Archive | November 2014

Someone to Watch Over Me

Hi.  I tried to kill myself on Friday night, spent the night in A&E and then was sent home.  Someone who has been there for me over the past three years without fail sent this to me last night and it was so perfect it made me laugh (a rare occurrence at the moment!).  I thought I’d share it with all of you, just because it is precisely what goes on most of the time in my mind and what I hope people would do to help me when they can.

10552402_10153295646016521_8020471835839575435_n

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

17-11-2014

What I Have Known

So, I’ve got a new article for you.  It was written by an acquaintance of mine who I do not know well enough to comment on his life and all the things he’s obviously been through on account of mental health and depression, but I will say that on a day when I myself have been feeling pretty low and worthless, reading what Daniel has written made me feel a lot better.  I hope it will have the same effect on you too!

P. Mistry-Norman


It’s a fact that 1 in 4 people have a mental illness…sometimes it’s said to be 1 in 3 people. When you think about it, that is a pretty staggering number and as I ponder this thought which is screwing with my head, as well as the fact that I may have had some alcohol to drink and a few pills, I have decided to write an article for this page. It should be hopefully an easy read.

So what does depression feel like? What does it make you do? Well, sadly depression has such a huge spectrum of reactions. Some sufferers feel lethargic and not reactive, others may well scream at the slightest provocation. In my case, I would describe it as a feeling of heaviness and despair as if I am trapped in a pit, chained to the wall. One can hardly move, stuck in the darkness and ultimately there is no escape. So why do people feel like this?

I would say from a personal experience that the reason we react in such ways is due to these factors (there may well be more):

  1. Stress of everyday life
  2. Loss
  3. Hatred of oneself
  4. Loneliness

I shall explain these in the order above in a sort of pop psychology way (just let me get my glasses and let me prepare my best Sigmund Freud accent!).

In terms of the stress of everyday life, this is very much a personal theory, and please do not take anything I say for gospel. I am not a trained psychologist, merely a human being with – possibly stupid – thoughts. But anyway, I digress. How do we get depressed? Part of it may well be genetic. My family has had its fair share of alcoholics and manic depressives for generations, each coping in varying degrees of success (or cleverly hidden up by family members ashamed of the stigma… we’ll get to this later). However I do believe life’s experience can be a reason, such as traumatic and extreme experiences such as the loss of loved ones, bullying or witnessing a horrific event, to name but a few. But when it comes to all the depressed teenagers, I am going to put this forward.

We have so much stress on our shoulders…think about it. Our grandparents and parents were some of the most fortunate generations in history. When they were around money was (for the most part) in abundance; people could get jobs by working their way up from an untrained bank clerk to the head of a massive corporation, many parents were easily employed and earned good money, and paid for their kids to survive, eat well, study and be comfortable. Then they turn around and say “Well, time for you to go to the best university ever, get the best degree, the best job and make loads of money!”

I beg your pardon…

Now, not all parents do this. But, and no offence to anyone of an older generation, they kind of mucked things up. Even Jeremy Paxman has admitted this. They screwed up the planet, through their foolish choices and due to greed, they made a recession and thus made jobs harder to find, the amount of salaries less, and also, there’s a lot more people in our generation than theirs! We are all fighting for placements at universities which may not even be of good quality and not even guarantee us a job!

Now if you have a predisposition to depression, tell me, did you just go to DEFCON 1? I have been there. Life out there is not easy and our generation has so much to put up with and endure. But we can do it. Do you really need to make billions? Or do you just want to be happy?! Don’t delude yourself and let your parents’ expectations control your own! You want to be a doctor, be a doctor! You want to go to art school even though you may not be a famous painter, go to art school! Don’t get into anything for the money, because money doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Consider what makes you happy, and be realistic. You may not make millions with what makes you happy, but as a hobby or way to keep you sane or even a low paying job, as long as you can survive and be happy, do it. Who knows, you may even surprise yourself!

However the above may be hard to swallow, because depressed people hate ourselves. This is a problem as this means we lock ourselves away, believing no one wants to help us. And being alone with our thoughts is dangerous. Second bit of imagery here, but imagine a gremlin continuously pulling your hair and biting you as he screams in your ear “You are possibly the most pathetic creature alive! You are stupid! You are talentless! And nobody loves you!” Wouldn’t you love to kill that gremlin? Just stab him? Throw him from the rooftop of a skyscraper? Shoot him? Now remember that this gremlin is living in you…

These are the thoughts that I, and many others, have had to deal with. They drive us away from people; make us prisoners in our own houses, our own rooms and our own minds. We feel that we are hated but also misunderstood, as if we must be mad or crazy. “We should be away from people!” we say to ourselves. “I am a piece of shit to whom people don’t want to talk and not only do I think this, but everyone else does too! Everyone is better than me.” We end up making ourselves alone, and sometimes saying horrid things to people or doing stupid things in order to separate ourselves from others, to punish ourselves, or find a way to feel good.

In my family, a young man did commit suicide but everyone kept it secret, because they were worried what people would think. Some people will think that you are just being lazy or just miserable and you should just shake it off, and that hiding is just a sign of being introverted. Hearing this must make you feel confirmed in your idea that maybe being alone is better.

Depression-support-groups_364x200

But please, and I know how hard it is as I’ve been there, you must not feel ashamed. 1 in 3 people feel the way you do and ultimately you need to talk to the people you feel safest with. Even if it’s just a text, a letter or not even any words, just a brief moment of silence and watching a film or a phone call. The people you feel safest with, like your friends or parents, are probably people who love you deeply (insert Community “Gay!” here). They might not understand, but if you can talk to them, and they are willing to listen, maybe they can help you as people who love you and do not want to see you hurt. Don’t feel guilty for finding it hard to talk to them or feeling like locking yourself away, maybe at least let them know so maybe they could come over for a cuppa and a hug.

If alone, do some work, listen to a song that makes you happy, watch a film, express yourself by writing a poem, a story, a song or a short film! Who knows maybe you could make millions, like that git Morrissey! Or most songwriters! And please, please, get help. It could be medication or an hour with a therapist, just don’t let yourself get into a place so dark that you really do feel like it’s the end. Be safe, since someone out there does love you and would do anything to make you feel safe.

“For now, I just want all things safe and familiar.  My life may not be perfect, but it is what I have known.” ~ Ann M. Martin, A Corner of the Universe

For those of you who have read this, and do not have depression, then may I say this: do not judge. Mental illnesses are awful and painful. Please support these people you know, do not assume it is just a bad day, sometimes all it takes is one bad day (yes, Batman quote!). If you love them, make sure you let them know that you will be there for them. I was very fortunate to have many friends and my parents support me. Now gradually, although I may always have some horrid thoughts, I’m getting through life (sometimes in tears, sometimes silent and sometimes because of their love) and laughing like a complete and utter fool. Your support and love and willingness to get them somewhere safe where they can be help could well be what saves them.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

D. Mason

13-11-2014

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014

Words of a Friend

After the last hugely successful post, I have given my next slot to a great friend and my flatmate at university from last year so she can offer her words of vast wisdom.  As far as mental health goes, it not only affects those who suffer from related illnesses but those around them, so I wanted to give one of them a voice here – I’m just fortunate her writing is so good! There are some great articles coming up from a varying and interesting bunch of people, so stick around!

Happy Armistice Day,

P. Mistry-Norman


Last year, I was lucky enough to spend a year of my life sharing a flat with Pippa. It was a privilege – and not only was she a fantastic flatmate but she has taught me huge amounts about being a friend. With what little knowledge I have, I wanted to write this post for people who, like me, just want to help but don’t quite know how – and, at the same time, to let those suffering know that we want to help, but just don’t quite know how. None of us are alone.

Friendship-Hamburg-design-office-Hamburg-Germany-06

I’m sure that I have had, and possibly still have, a whole range of misconceptions about mental health, and apologise in advance (please forgive me) for any that crop up in this post. I, like the rest of the world, admittedly have shockingly little awareness of the subject, and I can’t be more thankful to this blog and so many others for helping to give me some.

In my 21 years on this earth I have been fortunate enough never to have suffered from mental health issues. Then again, I’m no stranger to them. A whole host of my friends, relatives, loved ones, colleagues and acquaintances have struggled to cope with them – and it’s likely that over a quarter of my friends and family will at some point, if they haven’t already, have mental health problems. And I am, or will be, one of three quarters they will turn to for help.

When they do, I almost always feel under-qualified to offer it. I’m no psychiatrist, I’m no upstanding member of the community and my life experience is minimal. I don’t know how it feels to feel utterly lost in my own skin. That one time, when someone tells you they want to die, you don’t always know what to say.

The thing is, though, nobody expects you to know what to say. That friend who’s suffering does not expect essays of wisdom to suddenly put meaning into their life, you can’t out-logic their depression, you can’t make sense of it through your own eyes because the issue is theirs and nothing on this earth can make you understand. All you need to do, all you can do is be there. Listen, if and when they’re ready to talk. And if they’re not, then let them know where you are, keep an eye out, check in on them and let them do their thing. Don’t push it.

The biggest mistake that anyone makes in trying to help someone with mental health issues (that I have made countless times), is making it your personal responsibility to make things better. And by the same logic, is it never your fault on those occasions when you can’t help. As heart-breaking as the fact is, there will be – and for me, there have been – times when you just can’t help, when you can’t do enough, when you can’t see the signs. You cannot let yourself feel guilty for it. The weight of the world was never designed to rest on your shoulders.

What we can do, is be part of the wider network. Be a kind face, a thoughtful text or Facebook like to let them know we’re thinking of them, that they can come round for tea, come out for a drink or go silent for a week and we’ll still be there. We can teach our children and grandchildren to think of mental health as no more alien than physical health, and let those suffering know that it’s ok not to be fine.

Because I am not a psychiatrist – I’m a friend. Sometimes a friend is all they need.

And one day, when you need it most, they’ll be there for you.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

S. Strand

11-11-2014

Living With Borderline Personality Disorder

I am starting to invite and ask some of my friends, family and acquaintances if they would like to and feel able to write something for this blog.  I will still keep writing articles for it, however, it is important to me that many people get a platform to express similar things about what they know about mental health and all that encompasses.  So, with great pleasure I am giving my first guest post slot to a former schoolmate of mine with whom I share many great memories playing brass together and especially as this comes a day before Remembrance Sunday when we used to play at the services together, it is well timed!  I found what he has written incredibly moving and insightful and I trust that all who read this article will too.

Enjoy my guest series!

P. Mistry-Norman


Hi, my names Jack. I am six foot six, twenty stone, I work a normal office job, and have a girlfriend. I live as “normal” a life as it is possible to when you are twenty two and living in Shoreditch. Unless I’m wearing short sleeves you would have no idea that I suffer with mental health. In face you would have no idea that many of my close friends, from periods I have spent in hospital, suffer from mental health.

I must precede this by saying I find it very hard to explain what I go through to people. I also find it very hard to remember when things have gone bad what has happens. Sometimes I disassociate or hallucinate, and the world becomes a blur. If you knew me you would know that my thick Essex/cockney accent does not lend itself well to being a man of words.

Pippa asked me to talk about my experiences with bipolar and borderline personality disorder. I’m not going to talk about bipolar, I make no apologies; it is a well documented, reasonably well understood condition. Maybe I will discuss if I receive a further invite from Pippa.

Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder is the first time mental health made sense to me. Many people I am friends with dislike diagnoses, and at first so did I, but it has enabled me to understand myself better.

BPD is an awful name for a condition. The borderline comes from the border between neurosis and psychosis, which I would argue is not true of the diagnosis now; I would also argue it is not something that affects personality completely; nor would I say it’s a disorder. In Europe it is called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Maybe this is currently the most accurate depiction of the condition, although still far from perfect.

There are nine borderline traits, but really what we are getting at is the idea of someone who is all-or-nothing emotionally, empty or full. Typically this is categorized in several areas of life. Doctors might look at addiction (all), suicide (all and nothing – dialectic), self harm (the same as suicide), unstable relationships (normally as a result of all and nothing) and emptiness (nothing).

This is most effectively treated with dialectical behavior therapy. A type of therapy that basically stops you reaching one (out of ten) when your down and self harming or attempting suicide, and helps control yourself and your impulsivity at nine (out of ten). This is because a “normal” person may move daily between four and six. A person with depression may spend a long period of time at two or three, before a period of time moving between four and six, and then return to two or three. A person with bipolar may spend a period at two or three then a period at seven or eight. And a person with BPD is constantly moving between one and nine, the extremes.

You may think that my mentioning of self harm and suicide is excessive. Self harm is very common in people with BDP. I have some very close friends with BDP, and I do not know anyone with BDP who has not self harmed in some way. It is worth noting that a therapist would not only consider cutting or burning yourself as self harm, but restricting eating would also be considered. There are many ways to self harm. 10% of people diagnosed with BDP die from suicide, and up to 80% of people diagnosed with BDP attempt suicide. I have attempted suicide twice and I self harmed. I have a huge amount to say on self harm. It is a fascinating topic and an example of someone being incredibly aggressive to themselves.

?????

When I work with Time To Change and talk to people about BDP I talk to people about the everyday problems I come up against. I think to talk straight away about the suicide and self harm is going in at the deep end. Now, I do not self harm every day, and I do not buy pills and attempt suicide daily either. I have spent a relatively long period of time in therapy as an inpatient and an outpatient at hospitals. I have gone through a relatively short period of DBT (it recommended that DBT is developed over a two year period and I am currently six months into my DBT course).

I struggle with the little things daily. I do not want to generalize, and stereotype myself by a label or a condition, but people with BPD struggle to regulate emotions, as would be suggested by the European name given to the condition. It can only be a little thing at work that can set me off on a very quick downward spiral. I miss out the stage of feeling just sad. I go from okay to working out where I can buy pills and how to commit suicide very quickly. I am at a stage where I do not act out however. Through skills like mindfulness I can begin to regulate my response, in the hope that one day my emotions will middle out. It equally happens the other way. It only takes the first three seconds of Alive by Chase & Status to send me to a place of pure ecstasy. I start jamming away in the corner of the office where my desk is and I start planning where I can get a drink or start wondering if it might be a good idea to start taking drugs again. It really is all or nothing. I very rarely spend any time in the middle. Through mindfulness I really can control my responses though and it would be almost impossible to someone that did not know me to tell where I was between one and nine. I almost never act out on my impulsive or negative thoughts now. I was once at a stage where I would self harm or buy pills, and equally I have had periods in my life where I would use drugs excessively.

The fact that I will come up sharply from any down I experience I really consider to be a blessing that people with depression unfortunately do not experience, and I think that is a shame for them. I never spend a day completely down. In fact I am so in tune with myself emotionally that I know I will probably come up at about three o’clock every afternoon. And with a couple of double espressos and a dose of Chase & Status I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to happen. My therapists tells me I should be careful when I turn (as a bipolar may describe it) “manic”. But I promise you it is a great experience, and if you can control the impulsivity, I think it is there to be enjoyed. I definitely try and kick myself into, and maintain myself, in a “manic” state when I get the opportunity.

Another trait is the constant fear of abandonment. She may not know it but I am lucky to have a very understanding girlfriend who helps me control this. It is something I have suffered from badly in the past and as a result can make me a very intense person to spend time with, and without. I become scared if someone I am close to does not reply to a text within five minutes, and never expect just one missed call, I will call until you answer. Even going to the toilet when I am in a club alone will spark a fear that I will come out and everyone has disappeared. I hate doing anything alone on the fear that I will return to no one.  Unless I am desperate I would rather not go. It might seem like a little thing, a daft thing, but it’s the little daily things that I think make mental health difficult.

Every story must finish with a good ending however. BPD is a condition with a very good prognosis. Once diagnosed, psychiatrists can begin to medicate through drugs and therapy. Drugs can take some time to get correct. I am not sure where psychiatrists stand on anti-depressants for BDP, but for Rapid Cycling Mood Disorder (the type of bipolar I suffer from) anti-depressants can destabilize. Anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers are the drugs of choice for BPD, and once the right combination for the patient is found, these can be very affective. And, of course, a course of DBT is hugely affective. Once treated there is a very prognosis that it is a condition that the person can deal with, with the skills learned. And that is the good news. It’s not easy, but it’s achievable.

In conclusion BDP is a fascinating condition that I would advise you to look into. With the help of people like Brandon Marshall (an American Football player for my beloved Chicago Bears), and Time To Change it is becoming an increasingly talked about subject. And I hope that continues. And finally I refer to my first paragraph. I stated how I appear “normal” and you would not know that many of my friends suffer with mental health. I said that because I truly believe that suffering with mental health makes someone no different from someone else. It is why I dislike the word disorder in BPD. Everyone is different and sometimes we require help with our differences but I reject the notion that there is something wrong with my personality, and I reject the notion that people with any mental health disorder should be subjected to any form of stigma. Suffering with mental health is not something to be afraid of, and it is not something others should be afraid of witnessing. It is fundamentally just the beautiful spectrum of humans and life.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

J. Jeffreys

08-11-2014

Brothers & Sisters

I have been thinking a lot about incest over the past couple of days, particularly between siblings. This is probably due to the fanfiction I have finished recently that is based on the BBC series, Sherlock, and the relationship between the Holmes brothers.  For, in the last episode, His Last Vow, Mycroft Holmes says to his brother, “Your loss would break my heart”, and this sparked off an idea in my mind for a fanfiction where the reason behind Sherlock’s apparent asexuality and sociopathy is a suppressed traumatic childhood memory.  The discovery of this incident then leads Sherlock on to the realisation that he is the only person who can properly love his brother and vice versa. I realise that most people prefer – when they do contemplate homosexual pairings in this series – Johnlock and Mystrade, to use the appropriate portmanteaus (on a grammatical tangent, the plural of portmanteau, really should be portmanteaux!), or even the less common pairing of Sherlock and Moriarty, but in my fanfiction dabbles I have always preferred writing either the obvious couple or – if a plausible enough scenario occurs to me – a really obtuse and rarely imagined romantic pairing.

This is not my first odd pairing, which is why I have ended up reflecting on my opinions regarding incest.  Other story pairings I have used include Peter and Susan Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia (as portrayed by F. Arnaud and H. Grainger in The Borgias) and going on to pairings that I enjoy reading about, they include Vlad and Ingrid Dracula from the children’s show Young Dracula and Jaime and Cersei Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire franchise.  Some are established in their own right but some are specifically fanmade so there is variety and that is just my background, but I just can’t pin down what makes incestuous relationships so intriguing and addictive to me.

I do just have to remind people at this point that I have no siblings or have never considered entering into such a relationship and never will, but just reading and watching them play out and how they seem to be – in most cases that I have seen on TV/in stories online – such sturdy and positive relationships, whereas I generally perceive non-incestuous relationships to be such hard work and so flawed that I find that now I don’t believe there is anything wrong with incestuous relationships on the most basic level as an agreement between two consenting adults of whatever gender. Of course, in reality problems do arise when a heterosexual, genetically close couple conceive and that, naturally, is an issue.  I do not pass over that lightly or ignore it in any way, which is why incest is a problem, but in a fictional and sometimes fantastical environment, this can easily be avoided and incest doesn’t seem to be a problem any more…with the exception of Joffrey Baratheon!

People talk about falling in love and being part of a star-crossed love affair that occurs so quickly and with such passion that acquaintances jump straight to lovers, bypassing the friend stage.  It is this aspect of some relationships that dooms them before they begin.  Lovers ought to be friends before they embark on their lovers’ journey; it makes for a happier and healthier voyage, if you ask me.  When siblings realise that maybe the person with whom they find themselves in love is their brother or sister, that strong foundation is already there.  Sure enough it is the foundation of family, but there is still something strong and intimate underlying their romantic relationship.

In my only relationship, I decided to throw my lot in with one of my friends but we were never that close before we hooked up and there was no real knowledge of each other there and it led to awkwardness and discomfort and lo and behold: the relationship lasted barely a couple of months and – retrospectively – I feel was doomed before it began.  It would have been much easier and much more comforting to me had we possessed some level of brother-sister love before we got involved with each other.  Now, I am scared of everyone and everything that implies commitment on a romantic level and there are really only five people I know in the world other than my father, whom I trust enough to commit myself to (not romantically!).

Two of the delusions of the past decade that I have enjoyed and have eased my life and distress the most have been the female party in one of the incestuous partnerships I have listed above.  One, which I have already confessed to, is that of Lucrezia Borgia which is still ongoing in the background of Cordelia Chase and the other, is the summer I spent being Susan Pevensie.  In both of these, the sister is the younger figure and the older brothers – Cesare and Peter – are both sources of strength, protection and love, which I think is what I hold dear.  Also, there is the fact that a lover can leave, a husband can divorce you and a boyfriend can cheat, but eternally, a brother and sister are bound together. I can put this affinity with older male siblings down to the fact that I was never protected by the men around me, only hurt and left in the dark to be hurt by others.

Furthermore, the only male family role that is still pure and untouched by reality is that of a brother as I have never had a blood brother, though I do consider two of my best friends brothers in every sense of the word except blood, which has led to confused feelings for both of them at different points in my life…I won’t deny that. I know I cannot possibly expect people to concur with me unanimously concerning the rightness or wrongness of incest, but I do hope this small glimpse into my mind and the way it processes the concept of brotherly and sisterly romantic love and how it can bring comfort to those who need it most but can get it from very few places will make you think more about flippantly denouncing forbidden (and immoral) relationships out of hand because that is what society and – in some cases, science – has encouraged us to do without considering all the available information.

This instinctive behaviour was first brought to my attention during my English Literature A levels during the study of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, a novel that is truly close to my heart, which I think everyone everywhere should read.  I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but the ending was so vehemently disliked in my class by everyone except me that I truly believe that people say things and do things in a group environment without thinking but if even one person stops to reflect on personal and complicated issues such as incest for themselves because of this post, I will be the most happy, though hopefully, unlike the first bearer of that motto, my head will remain attached to my body for the foreseeable future.

Just for those of you who might be vaguely interested to read more, below, I have included the links to three of my stories concerning incest.  So I hope you do read them if you think you can do so with an open mind and do leave me a review and mention you followed the link here.

On Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9342924/1/La-Bella-Borgia (incomplete)

On Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10714930/1/Break-My-Heart (one-shot; complete)

On Susan and Peter Pevensie: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8677241/1/Odi-et-Amo (on hiatus)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-11-2014

What It’s Like To Be In Love When You Have Depression

Though I’ve never found someone who has ever loved me back…I still find this – words from someone else – a valid addition to my blog

Thought Catalog

“No one will love you until you learn to love yourself” is an easy enough phrase to believe is true. But it’s terrifying, especially when you have depression. What if you never learn? As a teenager, it made me fear for my life as an adult. I was certain I would never be capable of being in a relationship, but I was very wrong. Honestly, I do not like myself very much, and in August of 2013, a boy fell very, very much in love with me.

I have dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. I’ve been on and off medications, been to therapy, but it’s still alive and well, comfortable in its home in my bones. I can feel it every day, a tiny inkling that causes breathtaking emotional pain at the most inconvenient of times.

My depression doesn’t care that I am in a…

View original post 544 more words