Friday, 22 August 2014

We're only human...

Christina Perri's song "Human" has been about for a while but it was only the other day when I listened to the words after a(nother) borderline episode and it was then that I actually felt the words. I find very few things more powerful than connecting to lyrics. I made a scrapbook page using the lyrics and as I finished I could see how they could apply to either of us... me speaking to Gareth or Gareth speaking to me. We both live with BPD in different ways and it's hard. It's really hard. Sometimes and we need to remind ourselves that we are only human and can only take so much.

I used paper that came with a small collage in the bottom left hand corner which said, "I absolutely adore you" and in the opposite corner I out "but I'm only human". I wrote lyrics on a PL card and used some frames I've had for years under which I sprayed Scarlet red Tattered Angels ink.

Scrapping is therapy!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Siân ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Love Letter....

Not everyone, maybe no one at all, completely understands mine and Gareth's relationship. Most people don't understand Gareth at all. We have had to make compromises and sacrifices in order to maintain a life together with Borderline Personality Disorder. We've lost a lot along the way. But what we have underneath it all is a deep and committed love that has taken a lot of work. It isn't always obvious and it isn't always said and it often gets lost beneath the pain of living with mental illness so I wanted to remind Gareth what he means to me...or as Hafiz so eloquently wrote, "I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being." For you Gareth...

You are the most beautiful thing I've ever seen
You shine just like sunlight rays on a winter snow
I just had to tell you so.

Your eyes sparkle as the stars like the moon they glow
Your smile could light the world on fire or did you know?
Your mind's full of everything that I wanna know.
I just had to let you know.
I just had to tell you so.

You're my butterfly.
Fly High. Fly. Fly. Fly.

(Butterfly by Lenny Kravitz)

Sian xxx

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Remembering Ruby

Gareth's descent into the mental health system started when he lost his mum. He is the youngest of 11 children to Ruby and George and he was the baby. Ruby developed Parkinson's disease and aged only 60 she fell down some stairs and her lungs collapsed. Gareth visited her in hospital, told her he loved her and returned to the army after being told Ruby would recover. He received a phone call afterwards to say she had passed away.

He wasn't given support and wasn't able to take time off to grieve. Instead he drank. Two years later on the anniversary of his mum's death he took a massive overdose and was found in an alleyway in the early hours of the morning. He was admitted to an army psychiatric unit where he would go on to be assessed and given a medical discharge with the diagnosis of "adjustment disorder". A diagnosis that would change many times over the years allowing the army to rescind the regular payment he received from them as he no longer suffered from "adjustment disorder". My thoughts on that shall remain quiet for now but needless to say it seems very convenient!

This year Ruby would have been 75 years old. It's been 15 years. People still want Gareth to "get over it" and "get on with his life" and although it comes from a place of caring and wanting him to be happy people haven't the time or patience to understand unresolved and complex grief. Gareth himself wanted to try and let go this year and out himself under too much pressure to do so.

Anyway we decided to mark her birthday in some way and we went to Chester Cathedral where Ruby first heard Gareth play in concert for the first time. Gareth remembers the seat she sat in and so we took turns (we had the dogs with us - as always) going in and sitting in that seat to remember her.

Whilst I was there, two women were talking (personally I would have described it as flirting) with an employee, obscuring my view of the stage. I was sat down sometimes with my eyes closed and thought it was clear that I was trying to have a moment but I guess some people are only aware of their own needs as it didn't stop the raucous laughter and inappropriately loud chatting. I was beyond irritated at this point and it occurred to me that Gareth always described Ruby as moody and ratty - so perhaps if Ruby was there that's exactly how I would be feeling ;o)

I took photos of the chair and stage and went on to make a digital scrapbook page to commemorate the moment. I chose to remember it once the annoying people had finally moved but I may well do an art journal page of the irritating part :o) Here's the page anyway:

I hope Gareth finds a way to remember Ruby without it causing him suicidal thoughts one day. A way to remember her with happiness but I would never tell him to get over it and move on - it's his mum. I have no idea how anyone or if indeed anyone does ever "get over" the loss of close family member. I guess people just find a way to live with it somehow. The dripping heart on the scrapbook page represents Gareth's heart which is still bleeding, I just hope one day we can stop the bleeding and start to heal the scar it's left.

I love you always Gareth xxx

Saturday, 5 October 2013

World Mental Health Day

Hollins Park hospital is hosting an event on Sunday 6th October at the start of the week that sees 2013 World Mental Health Day (10th October) and they are kindly letting me display a piece of art I've created as well as some poetry I've written. So here it all is:

I'm hoping you can read the poems by clicking on the pictures to enlarge them. 
If not, please comment and I will type them out under each one.

Gareth is setting them all out for me as I will be at home looking after the dogs so he will tell me afterwards whether they went down well or not. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Blister packs... and blisters

Gareth, like many mental health patients, has a history of overdosing as a form of self harm. To that end I administer his blister pack each day with his tablets in so he doesn't have full access to a lot of tablets at once. One of the main criteria of Borderline PD is self harm. Gareth hasn't self harmed for many years - other than overdosing - until last night. After a particularly horrendous night he put several cigarettes out on his hand which is now covered in blisters.

Normally I get angry but today I feel differently. I feel guilty. I was ill last night with ME but I think maybe had I got up and given Gareth ten minutes of my time he may not have resorted to harming himself. That's all he wants a lot of the time, someone to talk to. And I wasn't there for him.

He was discharged from mental health services several weeks ago so has no care coordinator to ring and when he rang the doctors his regular GP was unavailable due to being fully booked despite him being the first person through to the surgery that morning. All other GPs have a tendency to panic because it's mental health and they know nothing so they do what they do best.... refer.

They actually referred him for an assessment to go back into mental health services last time he went in to see the GP and he's only just been discharged! It scares me that GPs are now in charge of the care of mental health patients especially as many know so little and either do nothing or over-react. The new "Recovery" system in this town is bullshit. It seems to me that they've used a great concept as a plaster to address a significant and serious problem in this town. The Recovery team can go back to their bosses now and say that the statistics are great - they've discharged x amount of people into the community - what a success "recovery" is.

I'd say burning yourself with cigarettes for the first time in years, being given the runaround by your GP, being referred for assessment back into services, having no professionals to talk to that has any knowledge whatsoever of your condition and then being referred to Open Minds - the "other" mental health service in the borough really isn't a sign of addressing the problem.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

What about me?

I'm always amazed at the amount of people I speak to who are caring for someone with a mental illness or personality disorder and don't realise it. If you don't realise you're a carer, you quite often don't realise that not only do you need help, you are entitled to it AND deserve it. I was fortunate to be picked up quite quickly by the many wonderful organisations out there that are there to stop you going insane.

Let me be quite clear, it does not matter if this person is your daughter, son, mother, father, any relation by blood or marriage or in fact if it's a friend or neighbour. If they are a PIGLET - Person I Give Love and Endless Therapy too and you do this all day, all week, then you can be classed as a carer and you NEED support. The first place to start is your local carers' centre:

Find your local carers centre

They offer practical and emotional support and our local one offers regular "therapies" such as massage, reiki to help you relax and look after yourself for a while.

The strain on your emotions and your relationship with whomever it is you love who has a PD is tremendous. It's very difficult to understand their behaviour so I would also suggest reading up on their illness especially a PD because they are so confusing and behaviour can be so hurtful.

Online forums can help you can talk to people with similar problems who understand. Counselling may be necessary to help you cope or a support group - any kind of voluntary mental health organisation. Sadly I live in an area where mental health is rife, fortunately this does mean that the support for people living with it themselves or through a loved one is fantastic.

First rule of caring - look after yourself! Always! You can't help them if you're ill yourself.

And lastly even if you are insistent that you don't class yourself as a carer but are emotionally affected by someone with a PD or MI please get help - it costs nothing but is invaluable. I really can't stress this enough.

Take care. Sian xx

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A happy family Christmas?

Gareth has a large family, one of whom abused him when he was a child. I won't reveal any more about that. We've been invited to a Christmas family "do" where said family member will be attending. The person organising the party knows about it. I can never tell whether his family don't believe him because he's "mental" or whether they just want to ignore the whole situation, pretend that it's in the past and that's where it should stay. Fine, if you want to ignore it that's your choice but do NOT expect me to ignore it! I've sat at one family engagement with "it" and never said a thing out of respect for everyone else's feelings except Gareth's but I just will not sit in another room and say nothing and pretend it didn't happen again!

I won't pretend that Gareth doesn't vomit, scream, cry, shake, shiver, whimper and break because of flashbacks. I won't pretend that his childhood isn't the reason he has personality disorders. I won't pretend that I think it's ok to sit in the same room as that thing and be polite because I'd be in the wrong to make a scene. And I'm certainly not going to pretend to the organiser that I think it's ok that he invited it and casually mentioned it to Gareth like nothing happened.

I believe it's in my absolute right to explain to the organiser in a polite manner exactly why we won't be attending and to let them know that if we did I would not sit in that tiny room and be polite this time "for the sake of the family". What about Gareth? What about me? We are supposed to be a part of this family too! Don't we count?! Gareth's childhood affects us quite literally every single day of our lives so I won't sit in a room and pretend that part of my life does not exist so that they can all feel better about the fact that they choose to ignore it.

It may be a better Christmas for them to pretend it didn't happen but we don't get that luxury and I am going to make sure they at least know that!