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Hi I’m Mike, I have a beard, I have a body and I have BPD

This is the post excerpt.

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So where do I start? Pretty much covered everything off in this blog posts title, haven’t I?

Well yes and no. Let’s go a bit more in depth on me and who I am, more of an introduction than a full microscopic detailed description of me. You lucky readers have got that all to come. 

My name is Mike, I’m 32 1/2 years old. Father of two beautiful boys, boyfriend to the beautiful Suzi (you’ll hear a lot more about these 3 over the coming time). When fit and healthy I like to consider myself a bodybuilder of sorts, in the fact that I train and like to build muscle, I have no aspirations to compete but that may change. 

I have a beard, I love my beard, my beard loves me. The joy my beard brings is almost as great as that of the most comforting experiences that you may experience in life. Sat in front of a fire at Christmas, being tucked up in bed on a cold winters morning, sat in the pub with you significant other having a laugh and enjoying life, having a beard can equal all of these and on rare occasions may even beat them! Again over time this blog is three pronged and I will go into detail on my beard, it’s care regime, products, shape, even god forbid, bad beard days!

Now the ‘dark’ part to this blog and you know what? It’s not dark whatsoever. One of the main reasons for doing this blog is help beat the stigma attached to mental health and in particular men discussing it publicly. 

I have been diagnosed with and suffer from;

  • Borderline Personality Disorder 
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Paranoid Disorder
  • Narcissistic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia 

Reading the above, you would think I’m pretty messed up wouldn’t you? And you know what, yep sometimes I am. I have days where I cannot function, but I have days where my conditions work in my favour and I see and experience things that ‘normal’ people don’t and that’s what’s this blog is about, highlighting them things and showing that it is alright to talk about Mental Health, especially as a 30 something year old man. 

That is it for the first blog post, a brief overview of me and what this will be about. I hope you enjoy it and I hope to help, if I can. 

Speak soon!

Mike (and his beard)


(Above is my beautiful Suzi and me)


(The two best things I have ever done in my life, my gorgeous boys)


(My beautiful beard, on its one month birthday, progress to follow)


(And when I was a bodybuilder, something I will be back to over the coming weeks and months)

Hi I’m Mike. I am a Self-Harmer. 


Definition of Self Harm

  • deliberate injury to oneself, typically as a manifestation of a psychological or psychiatric disorder.

Nice cheery topic on a Wednesday morning isn’t it? 

When people say self harm, or think about what the topic means to them, they invariably think of cutting and burning oneself. I don’t fall into that category, I am a puncher and a kicker, as per the imagery at the top of this blog. The definition of self harm says – “a deliberate injury to oneself”, and that’s what I do. I injure myself by lashing out more often than not at doors, walls, basically any inanimate about that is in front of me. 

But why do I self harm? What causes me to lash out like I do? The answer very simply comes from my overriding condition BPD or more apt is the other name for it, EUPD – Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder

My condition causes me to be unstable emotionally, and go from homeostasis & calm to an uncontrollable rage in a time that can be measured in nanoseconds. My anger has caused me more damage than good. Other than when I have managed to channel it into a sporting activity, whether that be in the gym or on the field of play, it has cost me more than I have got from it. It even as I’ve mentioned before, put me in jail indirectly. 

I always make a joke that the two things I am best at is f**king and fighting, but the second part definitely is the truest statement I could make. When I am in one of my rages, I have little to no recollection other than this slow play-by-play commentary of what is going on. For me violence is indiscriminate of race, gender, reason or anything else. It to me is a beautiful thing violence. Sadly though that is how I was brought up and was engrained in me. I know that my attitude to violence is wrong and I am awaiting the start of treatment to right that wrong (along with others). 

Inspite of my natural ability to be fantastically violent, I have managed to recognise and keep some rational thought process, most of the time, during these bouts of rage. I have hurt so many people when I’ve been in these states that I know if I were to go for someone, I have more to lose than to gain from it. I would rather take this rage out on myself than hurt another person, so I punch myself, or something until I feel pain and that pain restores me to equilibrium and I return to normal. 

I’ve broken my hands more times than I can count, I’ve punched out 3 teeth in my mouth. Given myself black eyes, broken toes by kicking out, and spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds on repairs to houses that I have lived in. All in the name of self harm and calming myself down. 

To a degree I believe that everyone self harms, but that like everything is personal and unique to that person. 

Why am I writing this? Well it’s to help break the stigma attached to mental health as I mentioned before and to highlight that if someone suffers from mental health disorders that they quite often fall outside the box of what people assume and the stereotypes that people know. That is not in anyway to take away from people that self harm in other ways, or to belittle them in anyway possible. As I said self harm is unique person to person and their reason and methods to do so, this is me and my self harm. 

So to finish, as I said in the title –

HI I’m Mike. I am a self harmer. 

Break the stigma. 


Time To Beat The Stigma – Me & My Psychosis

Wow, so we are already at Psychosis in this blog journey of mine? Well in actuality I have had a few bouts over the past few days and the subject is fresh in my mind so what better thing to write about? 

Let’s start with the definition of psychosis, as undoubtedly and rightly so people when they see that word instantly conjur up all these gruesome and horrible visions, so let’s get to the true definition of it;

Psychosis is a symptom or feature of mental illness typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality.

Bit heavy isn’t it when you read that? But also hopefully the imagery you imagined of a mass murder and psychopath on the loose in the general populace have subsided when you think about me. 

Now as with all MH, Psychosis manifests differently person to person, so I can only write about how it effects me, and what affects that has on me day to day. 

As an overview of it however, 

People suffering from psychosis have impaired reality testing; that is, they are unable to distinguish personal subjective experience from the reality of the external world. They experience hallucinations and/or delusions that they believe are real, and may behave and communicate in an inappropriate and incoherent fashion. Psychosis may appear as a symptom of a number of mental disorders, including mood and personality disorders. It is also the defining feature of schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, and the psychotic disorders (i.e., brief psychotic disorder, shared psychotic disorder, psychotic disorder due to a general medical condition, and substance-induced psychotic disorder).

Jesus wept, again Mike with the heavy reading! It’s only a Tuesday for Christ sake. 

The causes of psychosis are to a degree  unknown and what is known, are great and many of. This paragraph from the Medical Dictionary is one, a sweeping open statement, and two, as factual as it can come with regards causes of psychosis. 

Psychosis may be caused by the interaction of biological and psychosocial factors depending on the disorder in which it presents; psychosis can also be caused by purely social factors, with no biological component.

So there we have it, psychosis in all it’s gore and horror… dum dum dum! But how does it effect me? That’s the reason for me writing this blog today, one to explain to everyone and two for my own reasons, it’s very carthotic for me to write at times and this is one of them. 

As highlighted above my Psychosis is a byproduct of my BPD, and is something that I have suffered with (now I understand what it is) for as long as I can remember. 

In me it manifests in two distinct ways. 

Disassociation – More commonly known as ‘zoning out’ amongst most people. Quite often I will lose chunks of time, time when I am with my children or my Mrs and I will come out of one of these bouts and have no recollection of the time I was ‘under’. I will still be functioning, and to most people perfectly fine, but to those close to me such as Suzi and my children they recognise my bouts. 

Hallucinations – This is the least common of the two, however the most worrying for me to experience. I only suffer from this part in particular at night time, particularly when I am falling asleep and my conscious and subconscious minds meet. I will see vivid as Day imagery in front of my eyes, it is as if I am there and can physically see and smell my surroundings and interact with them. Due to the experiences in my life, these quite often are flashbacks almost and will quite often have people from my past in them and relive experiences time and time again. The worst case of a hallucination I have had was awaking and an almost demonic like creature was stood over me. At first when this happened I was shit scared! (You fucking would be too!) now as it has happened more than once, I have far from got used to and accept it, but I can handle it better and know with the rational part of my brain that it isn’t there and doesn’t exist. 

The final part of this condition that is really affecting me is short term memory loss which is massively associated with bouts of disassociation. So if you text me at night time and I don’t ever reply, or you ask me late in the day to do something, you may want to ring me the following day to remind me as it is more than likely that I have forgotten all about it. I know that is a jovial way of looking at it but it has its bad side too and case and point is this example. A few nights ago I went to give Alfie my youngest his evening bath and put him to bed at his Mums house. I have almost NO recollection of that, other than photos I took and messages I sent to Suzi whilst I was there. That is my son, my world and because of what I am fighting in my head I can barely remember being there. I remember laughter and love, but I cannot remember specifics. I know when I win this fight with BPD, which I fucking will, this son of a bitch ain’t beating me, those memories are in there somewhere and I will find them and I will cherish them all. 

In closing I don’t want anyone to read this and think what a ‘psychopath and lunatic’ – Those that know me, know I am anything but. Yes I have my moments, as everyone does and yes mine may be bigger than yours, but I am still Mike. Yes I suffer from BPD amongst other conditions, but I am fighting this and I will win that fight and I will help to break this stigma that is attached to all MH issues. Some people call it an illness, me I call it a wire or two out of place. I’m not unwell, my wires are just plugged in different to yours. 

Anyway it’s Tuesday, time to go eat and stroke my beard and cuddle my Suzi. 

Peace out guys ✌️

Mike

Beard Mail! – Review Time


Now when you have a beard there are many things in life that your beard makes better; the fact you instantly have 1,000,000 more man points than a ‘man’ without a beard (also known as a woman), that you don’t have to ever wear a scarf in the decidedly shite British climate, women or in my case my Mrs loves my beard almost, if not more than me as a person. Lastly whether you have the fighting ability of a 18 month old toddler or Tong Po from Kickboxer, beards give you an ‘air’ of intimidation. Also beards show that you are a patient person, as they take time to grow and mature and you need to stay the course. Great to show and identify when going for job interviews, employers love people with patience. 

One of the best things about having a beard is what us of a bearded disposition call ‘beard mail’ – Yesterday I was lucky enough to receive two items of Beard Mail on the same day. This is akin to being 9 years old and coming downstairs at Christmas to a brand new BMX by the tree. This is fact. 

So much like you would with any new toy or gift you receive you try it straight away, so let’s start with the reviews. 

Tactical Treacle” – by Tactical Beard Co. Tactical Treacle (Link)


Now this is a beard balm, and one that comes highly recommended by all of my bearded brethren that use it or have used it. I already use their products and love the quality, so along with the amazing reviews by others and my experience of their products already, I had massive hopes for this balm. I wasn’t disappointed that is for sure. 

A little excerpt from their website about the balm itself;

‘Tactical Treacle’ was born as a result of hard work and late nights. Its origins came from an experiment when blending different essential oils together in order to establish which scents worked.

The result was a rich and creamy caramel warmth ending with a bitter but sweet green apple snap at the end.
If you enjoyed toffee apples or caramelised apple desserts as a kid you will fall in love with this fun yet heart warming scent that will stay with you all day long.
Now that is quite a bold statement to say that you will “fall in love” with it and also that it “will stay with you all day long”. 

So the test began, I jumped in the shower and used their Tactical Blitz shampoo, another absolute must have for anyone that has a beard and cares for it. I gave my beard a quick towel dry and comb before opening the tin. As soon as I opened the tin the aromas that hit me were most certainly caramel, and most certainly apple. I admit that at first the strength of the aroma worried me, but I carried on nonetheless. I took the back of my thumb nail and got the tiniest amount, not even a pea size amount and rubbed into my hands to warm and melt. Oh my god, the smell was amazing, I genuinely thought about licking my hands at this point but decided it probably was best I didn’t. I applied to my beard and with a gentle blow dry and comb I styled my beard as I like it. Once I was done the smell was beautiful, the texture of my beard which is generally without product very coarse, was so soft and had a bounce to it, and the shine that the balm gave my beard was beautiful. There was no greasiness on my skin or greasy look to the beard whatsoever.

Now I know why everyone recommended it so highly, this is by far and away the BEST balm I have ever used. I by no means am an expert on balms or have used a wide range, but out of the ones I have, this WITHOUT question is the best one I have used and will continue to use. Thomas that runs Tactical has come up with an absolute gem here, and by me becoming a 30 day subscriber, every month I can choose a product or products of my choice and they get sent direct to me at the end of each month, and alongside the convenience of not having to worry about running out with this automated system you also get a massive 25% off the standard RRP. Absolute bargain for the quality and again if you have a beard and care what it looks like and it’s health, then you should look absolutely no further than Tactical Beard Co. for your needs. 

So rating time, out of 5* this is without a question a solid 5 out of 5 and I would give it more if I could. 


Now after enjoying a day of the sweet aromas of the Tactical Treacle above, as normal I always apply some balm or oil in the evening to help maintain the healthy nature of my beard so what better time to try the Purpose Beard Balm that I received yesterday. I was made aware of Purpose Beard Balm by a chap on Facebook as they are offering sample pots, prior to you buying a pot. All you have to do is go to the contact form and send them a message and bingo, they send you out a lovely little pot with a good 3-4 applications worth of their product. 

When I opened the pot and had a smell I recognised the aromas which were almost vanilla like to me and rich but a quick look at the ingredients on their website explained what the aromas were;


Unlike the Tactical balm I used earlier in the day which is a harder balm due to using bees wax in its production, the Purpose balm is more of a butter type consistency. Due to this I had to use a slightly greater amount than earlier in the day, so again the back of my thumb nail went into the pot and I scooped out a good pea sized amount and applied to my beard and combed through. 

Due to the consistency of the balm I didn’t need to blow dry through, instead a gentle comb was all that I needed and my beard was set. The aromas then hit me, the almond and cocoa oils rose and gave me that homely type smell that we all love. The texture of my beard again was incredibly soft and the shine was anything but greasy and looked incredibly healthy. 

At £15 for a 50ml pot it is more expensive than the Tactical Balm I trialled earlier in the day, but for me it is certainly something that I would have no issue recommending or buying for myself once pennies permit. Out of 5* I would give this a solid 4 out of 5*. 

Now I know both these products are of a high quality finish as I have woken up this morning and my beard instead of feeling coarse as it normally does when I wake, still feels soft and is still in almost a groomed shape despite a night of sleep and burying my face in the pillow. Both of these products I would recommend to anyone who asks me their opinion. 

Have a good Sunday one and all!

Lots of love Mike and my beard

One Step, One Punch, One Round At A Time


Now I shall apologise for the cheesy film reference in the total, but I watched Creed last night and my BPD mind suddenly started whirring with ideas after watching it, but as I say it got me thinking and ergo we have today’s blog post. 

For those that haven’t watched the film, a basic summary of it is the journey of a fighter into the ring and subsequent fight against the pound for pound best fighter in the world. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts I am two months departed from a 4 month stay in HMP Woodhill, and just finished in the last few days my actual ‘custodial’ sentence. When I first went into Woodhill I counted the days, then broke them down into hours of my minimum and maximum stay, in the end I did 119 days behind the door there. 

The first few days are by far and away the worst, and that is a common feeling amongst those that were in my wing, even the long termers and career criminals. You can’t use the phones as you need security to clear your numbers, you are limited to how many letters you can send as you haven’t had any envelopes and stamps sent in, you have minimal food as you haven’t been able to buy anything on the weekly canteen sheet that comes round, it’s shit. Proper shit. 

On my second day in Woodhill I met with the Mental Health team and for the first time in 15 years of engaging with various MH teams, the psychiatrist identified possible personality disorders & talked about treatment. That was the first time in my life that anyone, other than PTSD and Depresion had identified that I may have some other underlying problems and for that I will be eternally grateful. As it played out, and in comparison to a lot of the boys there I was doing a short sentence, and because the waiting list for MH treatment inside was so long, I never actually managed to start treatment inside. 

When I got back to my cell after the initial meeting with MH and this suggestion that there may be other issues afoot, I started to think about what was going to help get me through each day there and I remembered a talk by Eric Thomas that I had listened to and something he said:

What is your why???”

Well the answer was simple, my Suzi and my boys. That was my why. That was my reason to get my head down and just do my time as easily and peacefully as possible and not get caught up in all the shit that goes on inside. 

By the side of my bed, stuck on the wall, I had two photos, one of my Suzi and one of my boys, Alfie and Jamie. I used to get ripped by some of the boys inside for it but they stayed there from the minute I got them, until the very last minute and my cell being unlocked for the very last time. 

Every morning I used to wake up and kiss every one of them, and say good morning to them. Every time I was behind the door and bored I used to turn and talk to them and tell them about my day. Every time I felt like crying, and when I did cry, I turned and spoke to them. It was familiarity for me and back to the point of this blog today, they were my WHY. 

Now I have my full diagnosis and I know that I suffer from BPD amongst other secondary conditions, I have a daily fight on my hands. Some days are good days, some not so good. On those bad days I remember one thing, “WHAT MY WHY IS”

Nothing has changed other than if I want to give Suzi a kiss, or talk to her and the same with my kids, I can do it in person and the reason to get up every day and fight this thing is them. They have always been and always will be “My Why”

Hope everyone is well and had a good Monday. 

Take care and speak soon,

Mike

Expectations -vs- Reality


God, wouldn’t it be great if they were one and the same thing? Always the case isn’t it, such as that picture above, whereby you see something, or you’re told something, but what you get is if not completely different, certainly as far removed from what you thought to upset you dramatically. 

Expectations and reality have always been two conflicting things in my life. I was gifted with a natural intelligence so I was expected to be an A* pupil. The reality was that I coasted by with my natural ability and didn’t help myself by revising and whilst I passed all my exams, instead of all A* in my results, I only got one and that was in PE so it doesn’t really count does it? 

Growing up with such a strict mother and the rules she put in place, her expectations certainly were for me to go on in further education and get a 6 figure job in the city and be some big wig hotshot. Reality is that I did 3 weeks of further education (until I was 30 years old and went back to school!) and school on a Wednesday, started work on a building site on a Thursday for £30 a day, oh and I was a Dad by the time I was 16 to my gorgeous eldest boy, Jamie. 

What I am trying to highlight above is that whilst I was expected to do X, Y and Z I actually did A, B and C instead, but you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing. I actually got a 6 figure job in the city in the end, I actually went on to further education and continue to this day to educate myself on my subject matter at hand, whether that be my career as a PT or my MH conditions education is something I can ensure is part of my daily life. 

Where now expectations vs reality get blurred is other people’s perception of me. After all I’ve got a few notchs on my record and I served some time at Her Majesty’s pleasure and all for the same thing there or thereabouts, violence. So what do people expect my reaction will be when in a tense situation? If people push my buttons? If I am stressed or someone upsets me? The expectation is that I will react in a violent way. Those that know me know that whilst yes this is possible, and I am very good at it, it is also very rare. The reality is that I have more love to give than hate. More encouragement and help to people than stress and strain. I would rather see someone smile than see someone cry, but expectations are different and I understand why. 

Thanks to my BPD of course there will be a stumble or two along the way, but that is expected of me. The reality after the stumble is that I am going to get better, I am going to change people’s expectations of me, and I will beat BPD and help others to do so too. 

Whilst you may not always do what is expected of you straightaway, eventually you will achieve it. Just may be a few twists and turns in the road along the way. 

Hope you’re all having a great weekend. 

Mike

Me & My Beard

Now those of you that know me that are reading this, and follow me on social media (@suzisfellaandhisbeard – Instagram) will no doubt be bored senseless with post after post about my beard. However, there is reason to it, & for those of you reading this blog, which is in essence Mental Health centric, again you’ll be wondering “what the hell does a beard have to do with his god damn mental health?!”

Let me take you back and explain properly;


(This is as close to clean shaven of a photo as I could find)

I have dabbled with facial fuzz on and off for a couple of years now but never really sustained it as it just became a choir to be honest, so out the clippers would come and I would grade down to a designer stubble length and give my Mrs the most horrific stubble rash in the process. 

Almost a year ago I was arrested, something that will be covered off in a separate blog post at some point. The short version of the story is that I ended up with a 12 month sentence, courtesy of HMP Woodhill. 

When I arrived at Woodhill I became a number, A2968DV and that’s all I was. I was instructed on what to do and when to do it. When to speak and who to speak to. When to eat and when not to. And most of all I was instructed and told that I had to look a certain way, that meant I lost control. Lost control of everything, simple things that we take for granted every day. This is where the beard as we know it began. 

During my time at Woodhill, I behaved and did my time. Thanks to this I was released after 4 months on tag curfew and allowed a degree of freedom again. Alongside this I regained control, control over what I did and how I did it. But when I left Woodhill after seeing and hearing the things I did my MH was at an all time low and I needed to do something for me, so the idea of the beard was born on 23rd December 2016. 


(Actually I lie, I just found this clean shaven photo of me in 2012, baby faced assassin!)

Prior to the idea of the Beard being born, I was assessed and finally diagnosed after nearly 15 years with my BPD and other conditions. My world instantly changed, I knew why I had done the things I had done, why I had acted in the ways I had, why my reactions in certain situations were what they were, but one thing I realised was it wasn’t an excuse for my actions over the years. I’m fortunate to still have my family next to me, and the friends I have as many would of walked away a long time ago, & rightly so!

So along with my diagnosis and regaining control over myself, even though at times I cannot control my mind, I can control what I look like. If I like how I look then, I feel better about myself. That’s the reason why for years I have tortured myself in the gym, yes it’s an outlet for all this aggression I carry around but also the way I built my body restored confidence in myself that was long ago beaten and verbally destroyed. 

I’m going to be back in a gym very shortly and this time I will have a beard of epic proportions to go with it. Oh and a body mk2 that will blow anything out the water that I have previously constructed. 

And most importantly I am no longer A2968DV with no control over my life. I am Mike, I have my body, I have my beard and I have my BPD and I am proud to say that. 

#BeatTheStigma

Mike

So, What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Let’s start at the beginning, as it’s a proverbial spiders web of symptoms and crossovers. 

What is a personality disorder? 

The word personality refers to the pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that make each and everyone of us, who we are. These effect the way we think, feel and ultimately behave towards not just others but ourselves as well. 

Personality disorders are a type of a Mental Health (MH) problem whereby your attitudes, beliefs & behaviours cause massive, more often than not painful and longstanding problems in our lives. 

Each personality disorder, whether you are diagnosed the same as someone else will be UNIQUE to YOU. 

“WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PERSONALITY DISORDER?”

PDs can be listed currently into a list of 10 different ones. 

  1. Paranoid PD
  2. Schizoid PD
  3. Schizotypal PD
  4. Antisocial PD
  5. Histrionic PD
  6. Narcisstic PD
  7. Avoidant PD
  8. Dependent PD
  9. Obsessive Compulsive PD
  10. BORDERLINE PD

Now I highlighted BPD there as that is my main diagnosis. I am diagnosed with 4 other PDs, but my main battle is with BPD and the others are what you would call off-shoots of it. 

There are a lot of crossover and misdiagnosis of BPD and Bi-Polar, and yes you can be diagnosed with both but the only person who can do that is a qualified MH professional. 

Symptoms of BPD present in many ways but sufferers may experience some of the following;

  • Fear of abandonment 
  • Everything is intense. Every emotion is all or nothing. 
  • Have limited sense of who you are, and when you do have a sense it can flux and change. 
  • Impulsiveness. 
  • Self Harm
  • Feeling empty and lonely all the time 
  • Struggle with anger control

Best way that someone explained my diagnosis to me is this; it is like being a 3rd degree burns victim, where every emotion is felt to its absolute most. There is no in between as the picture below shows. In ‘normal’ people they would have a spectrum of emotions, demonstrated by colours. BPD sufferers see only in black and white, there is no spectrum of emotions. 


I have found since my diagnosis that BPD sufferers are mostly very intelligent, hugely caring and in some cases incredibly artistic. One of the most famous sufferers of BPD was the late, great Robin Williams who sadly took his life due to struggles with his own MH. 


I will expand and post more over time my experiences with BPD, but for now I wish you all a good day and thank you for reading. 

Mike