This blog was born back in 2013 after a 5 week stint in the psychiatric unit in Galway for a particularly difficult bout of depression.  It documents everything that I’ve done since then to try and get a handle on my mental health, moving from an earnest belief that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain, to a realisation that there is no solid evidence to support that theory whatsoever.  The difficulties I have been experiencing, and to an extent, continue to experience, are nothing more sinister than emotional reactions to events in my past, and what happens in my day to day life.  I’m not broken, I’m not sick, and I never was – I’m human, just like everyone else.

This learning hasn’t come easy.  It’s taken years of therapy, years of traditional treatment (read psychiatry and medication), and finally, release from all of the labels as I was given the knowledge to really understand what was happening, alongside the skills to manage my emotions and reactions. I no longer take psychiatric drugs. I no longer believe myself to have a personality disorder. I recognise that of course I will experience a range of emotions and reactions to whatever life throws at me, but that doesn’t mean there’s a problem.  Emotions arise in reaction to situations.  They pass.  Everything is transient.

I’m learning about compassion, in the true sense of the word, and how to apply it to myself as well as others.  It’s not all light and fluffy, letting myself off the hook, treating myself – sometimes it means doing things that are really, really hard, because ultimately, they will lead to something better.  Compassion can be defined as recognising distress and suffering in both the self and others, alongside a commitment to taking action to alleviate that distress. It’s not about short term relief from pain, but rather, long term release from it.

It’s been an interesting journey, and I hope that it may give some readers clarity around difficulties they may be experiencing themselves.  There are days when I would happily believe that I need medication, that a drug will fix everything for me.  But then I remember – all the drug will ever do is mask the emotion, and so block me from really learning from it.  These days, challenging and all as it is, I feel everything, good, bad and indifferent.  The good is wonderful, the bad often torturous, but they all teach me something.  All I have to do is make the time to listen.


This article has 32 Comments

  1. Hi Fiona,
    I am so happy that i have finally found a blog where someone is so open and honest about depression and anxiety.
    My mum has suffered all her life with depression, I curently suffer with insecurirty and not feeling safe.
    Your blog gives me hope that the feel;ings and thoughts are normal and I am not going insane.
    Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Fiona,
      You're so welcome, and I'm glad to be of use to you. It always helps to know we're not alone in these feelings, that far from being unusual, they're just well hidden. My hope with this blog is that more people will feel able to be open about what's going on for them.
      I hope today is being good to you

    2. I'm the same my Mom has the same stuff and I feel the same too it's nice to see all this and feel safe and familiar and no longer alone

  2. think i am beginning to get depression or some form of anxiety,hate my job so im going to quit and hope i return to my old self and not be so negative and down all the time.will find it very difficult to get another job but its not worth it.

  3. read your article in irish indo,excellent takes courage to be so open,
    i wish you good health,and a long and happy life ,

  4. Hi Fiona,
    I read your blog most days and really feel and empathise with you – I also think you're incredibly brave too, amazing really. Depression and anxiety are in themselves a full time job (with extra b. hours!!!) and coping with all the everyday tasks on top of that (work, family, home) is so draining and feel insurmountable. Some advice I was given was that I was way, way too hard on myself (unbelievably so) and that I would never (ever!!!) treat another human being the way I treat myself. The constant "me bashing" I give myself is crazy. I am now trying to be kind with ME – doesn't always work obviously, but hey-ho, a work in progress, aren't we all?:o( I really hope that things settle down for you Fiona because you deserve to be well and you truly are an inspiration. Huge supporting hugs!!!!

    1. I cannot believe it's taken me so long to respond to you, I'm really sorry!! Huge thanks for the support and encouragement, it helps and means a lot. Am very guilty of me bashing as well – why do we do this to ourselves?? Hope your work in progress is progressing ok. I'm getting there, slowly!

  5. Alarm bells are ringing as I looked at your traffic light piece today. My head is not a good place to be in at the moment. It seems like nothing works but I know when the cloud lifts things are clearer. I feel I'm drifting from my fiance, better off on my own except I've 2 kids and newly pregnant. I would ask him to leave if I wasn't even though it's not him. Back to the meds I think for me. Thank you for your honest blog.

    1. Hi, hope things are better for you now and huge apologies for the slow reply. Completely understand how you feel, especially around asking fiancé to leave – I've had that conversation quite a few times with Hubby. Hope you're ok

  6. Hi Fiona,
    I don't "do" Facebook, Twitter etc. but follow your blog here and see that you have been having such a terrible time lately – understatement eh :o( I can so identify with that feeling of totally lacking energy, motivation, enthusiasm or the will to get on with anything at all. Also the guilt that accompanies it too. The "if only" I could find just something to give myself a kick start somehow, that little ray of light or inspiration, it's there somewhere. When I'm like that everything feels so overwhelming, and as if I'm actually dragging myself through 3 feet of thick mud when I try to accomplish a task, however small. I also sigh a lot & do my "what's the bloody point" face! You won't want to hear this, but I think you've done well today – seems nothing I know, but you could have stayed under the duvet and you didn't. It's hard to know what to say Fiona, but you're not on your own and we understand. I've often thought that if everyone experienced depression, for however short a time (1/2 a day maybe! Even a couple of hours!) so they could realise what a debilitating battle it is. Wishing you well and hope you have a decent night's sleep tonight, thinking of you. x

    1. Thank you so much for your support – I remember reading this comment when you posted it and feeling better for it, but couldn't quite get round to replying, so apologies for that. Things are thankfully a lot better than they were two months ago.. I'm not where I'd like to be, but I'm getting there, I'll just have to be patient. Hope you're ok x

  7. Just came across your traffic light management system in The and it is a great way to monitor feelings. Usually when I am asked "How Are you?" I get such a rush of emotions and thoughts that I can't actually answer the question so I tend to squeak out an "I'm fine!" Lol… Have also tweeted your link to a few other people…thank you.

    1. You're welcome, and thank you!! It's such a useful tool for me as well, I often have to look back on it to see what's going on. Thankfully I'm more in the green these days than I have been, so I'm hoping that's a pattern that will last.

  8. Hi Fiona, I just wanted to thank you for making a brave decision to help others and yourself by speaking out about your mental health issues. I wish the best for you and hope you get to use that lovely smile of yours (as seen in Indo) more and more as you go on 🙂

  9. Hey there! I am a fellow BPDer. Although instead of comorbid depression, I'm anxiety! Reading your blog has been a little too familiar for me. Stay strong. S xx

    1. Hey, thanks for taking the time to comment. Things are going really well right now, time out of work is helping no end and I'm loving having time with the kids with no pressure to be anywhere, and no obligation to do anything other than what we want. Nice to feel relatively stable for a change!! Long may it last. Hope you're well.

  10. Hi, Fiona
    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. For the last four weeks I have read your journey from the beginning. It has given me the courage to finally admit to everything and get the help that myself and my family so desperately need.
    My biggest hurdle now is having to leave my two girls and the most gentle, giving, supportive man to get the help I need. My heart is in pieces but I know it will mend and pray to god that they get back the mother and wife they deserve.
    Fiona your blog on what your proud of, I'm proud of you for being an open, honest , determined, strong woman because it is helping those who are so afraid of having a voice.
    For now I sign off a heartbroken little girl but I hope to come back to your blog soon and tell you all the things I'm proud of.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read everything, and to comment. I hope you were able to get the help you need and things start to look up soon. It's heartbreaking having to leave family, but like you say, hopefully they'll soon get back the mother and wife they deserve. Thinking of you, mind yourself.

  11. Fiona, I love your blog. Found it in the midst of a depressive episode and I just love how beautifully you write and show your wonderful achievements and family life and your own experiences. You do so much to show that mental health problems are part of life, part of everyone, I can't phrase that very well. I was just diagnosed yesterday with bpd. My head is in a whirl but I know reading your blog has already given me so much hope and information. Thank you…sincerely

    1. Hi Lucie, thanks for taking the time to comment, I'm touched to think that what I've written has given you hope. BPD is a wicked diagnosis, but as I'm beginning to realise now, explains so much about my past. Things are starting to make more sense, and I'm finally starting to be able to recognise disordered thinking. It hasn't been easy, but just knowing what's been going on all this time has made a huge difference. Hope your head stops whirling soon.

  12. Hi Fiona
    I found your blog a while ago whilst looking into BPD and attempting to self-diagnose! I realise your situation is complicated because of other diagnosis, but you seem to be very well balanced and you seem to have your life in far better order than I can ever imagine! Now obviously the fact that you have BPD et al doesn't make you any less intelligent, but I've been happily blaming oul undiagnosed BPD for all of my shortcomings and failings and now I'm thinking I'm actually just thick and have a crap personality!! Not pointing the finger at you, what you're doing is superb and I am actually quite envious that you have found such an effective way of coping and also helping others as a by-product. I have not been diagnosed, my doctor would not entertain the idea of bpd and nor would my therapist. (Ex-therapist!) They haven't witnessed me at work, or at home, and they do not know that I have avoided forming any close friendships now for over 20 years, or the fact that any social event (particularly family) is terrifying and will almost certainly end in tears, mine. I am really exhausted by now and would love to at least have this acknowledged, for myself alone . How did you get a diagnosis for bpd? If you don't mind sharing that is!
    Thought you were particularly good on TV3 recently. Particularly as I'd been expecting a man (misread your info – see..?.. thick!!!)
    Hope you're coping again.
    Kind regards

    1. Huge apologies for the slow reply – since you wrote the above I've become far less well balanced and have been struggling a lot of late. Diagnosis of bpd was very, very slow to come about – took a good two years, a hospital admission, and a lot of work with a psychiatrist, therapist and my GP. It's not a label that's given out lightly as it's notoriously hard to treat (any of my recent posts will show you why, Im being textbook bpd at the moment) and to diagnose.
      I would suggest if you're still having difficulties that you link in with your GP again, and maybe consider a new therapist? It can be hard to find someone you click with, I tried 3 before I found the girl I'm with now.
      Best of luck with everything,

  13. Fiona just looking at books and find there is a lot of nice painting mindfulness books to be got. ive seen them in my local bookshop maybe these would help you some seeing as you say you switch of the chatter when painting maybe search them out .

  14. Hey Fiona,
    I was trolling around the web, trying to find something to help me clear my mind of all those troubling thoughts i have.
    It takes a lot of guts to admit having depression, i think I’ve had it for a few month now, i was just to reluctant to admit it, mainly to myself for a long time.
    it’s funny how sometimes the right choice of words can have a much bigger effect then different words that say the same thing.
    Thank you for your words.
    and keep on writing! maybe I’ll try to do the same myself.


    1. Hey, I’m glad you found me and even more glad that it might be able to help in some way. Writing helps me hugely, always has done, especially on the bad days. Give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised. Hope the weekend is being kind to you

  15. Hi, I saw your Huffington Post article this morning, and I couldn’t agree more! I feel like these “success stories” give the impression that mental health issues are somehow a passing phase and curable – they’re more like trying to put a cat in a box; just when you squeeze one bit in, and get ripped to shreds doing so, another bit pops out unexpectedly and tries a new line of attack!

    Small, personal victories. It’s hard with social media to remember and celebrate the fact that you got out of bed this morning, or resisted the temptation to hide from the world all day, because it sounds so weak and obvious. Comparisons are insidious and undermining though, and to me they’re just another way your mind seems to try and beat you up. That’s the thing though, your own thoughts have such a power over you, those small victories have to be relished and celebrated. The scars and bruises they leave are evidence of the fight you’re putting up to keep your mind in its box, and the fact you’re fighting even when you lose is, at least I think, something worth celebrating.

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