You may call me Pandora.
I’m a woman in my late twenties from Northern Ireland. Over a decade ago, at the age of 14, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, and I have been floating about in the mental health systems of both the NHS and the private sector with an interesting on-off pattern ever since. Given the title of this blog, it will perhaps not surprise you to learn that I have suffered from insomnia, presumably related to my mental health difficulties, essentially for most of this time.
More recently, I also developed social anxiety, and even more recently again (2009), I was given the primary diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, with a secondary diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type II. As time went on, the already un-delightful BPD nonsense received a “with psychotic and dissociative features” specifier.
But the diagnonsense trail doesn’t end there, oh no! As fragmented and repressed memories of sexual abuse began to surface in therapy, I realised that Imet most of the proposed criteria for the diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, something with which my psychiatrist agrees.
Ergo, I believe my current standing in the world of psychiatry is this: *deep intake of breath* borderline personality disorder and complex post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotic and dissociative features, clinical depression, social anxiety and bipolar II. *gasps for air*
Given the above preamble, it will not surprise you to learn that this blog is mainly about my mental ill health. Why? It’s mainly for my own benefit, really, though I am very pleased that a number of others seem to have taken something from the babble I spout here. I have a constant need to self-analyse, and though I am quite demonstrably not presently in control of my life, I always feel that I should be. My hope has always been that in committing some of my experiences, deepest thoughts etc to (electronic) paper, I will obtain some catharsis and deeper understanding of my multitude of issues. I am also wont to forget material, especially in psychotherapy sessions, which is why you will find I go into hilariously pedantic detail before my memories are consigned to the dark recesses of history.
Secondly, I am so sick of the stigma that permeates society in relation to mental ill health. There is a perception, I think, that people suffering from the various illnesses that come under that umbrella term are attention-seeking, dangerous, evil, twisted, whatever. I hope the blog provides some insight and education into my conditions and into therapy; nobody chooses to be mental. Why would you want to spend every single day filled with despair and fear, agitation and self-disgust? And yet – it becomes part of us, so much so that we scarcely know what we’d do without it…and whilst I’m not exactly proud of being a mentalist, I am certainly not ashamed.
I do feel the need add a disclaimer here though – aside from the fact that I am currently filled with self-loathing and disgust, I hate political correctness and airy-fairy nonsense. Thus I am quite likely to criticise my being insane, or employ hyperbole in regards to it. This is probably actually demonstrative of my mental illness, negative thinking and lack of control over my life, and thus should not be taken as a suggestion that I rationally think being mentally ill is something to be criticised. It is not.
Disclaimer two: I curse (and curse strongly) all the time. If that offends you, I would suggest that you don’t read the blog – or if you really want to, please don’t rant at me about it! 😉
I write here anonymously (a small few know my identity, but mostly not). This was not through choice (see this post); given the nature of some of the material I produce on this blog, there are quite a number of personnel that require the protection that writing under a pseudonym hopefully affords. No. Not my choice. If I had it my way, I’d splatter my real name all over this site, posting dozens of daft pictures of myself breaking Confessions at its bloggy seams. But, for now at least, it is not to be.
Having said that, it is worth adding some other facts about myself, for contextual reference if nothing else (you can get more information here):
- I am a double graduate, though I won’t say in what as it’s a fairly minority subject that could possibly identify me. Both my degree and my postgraduate course were a waste of time and money.
- I lost my most recent job in late 2009, owing to my most recent breakdown. I had been absent for over a year, so the dismissal was fair. Before my psychological collapse, I essentially co-ordinated the communication and daily running of an entire department..but my job title and certainly my salary did not in any way reflect that. My employers and colleagues were not bad to work, but some of the personnel management of my absence showed them up not to be as perfect as they may like to suggest. Anyway, I am presently surviving financially on Employment and Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance from the government. Believe me, I am not proud of this in any way.
- I am not your typical woman. In fact, although I am in principle a feminist (though not a misandrist – there really is a difference folks), I actually generally don’t get on especially well with women (in real life, at least). All my close friends, and most of my better acquaintances, are male. I absolutely abhor tactility and demonstrations of emotion that other females seem so fond of. I am aware of the hideous generalisation of that statement, but it is a stereotype based to some degree on observation.
- Anyhow, I’m into sci-fi, football (Newcastle sodding United for my sins), violent video games and rock and metal music. Queen is my favourite band, but I also love Metallica, Nightwish, Meat Loaf, G n R, Bon Jovi etc etc etc. I don’t much like children and I don’t give a flying fuck about shopping or any of that cal. I do love reading and writing, but it is hard to get motivated to involve one’s self in these pursuits whilst in the midst of a borderline strop or bipolar mixed state, given the concentration and focus required. However, my favourite books would be A Clockwork Orange, The Gormenghast Trilogy, The Day of the Triffids and the entire series of Adrian Mole diaries.
- Personal characteristics – extreme cynicism and pessimism; intelligence; sometimes arrogance though this is almost certainly an elaborate defence mechanism to cover my actual self-hate; misanthropy; my partner and some readers here tell me I can be witty though I’ll leave that for you to decide yourself; narcissism – it’s a love/hate relationship that I share with myself, I assure you; at times manic, at times delusional, at times scared, anxious and depressed, all times me – though ‘Me’ spends a considerable amount of time in an internal fantasy world. This ‘world’ is like a stream-of-consciousness unwritten novel in my head. I am fully aware at present that this extreme day dreaming is nothing other than fiction, but have always been concerned that ultimately it could become my reality. My psychotherapist opines that this is just a more intense version of what many people experience on a daily basis (ie. daydreaming), and he knows what he is talking about – nevertheless, it does seem pretty weird to me.
Briefly, there are seven main things that I can think of off the top of my head that contribute(d) to my becoming completely mad:
- Father’s desertion of me when I was a tiny child, and his remarkable ability to sustain that until his death 20 years later.
- The fact that said father spent the 20 years prior to my birth raping, trying to kill and beating the fuck out of my mother (and the alcoholism that fuelled it).
- Child sexual abuse by a family member. Until recently, I believed this was ‘limited’ to a rape and some less serious abuse such as inappropriate touching. However, the exploration in therapy of fragmented memories and flashbacks have now taught me that this was full-blown child sexual abuse – systematic, long-term and serious.
- A very elaborate and twisted lie fed to me in my first real romantic relationship.
- Being bullied at school and the desolation I experienced in that environment.
- Unresolved issues of grief relating to the death of my beloved grandfather (presumably the main father figure in my life until he died).
- Complete unfulfillment and disillusionment in terms of my career.
The above is a very cursory analysis; I am sure if I sat down and thought about it I could think of more stuff, and I’m no psychologist so am not even sure how much or how little the above facts impact on my life. But rational, objective thinking seems to dictate that they are the key issues.
If you’d like to know more about the woman behind the writer, check this out.
I do not exist in a bubble, much as I sometimes might like to, and thus often write about those that exist in my social group. You can read details on my life’s ensemble of characters here.
I will end this mammoth narcissism now. Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave comments on any post I make. I am intrigued to hear the views of others.