Tag Archive | abandonment

Holiday Blues

I am about to go to the United States with Contiki on Wednesday on what will be one of the biggest – and longest – adventures I’ve ever done.  That is my summer vacation (see, I’m already mastering the lingo!), but one holiday planned and approaching only makes me begin to think about my next one, which of course, for a British girl is Christmas 2015.

Christmas is a strange holiday, one about which I have mixed feelings.  When I was a younger girl I adored it.  Not because of the gifts or the great meal or because it was a time when family made the effort not to bicker and bite, but because it was a time when I was part of something…something great, memorable and important.  Ever since my paternal grandparents passed (my grandfather died quite some time ago, a nonagenarian and my nana died years after him in her 100s), Christmas has never been the same.  For a few years after, we still went up – as was tradition – to Whitnash in Warwickshire and had Christmas with my father’s sister and her family, but that did not last.  After that, the adults of the family (I was still at school and about 13 years old, I reckon) decided that presents would no longer be shared among everyone but that instead my father would give to his niece and nephew and my aunt and uncle would give to me.  Though, seeing as my cousins are closed in age to my mother and father than I am to anyone else, I was still the baby of the family and it still feels, as we haven’t had a ‘proper’ Christmas since that Christmas was another thing I loved that got taken away from me undeservingly and unwillingly.  I don’t get the wrapped gifts anymore, I don’t get to sit round a decorated tree and listen to the Queen’s speech (though admittedly that might be the thing I miss least!), I don’t feel the spirit of Christmas anymore.

My dad always says that Christmas is for children, so maybe as an adult I shouldn’t care or I should feel that it was only natural that Christmas should be cancelled as there’s no one younger in the family that celebrated Christmas together than me and I’m all growed up.  I disagree with my father.  Christmas isn’t for children.  It’s for family.  It’s for togetherness.  It is for home.  Just because members of the family who died naturally first are gone does not mean the world shuts down and what makes the living happy dies along with them.  If it did, wouldn’t the world be a depressing place?

I may sound callous, but I am one of the most unfeeling people, so I’ve been told, concerning death and sympathy for bereaved.  My motto is that people die and that’s the natural order of things.  I’ve felt grief but I have not the constitution or the mindset to let it claim me or take things away from me.  The most I have ever felt and constantly feel to this day concerning grief and the death of someone loved is that my godbrother died when he was only just out of school close to Christmas and I never met him but if he had not died I doubt my godparents would be my godparents.  So, the only thing I ever think is that if I could I would swap with him.  I never met him but the amount I love my godparents and their son and his family, I would do anything to spare them from losing such a valued member of their family, whereas if I could, I would gladly sell my wretched soul to the devil if he sent Tim back to his family.  You can tell from all the photos and painting of him that there was brightness and happiness in his soul, and he was taken before his time, whereas my soul is black as pitch and I’m still here to miss Christmas and lose my sanity bit by bit.  Why should I be here suffering when I so wish sometimes that I could be put out of my misery and many people could benefit from someone much better and much more loved than me taking my place on an earth that to him, I’m sure, would have been full of glee and unknown contentment?  And Christmases with his family…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!  The point was that I feel things so differently from others because somewhere along my brain broke, that my feelings about the dead are so warped and confused that I hold the unknown dead so dear in my heart but cannot wrap my head around how the death of my grandparents resulted in the death of Christmas.

At Christmas time, the world is bombarded through social media with photos of happy celebrations and times spent with the family.  There are, naturally, instances where Christmas is a time of sadness and grief and loneliness as it has become for me, but usually pictorial evidence of that state of mind during the Yuletide rarely makes it onto the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Actually, though the idea of suicides being more common in the Christmas holidays is shown to be a myth (see the links to the CDC report), as it has been found that the summer months actually see higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than the winter.  However, for Christmas to be no more a time when I wonder why the hell I’m on this planet, traditional Christmases like I remember when I was in my formative years would have to resume.  I tried to make a go of it and force it myself, for who can you blame if you don’t make an effort yourself, yet I having Christmas in a student property in Exeter was almost twice as depressing because I actually plucked up the courage to invest my heart in it.  That was the last time I even contemplated trying to resuscitate the Ghost of Christmas Past and accept that what my Ghost of Christmas Future was showing me was a lifetime’s supply of Christmases travelling and forgetting that December 25th has any significance whatsoever.

Last year, I went to Morocco for the Christmas holidays on an Explore tour and as an Islamic country I saw maybe two Christmas trees maximum.  There was no atmosphere of the holiday at all and weirdly I loved it.  On Christmas Day itself, we arrived in Rabat and the Holiday Blues were starting to get to me a bit so I left the group for a day and explored the city on my own in my “Frozen” t-shirt with Olaf on the front saying “I like warm hugs”.  That was the only Christmassy element of that trip but I thought about what other families back home were doing and enjoying together and it made me realise I will never stop looking for that.  One day, I won’t have to save up to go travelling the Silk Road or Jordan or Ethiopia.  One day, the only thing I’ll have to save up for is turkey with the fixings for a family of my own.  That is a day I’ll love, but it still gets me down that I’m about as close to getting that day as I am to getting to hold my son in my arms.

Just for information’s sake, here are some useful links to articles and reports concerning Christmas holiday suicide and suicide epidemiology in general:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040383/

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Suicide+Rates

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-07-2015

Up & Down on the Silver Screen

In honour of…oh, who am I kidding, it always seems to be Mental Health Week this or Awareness of Something Week, so in honour of every week of the year in which I suffer from my mental health issues and awareness of how broken my brain is, I have decided to dedicate a post to all the moments in TV I have found where it is a sad moment with a funny bit sneaked in or a comedy show with a moving and tear-jerking moment.  These moments on television do – up to a certain extent – epitomise how mood can go from ecstasy to the depths of despair and vice versa.  For example, as I have said previously, I have a theory that mentally ill people such as myself can never experience one moment of happiness, no matter how minuscule, without paying for it in full by experiencing at least double the amount of time in sheer agony that does not let up.  In short, when we are given that one, precious, fleeting moment WE DESERVE IT because we always know it’s not going to last…before we know it, it’ll be gone and we’ll remember how we didn’t deserve it in the first place.  What spurred this article is what happened yesterday.  I am so close to the end of a 3-year BA that has taken me 4 years because my first attempt at second year was such a calamity.  Yet, a spanner was thrown in the works yesterday when I received the mark of 70 on an essay and had just finished my final exam.  That was literally so great to feel smart and successful for the briefest of moments but then I got an essay that I worked my ass off for which was marked as a 42.  I had been told that the marker was harsh and had upset other students with the unfair grades given, but because I let myself get high on my first-class essay for the smallest of moments, I felt the plummet all the more sharply.  I’m still reeling a bit from that, though not going off my medication would be a step in the right direction, but what made me certain I would write this article is the series finale of Spartacus: War of the Damned, which I have just cried my way through.  When Spartacus finally dies, that was not the sadness that gave me an outlet, but instead I have felt so much throughout the show: love, hate, excitement, pride and laughter, that I’m sorry to have reached the end of another piece of media that left broken little Pippa behind in the sand and let Agron (yes, I found another character to disappear into!) takeover, to the point where when he was crucified – but survived, thank God – I began to shake uncontrollably as if some of the pain was in my brain and able to be felt by me.  That is how far I can leave Pippa behind when her life goes to crap.  Even shadows of Agron’s pain felt with nails in his palms is preferable to the pain that Pippa undergoes everyday but especially when it all goes tits up.

So, that got me to thinking about what moments in television history have elicited a similar response.  Therefore, I’ve decided to share my findings with you!

  • Agron’s Crucifixion (for those who might like to watch it)

  • Rodney and Cassandra’s baby (a truly tragic moment in one of the funniest comedies ever broadcast)
  • Death of Solan (for a strong woman to experience the death of her unknown child and completely fall to pieces in an otherwise light-hearted show had my poor heart on a piece of elastic)

  • Chuck crying and Blair goes from happy to sad (it is Blair’s pain that is of note to me in this…going from the happiness of her mom’s wedding to her future husband crying over the “death” of his father…rollercoaster much?)

  • Klaus is reunited with his daughter (I don’t actually watch The Originals except in clips but this broke my heart…)

  • Atia’s heartbreak (another strong woman brought low, yet Atia’s truly naive feelings that bring her such emotional pain in a show about blood, sex and politics shock, but in the finale you see her hardened by her broken heart and rise from the ashes of the woman who loved Antony)

  • Ianto Jones dies while Jack cannot (in the comedic spin-off to Doctor WhoTorchwood, Ianto and Jack are a funny yet awkward pairing, but Ianto dying by breathing is so heart-wrenching in a dark series in all the light-hearted ones but still a blow nevertheless)

  • Daniel realises who Vala truly is (in the final episode of all 10 seasons of Stargate: SG-1 my favourite character for her very bipolar nature springing from abuse and assault finally gets her man when he insults her enough for her to break her walls down and he sees beyond them…would that all men could)

  • “Bad Timing” (in this episode that serves as sheer proof that a good moment must be paid for in full by an equally or greater bad moment(s), star-crossed lovers – literally – get together and are broken apart within seconds…story of my frelling life!)

This is just a snapshot of moments like these, and I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on them and watching them unfold.  Stay tuned at La Bella Borgia Speaks!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

14-05-2015

The Day My Heart Broke

As you will have realised by now, this is the place where I share my darkest and innermost secrets and memories and experiences.  I have written of my virginity, my mental health illnesses, and the demise of my family and the dashing of the majority of my dreams.  So now I am going to share a very poignant and traumatic memory as I have currently gone off my pills in a social experiment to prove – somewhat self-destructively – to my mother that every time she takes away my tablets or chides me for taking them or the like, she is more or less instructing me or relegating me to suicidal tendencies and periods of severe and excruciatingly painful depression.  This memory came to mind particularly as I am getting a tattoo on the day after my birthday which has the date when my heart was broken irreparably.  29th May 2013.

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart design by Ellie Hall

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart tattoo design by Ellie Hall

So, as you can see from that date I survived it and have resigned myself to an unhealed heart and a life without the love of a partner.  People have called me weak, lazy, sensitive, crazy and a plethora of other negative and hurtful things over the years, but I may be all of those things (from time-to-time!) but my one redeeming aspect is that I am still here, I’m still fighting and I try every day to convince myself that driving a knife through my ugly body (seriously, I could be a study on physiognomy!) is a bad idea.

Many people with depression and other mental health difficulties fall when conversations like the one I’m about to share with all of you – and I hope you’ll read it with an open mind, as usual – occur, but I put myself out there and opened my breast to the dagger that was thrust into it.  I asked for it and though before I was dealt an almost fatal blow (I won’t lie, my emotions in the aftermath of the final part were all over the place and in the time directly after I read it all, my death was not far off) I am now glad I was told the truth so candidly.  For, although the 29th was one of the worst days of my life, in the beginning of June ’13 I had no false hope where the love of my life was concerned.  Yes, I still call him the love of my life because he is and will always be but now I do not live in the expectation of my feelings being mutual or reciprocated in any way.  I am content just still to be as much a part of his life as he’ll permit me to be.  So, when in films and television shows and books, some hero or heroine professes that they’ll be content just to be friends or a part of each other’s lives (Angel and Cordelia spring to mind initially…), most of them end up giving in to their feelings or someone inevitably will come round, the reality is that sometimes that just doesn’t happen and the heroine is left on her own and the hero finds his true love.  David Copperfield in this way is a fairytale, for in real life, Agnes would never get her David and the family she has with him.

Now, I guess I should stop stalling and writing about age-old books and Cordelia again and actually speak about Pippa.  This blog, after all, is called LaBellaBorgia Speaks and that’s me.  So please dig in to the following online conversation (so don’t worry about me recalling it all accurately or with exaggeration).


I know I’ve been distant lately and I feel I owe you an explanation, one which I am ashamed to admit I am too much of a coward to give you in person.  Please do read this in its entirety though I fear it will be lengthy because I do, more than anything and with no melodrama, wish you to know everything I have been feeling for years, which I have kept hidden, but I can’t anymore because to put it quite simply, it’s killing me.
I have always had few friends and God knows I can’t keep a new friend to save my life and understand me fully when I tell you that I seldom leave my house or flat if it is not with family or you.  To me you are my family and that fact has plagued me more than it has consoled me, for it has been apparent to me for some time (and I do not intend to be harsh, I merely say what is true) that I see you as vital to my existence, whereas I am not as important to you, which is the result of either you simply having more friends or it is because I am not the kind of person who can be needed to carry on each day, as you are to me.
I know my shortcomings.  I am difficult to know, needy, intolerant, deceitful and a whole host of other things and I know I exasperate you, but know that I could and would give anything for you and some of the most frightening night terrors I have are ones in which you leave me and I can do nothing to stop it.  That is the thing that frightens me most and so I hope you can grasp how hard it is for me to make this confession.
Recently I had lost my faith in the God who has kept me alive so far, yet when it seemed that something supplanted that faith I was confused.  It was the realisation that I believe in something much more powerful and much more personal than God and that is the power of you, me & x.  The belief I had that our friendship would be the strength of my life and the love that I clung to above all others was misguided, I see that now, because I expected too much.  I hoped you would be as devoted to me as I am to you two, but I overlooked a few things:  I am a woman and my nature is to be devoted (I did not get Materfamilias tattooed on my right arm for my own enjoyment); you two have so much more to live for than do I; as a woman, I am inclined to see others’ feelings and you two have never truly been privy to my own.
What I am about to say here has the potential to shake our friendship to its core and possibly to tear it down, but I am willing at this point to risk all (yes, I have been watching The Borgias too much!).  It pertains particularly to you.  I have never been particularly discreet about the fact that I love you and as more than a friend, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually said that to you.  I do not confess this with any spirit of hope that my feeling are returned or may ever be, in fact it would please me greatly if you never loved me ever.  I would never want to ruin your kind, trusting and lovely soul, which is what I would do to it were you ever to allow me to and that would break my heart and spirit.  I feel so much for you that when you hurt and your nature doesn’t permit you to hold a grudge or bear ill will then I hate for the breaking of my own heart and then for yours.  The months after you and Lily hurt me in a way more than the months when you wanted her and that – believe me – is saying something.  The only and I mean the only reason I tell you this now is so that you understand the very heart of me and why I have done what I have.  When I couldn’t have you, I went after someone else and now I have terrifying flashbacks that have on occasion led to sedation and I’m not pinning blame, it was above all my own fault, but I settled and in doing so I made sure I would never be able to love anyone else but you.  I have spent years of my life learning you: what you eat, what you drink, how you feel and think, so that I can feel as though I am the one person who knows you above all even though I know that’s not true.  When you tell me that we can’t hang out, the thought that immediately falls into my paranoid mind is that I have done something wrong and I am hurt much like a girlfriend would be.  I know I’ll never be that to you, but I would ask that you don’t shut me out because of what I’ve just told you and know that every time you do my heart sort of breaks.


Well that certainly is a lot to go through, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of guts to say all of that, it really does, and I respect that very much honestly. I don’t think I could do the same.

I guess I don’t really know exactly how to respond, I’m no expert at this stuff, but here goes. First off, I must admit I’ve known that you liked me as more than a friend for some time, and I do think, through nobody’s fault, it has caused something of a wedge between the two of us. This is not your fault, I know that when you like someone, no matter who they are or how ridiculous it seems, you can’t help it. You just do. And that’s totally fine. And I am only sorry that I don’t feel the same way. In a way, I do partially blame myself for this, perhaps it would have been the mature thing to tell you I didn’t feel the same way years ago, but for whatever reason, I didn’t, and I’m sorry for that. I love you like a sister, and that is God’s honest truth.
I also feel partially responsible for how, and it does feel this way, that we’ve drifted apart in recent times. I can’t make excuses, I think it is just, unlike both you and x, I am not someone to who emotion comes easily. I’m not good at expressing emotions, in fact I’m rather embarrassed by it, and so it is true that I sometimes choose to hang out with people who, like me, do not deal with things emotionally. Call it a cheap move, it’s just the way I feel sometimes, I’d rather avoid issues than solve them, and that isn’t fair. I feel I owe you an apology for several years of that.
But there’s one other thing you need to know, and that is that none of this will force us apart. I think this stream of confessions, bearing the soul and all that, will help bring us back to a kind of harmony that seems to have gone missing. We’ll all know where we stand, as such. Pippa, you are the older sister I never had, and though I’m afraid I do not see you in a different light, and that isn’t going to change, I would not want to be without you. I would say to you, and I accept how empty the words can sound, that you shouldn’t shut yourself off from people. You can make friends, I have seen it, even if you do find it hard, and you deserve to find someone special more than anyone I know. I accept it’s hard, and I do not expect you to change that overnight, but there’s a whole world for you out there, you just need to explore it, and I only wish you could. And now we’ve all laid our cards on the table, I have every faith that it’ll clear things up. There’ll be no more need to feel awkward or smoke and mirrors. We know how all three of us feels, in all honestly, and we can accept that as the way things are. I have every faith it’ll only make the three of us better friends.
So uh, I guess, that is me, doing my best at talking about stuff. I hope everything made sense. And hope to see you both soon


I’m now crying so hard I can barely see through my glasses, but it’s so worth me reading all that again.  It’s so cathartic for me.  I will just say that I know most of you readers will have no clue who this is, but I fear, that despite my preventative efforts, some of my acquaintances will surmise to whom I was talking, so please – for ME – keep the confidence of LaBellaBorgia Speaks, as he doesn’t read it and I doubt he ever will, but it’s where my soul and heart lies now.  It’s a broken heart but it beats here and thrives in the honesty and true life I can’t find away from the blogosphere.

I will say this final thing…I took some of his advice that day.  I have travelled and will carry on travelling the world searching for something to fill the void that is in my heart.  To name but the most memorable: I have seen the ruins of Carthage, inhaled the tanneries of Fes, glimpsed the Misty Mountains, felt Apollo’s sun beating down on me in Delphi, drunk Jack Daniel’s in Piazza San Pietro and watched the sunrise where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet.  That was good advice and when I spend the summer in the USA and January ’16 in Tuscany, I’ll be following orders, but one thing I would say now again is that to wish me on someone else and to want me to spend my life unhappy trying to love someone else with a heart that is not mine to give away is worse than what my mother does when she tells me to stop taking the tablets that keep knives in the kitchen and out of my bedroom.  What my mother does is condemn me to a painful, self-inflicted death, but what the love of my life does – unwittingly, as ever – is condemn me to a painful, living death that would be drawn out and have not one…but two victims.

That is something I’m not strong enough or malicious enough to survive or inflict on someone else and I’m so glad of that.  It means that tomorrow will be better and that I’m keeping someone else’s heart safe even when mine has been so amicably crucified.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

25-02-2015

The Madness, Misery & Mourning of Motherhood

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/charlotte-bevan-mum-found-dead-4758275

charlotte-bevan-mi_3126028c


In the light of this article and having written a lot about how I have to be a mother, not to mention a single mother with mental health issues, I would just like to put this out there as a memoriam to this poor young lady and her child.  All it would have taken was one human to remember that they were one to save her life.  To me, Charlotte Bevan’s tragic death is more of a national crisis than all of the poor souls in the world wars (and I’m not diminishing their sacrifice) put together, as the deaths from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 had an entire nation to mourn them and remember their sacrifice for democracy, their country and their families, but Ms Bevan’s death will most likely fall into oblivion or recalled in part and pithily as a story that people who suffer from mental health issues recall when they have children.

She deserves better than that.  Her daughter deserves better than that.  Her family and friends deserve better than that.

I won’t forget and this I will remember.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

08-12-2014

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Pippa, Penny Dreadful

I have encountered another gripping and wonderfully gothic television show called Penny Dreadful.  This blog post was not supposed to come before one about speech day at my alma mater but during episode five entitled “Closer Than Sisters”, which serves as an origins-flashback episode that comes vaguely mid-series.  I have no wish to spoil this series for anyone (as everyone should give it a go!) but I have a host of topics and feelings on a sheet of A4 beside me here that I would like to approach and unravel through the medium of this fantastic (in every meaning of the word), entrancing and erotic period drama.

The foremost item on my list is perhaps the most detached, but can also be construed as the most integral to the reason why Penny Dreadful has so entrammelled me: namely, the actress Eva Green.  I have long admired her work and the ethereal presence with which she imbues her films.  Ever since I saw Marlene Jobert’s daughter (yes, she is!) in Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven in which she plays the Queen of Jerusalem, Sibylla, her talent has led me to actively seek out feature films and programmes in which she stars.  Thus have I watched CamelotThe Golden CompassCasino Royale and Dark Shadows.  In all these roles, she plays mysterious and complex women all of whom have a distinct magical quality, whether it be literal or figurative, and are unlike the loud and cliched lead females to which we have grown accustomed in western cinema. She is the leading lady who smiles rather than grins, floats rather than glides and is unconventionally beautiful rather than in-your-face attractive.  Can you tell I’m a little bit in love with her?

Her character in Penny Dreadful – Miss Vanessa Ives – moves through the crowds of Victorian, Jack the Ripper London analysing and observing the throng around her, not simply avoiding it or following it like a sheep.  This is something I am wont to do more often than not.  I choose to exist beyond the crowd and watch people interact rather than be an active party myself.  It gives me more enjoyment and more power and control over myself than people who merely wend their way through life, unable to notice but ever willing to ignore.  That is all I will give you concerning her background in the show…the rest is up to you to discover as you watch the series yourself!

In this episode featuring flashbacks and Vanessa Ives’ and Sir Malcolm’s (played by Timothy Dalton) origin stories, as a viewer I witnessed a young girl who grew into a young lady much like myself who had to battle with insanity and the loss of her friends, her family but most of all, her mental wellbeing in the early years of adulthood.  The core reason for her disintegration lies in her relationship with her best friend, Mina Murray, and how as the pair mature, it dawns on her that life and marriage will cart her bosom friend away and she will be left behind in the shadows to a life she cannot have and doesn’t desire.  Every cruel action, thought and emotion she has stems from the innate need not to be abandoned by a friend who is more like a sister to her.  I can understand that.  The moments when Vanessa questions herself and viewers observe her growing cruel and callous, are intensely familiar to me and just as I understand (from my parents and extended family) that I used to be a sweet child who grew and changed into a colder and manipulative adult, I felt myself get pulled into her narrative.

The codependency that exists between Vanessa and Mina is similar to the one that keeps me attached in heart and mind, if not body, to my two best friends who are – like Mina – slipping away and flourishing in their twenties, while I languish and struggle to make it from one day to the next without scarring my left wrist further.  They are my lifeblood, my everything and they are the brothers I wasn’t given by blood.  As they forge new friendships, get girlfriends and experience what life has to offer them, they need me less and less and forget that I need them more and more.  I remember in my last few years at school I used to constantly ask if they would forget me when they both went off to the same university, not because I wanted the affirmation that they would do no such thing but because the greatest fear I have, more than dying and being barren, is that they will fade from my life and I will fade from theirs like a memory of a person that once meant something but now is just a name at the bottom of an unappreciated Christmas card on the mantle once a year.  It is this fear that utterly grips my mind and heart that leads me to do the most cruel and inexplicably immoral things to ensure that no matter how low I sink or how high they reach, I will always be there and they will always have me.  Vanessa’s action was to seduce Mina’s fiance on the last night before their nuptials to stop them from going to India.  She gets her comeuppance in her madness and relegation to an asylum.  My misdeed was to cling too hard and too fast to my “brothers” and in so doing, I wrecked something that took decades in the forming and is now irreparable.  Vanessa mentions how she will never be able to forgive herself for her sins and I echo the sentiment.

Furthermore, there is that part of you that is desirous of having those upon whom you depend remain with you and forever yours, but the prevalent part of people like Vanessa and myself that causes us to harm those we love is jealousy.  There is something in us, in our very souls, that cannot abide the notion that someone – or something – else can divert you from us.  It’s selfish, I know, but when you have as little as we do, the parable of the poor man’s lamb seems oddly appropriate.

“You could know love, you could know a man’s touch, while I, the courageous one, know nothing of life” – Vanessa

Vanessa says this and in all its eloquence does manage to express that primordial feeling of envy and sorrow that I feel on a daily basis.  They are the words of one who does watch the world pass them by, is losing those they care for most, is being left behind.  They are the words of someone prepared to do anything to avoid feeling that ultimate sense of loss, despair and depression.  Vanessa does that and so do I in every action and in every thought.  I cheat and I manipulate and I know that no matter how much I try to improve and get better, depression and a desire to have my family about me will never let those anxieties and wrongdoings cease.

Left: Vanessa Ives as a young woman; Right: Vanessa Ives in a mental institution

Left: Vanessa Ives as a young woman; Right: Vanessa Ives in a mental institution (Eva Green, Penny Dreadful 1×05)

“How I envied you…perhaps I even hated you” – Vanessa

The crux of the matter is that envy can turn to hatred which in turn leads us lost souls straight down the path to abject insanity.  It is the last aspect of the journey that is the most painful and therefore the hardest to leave behind and escape.  This arduous journey is shown in Ives’ face, for without the toil and passion inherent in mental and emotional upheaval how can the girl on the left be reduced to the shell of a woman on the right?  After episodes of seizures, catatonia and apparent possessions by demonic entities, she is committed to an asylum in London by her mother and father.  There she is subjected to hydrotherapy, lobotomy and straitjackets.  I will say this: I have trouble watching love scenes on television but up until recently, with this program and if I am completely honest, which I do endeavour to be on this blog, Ripper Street (in episode 2×02), I have experienced spasms and intense physical reactions to images of extreme treatments for mental health patients.  Even though patients are under ether for lobotomies during this period, I surprised myself by convulsing as the drill bored into Vanessa’s skull.  Those occurred sporadically during the sequence, however, when she was suffering through hydrotherapy (something that I believe was dreamed up by a person worse than Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer combined!) the convulsions were consistent and constant.  I have nightmares where I dream that my friends and family have me committed like that to save themselves the bother of having to deal with me and my downright problematic existence.  As Sir Malcolm points out: cruel little girls can break families, which is something I seem to have a distinct aptitude for…and so, it is the easiest thing in the world for this cruel little girl to imagine being lobotomised and blasted with a seemingly unending powerful stream of water or held down in an ice water bath just to get her out of society and away from people whose souls she can destroy.  Although the rational part of me is perfectly aware that such backwards and savage methods are no longer applied in modern medicine, as I said before, that part is easily overwhelmed by any iota of mania and suddenly it seems entirely plausible in the dreamscape to be subjected to those horrors by apparent loved ones.

So, you have probably gleaned from that spiel that watching this particular episode of Penny Dreadful was a bit like cycling round the country on a Penny Farthing but it is actually immensely comforting for someone like me who struggles to leave the confines of her bedroom and who feels that any friends she has are slowly but surely leaving her behind to see such a similar character on a TV show.  Much like I hope this blog lets others know that basket cases exist somewhere who are either experiencing the same (or similar) things in life to other sufferers from mental health disorders, so does TV and film as a media allow everyone in general to understand that what may be going on in reality is not that big a stretch for someone’s imagination.  Then, what is imagined can swiftly become reality to someone and all of a sudden, you’re not alone sitting at your computer typing away in the hope that someone will hear you next time you’re weeping or that you’ll find someone who just won’t leave you alone.   It’s all about what you see and more poignantly, what you can envision for yourself.  I haven’t yet got to the end of season one of Penny Dreadful but I want to know just what awaits my compatriot, Miss Vanessa Ives, so I can see how my own story might play out.

Sorry if this seems a little haphazard in tone and structure, but to be frank, that does reflect the rollercoaster of feelings I am currently experiencing, so what the hell, call it a metaphor!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

09-07-2014