Tag Archives: mental illness

Boundaries and Recovery

I had a revelation this morning as I was waking up, that wonderful place between sleep and wake, I love it there, I seem to get a lot of insight when I am listening.

I had been dreaming about an old boyfriend, and saw his disrespect for me, something that for me at the time was perfectly normal. In the dream, we had arranged to meet up after a party where we both were and all of a sudden some friends of his had turned up and he said sorry I am going with them……..not would you like to come nothing, I was  just dropped.  Somehow I just accepted it, just like I had accepted it most of my life.  Even though I was so angry inside I did not have the words to say how I felt and this is not ok, and I realised in that moment, this is where my addictions come in.  It was a real moment for me.  I would stuff the anger with booze, food and then become passive aggressive and as a child this is when I would self harm, I had no words to say this is not ok for me, they were buried way deep inside and for some reason they still are to a large extent.

I am realising this behaviour is a huge part of my depression and my mental ill health, I had no way of really understanding how to deal with this. No words. My parents were pretty unreliable, my father was busy working and often away and anytime I challenged my mother on her lateness, which was most of the time, she would always put it back onto me, saying something like ‘I am here now, what is your problem’ and I would be left with it.  Now I see the problem is she never called to say she was late, she just turned up and that was supposed to be ok, now I am seeing it is not ok, but all this time I have thought it was me and I have chosen so many people to replicate the same thing.

I am begining to realise the extent of my co-dependency, it is definately at the root of my addictions.  I am only now getting to see my part in things, my part is not putting up with it, setting boundaries and if necessary walking away.  I realise that, as I said to a friend of mine, we teach people how to treat us, if we respect ourselves then they will, it has taken me years to really understand these words and for them to go from my head to my heart.

I am finally learning a language that I lost.  I would blame others for treating me like shit, I had no idea I let them.  And likewise, others would blame me for treating them like shit and I would take it on, they would blame me for treading over their boundaries, I did not know they were there, they never told me.  I feel I have had a great epiphany this morning and I want to share it with you, I think the world is going to become a much easier place for me as I am learning that maybe, just maybe all that shit was not mine, I could have said not thanks, please take it elsewhere, this public convenience is actually closed.

4 Years Sober – One Day At A Time

It has been a huge milestone for me to reach this goal, the first time I achieved four years sobriety was in 2002, it wasn’t long before it all went horribly wrong and I decided that just one drink would be ok, it took me almost four years to get myself together enough to stop again.

During that time, my life fell into free fall and it was literally a living hell.  I look back on that time as the time when I almost lost my mental health and was on the brink of emotional death. I looked at myself in the mirror and I no longer recognised the person looking back at me, I was almost gone.  We were in a living nightmare with family issues and I just could not cope, my support system had been wiped from under my feet and I fell into the abyss.

One thing I had not really been aware of until this time were the underlying addictions that were waiting to raise their ugly heads, food, love and destructive relationsips, co-dependency and a childhood trauma buried so deep it took this time to really bring it to it’s head, I had not known just how bad it was until now.  I had talked about it and talked about it, but I had not really felt it or seen it in it’s full flow until now.  Having a relationship with someone who was so unavailable, so unwell showed me that there was something very very wrong with me.  Most people would have walked away and not put up with it, I did not know what they were talking about, to me it felt like home.  I also had to face myself and my behaviours from my youth which took me to a place I could not understand.

I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t and and everytime I made an excuse, began to think that all the people in recovery were boring and on the dilusion went, until one day, New Year’s Eve, 5 Years ago, I set myself up, asked some friends to bring champagne over and they only brought one bottle, I was the only one who had 3 glasses and their faces were horrified as I had tried to stop drinking for a good six months before then, it was that moment, when I could not stop, I would have necked a whole crate if there was one, I realised I had a real problem and I had to stop.  Thank God, one day at a time, I have.

The last four years have been full of distress, anguish and realisations that I am not just an Alcohlolic, I am an Addict, I can be addicted to anything to help me escape my feelings.  I am now learning to challenge them, to speak my truth and what is brilliant is that I am now getting people around me who are willing to be available for me, and that has made all the difference.

There are still plenty of things to sort through but instead of stuffing my feelings and building one resentment on top of the other, I speak it out and I am heard and mostly understood, which is very very new for me.

I have to deal with the underlying trauma of my childhood which still rears it’s ugly head, I still think that everyone is going to leave me, no matter what which is a very lonely place to be, but it is getting better.  When I share my pain, with safe people, I can often see the insanity of it, and eventually it becomes healing.  For some people in recovery, they do not have this extra burden, but for those of us that do, there is hope, with the right support and love we have a chance.  It feels to me like I am waking from a dream, and my feelings are coming to life, there is an untold amount of grief to face and with that will come a new life, I have amends to make, and I will.  I am finally able to face my pain because I am not being judged for it, not being shamed for it, not rejected for it.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the last few years.     

Happy New Year, Love Penny

Eating Disorders and Mental Health-Radio 1 Summer Surgery

A huge thank you to Aled at Radio 1 for his Summer Surgery he is covering subjects such as Eating Disorders, Alcohol and Drugs, Panic Attacks and his approach is really good.

It is so refreshing to hear Eating Disorders being discussed in such an informative way, rarely is the connection with Mental Health made .It is a problem not just about weight, far bigger than that.

Thank you Aled for raising the awareness, how good to hear a man talking with such empathy.-

My Mental Health This Week

This week has been amazing.  It started with me still feeling pretty groggy from a cold and stressed with some family stuff that has been going on.  I went to London on Tuesday to visit my son and some friends, we had a great time with them, but I felt sad.

It really hit me that 25 years ago, I owned my own flat, I was living in London, if things had gone well I would be mortage free this year and here we are walking miles and miles because we are needing to find a restaurant that we can afford. Past some restaurants that at one time I would not have thought twice about going into. It is not what I had in mind for when I turned 50.  I was grateful to have the talks I did with my son, to have the closeness that he wants to share his world with me and to ask for my support emotionally.  I am grateful to get on so well with his visitors and it really touched me to feel so comfortable with these people.

The sadness I feel is grief, some call it self pity, but for me it is a process I have to go through, I know that my mental illness stole a lot of my life and that makes me feel very very sad. It also makes me very very angry that I did not get the help I needed when I needed it, because that made me worse.

Now I have to do something about it.  I still get bad days, so does my son and we are having to face a huge truth about his father, he does not want to know. This is a truth my son is really struggling with and I am powerless to do anything about, as much as I want to, or am I?

I walked along Notting Hill and remembered how I love being there, I long to live in London again, it is a case of how.  So I keep writing, praying and moving forward. I felt a failure actually, a complete and utter failure that I had not been able to provide in the way I wanted to. Thank goodness that out of this we are close, money cannot buy that. I feel sad that at the age of 50 I am on welfare, still signed off sick.  The impact of mental health on my whole life cannot be underestimated, together with the impact on my sons life. I am changing things slowly and I need a lot of support.

Two other things have happened to confirm my mental state this week, one past, one present.  I was helping a friend move today and we went to visit a place he used to work and I was a client of approx 12 years ago, Creative Response. The man who worked there when I was there came up and said I recognise you, were you at college with me.  I said no I was one of the clients when you were at the other place and he was really shocked.  He asked if I liked it and I said no, I found it really distressing, and as we talked he remembered me.  He told me they felt unable to help me because I was so distressed, how he tried to get me to focus and draw, how I told them I needed someone to sit with me and they just did not have the funding to help me in a way I needed to be helped.  He told me they were all really concerned about me and often talked about me, because I was so fragile.

I have to say I felt really sad, again, because I did not think anyone could see me or understand me, I was obviously in a bad way. I used to walk past him in the street and really resent him for not being able to help me, I felt so scared and lost and I wanted some help not to just get on with it, I was so shut down I needed someone to help me get in touch with my feelings and for some reason it didn’t happen for me.  Nowadays they have more funding and it is better, but it just shows how vital it is for people to get the help.

I also went for an assessment at Oakleaf Enterprises.  The man was amazing, he has had several breakdowns himself, commented on the psychiatrists writing being illegible and was able to see that he had commented on my state as fragile, which I was surprised with but also relieved.  We went on to talk about experiences with mental illness and how their funding is being cut, how they cannot provide as much as they would like due to it.  Most people there are on benefits and they are now restricted as to what they can do as they now have to pay their own travel there and also pay £5.00 per session, which makes it very difficult for some.

When we were talking about our states of mind he said how difficult it is when you are having a breakdown and you believe what you believe is real and that nobody can convince you otherwise, I found his way of being so open and sharing a real comfort.  I know that feeling so well but I had not known it so clearly as all being part of the breakdown if that makes sense.  The loss of reality is something I am only really begining to come to terms with.