At the point of writing this, I’m in ‘recovery’ and have been for about a month. I write the word ‘recovery’ in inverted commas, because I’m still not sure what that means and it differs from person to person. For me, it means that for the first time in a decade, or maybe more, I actually want to stay alive and see what happens, I don’t want to hurt myself, I’m able to distinguish and filter the negative thoughts in my head – in fact, I’m content and happy.
No way am I recovered, there’s still a lot of work to do and there’s a strong possibility that I will never be fully recovered. But, at that moment, a light clicked and the fog disintegrated (ever so cliché). I don’t want to make it seem like a miracle, because it’s not – I have worked so bloody hard for this and have contemplated and attempted so many things over the years. There’s even been times since this switch clicked that I’ve had to stop myself falling down the rabbit hole again, but here’s 10 ways I’ve helped myself on my personal path to recovery:
- Cutting out negative people – Possibly the best change I’ve ever made in my life thus far. For so long, I felt that I needed to help people who just couldn’t/won’t accept any form of help themselves and were always on a downer. You know the type of people who you text ‘how are you?’ and they’ll come back with massive paragraphs about how bad they are feeling (I’m not saying this is bad on the off-chance, I’m talking about every. single. time). It would affect my own mood, I’d take on all of their problems and I just couldn’t handle it very well. So, I cut them out. I still contact them occasionally but no longer do I feel that I have to reply to it, I’m my own person and so are they.
- Volunteering – Recently, I’ve started volunteering with the Scouts. It started with doing the under-18s makeup at ‘Gang Show’ and has progressed into me possibly becoming a Scout Leader at my brother’s Scout Group. I feel like I’m giving something back to the community and it’s still a load of fun at the same time – I’m learning new skills all the time as well as gaining the responsibility that I feel like I lost whilst I was at my worst.
- Reading – If you read my ‘What I’m Grateful For’ (most recent is here: What I’m Grateful For: March/April), you may realise that reading is a pretty important part of my life. It’s learning without having to sit listening to some out of touch teacher, about subjects you ACTUALLY want to know about. Even if it’s fiction, you are still expanding your mind and imagination, but it’s so much more than that – you are allowing yourself time to escape whatever you may be dealing with and enter this world that nothing can interfere with for however long you want, and allowing your brain to heal as you relax.
- Downloading the ‘Calm Harm’ app – Using this app has helped me stop self-harming for good. There are 6 different options you can choose from (Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself, Release, Breathe and Random) and within those you can choose how long (1, 5 or 15 minutes) then from a range of activities to suit your personal needs. For me, self harm became a thing of ‘I need to do this in order to feel something, absolutely anything’ but this app has helped me to feel or express in other ways – even if it’s just focussing on my own breathing for a minute.
- Reaching out – My friends and family are so important, however I’ve often felt like I’m burdening them if I tell them exactly how I feel. This past month or two, I’ve changed this and told them what’s been going on in my mind, no matter how awful it may seem, because once it’s out there, the weight suddenly becomes a lot less. A small group of my friends have the same illness as me, which makes it even better (not that I’d wish it on anyone) but they can relate and empathise – often telling me their own stories and how they dealt with it. Reaching out really does lessen the load.
- Distinguishing thoughts – With BPD, I have to be very self-aware (Am I splitting? Am I suicidal? Am I bored? Am I depressed? Am I just hungry?) But, I’ve been working on distinguishing what is the illness and what is me. Sometimes, it seems like an impossible task as it feels as though the illness and I are one, but a few minutes of reflection help me to figure out how to process the thought.
- Listening to happy music – I have a sad playlist, I have a happy playlist. Sometimes, I’ll turn to my sad playlist just so I can cry my little heart out about the state of my life but once the crying is done, I know that I’m just dwelling if I continue to listen to the sad songs. Music can change my mood in an instant, so listening to songs that make me happy have a significant effect on my mood, state of mind and outlook. Try it some time, it may work for you too.
- Planning little things for the future – The weirdest thing about being suicidal during your formative years is that you don’t know what to do when you make it past them. I didn’t expect to see 16, yet here I am, close to 23 without a clue of what I’m doing. Looking forward to little things can really help you get through each day, whether it be the smaller things, such as seeing a friend or eating your favourite meal, or the bigger things, a holiday, moving out, a festival. These things make life the wonderful thing it is!
- Letting things happen – This has been a huge thing in helping me on the road to recovery because I am a self professed control freak. Life can’t be controlled, things happen constantly throwing you off the road you thought you were travelling onto a different one going to a completely different destination. Rather than fighting the change, I’m learning to embrace because guess what?! Life happens, things change all the time, and you can’t control what happens around you, you can only control the way you react.
- Self love/realising my worth – “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Every single person has done bad things (except maybe babies) but that shouldn’t define you. I love myself, so much. You’ve got to, because at the end of the day, you’re the only person you can truly rely on. You get what you give and you can do absolutely anything you want to do. Go for it and see what happens.
Recovery is always possible. I promise you, no matter how bad you may be feeling right now, hope should not be lost as there is a way out.
**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 – 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**