In June 2011 my life was very different to how it is now. After the breakdown of my marriage in 2009 I had managed to pull myself together and become a successful working single mother. I was a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care at St. Thomas’ Hospital. It was my dream job. All was good.
Well, apart from the increase in anxiety that I’d felt and the panic attacks that started sneaking in.
The panic started to get so bad that at work I would hide in the toilets and pray that no one paged me. I had friends I could talk to, my manager tried to be supportive though obviously she had a service to deliver and my emerging illness was interfering with this. As my health got worse I turned to the Samaritans, when I’m unwell using the phone causes me massive anxiety so I exchanged emails with an anonymous ‘Jo’. I knew that each ‘Jo’ I spoke to was a different person but ‘Jo’ was still a huge support.
Despite me talking my despair through with the ever understanding ‘Jo’ in late June I hit crisis. My head went to the darkest place it has ever gone to. I was terrified. Luckily I had a friend, Emily, who had experienced mental health problems herself and she fought tooth and nail to get me the help that I needed.
I lost my job. Probably for the best. Even with help I had to admit that I was very unwell, years of supressed emotions had come rushing out and my life would never be the same.
I’ve had two years now of not working, of being in constant contact with psychotherapists, psychiatrists, the wonderful people at Mind. I now have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and still struggle with my condition.
One thing that has helped me through has been my writing. Since I’ve been unwell it’s been the thing that has given me an outlet, it’s given me an identity away from motherhood, away from my illness, something to hold up and be proud of.
You read a lot about people with mental health conditions being artistic, hordes of celebrities have regular walks with the black dog; I’m not sure if there is a correlation but a friend of mine who also has BPD suggested recently that the BPD was a tax on being fabulous. I’ll take that.
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