PhoenixCove - Etsy UK

Welcome to Blogmas Unboxed!!

 Last year, I visited the Whitley Bay Christmas Market in their lovely building known as the Spanish City with a best-friend and we had such a good time that we decided to go back this year. Then, in hearing how amazing it was, my Mum wanted to go too so I ended up visiting it on the Saturday (25th November) with Martin Baker of and then on the Sunday (26th) I went with my Mum. Doing those two trips has inspired me to chat a bit about the importance and challenges you face in trying to spend equal amounts of time with each of your loved ones. I’ll also be adding some photos from the Markets, telling you about my purchases, and there’ll be an Instagram reel at the end of the post…

On thinking about this blog post, in recognising that it was basically based on my Mum and one of my best-friend’s, I found myself immediately thinking about relationships in general, and so I thought I’d start there…

So, right up until I was sectioned and transferred to the psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from home in 2012, I felt I had a few really good, normal relationships and friendships with a group of absolutely amazing and hilarious people! Professionals might disagree because to be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder back then, you had to have five of nine possible symptoms and professionals said that I had all nine; but one of those symptoms was about having ‘unstable relationships...’

Cutie Pie Cards



Instagram: @Cutiepie_cards

I would, however, agree that my relationships with professionals were massively unstable and left me experiencing forever contradictory thoughts and feelings that resulted in me hanging up the phone on a member of staff or walking out of an appointment or therapy session and then, a few days later, I’d be questioning just how valid my opinion, argument, or point had been and trying to rectify things. This was really difficult because it meant that no matter how passionate and convinced, I felt that I was always aware that professionals were very likely saying “she’ll be fine in a few days!” and that meant they wouldn’t be taking me seriously or recognising when something was genuine and a very real, legitimate risk.

In fairness though, things were up and down with professionals mostly because even if you had two staff from the exact same mental health team, there was still little to no continuity of care! I mean, in the first few months of my mental health deteriorating to the point where mental health services became involved, there was a huge level of panic, concern, and genuine kindness. But that all came to an incredibly prompt end when the diagnosis of a Personality Disorder began being thrown around by professionals! Back then (2009), well; even the Chief Executive of my local NHS mental health Trust has agreed that the Trust’s services and its staff were incredibly stigmatised and discriminatory against those with this hugely misunderstood Disorder. I literally had professionals very openly and bluntly call me an attention seeker – both to my face and/or within my earshot!

It meant that, at one point (and for quite a while), I felt so ill-treat that I could confidently list one million reasons in answering those who would ask why I didn’t call the Crisis Team when I was struggling with my hallucinations, having suicidal thoughts, or making plans to self-harm! I honestly felt so certain that in ringing them – or even the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) when a crisis happened within office hours – I would end up feeling worse. So, in my eyes, I was actually trying to stay safe by not contacting them because I felt that this minimised the risk of them making a horrible comment or just generally treating me poorly and that making the entire situation and my safety, worse.

The only other relationship that I could imagine being described as unstable due to my mental illness, was the one that is definitely the most important to me: and that is the one I share with my Mum. There’s one instance that stands out for me in the three years between my first suicide attempt in 2009 and being admitted to the specialist hospital in 2012, was in around 2011. In all honesty, I can’t remember the exact catalyst for the argument, but my Mum made the statement that if I couldn’t or didn’t respect her then I should leave… So, with my mental health feeling very unmanageable, unpredictable, and pretty damn erratic, I packed my suitcase and flew down to move into my Dad’s home in Dorset (where I was born) with the wonder whether doing so would allow me a fresh start. Of course, it didn’t because mental illness doesn’t just go away because you have a different postcode(!) and when my Step-Mum told my Dad that she couldn’t cope with me living with them, he chose her, and told me to leave.

Running from my Dad’s house and self-harming in the toilets of a nearby shopping centre, I think that – until that point – it was the lowest I’d ever felt. I had the distinct impression that I was completely alone in the world and believed that if no one cared about me, then why should I care about myself?! After someone called an Ambulance when I was found unconscious, I was taken to hospital where I refused medical treatment before trying to leave A&E. I ended up being detained and sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act and I was transferred to a nearby psychiatric hospital. Apparently while I was there, my Mum had a conversation with one of the staff and he mentioned Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as being the recommended treatment for someone with a Personality Disorder diagnosis. My Mum was straight on the phone to the CMHT asking why I had never been offered it… Hearing this, I recognised that I belonged with my Mum and that she was the only one who would go above and beyond to save my life, but that this was all I needed – one amazing person who would do that.

Despite coming back to my Mum’s, my mental health continued to deteriorate and when I woke up after another suicide attempt had left me on life support in Intensive Care, the first thing I remember was my Mum being there and saying, “you might hate me forever, but you’re going into hospital!” And so, with the thought that if I showed willing to go to the specialist psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away who CMHT had recently asked to assess me, but I’d refused to go to their ward, then I could just run off when I got there and there’d be no one who could stop me. And with that physical distance, I thought it’d mean I could also distance myself emotionally and psychologically from the worry of the impact my actions would also have on my Mum.

Phil Benton Photography


Facebook: @PhilBentonphotography

Instagram: @philbentonphotographyofficial

Twitter: @PBentonPhotos

Thankfully – though admittedly, there are still times when I’m actually not that thankful! – the two instances I managed to go AWOL from the hospital in the two and a half years I was there for and when I made further suicide attempts, were unsuccessful and after another instance on life support, I finally recognised that I no longer wanted this to be my life. I didn’t want to keep hurting myself and other people by doing things that weren’t even working or proving ‘successful!’ Not long after this realisation, my Mum went through an incredibly hard and challenging time herself and this proved to be further motivation for me to try harder to cooperate with staff, engage in therapy, and willingly take my medication. I knew and believed that it was my turn to be there for my Mum and that perhaps I had made it through everything in order to be able to do that.

Since being discharged from the psychiatric hospital in 2014, I would say that my relationship with my Mum has only gone from strength to strength. I mean, of course we’ve had typical disagreements and things, but I believe we’ve still never gone backwards in terms of our bond and closeness. We’ve both expressed the same thought and feeling that we have a lot of time to make up for in terms of all the activities and special occasions that – due to my mental health – we haven’t spent together. There were times when I would be on various transport in a bid to run away and self-harm and I’d look out the window or see somewhere else on the bus or train or whatever, a lady and a young girl (who I felt safe to assume for them to be mother and daughter) laughing or going shopping or having drinks together and I’d have to wipe away tears from the sheer jealousy and envy of their completely wholesome interaction.

In addition to recognising the need to make up for lost time, I also have the feeling or notion that spending time with my Mum and doing these amazing activities and going on trips, could maybe/hopefully be a way to apologise for all that I/my mental illness has put her through over the years. I believe that this topic is actually a really defining characteristic of our relationship… the fact that I will always be apologetic for the many different impacts my mental illness journey has had on my Mum and she always tell me that I don’t need to say sorry because in those really terrible moments, I wasn’t really ‘me’ – I was genuinely poorly. Now, I think that the most important change in this mindset has been that whilst I’m still sorry, that no longer makes me suicidal or even upset. If anything, it’s become a positive quality because I find it an additional huge drive and motivation to make so many new memories with my Mum. And her forgiveness no longer leaves me feeling even more guilty and unworthy. The thought of it now provides me with even more respect, inspiration, and appreciation for my Mum.

So, in deciding on festive adventures and activities this year, one that sprung to mind immediately was wanting to go back to Whitley Bay’s Christmas Market in their Spanish City with one of my best-friends; Martin Baker of as we had fun doing that last year. But, upon hearing of our plans to do this, my Mum said it was something she would like to do too as she hasn’t been to it before. To be honest, it wasn’t even about a decision or a thought process, I knew from the offset that I wanted my trip with Martin to be just for us so that it felt like a more special tradition, almost. And so, I immediately suggested to my Mum that we should go to the Market the day after Martin, and I did (it was only on for one weekend!). She was concerned that I might not want to go back if I didn’t enjoy it on the Saturday, but I promised I would still go and so, with everyone in agreement with the plan, I booked our advance tickets (as they were slightly cheaper than paying ‘on the door’).

Glitter Pig

Facebook: @glitterpig75

Instagram: @glitterpig75

It was important to me to keep the original plan with Martin because I have a number of exciting festive outings scheduled in my diary that will be just me and my Mum and with Martin – and my other best-friends – meaning so much to me, I really wanted to also make the effort to arrange Christmassy meetups with them too. And doing that, really brought out one of my favourite qualities about my friendships; how different each of my best-friends are and how this allows me to not only do a larger variety of activities, but it also means that I can talk about different things with each friend. Some, I might get into really deep, serious, and detailed conversations about my mental health, and then with others I can tend to actually just focus on chatting about light, fun, and more positive memories and achievements.

Similar to my Mum, I’ve missed out on a lot of things with some of my best-friends too because I’ve actually known two of them (Sophie and Lauren) since before my mental health really deteriorated in 2009.  Although, saying that; even the best-friends (Georgie, Jack, and Martin) who I’ve built relationships up with since being discharged from the two-and-a-half-year long psychiatric hospital admission (2014) have been affected (in the same way) by my mental health. Sometimes this has been in a big way and sometimes in small – but equally important – ways. I mean, I think that the most common impact has been by way of having to cancel plans and arrangements because I’ve ended up in hospital or have been in A&E all night or waiting for the Crisis Team to come out and I desperately need to catch-up on my sleep. Having to cancel or miss out on time together with friends not only had the obvious impact of spoiling any excitement that had built up, but it also left me feeling like a pretty terrible person and questioning just how worthy I was of the friendship in the first place. And this, could sometimes cause an emotional and psychological distance.

To wrap up Day Six, I just wanted to say a massive thank you for all the people who have stood by me throughout this entirely bonkers journey – both with my mental health and in my blogging career. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without you all.

About the Venue:

Spanish City

Email: or

Facebook: @myspanishcity

Instagram: @myspanishcity

The Reel:

Blogger Template Created by pipdig