SENSITIVITY WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS CONTENT AROUND SELF-HARM, ALCOHOLISM AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. ONLY READ ON IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH THESE TOPICS. THANK YOU
by Rylee Binns
I am not my disorder
As the founder of the mental wellbeing society I felt it would be appropriate to tell my story to help raise awareness about mental health.
From a young age I was plagued by mental health, and as a coping mechanism I began self harming at the age of 12 and by the time I was 15 I had taken my first overdose. In all honesty, I think this was an accumulation of several things but mainly my struggle with my sexuality.
At this stage I was introduced to my first councillor and the mental health service in Aberdeen through psychiatry, where I was diagnosed with depression and I began my journey into anti-depressants.
I then began my drinking career to mask how I was feeling which soon became an addiction although this wasn’t to be acknowledged till later on in my adult life.
At the age of 17 I started college and by 18 I began to have panic attacks on a daily basis. I couldn’t sit in a class without having to leave due to the feeling my throat was closing, my heart pounding in my chest, lightheadedness and my palms sweating profusely.
I had a bottle of water permanently glued to my hand (figuratively speaking) as this was my safety net, if I felt panicky I would drink the water and I wouldn’t feel as though I couldn’t breathe.
Public transport was a daily battle, I felt claustrophobic and experienced an attack every time I had to travel.
Then I began medication for anxiety which at first was a beta blocker, this didn’t work for me so I tried citalopram which reduced the amount of panic attacks I was having.
Fast forward to 2012 when I moved to Stirling, this gave me the freedom to do what I wanted and for my alcoholism to take full control. Between then and July 2013 I overdosed several times and continued to self harm, for me it was a way to feel physical pain rather than emotional pain. I was later to understand why emotional pain was so traumatic to deal with.
July 26th 2013 I was admitted to hospital after a heavily intoxicated night and an overdose, I was discharged on the 27th and I didn’t drink that day. This was the beginning of my sobriety and I’ve never looked back.
Alcohol for me covered up the way I was feeling, reduced my anxieties, I lost all inhibitions, taking part in risky behaviours but what did I care? I was a student and all the other students were going out most nights but what they didn’t know is that I would wake up and begin drinking again. I experienced blackouts more often than not, waking up not knowing how I got home.
Probably sounds like a standard night out for a student but it wasn’t for me.
Alcoholism had got me and it got me good.
I began my journey into sobriety, seeking support which I am truly grateful for and if it wasn’t for those people I wouldn’t be sober today. At first I was very shy, timid and anxious but as the months progressed I began to find who I truly was.
But then, in 2015, a dark cloud appeared, self harming crept back into my life and suicidal thoughts clouded my judgement, I was taken to hospital and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I had never heard of BPD before this and I couldn’t grasp what it was.
To this I began my journey into anti-psychotic medications, chopping and changing to find the right one. At times they worked but then my body would get used to them and it stopped, I then made the decision to come off my medication and try to deal with life on life’s terms.
2016 is almost over and my anxiety flares up again, back to the drawing board where I started beta blockers again. Next stop, depression rears its ugly head, mood stabilisers prescribed. Self harming begins again, suicidal thoughts encompass my brain.
Yet here I am today, 3 years and 8 months sober, graduating with an honours degree in summer, taking it one day at a time.
To some I may sound deluded but my higher power has better plans for me, after 8 overdoses I am here to tell you my story … or maybe I’m a cat.