I can’t even put into words just how excited I was to discover that all six seasons of The Hills had been added to Amazon Prime Video UK! If you haven’t heard of The Hills; it’s basically a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ series that began in 2006 and which is centred around the lives of really wealthy, young people living in LA (for a proper description: http://www.mtv.co.uk/the-hills).
I think I first started watching it because I’m definitely one of those people who enjoys gaining insight into the lives of others – not in a nosey, rude way. I wonder if it’s maybe to do with me being a mental health Blogger? Like, I put almost my entire life out there for so many people to read, and maybe I just like to get a little something back? Or maybe it’s because in the same way as I want readers to use I’m NOT Disordered to gain insight into mental health, I’m interested to gain insight into the lives of people who I maybe can’t relate to or who I don’t have much in common with.
The Hills also puts a massive focus on fashion with the main character; Lauren Conrad securing an internship at the fashion magazine; Teen Vogue. Fashion is an area that I don’t often talk about on I’m NOT Disordered because it hasn’t been a big part of my life for a while now… I think I always loved fashion and used to design little outfits but then, in my Textiles GCSE class, my Teacher was very critical – and not in a constructive way. Her constant negativity around my work left me completely reluctant to continue with art and drawing and initially, I thought that was the only way I could be involved in fashion until I was eighteen and got a weekend job at a huge retail store. One of my duties was to arrange the displays and improve the shop’s appearance and it really sparked an interest in – what I later found out was called – visual merchandising.
Unfortunately, I was sectioned whilst I worked in the store and realised that it’d look better if I were to quit than risk them firing me for being off too much. So, I took a voluntary job (which meant I had more control over the hours) as a window dresser of a charity shop. I really enjoyed it but it took a backseat when my mental health continued to deteriorate and I didn’t revisit fashion until the professionals were discussing discharge from the specialist hospital and I applied for a job and invested in a ton of books in visual merchandising… then I’m NOT Disordered’s popularity grew – and with it, the opportunities, and I decided that this was what I wanted to give my time to.
But I think that fashion will be one of those interests that will always lay in me and will rear it’s head occasionally when something brings light to it. Something like The Hills! And that’s not all it has brought light to…
One of the nine possible symptoms (as they were in the diagnostic criteria when I was diagnosed in 2009) of Borderline Personality Disorder, is an intense and overwhelming anger that is often irrational and uncontrollable. I’d completely agree with the professionals who deemed me to have this symptom and I believe it is completely routed to and motivated by, the rape and the abuse.
I mean, it has given me so many reasons to be angry: angry that no one realised what was happening, angry at my abuser for doing it, and angry at myself for not fighting back more or reporting it sooner. I honestly had so much anger in me that I wondered how I still had the ability to breathe and continue living! I thought that I was so completely consumed by the fury that I would forget how crucial the simple act of breathing was! And I think that if I’d held onto that anger for any longer it might have actually killed me. I might have forgotten to breath and it might have eaten me alive.
I don’t think I’ve completely lost that anger; I just feel as though I’ve managed to stuff it down a bit so that it’s less overwhelming and I’ve learnt a few dozen skills to control it and actually harness it in a positive way. I see it as motivation to do well in life because I want to illustrate that what all of those people did – or didn’t do – hasn’t beaten me. It hasn’t shaped who I am, and it isn’t in control of my life. I’m not living my life around the anger anymore, I’m not adapting everything I want to do to fit around this huge, overwhelming anger that was keeping me stuck in the past. That was a constant reminder of the abuse.
I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that being angry was a ‘waste’ of my time, because that might seem to minimize the colossal impact the abuse had on me and would almost be like saying that thinking about it, and having feelings around it, wouldn’t be worth my time. As though what happened to me doesn’t deserve to be considered and to have such a big impact on my life.
When I was first told I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a few professionals were reluctant to give me the diagnosis officially because they said it was a ‘death sentence’ and that other professionals would be reluctant to support me. But I was determined to put a name to what was happening to me – I found it reassuring to have some sort of explanation and reason for everything. I also felt less alone because having a diagnosis meant that there were other people out there with BPD.
The benefits of finally having a diagnosis, were soon outweighed by the negatives though, and I quickly found out that having a Personality Disorder left people making a whole ton of incorrect assumptions about you. I mean, just the name of it seems to offend people and leave them believing that a person with such a Disorder lives a life without order or purpose because they are fundamentally disordered. It’s almost as though the Disorder defines you and becomes the best way to describe who you are. As though that’s all you are. Hence my blog’s name: ‘I’m NOT Disordered!’
When your life seems to revolve around self-harm and hospital admissions, it can be difficult for you – yourself – to see that you’re more than your diagnosis. I definitely struggled with that and with finding some sort of identity.
Being abused and raped has inevitably taught me a lot about forgiveness because determining whether I can forgive my abuser has become such a huge issue and challenge in my life. It’s something that – rightly or wrongly – has shaped my life and I think my thoughts and beliefs on it really say a lot about me as a person.
Initially, after the abuse, I held a lot of hatred toward my abuser because I was so angry that he’d thought he had the right to hurt my body. That he thought it was ok to do something like that. Then the anger increased when the Police voiced their frustration after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him. I was furious at the thought that he wasn’t going to experience any consequences for what he’d done whilst I seemed to be in and out of hospital for self-harm and suicide attempts. I mean, how was that fair?
All that anger and frustration really motivated my reluctance to show him any kind of forgiveness because I didn’t believe he deserved it. I also wasn’t sure whether he even wanted or expected it since he’d pleaded innocent with the Police, it made me wonder whether he genuinely believed he’d done nothing wrong.
In the end, though, I’ve learnt that since I can’t just dismiss the anger (because I have every right to feel it) so I have to find a way to live with it in a healthy and safe way. Finding that balance with the anger meant that my mind became a lot clearer to have the ability to consider the prospect of forgiveness.
With the recent movement for the rights of black people, there’s been a few instances on social media where I’ve felt very strongly against an opinion or point of view someone is expressing and on one occasion I even spoke up! That was a mistake! As much as I tried to be fair and balanced in making my point, some people jumped on my comment and from then on, I decided to shut the hell up!
When you can’t speak up out of fear of repercussions it is one of the most difficult and debilitating feelings; especially when you’re usually a passionate and honest person (yes, like me!). And I’m a firm believer in everyone being entitled to their own opinion and that social media should be a forum for people to communicate their thoughts and feelings. No one should feel they have to keep quiet becauxe they’re worried that they’ll be trolled if they express an opinion.