This is just a short post to let you know about a piece I wrote recently for Black Dog Tribe, a website launched by comedian Ruby Wax with the aim of providing a sympathetic user-generated community for those affected by mental health issues.
Websites like Black Dog Tribe have an important role to play in overturning the stigma surrounding the subject, raising awareness and giving contact details for those seeking help.
Coming in from the cold
I first mentioned it to my family doctor when I was 15, but it started when I was 12; recurrent crashing mood-swings – disastrous extremes of outlook and reason so intense they altered my perception of the world around me. It was impossible to stabilise myself when everything shifted so radically, like being tossed about in heaving seas with no buoy to cling to. I’d feel the fog descend and be gripped by fear, knowing I’d face hopelessness and suicidal thoughts alone. My parents called me moody and told me to “snap out of it” or keep to myself until I’d cheered up – I was selfish for inflicting my moods on everyone else. As if I chose to feel that way!
My family GP was a warm and caring woman who ran her surgery from home. I told her about my feelings, although, with the misplaced discretion familiar to many sufferers of abuse, I couldn’t bring myself to mention what went on at home: my father’s unpredictable violence, my mother’s stinging put-downs and insensitivity, the physical, verbal and emotional attacks. They’d done such a good job of convincing me I was the one to blame, I felt ashamed.”
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Author’s note, June 2014: Since the time of writing I’ve been re-diagnosed with Aspergers and Bipolar II. I no longer meet the criteria for BPD and given the existing cases of Aspergers and bipolar in my direct family I have to admit this re-diagnosis seems a more accurate explanation for my symptoms. Oh, the beauty of hindsight…