My Life As The Black Sheep – *Warning! This blog may contain triggers*

As its Mental Health month in NSW this October, I thought I would share my journey with you.. Well the edited version!!

I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

What is it? Think Multiple Personality Disorder except mine is the only voice in my head.

Quite a lot of prison inmates charged with serious violent crimes have BPD. Its hard to pinpoint the exact number but its anywhere from 20% up to 47%. Its slightly higher in the female population. This fun fact I remind hubby of frequently.

Woman are three times more likely than men to suffer BPD.

I guess this is because BDP has its beginnings in a traumatic event. Sexual violence is the main cause.

My traumatic event was swinging off a live power line when I was 6.  Thankfully I walked away with a few nasty injuries and some scars.

The main symptoms are a feeling of insecurity, persistent impulsiveness, confused emotions, and self harm.  All of which I have battled at some point. Other associated issues are panic attacks, OCD and feeling sad all the time.

The results of these symptoms differ for everyone but heres what its been like for me.

The insecurity has manifested itself as a need to control every part of my life. It drives my family crazy! I am much better since I became aware that not everyone is like me but I had lists and rules for everything and got very angry if those weren’t followed to the letter! Was like OCD. It does come in handy. With some of the jobs I have had where routine was the key its been a blessing. I don’t think I’d have been good at wool classing otherwise.  And when rouseabouting tidiness is the key.

The impulsiveness – where do I start!! Alcohol and telling people what I think. Not always together! But I walked out unscathed!! Thankfully because I also have mild Aspergers (if I was 4 now that would have been the first diagnosis – BDP starts in the teenage years) I have issues with personal space so one of the other risky behaviors associated with BPD, sex, wasn’t an issue.

Confused emotions. I have trouble knowing what I ‘should’ feel. Should I be feeling worried when someone gets seriously injured or just have this angry feeling because they have now put my day out. That sort of thing.  Sounds heartless but that’s it!  I often respond with anger due to the confusion of feelings. It has been good in times of high stress. I have seen some horrific and life threatening injuries that I could just deal with while everyone else panicked.  I’d be half way to hospital with the patient before they got their act together,

The self harm didn’t start until I was pregnant and living in an extremely abusive relationship I thought I deserved (confused emotions again). And I wasn’t self medicating either.

The panic attacks are a more recent and truly frightening thing!! To be in a public place and too feel the world go wobbly, not be able to breath, not wanting to share this event with everyone around you is awful! They were bought on by medication for misdiagnosed depression.

The problem is I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD until three years ago. Prior to that, even after being hospitalized due to a suicide attempt (Panadol doesn’t kill you apparently) they thought it was just depression, baby blues, anything but really. One person got close when they diagnosed me with PTSD. BDP mimics the symptoms.

I was only diagnosed after I had a  two and a half week “moment” – my anxiety levels increased, I hid in the house from everyone, covered all the windows, was terrified of the kids, thought constantly about suicide and how I could achieve it and lost about 10kg in a week.  Surprisingly I was admitted to the ‘closed ward’ at the local hospital. It was in there they diagnosed my illness and from there I started the long hike out of that pit!

How?

I found a fantastic psychologist who I gelled with. This is very important.

I did a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course through my local Community Health centre. They taught me that not everyone thinks like I do and showed me how to deal with that curse!

I joined Nutrimetics by accident. I just wanted the skincare and makeup at a huge discount but got so much more! I discussed in a previous post how much the wonderful people involved have shaped my life. For the first time I had people who believed in me for who I was, not what they wanted me to be or to get something. That is the single most powerful piece of knowledge I have.  I have never had friends before.

Sheer willpower has been the biggest driving force. I can’t let my kids down. I am all they have. I can’t let the suicidal tendencies take hold. And I need to be functioning well enough to support them in case they end up with this inheritable mental illness and feel as I did all my life that nobody cared.

All the attention this month that I have seen has been about normalizing mental illness. That’s great. But the services provided for the treatment of mental illness isn’t nearly enough.

Medicare pay for a certain amount of psychologist visits and even then there’s a gap to pay. And its not nearly enough visits.

And while sitting in the ED of the local hospital for 4 hours waiting to be admitted during my psychotic break I wondered how people who didn’t have the support I had got on. Did they just leave and commit suicide as my thoughts were suggesting?

I had lived most of my life being seen as that strange kid who can’t get on with others – the ‘black sheep’.

But it has shaped who I am and for that I am grateful.

Don’t let these awful feelings define who you are. Their are a lot of farmers doing it tough and the rate of male suicide on our farms is terrible. Get help, don’t be afraid.

Lifeline

Beyond Blue

14 thoughts on “My Life As The Black Sheep – *Warning! This blog may contain triggers*

  1. So brave of you to share your story. Inspirational. Well done. I hope it helps others. I too am a ‘black sheep’ so there is a mob of us around. 🙂

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  2. That’s very brave of you Alison. A timely piece considering many of our fellow rural folk are doing it so tough. Your an example of how someone can come out on the otherside. Us men i’m afraid to say aren’t as open about such issues. I also struggle to fit in social groups or with people in general. There is a bit of OCD in everyone, i hate deviating from a plan. Very much a routine and structured person. People can find that a little off putting. Each to their own i say.

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  3. If it were easier to get help I think men would be more likely too. As would women. If you are already in dire straights mentally, your get up and go is generally headed out the door if it hasn’t already left, and to put the effort in is far too hard. I’ not talking about being coddled, just to have the ability to walk into lets say the ER triage, tell them what’s up, then not have to sit with the gen pop and wait for hours. Same with Drs surgery’s.
    And I firmly believe their should be at least one mental health worker in every major town of every rural area that does home visits. Not just for those who ask, but also for those who’s mate up the road is worried about.
    *END OF RANT*
    Thanks for your support and I agree – theres a bit of OCD in all of us!

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  4. Just wanted to record my Thank you for sharing.

    Just thanks for letting me listen.

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  5. This blog is awesome. You are so brave and inspiring. Go you!!

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  6. oh, and my husband’s a little bit OCD. sometimes it’s frustrating, but it also means our house is quite methodical and organised – not necessarily a bad thing. 😉

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  7. […] I discovered it was a mans world and fought against it very hard! I have explained before my mental illness and the bearing it had on my work.  I was working in shearing sheds as a roustabout, and we all […]

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  8. […] its good to get it out of your head! I am especially proud of my Mental Health Awareness Month blog – I think its made a […]

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  9. […] you have no idea about Borderline Personality Disorder, go here […]

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  10. […] have written before about BDP an the effect it has on […]

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  11. […] BPD I’ve spoken of before was one reason.  I had always been a […]

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  12. Wow Alison, what an amazing blog. I’m so glad you’ve come through the other side of this, and that I have the privilege of considering you a friend. I have suffered from depression since I turned 15. That was triggered by a suicide attempt by a close family member. I have never fitted in either. Anywhere. My life has always been one of being on the outside looking in. I feel a kinship with you, a close one. I’m so very glad you’ve come into my life…keep on keeping on is what I say. We get one shot at this, I realised one day years ago whilst brandishing a kitchen knife at my wrists…again. Thanks for sharing your story.

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