17 Books To Read For World Mental Health Day

Hey Pals,

Today is World Mental Health Day and I wanted to make this my last book recommendation collab of 2021. With a mixture of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, there is something for almost everyone. We tried to gather a selection of books with a variety of representation. Anxiety, Depression and Eating Disorders saturate publishing as ‘acceptable’ and ‘glamorous’ mental illnesses to have. Whilst we know that isn’t true, and all three are very difficult to deal with, I wanted to give my love to other conditions but found it a bit of a struggle to really find representation in books I hadn’t read. My list includes: Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Grief/Loss, Addiction/Alcohol Dependence, Eating Disorders, Gender related Dysphoria and mental health struggles. I would love to find more books around OCD, BPD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and other heavily demonised conditions, so if you know of any please leave the recommendation in the comments!

Go check out the other collaborators: Aisling of ThisDreamsAlive, Lauren of Splint Up Look Sharp, Angel of Avid Reader, Riyah of Riyah Speaks.

~

This post contains affiliate links, using my links to purchase these books supports me, the authors and indie bookshops!

We Can Do Better Than This by Amelia Abraham: We talk about achieving ‘LGBTQ+ equality’, but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive? In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they present a powerful manifesto for how – together – we can start to create a better future. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver: When Liam Cooper’s older brother Ethan is killed in a hit-and-run, Liam has to not only learn to face the world without one of the people he loved the most, but also face the fading relationship with his two best friends. Feeling more alone and isolated than ever, Liam finds themself sharing time with Marcus, Ethan’s best friend, and through Marcus, Liam finds the one person that seems to know exactly what they’re going through, for the better, and the worse. This book is about grief. But it’s also about why we live. Why we have to keep moving on, and why we should. GoodReads.

The Brown Sisters trilogy by Talia Hibbert: Specifically Take A Hint, Dani Brown but all touch upon mental health topics. Author GoodReads here. Buy Here and support me too!

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Check out my a little spooky a little gay watch list from last October!

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher: Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of ) with the crazy truth that is her life in her first-ever memoir. In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of “Hollywood in-breeding,” come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen. Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It’s an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty—Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher—homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandised on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher: Fisher beautifully brings readers the inside of Hollywood through a web of humor, drugs, relationships, Hollywood Party Terror, and much more. The plot centers on a 30-year-old actress named Suzanne Vale, and follows her challenges as she overcomes her drug addiction, gets back into the swing of things, and falls in love, sort of. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Biting Anorexia: A Firsthand Account of an Internal War by Lucy Howard Taylor: So begins Biting Anorexia, an extraordinary account of a teenage girl’s descent into the tortured existence of anorexia and her arduous, remarkable recovery. Much of this unflinchingly candid memoir is ripped directly from the pages of author Lucy Howard-Taylor’s diary as she struggled with the torturous condition, offering a rare glimpse into the thoughts and fears that grip the minds of those struggling with anorexia, the most fatal of all psychiatric illnesses. Tinged with a wicked sense of humor, Lucy’s beautifully written, penetrating insights capture the overpowering anxiety that comes with anorexia and reveal the challenge of recovery. This courageous and compelling story will inspire and support those troubled with the condition, and their family and friends, the world over. GoodReads.

Hungry by Crystal Renn: An inspiring and cautionary tale for women of all ages, Hungry is an uplifting memoir with a universal message about body image, beauty and self-confidence. GoodReads.

check out my non-fiction TBR blog post!

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown. Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself? GoodReads.

The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read by Phillipa Perry: The most influential relationships are between parents and children. Yet for so many families, these relationships go can wrong and it may be difficult to get back on track. In The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad that You Did), renowned psychotherapist Philippa Perry shows how strong and loving bonds are made with your children and how such attachments give a better chance of good mental health, in childhood and beyond. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

WinterGirls by Laurie Halse Anderson: Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in fragile bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the thinnest. But then Cassie suffers the ultimate loss—her life—and Lia is left behind, haunted by her friend’s memory, and feeling guilty for not being able to help save her. In her most powerfully moving novel since Speak, award-winning author, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s struggle, her painful path to recovery, and her desperate attempts to hold on to the most important thing of all—hope. GoodReads.

Madness, Distress and the Politics of Disablement by Helen Spandler: This book explores the challenges of applying disability theory and policy, including the social model of disability, to madness and distress. It brings together leading scholars and activists from Europe, North America, Australia, and India, to explore the relationship between madness, distress, and disability. Whether mental health problems should be viewed as disabilities is a pressing concern, especially since the inclusion of psychosocial disability in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This book will appeal to policy makers, practitioners, activists, and academics. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Check out my a little spooky and a little gay reading recs video for October!

The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk: Ironically, I’ve heard this writer was also abusive I’ll attach some links if I find them but I recommend buying this book second hand if possible. Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Such experiences inevitably leave traces on minds, emotions, and even on biology. Sadly, trauma sufferers frequently pass on their stress to their partners and children. Renowned trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it literally rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Gender Trauma by Alex Iantaffi: Exploring how the essentialism of the gender binary impacts on clients of all genders, this ground-breaking book examines how historical, social and culturally gendered trauma emerges in clinical settings. Weaving together systemic ideas, autoethnography, narrative therapy and somatic experiencing, the book charts the history of the gender binary and its roots in colonialism, as well as the way this culture is perpetuated intergenerationally, and the impact this trauma has on all bodies, gender identities and experiences. Featuring clinical vignettes, exercises and reflexive practices, this is an accessible and intersectional guide for professionals to develop their understanding of gender-derived trauma for supporting clients. Highlighting the importance of applying a trauma-informed approach in practice, this book provides insights as to how we can work towards collective healing, for future generations and for ourselves. GoodReads. Buy Here and support me too!

Books by Alice Oseman: from the Heartstopper graphic novels, to her novels, all have topics of mental health and illness. Radio Silence, Solitaire, I Was Born For This. The Author’s GoodReads Here.

Heartstopper: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…? Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner… Buy Here and support me too!

Radio Silence: What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong? Frances has been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she’s unafraid to be herself. So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared… Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has. Engaging with themes of identity, diversity and the freedom to choose, Radio Silence is a tour de force by the most exciting writer of her generation. Buy Here and support me too!

Solitaire: In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story. My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now. Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden. I really don’t. Buy Here and support me too!

I Was Born For This: For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world. Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare. Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be. Buy Here and support me too!

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I hope you enjoyed reading this recommendations list, please check out my other themed recommendations lists here: books by trans and nonbinary writers, disabled neurodivergent and chronically ill authors, nonfiction LGBTQ+ books. Don’t forget to check out the other collaborators in this series. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Twitch, and follow the blog. Check out and consider supporting my Kofi. And all linked books are using my affiliate links, you can support me, the authors and indie bookshops using my links!

~ Artie

they/them

I’m changing how I do things for a while

Hi pals

I’ve been talking about feeling uninspired for a while and even when I have ideas for posts, I find the motivation to actually create them isn’t there. I’ve been writing more for my WIP and the inspiration and motivation to do that is slim and far between, I don’t want to be trying to force myself to write for my blog and burn out on it and sabotage the progress I’m making on my WIP. So generally the plan is every two weeks will be a post on the blog rather than weekly for a while. I may not even do that depending on how I’m feeling. But the monotonous repetitive cycle that is my existence at the moment makes it hard to write for my blog when all I want to do is complain!

I’ve also been working on other side projects which has taken up time and energy. I’ve had two self tapes/auditions for small films I wanted to try and go for as the pandemic did get in my way. I started dipping my toes in the acting world again in late 2019. If you’d like to see some videos on my experience doing self tapes and auditions as a disabled and neurodiverse person, let me know! Sub to the channel and leave a comment on this video.

I’ve also had to focus more on my health again. I was meant to taper down 1mg of steroids every month but when we tried to go from 9 to 8 first time, I became very unwell within three days and had to go back up to 9 and it took me a while to feel better again. So we changed it to every two months we would try to taper 1mg and it’s that time again. Trying to make this easier on myself, I’ve been doing 8mg one day 9mg the next and onwards to try and make the transition a bit easier and less shocking to my body. I ended up changing it to 8.5mg for a few days (I’ve had to use my pill cutter for this) and I’m doing OKAY ISH and will go down another half in a few days to test the waters. I’ve also been more relaxed on my diet/how I’m eating to make sure I am not stressing my body further with food expectations or eating less than maintenance (my nutrition coach always reminded me that being in a calorie deficit will add stress onto your body, so I’m making sure I’m not in a deficit to not add extra stress on my body whilst trying to taper as that is stressful enough trust me) so I’m just trying to enjoy food, eat more nutrient dense foods like fruit (and veg when I can, I just like fruit a lot more lol) and eating foods I enjoy. Food has always been connected to emotions for me so eating the way I like for a week or so will also help reduce emotional stress. I’m planning on doing an updated What I Eat In A Day: 1 Year Pescatarian video so leave a comment on this video if you’d like to see that and hear about how I’ve been finding the change in my lifestyle.

I’m trying to remember to take my supplements more regularly as well!! Urgh, I’m so bad at remembering to take anything after my morning meds, I’ve been forgetting my evening pills as well and taking them later. I’ve also been taking more pain reduction precautions, using certain creams that are supposed to help (like biofreeze and CBD products) and taking an extra painkiller at night. I’m trying to keep up some weighted exercise as it helps reduce pain for me as well. I did film a few clips over my weekend which I’ll upload soon that will talk about a lot of this stuff and show you what kinds of weighted arm exercises I do etc.

My sleep has been out of whack since the time change (sound silly I know but I’ve read Neurodivergent people do struggle more with this so it makes sense) plus the steroid tapering, I’m pretty tired. I struggle to get to sleep before midnight coz it would have been 11pm before the hour change. Waking up at my usual 8:30 (sometimes 7:30 coz of the hour change) but struggling to stay awake, so some days I sleep an extra hour. I’ve had a few afternoon naps this week as well which is very unlike me. But as I’ve said, I’m doing what I can to just listen to what my body needs, it needs more rest/sleep at the moment and that’s fine.

Some of my upcoming videos planned are 1 year on Adalimumab (Amgevita) injections (check out the linked video for 6 month update), Gossip Girl reading vlog part 2 (the other half of the series, check out part one here), I’m going to continue watching Dawson’s Creek and vlogging each season, I’ve heard there’s a possible reboot coming so more reason to carry on! I’m working on a Manga Reading Marathon video still, the scans that diagnosed my TAK is also one some people were interested in as I mentioned a few in my pre-diagnosis video last year and a range of scans they do use in my TAK 101 post, I also want to do some book themed videos as I’ve been reading a lot of books by Black authors I wanted to make a video to recommend them and a video about the poetry books I have read as I’ve also been reading a lot of poetry through NetGalley. Leave a comment on this post if you’d like to see me make these videos! I also have a lot of books by Asian authors I want to get to reading, I’d love to make a recommendation video on those books too.

I did get my previous benefits back recently so I have got some financial support back again (still, if you know PIP, it’s pennies) so I would really appreciate people checking out my Kofi, leave a tip or buy some of my art. I have 15 art pieces up for sale, plus a selection of handmade cards. Please check out my links throughout this post and to my social media accounts, leave some likes and share some posts, it helps a lot! I post on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. I am starting to stream on Twitch again but whenever I link it here it error codes out so search artiecarden. Don’t forget to check out my affiliate link with the BookShop for any books you are interested in buying, it helps me out a lot! If there’s something you’re specifically looking for that isn’t on my lists yet, let me know in a comment what you are looking for and I’ll see if the Bookshop have it and link you.

I post pretty regularly everywhere, I just feel like I need to change how I do things for a while.

~ Artie

They/them

5 Main Tips for Being a Better Trans Ally
We Need To Talk About White Privilege
Takayasu’s Arteritis: Rare diseases Day 2021

Body Shaming When You’re Chronically Ill

Hey pals,

 

I’ve been hearing a lot about fatshaming in the medical industry and also general body shaming and certain standards people are expected to meet online recently. I have a long, complex history with my body and other people’s relationship to my body so these topics have brought up a lot for me I wanted to discuss.

 

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I don’t talk about my weight online, not in specific numbers anyway, because everyone changes their opinion of me once they hear the number. It doesn’t matter if its the weight on my scale or my BMI, people make a judgement they didn’t initially have. My BMI is currently in the ‘overweight’ category leaning close to ‘obese’, and I’m not trying to be up myself here but how am I nearly obese? I am an average mid-size person, but the NHS BMI calculator is saying I need to lose 26.5lbs (12kg/almost 2 stone) to be in the healthy weight range (not mid-healthy i mean barely in the range).

About 6 years ago I was two stone heavier and I received enough fat shaming from my NHS health team to make me want to die. I had to be weighed for my contraceptive pill and I had purposefully been avoiding the scale and said, “as long as you don’t tell me.” and stood on it. I did really well not to succumb to the temptation of looking all for my doctor to just outright tell me anyway! Of course as soon as I hopped in the car I googled the number into ones I understood. I always worked in lbs. And that night I wanted to die.

Before I had gotten to this weight, I was probably roughly the weight I am now maybe 10lbs lighter, and I’d finally decided to go ask for professional health with my disordered eating. I’d told him all the things I had done and been doing and how I was trying to stop doing them, and even though my behaviours fit best with Bulimia, he told me I had Binge Eating Disorder (BED) ignoring all of the self destructive things I was doing from starving myself to purging, I barely even binged, my binged were minute compared to other bulimics I’d met or other binge eaters. I was astonished. Part of his advice is what lead me to gaining so much weight so quickly and sending me even deeper into depression and triggering me more. All of the note books he gave me were for binge eating, not starving or purging or any of the other things I did. All because I was ‘overweight’ by BMI standards.

I’m disabled. I suffer with a lot of chronic pain. I have been told countless times to lose weight because that ‘will make it better’, without thinking about anything else going on with me. I suffer with so much fatigue I barely function 90% of the time. Exercise wipes me out for DAYS. But we should all exercise for 30 minutes a day and if you don’t YOU’RE LAZY.

 

At this point in my life, I am dealing with a very unstable IBD. As I write this, I feel nauseous and cannot eat my dinner and had a couple of bad episodes on the toilet because I accidentally ate something triggering to my stomach yesterday and now just have to suffer. I have barely moved from bed today. I also have an abscess in a VERY uncomfortable place which means I can’t do most of the exercises I’ve been recommended and felt able to do: walking sometimes aggravates it, I can’t sit on a bike seat so can’t get on my exercise bike for 15 minutes, I can’t really leave the house to go to the gym or a yoga class coz I might suddenly be in so much pain I can’t participate and may not be able to drive myself home. But I’m lazy for being overweight. I’ve fiddled with my diet constantly, partially coz I’ve had to cut out foods that trigger my IBD flares, but also trying to get the right nutrients into my body without fucking starving.

I’m bad at feeding myself, coz either I’ll forget and suddenly be so starving I feel sick, or all I do is EAT. I’ve been put on steroids that make you want to eat. At one point, I couldn’t stop eating even though I was so full I wanted to be sick. With an IBD, weight loss is BAD. Either your gut isn’t getting enough nourishment from your food or you’re shitting so much of it out so quick there’s no time for your body to absorb it. So, I guess at least they worry if I’m looking more trim lol.

 

“Just go for a walk,” they say, “anything to raise your pulse,” they say… but anything I like doing I’m not ‘allowed’ because of my disability so OF COURSE I’m not consistent with exercise you tell me I can’t do stuff I enjoy. One doctor even told me I only enjoy those things because I am good at them, because of my disability… is that a crime? Am I not allowed to enjoy things I can do? Ballet and yoga don’t hurt me as much a circuits or zumba (which gave me shin splints btw). I also found out recently I can’t even swim anymore because of muscle problems in my right arm, it’s too painful to actually swim… the number one recommended activity (which I also don’t really like but now I can’t even do)

 

We constantly see skinny people selling us health and size as if it’s easy to reach without a 6 figure paycheck, a personal chef, personal trainer and surgery tbh. And the ‘normies’ of the world who don’t have a disability or chronic illness that takes a toll on your energy and activity level like to cram it down our throats that we just aren’t doing enough. There’s 24 hours in a day, you can use 1 for exercise. But… I sleep 10 hours on average, some days more, I’m slower to do things, I have to remember to take 1500 pills morning and night, doctors appointments and how I’m going to get there and be emotionally prepared for what they are going to say, or wow I need to cook myself dinner but I can’t bring myself to stand in the kitchen nor think of a meal I could make… Check out the spoon theory if you need more explanation.

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Not everyone can walk their dog, or get to a gym, or AFFORD A MEMBERSHIP, or have you ever thought about the process of getting ready to swim and then getting ready to leave from swimming? Most changing rooms are hot and you’re sweaty and you can’t dry off and you can’t get your clothes on and now you’re dizzy and you might be sick! It really just goes on.

 

Most people, including doctors, do not think I am ‘overweight’ when they look at me. I carry my weight around my middle mostly so occasionally I jokingly call myself ‘skinny passing’.

 

Here’s a great experiment: Me, my mum, and my gran. Different heights, I’m 5’7, my mum 5’4, my gran 5’2. Carry our weight differently, mine is mostly my stomach and upper arms, my mum is mostly her bum and stomach, my gran is almost entirely her chest. Poor little woman with great old nunga-nungas. We are all very similar clothing sizes. My gran needed a size 18 to fit comfortably over her boobs. I’m roughly a 16/18 on top for broad shoulders and ribs and 14-16 on bottom for my skinny legs but wide waist. my mum is around 14-16 on bottom but she has issues with the waist being too loose or the calf area too tight. I moved into wearing more men’s clothes coz somehow a small will be tight fitting like a 14 in t-shirts but there’s not shame in wearing a men’s large or even extra large… because there’s no number. Men’s trousers are still a fucking mess if you ask me the waist size isn’t accurately in inches, I’ll tell you that for free.

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My fat friends don’t go to the doctor unless they really have to. They aren’t believed when they think something is seriously wrong, it’s all put down to weight. Skinny white women struggle to be listened to as it is in 2019. Imagine being anything else, poc, disabled, chronically ill, queer, trans, fat, no one listens to us and we have to learn to be a self advocate or bring a trusted person with us to help advocate when it’s too much. I have been spoken to like I’m a fucking idiot and been told how to wipe my own arse on more than one occasion by the same man (a surgeon btw, surgeons have zero social skills) as if I haven’t lived like this for a long time already. I am also belittled by other sick people who have had their disease longer than I have and tell me my case is mild when the last year of my life has been nothing but suffering.

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I’m just tired and angry at the able people out there making assumptions, and the doctors and nurses out there deciding they know what’s happening to my body before I finish telling them everything, and the other sick people who think they are better and more knowledgeable than me because they’ve had it longer or are older than I am. I’m angry for myself and I’m angry for my friends and I’m angry for my community.

I got enough to deal with, kindly, fuck off.

 

~ Artie.

Check out this video where I finally get rid of my ‘skinny’ clothes!

Check out this post by Zipporah Arielle on getting comfortable talking about Crohn’s as there are many ways body shaming can sneak into your life as a disabled person.

Being Sociable With BPD: From Someone With BPD

Hey pals,

this was a guest post I wrote but the link I have for it doesn’t seem to work anymore, so I assume it is no longer up. It is a piece I really poured a lot of myself into and think is important to talk about so I’m re-posting it here to my own blog! I hope you enjoy

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There are a lot of things people don’t understand about BPD and the effect it can have on relationships. Making friends, talking to people, creating a connection, all very confusing for both parties. BPD is unpredictable and can be very different from person to person. So I’m going to try my best to encompass some of the difficulties and ways someone with BPD can make socialising easier on themselves. This can also help someone who does not have BPD to understand what someone might be going through.

 

​I’ve found (with myself and other people I have known with BPD) it can be hard to participate appropriately in conversation. Over-sharing with strangers is a big one; it’s like you lost your filter and once you start you can’t stop. You can see it in their eyes: “Oh God, who did I sit next to? How do I get out?”

​Or you find that you forget to reciprocate questions, or your questions are too personal. And it’s always too late for you to correct yourself. What’s worse? Pretending it didn’t happen? Or bringing attention to it and saying sorry?

​These things take a lot of practice. Start with small talk questions, they might be boring but not everyone will be okay with you asking about the scar on their face or which parent gave them the most emotional trauma growing up. Start with, ‘how do you know so-and-so?’ or ‘what do you do for a living?’

 

​Substance abuse is a big one for many people with BPD. Though I am technically not an alcoholic, I rely on alcohol during social situations either to get myself out of awkward conversation or to make it easier to ignore the anxious voice in my head. So if you have problems with alcohol or other drugs, try hanging out somewhere you can’t order alcohol. I love going for coffee with my friends and I have a terrible coffee addiction. Losing your logic and control to substances can also lead to impulsivity and risky behaviour. You might keep drinking to excess or buying others drinks to bribe affection from them, but you could also end up being somewhat unsafe in other ways too: unsafe/risky sex, going for a walk on your own, speaking to strangers. Generally your symptoms are much easier to aggravate as well. Try to set a budget for the night and tell your friends, they can help hold you accountable. It’s a slippery slope that can lead to a much worse situation.

 

​Splitting can be one of the more difficult symptoms to deal with. If you’re not aware of this term, splitting is the black and white thinking. ‘To split’ is to drastically have your feelings changed to the opposite end of the scale. Splitting can be triggered by something really small, like your friend making a joke at your expense. This could be okay any other time but this time it isn’t and now you hate them. Sometimes you can see what’s happening, but sometimes it’s so consuming you can only feel this emotion. Try to remind yourself that splitting is often temporary and you’ll probably feel better after you’ve had some sleep. If it’s still there the next day, then you should look more deeply into why that is.

 

The one piece of advice that will help you across the board is self-control. Urgh, yeah I know how that sounds to you. ‘How am I supposed to control feelings that are so huge and ugly?’ Practice. Also urgh, I know. But you really do get better with practice and you only really need to get to a point where you don’t outwardly lash out at people. Your feelings are huge, but they change so quickly you will regret taking it out on someone. Start learning to hold in your big emotions at the time until it’s appropriate or until they pass. It’s appropriate when you have a friend who knows and understands that sometimes you need to blow off steam and what kind of friend you need them to be. When I’m angry about something, I need to vent to someone not involved and be told that my feelings are valid and fair. But I also need to be told when I’m being the issue not the other person. It’s a hard balance for anyone and it can take time to get there. It all comes with open communication. Or therapy. Therapy is always a good idea.

If I don’t have access to this person, there’s another thing I’ve learned: leave the situation. If you can only leave for a bit, then do it. This is why I used to smoke so much; I’d leave the situation to go for a cigarette by myself or with someone else. I don’t recommend smoking! It tends to make you even more anxious and jittery than you were already.

One of the best things you can do is find a space or group for people with BPD for you to join. I understand this isn’t easy or always accessible but the benefits of going to a group are worth it. You can learn so much from other people because, even though it isn’t you, you really relate to other people’s problems in group. They also tend to give great advice and validate how you feel all in one go! It’s super exhausting though, in a good way.

 

DON’T join Facebook groups for people with BPD. Health professionals do not monitor them; the admins are also people with BPD and we are not always the best to control entire groups. When you’re genuinely looking for advice, no one will respond. The groups are all drama and people trying to start arguments. It’s just gross toxic energy, don’t bother. It will just wind you up.

DO speak to your GP or local mental health charity; see what services are available. I briefly attended the SUN group (which has a few locations but mainly Croydon so best to check with someone), it was peer advice and assistance for people with BPD and sometimes Bipolar Disorder.

 

Socialising is hard with BPD but then so is everything. If you are diagnosed relatively quickly and you’ve started noticing your patterns of behaviour, you can change it. The statistic is, after two years of treatment, 50% of people with BPD recover. Try to get into whatever therapy or treatments you can, do a lot of research to put words to your feelings, and go easy on yourself.

People with BPD are not inherently abusive like a lot of people think and it is often thought to be caused by trauma or other environmental factors. You can recover; it will just take some work.

 

~ Artie

 

Edit: Here are some links to videos I like, and YouTubers who have and continue to make videos about BPD !!

Kati Morton on Splitting

The Rewired Soul on Quiet BPD