Countdown to meltdown

I wrote this on Monday, while I was waiting to be seen by my psychiatrist as I was at risk of having a psychotic episode. It’s an insight into the harder side of my life with BPD – and also the first time I have intercepted an episode before it’s too late.

“It may be a while but the doctor will be with you shortly.” The countdown to an episode of catastrophic proportions began nearly two hours ago. They can happen at any time, but this was signalled by the lack of ability to cope with something that most people would see as normal and even mundane. I’m sat next to a man who keeps dusting himself off and touching his nose repeatedly. I wish I wasn’t here but I was told that this was where to come when I felt like I was losing control. The only reason I came here was because I was already out of the house. At home alone, there is no way of knowing I’m about to slip into rage or extreme melancholy until all is said and done – this time was a fluke. Still, there is no sign of calm so I wait for the doctor to offer me some help while the receptionist outside barks at someone on the phone because she can’t spell his name right.

Crisis. The word conjurs immediacy, urgency, the need to be seen right away. I’ve been through a few crises in the past year alone, where self harm and suicide have seemed like the solution to the problem at the time. Right now I’m not thinking of hurting myself, but my head is full of thoughts, all catastrophic and endless – I need help right away before it evolves into more destructive thinking, before I lose control fully. Each crisis I have faced has come with a minimum hour’s wait in either a hospital or a medical centre while others are rushed ahead of me. I do not have a broken arm or massive blood loss or even a headache, my symptoms are not visible to the naked eye, but under the mask I am in pain and I wish I could be seen right away.

Still, I wait. In most cases, thanks to the nature of my borderline personality disorder, I am calm again after those hours of waiting and I want to leave – but I can’t, because I still have to be seen by someone to show I’m not in danger of killing myself. Some people might say, ‘Why bother going to see anyone if you know you’ll calm down?’ Because I never know if that will be the case. And I can’t afford to take the risk if the one time I don’t go to the hospital is the last time I ever go.

I’m still waiting. The receptionist is now lambasting someone for not calling before they ran out of meds. The statistics for people in the UK suffering from mental health issues are telling of just how many people need help, but are wrapped up in waiting lists and lack of available resources. It took me six months to convince my psychiatrist (who has since left) that I am a viable candidate for dialectical behavioural therapy as a treatment for my BPD, my meds are a mix of what I was given for depression, and an antiemetic that turned out to be an old school antipsychotic that treated my other symptoms, and I’m constantly being offered cognitive behavioural therapy despite it not being overly effective.

After twenty minutes and five games of 2048 (I can’t concentrate when my mind is like this) I’m finally called in. My new psychiatrist gives me a prescription after a brief chat about what’s going on in my head and shakes my hand. “I’m on your side,” he tells me with a smile. For the first time today I feel relief. Time will tell if it’s just another empty promise.

This all came about when I had to take my dog Lady to the vet. I lost my other dog Shandy back in January, and that was hugely traumatic for me – the same fear and anxiety came flooding back when I left my girl with the vet for a scan. While she was being seen, I took myself off to the centre where I am usually treated. Leaving with a prescription for some medication to calm me down, I got the call saying she was fine and ready to be picked up.


Maybe now she can start paying the rent?

My Other Half left work to come and get me, after many frantic texts from me, and together we went to collect Lady – and as we walked into the surgery, she was behind the reception desk with all the nurses around her, looking as happy as can be! They told me she’d been stressing herself out, so it was better for her to be freed and allowed to follow the nurses around while they did their jobs.

Typical that I would fall apart while my dog makes the best of a bad situation.

We’re both doing better now. All of this made me see that my disorder does not totally control me – I still have a long way to go, though.


About Claire

Well-groomed tomboy. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I hide it well.
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