was attuned with me and therefore, nobody came when I actually needed them, therefore my needs were not met, therefore I cannot hold onto people.  It all happens in the first few years of life.

I thought it would be useful for some people to know what the charity, Mind, have said in their booklet about what can cause Borderline Personality Disorder, together with  putting the actual definition of Borderline Personality Disorder on this blog, together with a list of the requirements needed to join this very special group of us.

Mind have said in their bookelt Understanding borderline personality disorder:

What causes borderline personality disorder?(in my own words)

Many people diagnosed with BPD have had traumatic experiences in childhood.  This could be the loss of a parent;  sexual, emotional or physical abuse or neglect. It is said that the problems associated with BPD can often become worse after a stressful experience, situations like loosing your job, your relationship or something else that you personally find stressful.

It is for this reason I really believe we need to take good care of our children, the fact that so many parents are under so much pressure does not help the whole situation when it comes to the nurturing of our children.  I really believe this illness is far more common than we know.  It is a natural response to the impact of child abuse and neglect and the pressures that so many children are under today.  I believe it really is time to change.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this is what our illness is made up of.

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects (mood), and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more0 of the following:

1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. (Note: do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behaviour covered in criterion (5)

2.  A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation.

3. Identity disturbance: persistent and markedly disturbed, distorted, or unstable self-image or sense of self.

4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (eg: spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).

5. Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behaviours.

6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).

7. Chronic feelings of emptiness

8. Inappropriate, intense anger or lack of control of anger (e.g.,frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).

9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

I hope you have found this helpful, I  know I did.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2012 – It’s Not All About The Food!

A reporter friend of mine, Sara-Jayne Kirk has done two great interviews this Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  One with ED Specialist Ann White and another with Gregory Szanto, the Founder of The Sussex Eating Disorders Clinic in Eastbourne.  Both of these interviews give such insight into the depth of the problems for those suffering from Eating Disorders. They also highlight very clearly, that Eating Disorders have very little to do with the actual food and much more to do with emotions.

As well as being helpful and empathetic with the sufferes, these interviews also highlight the gaping whole in the NHS provision for people with this problem, which I know personally only too well. I hope you will find them useful and please do pass this blog on to anyone who you think might benefit.

For some people this is their only addiction. For others, like me, it was found buried under the carnage of alcoholism, drug addiction, sex and love addiction, not to mention all the other ways I had  learnt to avoid my feellings.  Franetic activity, workaholism, never ever being able to be alone and all to try and fill a huge emptiness in my soul. It is also on the check list for those with Borderline Personality disorder, along with other addictions, such as alcoholism and sex.

A friend of mine told me recently that it is to do with ‘mother love’, lack of love, lack of connection, lack of attunement or rejection or abandonment.  For me, this has always made perfect sense, and this is not a blame game, it is fact for me…………and it is for many other people I know.

Fortunately, I eventually had treatment for my compulsive overeating, binging, bulimia and undereating, I have a food plan, do not eat white flour or sugar and have lost a lot of the weight I put on over a very short period of time. But it never ever goes away and I have to watch myself every single day.

If I feel upset, rejected or unloved, it is the very first place I can go………….and sometimes without even knowing it.  I diluded myself the other week when I brought a very small bar of dark chocolate from the ‘Free From’ range. I had barely got through the door, promised myself that I would have it with a cup of tea, but it was gone before the kettle had boiled.  I know why, and it scared me. I felt so rejected by someone and there it was! Thank God it was just that one bar.

In 2008, I hated what I had become, I felt utterly miserable and hated life.  Slowly I am recovering.  I ate on feelings, and still have to watch it, as I have already said, when it is really bad it can still catch me out.  I would always eat on feelings that I could not express, but now, what is different is I have people and places to go where I can express them and someone bothers to listen without telling me I am crazy or making it all up for attention.

For that I am truely grateful.

Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder…what’s worse? Week 4

I would like to start this week’s entry by thanking the people who have taken the time to contact me personally and share their experiences and to encourage me to keep going.  Thank you so much for your kindness and support, it helps me not feel so alone.

This week our lesson was Communicating………….when you are in a really chaotic place! Well, at the moment, this is not going to be possible for me, something else for the tool kit!  I have been really struggling with this course to be honest.  I find it very hard to be so detatched from my emotions to be logical about them. I also find it very hard that we are so rushed, there is little time for exploration of how we actually feel and that the facilitators are so target focused that we are basically ticking boxes to say how we feel, and barely have time to talk about it. This taps right back into the reason I am actually on the course in the first place…….my feelings not being heard and validated!  They do try, I have to give them that, but there are at least 5 out of 9 of us who really need some extra support.  Fortunately for me, my friend pays for my private therapist, without that I would be in a very, very different and very scary place.

I have challenged my Psychologist about this problem within this model of treatment for those with Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotional Intensity Disorder, neither descriptions are particularly palitable, only to be told that this provision is cheap and that the funding is not really available for therapists to support us whilst we are going through what can really only be described some days as a living hell.

Distancing, communicating and expression are not on my radar when it comes to me feeling like my whole world is falling apart, I just need a hug to be honest.  All this head stuff is really counterproductive in so many ways, when it is on its own. I spoke to someone on Friday who very beautifully put it that it is my little girl who is stuck and needs support, love and nurturing to come out….that is what they call my illness! When I share my pain and am dismissed, invalidated, because someone is rushed or doesn’t know how to help, I feel shut down and it is excruciatingly painful for me.

I had a really good example of how this effects my life and I have realised a lot from it…………this week I had arranged to meet a friend at 1pm……….she was still not at mine by 1.20pm and I was really in a bad state, I had to hold onto the sofa and was sweating so badly, I felt so totally disorientated for a good 20 minutes. The pain in my head was almost unbearable. I  eventually calmed down and called her and was pretty passive aggressive, which is not helpful.  When she arrived at 1.45 I said that I really understand that she has lots to do etc but please would she call me to let me know she is going to be late………….I got the most beautiful supportive response, ‘If that is important to you Penny I will do my very best, I know I am a bad time keeper etc etc!!!  This is the difference, someone who takes responsibility and who I matter to.  It was a huge risk for me, I was scared I would loose the relationship, that she would shout at me and tell me to shut up and what is my problem, she is here now……….totally invalidating my feelings and that would be it.  I had that my whole childhood.  My mother was always late and I would wait for her for hourse, sitting on the stair, no phone call nothing.  When she arrived I would say I have been waiting for you for so long and was really upset, the response………….I am here now, what’s your problem!  That is why I am so ill, terrified of speaking my truth and splitting off.

One thing I have learnt, it takes two people to heal and I am so grateful that I have that support around me today, because it has taken a long long time.