Guest Post by Fryn Lane – BPD & Creativity

Recently I’ve decided to feature some guests here on my blog to showcase some other people’s troubles with mental health. Here we have Fryn Lane who talks about having EUPD/BPD, and how she uses creativity as a way of managing it. Please check out her blog by clicking here.

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Hi, I’m Fryn, I’m 22 years old and I have recurrent depression as a result of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, also known as Borderline Personality Disorder. This has quite a big impact on my daily functioning; my feelings are very intense. Relationships with me can be intense at times no matter how hard I try to curtail it. My boyfriend Joe has his own mental health problems (we click because we have good mutual understanding and empathy) and it is very tricky to manage our individual problems alongside supporting one another. I also have extreme self-loathing, and a constant stream of self-critical thoughts narrating my every day.

One of the key ways I cope with my mental illness is through creativity. I am currently recovering from a depressive episode that hit back in November 2014. It’s been a long time, and keeping me as sane as possible have been my many creative outlets. When, in November, my depression was at its worst, I could not function. I could not think, I could not cope. At this point, I was not creative. I went into Hobbycraft, my favourite shop, to find a new project. For the first time, nothing inspired me, I felt broken. Where was the creative spark I relied upon to get me through? I left the shop in tears.

It was not until a few months later, as the depression was beginning to lift, that my creative ‘spark’, or energy, came back. My creativity is a huge part of my identity and helps me define who I am in my murky sea of moving goalposts and slipping standards. I love being creative, and with a diagnosis of EUPD, with my intense emotions I have a lot of feeling to pour into what I create. I need to feel something strongly in order to create, and the EUPD helps with that! I only ever feel things strongly!

What I do creatively really varies. I go through phases and bore easily so what you see me working on one week will not be the same as what I work on the week after. I paint, I crochet, I design and sew cross stitch, I bake, I cook new things, I draw, I colour, I make things with clay, I build things and I make a mess. I get stuck in, I rip up paper for collages, I use pastels, paint, pencils, felt tips, I write I craft I create. It varies based on my mood, I never plan my future creations, and as I say I go through phases. I’m no real artist; perhaps it is my low self-esteem talking but I often make something and then wish to destroy it straight away. I often detest what I have created, but equally sometimes I feel I have created something truly beautiful.

My favourite at the moment is colouring in (the adult colouring book craze that’s hit the UK is amazing! Seriously, there are so many designs and books to choose from, it’s brilliant!) I often get frustrated with my own drawing inability, so to colour a pre-drawn design feels really therapeutic. It’s great for mindfulness, and you can really express your emotions through the colours you choose. I have stuck all my pictures on my wall to cheer me up; the images I coloured when more depressed used darker, foreboding colours yet my more recent stuff is multi coloured and fun – It’s a visual log of my progress in escaping this depressive episode. And it’s great to pick up and do when I feel a bit stressed out.

I have also been making clay figures that express my emotions from air drying clay. The process of mixing paints and decorating the models, as well as squishing the clay in my fingers is really calming. I can be making models for hours and not notice the time passing. Which is great; because I’m not able to work at the moment being creative keeps my mind active. Someday perhaps when I am better and more able I hope to embark on a creative career, too. My creativity comes hand in hand with my mental illness, and I’d never manage without the release for my emotions and the structure it provides for my day.

I know what to write about!

For the longest time now I’ve really wanted to write a book. At the start of every new year when the clock strikes twelve, I think ‘This is it. This is the year I’ll finally do it‘, but I struggle for ideas or somebody else gets there first with the ideas I do have.

It’s really important to me that I write something that people actually want to read. It’s been such a long time coming that if I’m going to do it, I really want to do it properly and make a success of it. I only ever dream big. I don’t see the point in starting something if it’s only going to be mediocre.

I want to be proud of what I do, and write about something that matters to me. I want to make a little bit of a difference in people’s lives, which I hope I also sometimes manage to do here on my blog. Those wishes are quite a tall order though, so year after year I sit here thinking ‘nope, still not good enough‘.

But now, finally, I think I’ve got it. I think I know what I want to write about.

I don’t want to reveal too much as of yet. But what I will say is that it will be mental health based, very personal to me featuring never seen diary entries from my childhood, uplifting and hopefully appealing to many of you on your journeys.

After my bad day yesterday, I really needed some excitement – although I do have to admit, I’m pretty sure the bad day gave me the inspiration, so I guess I should be thankful.

Tools (2015)

If we let them, our troubles will wrap us up and destroy us; parts of us will break and fly away. But there are always tools – even if they’re not right in front of us – to cut the bad out of our lives.

tools

Tools (26th July 2015) Watercolour & Ink. ©

What do you need?

Earlier on, I got into a Twitter discussion with a healthcare provider in Leeds; asking me what it is that I want/need from mental health services in the area.

My answers consisted of shorter waiting lists, more tailored care to the individual, and how treatment should aim to give people the tools and skills to manage their problems effectively.

But they’re just my answers, and now I’m curious to see what you guys think. Is there anything that you think is more important? And not neccessarily in just standard talking therapies, but is there anything else in day-to-day life as well that you think would make your time with mental illness easier?

I look forward to your answers – there aren’t any wrong ones!

Expression

I don’t know about the rest of you, but one of the things I find most difficult about living with mental illness is the lack of ability to express myself.

When ever I’m annoyed, upset, stressed or angry – I can never find the ways to say it. And this then contributes to the annoyance, upset, stress and anger even further; as well as irritating the people around me.

If me and my boyfriend ever argue; this is where the little things become mountains, because I can’t say how I feel. He takes it as though I’m ignoring him and won’t tell him what I’m thinking out of choice, but it’s not that – it’s not that at all. And eventually, the persistent asking of “just tell me what you’re thinking” leads to an outburst of momentary hate where the only words that can come out of my mouth are “fuck off”.

I physically cannot find the words no matter how hard I try. I can’t express what the feeling is that I’m feeling. I don’t do it on purpose; it would be much easier to just say what I need to say and then move on, but I can’t.

I want to improve on this but it’s impossible; because when it comes down to it and I’m in the moment I still can’t find the words no matter how much I want to. It’s definitely one of my biggest faults when it comes to being in a relationship. And it’s ridiculous double-standards because as soon as something’s wrong with him, the first thing I say is “just tell me what you’re thinking” – and I’m annoyed when he has no answer.

Creativity and Mental Health

For me, creativity is a massive part of expressing my feelings when it comes to my mental health. Creating abstract representations of my disorders or how I feel allows me to release the negative thoughts and create something interesting in the process.

hope

Hope (2015) 

mha designs

Mental Health Awareness Designs (2014)

I draw, paint, write – anything and everything! It’s the most therapeutic thing in the world; I can sit in complete silence and not have one thought pass through my head for hours when I have a paintbrush in my hand.

Does anybody else have any methods to relieve stress and negative feelings?

Quote of the day

…and then I fell apart, and it was the most beautiful moment ever, because right then, I realised I could put the pieces back together the way I wanted them to be.

Mental Health Art

Just under a year ago in June 2014, I created this series of art work. The six images were each designed to depict a different mental illness or the symptoms associated with it; and they also mock some of the negative stigma that go hand-in-hand with suffering from these disorders.

I designed the series in black and red because for me, they’re the two boldest colours that there are. The black represents the illness, isolation, secrets and negativity that we face from the rest of the world; whilst the areas of red represent the glimpse of hope, which no matter how small is brighter and more predominant than the illness.

We need to stop shaking our heads and silently being at war with the uneducated comments we hear; we need to stop making peace with the idea that mental health issues aren’t as high priority as physical illness, and instead – we need to actively stand strong and fight for better.

nknk

I hope you like them, to view the rest of my art portfolio, click here.

Guest Post for Lifeofmiblog

Here is the guest post I wrote for Michael at Lifeofmiblog earlier this week. Michael suffers with Depression and talks about this as well as many other topics on his blog – It’s fantastic, so please check it out!


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I have Borderline Personality Disorder, Cyclothymia and severe anxiety. I have these things, but it’s important to remember that I am not these things.

You cannot allow the disorders that you have become you, because you undoubtedly lose enough of yourself due to them already. BPD makes me angry, touchy and sometimes aggressive with the people around me; Cyclothymia makes me manic, depressed and all things in between; and anxiety takes away my basic human rights, with crippling fear smothering me and therefore stopping me from doing anything with my life.

These could be (and sometimes are!) soul-destroying things to live with, and so if this is the only way we can identify ourselves, what’s left? What’s the point of being here? Instead, you have to think about the things that you are, instead of the things that you have.

I am motivated and ambitious, I’m sarcastic beyond belief, and I’m creative, artistic and I’m detail-orientated in everything I do. I fall in love easy, but I don’t make good friends often; those that are in my life will be forever. I’m stubborn – way too stubborn – and don’t let arguments go as quickly as I should. But everything I do I do whole-heartedly, putting all my effort into it; and yes – I’m one of those people that are crazy enough to think they can make a difference in the world.

So instead of becoming my disorders, I try to manage these things that I have so that they don’t become a part of my being. I try to control the obstacles and hurdles that my life is constantly throwing at me; it’s not a fair war if you don’t even try to defend and protect yourself. It’s not as easy as I’d like it to be (if it was, mental illness would cease to exist), and it feels like a never-ending battle, because just when I think I have something mastered, something else comes along.

Another fear, another episode, another month where everything becomes too much.

But I keep trying, and that’s the main thing. I keep striving and pushing, waiting for the world to reward me and give me a break. I study as much as I can about my disorders, I research, read and I study for a mindfulness diploma. I learn to meditate, source remedies and techniques to practise, and I write almost every day on my blog relaying my thoughts and letting them all out of my already-cluttered-brain. I paint, I draw, I exercise, I cut out caffeine, and I make an extra effort with those I love.

Researching my disorders has given me an understanding of what’s going on in my mind which is absolutely priceless to me and mindfulness teaches me to think in the moment, not allowing the past or future to influence where I am right now. Meditation slows my breathing down alongside the absence of caffeine, helping my anxiety beyond belief. Creativity and writing makes my mind joyous, exercise makes my body joyous, and people – well they’re a support system that I wouldn’t want to do without. The biggest mistake too many of us make is pushing those that love us out of our lives.

But most of all, regardless of all these things, I remember who I am and what I am. I remind myself of all the things that make me, me. And my somewhat poor mental health definitely isn’t even a small part of that. That’s all I can do. Some may say that it’s all a distraction, but I believe it’s just a part of the journey to recovery. Like with any other illness, we’re all just looking for a cure.