I’m genuinely surprised it’s been over a year since I last wrote a post! So naturally I don’t know where to start. I suppose it’ll be a life update.
Since I last posted (June 2021), I became homeless. I still am, technically, but after 9 months in a council hostel I’m finally in a 1 bedroom flat of my own. Again, it’s temporary council accommodation but “temporary” in Edinburgh Council lingo can mean up to 3 years so I’m making it as homely as possible and enjoying it as much as I can. I’m doing all I can to shake the feeling of transience and instability that homelessness brings, as the emotional ramifications of living as if you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop are massive.
I’ve also been in a relationship for 9 months with someone and for the most part it’s going really well. This would make it my longest relationship since 2017 – I’ve actually found someone who isn’t pathologically afraid of the terms “love”, “boyfriend” and “commitment”. What a miracle(!).
Additionally, I’ve been out of work (officially) for over a year. I quit pharmacy because after 3 separate bouts of depression and related periods of sick leave over the course of 4 years, I eventually got to the point of not being able to handle methadone without mulling over my own suicide.
I wouldn’t say that this line of work was the cause of these feelings exactly (I’ve experienced suicidal ideation since the age of 15) but the working environment was having a progressively negative impact on my mental health. I won’t go into too much depth about that because I probably have already but the point is that I had finally had enough; and for my own safety I had to leave.
Naturally, I’ve been very wary about going back to work following this. I haven’t been unemployed for a year because I can’t find a job – I’ve been out of work intentionally and have not been job-hunting. It’s my longest period of unemployment thus far. Any other time I’ve been unemployed, it’s been for a few weeks or then I’ve been studying full-time.
The hardest part of prolonged unemployment, I have to say, is external judgement. I’ve never fumbled before when someone asks what I do, but over the past year I have a little. But aside from my lack of formal employment, I have been volunteering at a local radio station for the past 9 or 10 months and I did also secure some session work a few times which was great! And more importantly, I’ve been very active with my own music: over the past year I’ve self-released 4 singles and a debut EP!
In other news, I started a part-time college course last week. On my 27th birthday, actually. It’s an introduction to counselling course. It’s something I’ve wanted to study for a while but I’ve been subconsciously waiting for a certain level of mental stability. My mental health isn’t fantastic right now but I’m not putting my life on hold for the sake of it anymore. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve been on the waiting list for treatment for BPD/EUPD for 14 months, but I recently changed GP practices and my new one has a mental health nurse who’s able to do this treatment with me. We start on the 22nd of this month. I say “treatment” – it’s really like a form of proactive mental health skill-learning. The overarching issue with BPD is emotional instability, so I hope that learning some of these skills will help me manage this better.
Something I’ve acknowledged recently is that my main struggle mentally is a feeling of emptiness, which is actually a main part of the diagnostic criteria for BPD. It feels so nondescript, but I’m glad I can put a name and an explanation to it somewhat.
The next single I’m planning to put out is going to be about that feeling of emptiness. People will probably assume I’m referring to depression but I suppose it doesn’t matter – if people resonate with it that way and it helps them then that’s a good thing. My last single was unusually hopeful and positive for me and I’ve felt pressure to remain in that vein lyrically. But it wasn’t coming naturally. I don’t hate my life or anything but the emptiness has been hard to ignore, especially when I’m alone. I’ve always written honestly and I’m not going to change that.
Being in my first serious relationship since the diagnosis of BPD traits has been quite illuminating because I can see my behaviours more clearly now. When I feel irrationally angry about things I can often identify that fairly quickly and take a second to think about it before reacting immediately. It doesn’t make those intense feelings go away but it does give me more control over my behaviour. It’s a weird thing observing the fact that I’m overreacting but not being able to change the way I feel. It’s like I know I’m acting crazy and that there’s no real reason to be so angry but my chest is still on fire.
I make a genuine effort to keep my boyfriend in the loop with how I’m feeling and always apologise when I feel that I’ve overreacted. Usually when I say: “sorry I’ve been so stressy”, he just says: “you’ve been fine”. He’s very patient and I suppose he also knows that I genuinely love him and don’t mean to take anything out on him.
I just bought a book about complex BPD (BPD co-occurring with another mental illness) because it would make sense that my BPD traits have a crossover with my symptoms of depression. I’m looking forward to learning more about it and equipping myself with the understanding to deal with it as best as I can.
Finally, I came off my anti-depressants 2 or 3 months ago. It was a relatively spontaneous decision (but a gradual process) after a conversation with a friend of mine. He told me that his anti-depressants had worked briefly and then had just started to make him feel tired. A lightbulb went on in my head – I felt the same. I also had learned that BPD doesn’t respond that well to medication, so it just didn’t make sense to continue taking these pills which just seemed to drain me.
Ironically, I will say that my BPD symptoms have been worse since I came off citalopram. Probably just because I’m less numb to everything. But I’ll take that over chronic fatigue. I’m still a little tired but not as bad as I was before.
All things considered, I’m doing alright. I have done a couple of articles on Medium since I last posted on my personal blog: https://medium.com/@hannahhastings
I feel more comfortable sharing those articles publicly because they’re less personal, whereas these ones I’ll just continue to share on my private Instagram. I’ll maybe go into more details about my homelessness on my Instagram. So follow me there too: https://www.instagram.com/philomenahssafespace/?hl=en-gb
I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for reading. 🙂