Music Therapy: Songs to Boost your Mood

When I’m looking for ways to boost my mood, one of the most effective techniques I’ve found is to stick on some music and stage my own mini-concert for my cats! I just know they appreciate it too…

I like to choose songs that are upbeat, powerful, and/or motivational – anything to release some emotion and soak up some positivity.

Here are some of my top picks for a mood-boosting playlist.

This Is Me – Demi Lovato

No more hiding who I wanna be
This is me

I love this song because it helps me to remember that I have the right to express myself and be the person that I want to be, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) – Kelly Clarkson

You didn’t think that I’d come back
I’d come back swinging
You try to break me but you see
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Kelly is rocking some serious “f*** you” vibes in this one, and when I’m belting it out in my living room, it’s kind of like a metaphorical middle finger to past toxic relationships/situations.

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself – Jess Glynne

Everyone trips, everyone falls
So don’t be so hard on yourself, no

I am notoriously self-critical, so this song is great for reminding me to be kind to myself.

Fight Song – Rachel Platten

And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Not only am I self-critical, but I also tend to assume that other people think badly of me, or think I’m not good enough. This song helps me to remember that I’m a strong person, and it doesn’t matter if anyone else disagrees with that.

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my mind
Sayin’ it’s gonna be alright

Now, I’m going to be honest here… I’m not a huge Taylor fan. BUT, I do find this song useful for “shaking off” negativity.

Bring It All Back – S Club 7

If people try to put you down
Just walk on by, don’t turn around
You only have to answer to yourself

This one is just a bit of fun, really! Yes, the lyrics are motivational, but mostly I like this one because it’s a bangin’ tune! Great for a little boogie around the house.

What are your favourite mood-boosting songs? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Mindfulness: Using Your Senses

Many times throughout my treatment for BPD, I have been “encouraged” to use mindfulness. So much so, that I started to hate the word.

“How is mindfulness going to help me? Sounds like some mental health buzzword shit.”

I reluctantly sat through breathing exercises, silently feeling my chest tighten, and wondering how the fuck anyone could possibly find this helpful.

Then one day at group therapy, we were asked to pick an object from outside. I chose a stone. Others chose a leaf, a pinecone, a feather, and so on.

We returned inside with our chosen objects, and the group leader asked us to follow along as she walked us through the exercise.

First, we were asked to focus on our object. If other thoughts arose, we were to notice them, then bring our attention back to our object. Then she slowly directed us:

Describe your object by what you can see. What colour is it? How big is it? Does it have any marks or patterns? List every detail you can see.

Next, describe your object by how it feels in your hands. Is it cold to the touch? Is it rough or smooth? Can you feel any bumps or indents?

Moving on to smell. Does your object have a smell? Is it a pleasant smell? If it doesn’t smell of anything, just acknowledge that.

Next, hearing. Does your object make a noise? What about when you squeeze it? When you tap it against the table? When you shake it? Is it a loud noise? Is it barely audible?

And finally, taste. If safe to do so, taste your object. If it’s dirty or unsafe to taste, just notice that – no judgment, just acknowledge it. If you can taste your object, how does it taste? Is it bitter? Does it taste of anything? Does it taste like you expected it to?

The group leader brought the exercise to a close, and we returned our attention to the room.

Then it hit me. For the first time, I’d actually focused for the entire exercise. I actually did feel calmer. My brain felt less foggy. I felt at least a little bit connected to the physical world – a sensation with which I had not been familiar for a long time.

I tried the exercise a few times by myself at home over the next week, particularly when I felt anxious or I was dissociating, and it really helped. It didn’t work every time, of course. I’m not going to bullshit you and tell you it’s the magic cure to all your problems. But it honestly helped the majority of the times that I used it.

I found that unlike the breathing mindfulness exercises, or the observing your emotions exercises, I was actually able to focus because I had something physical, something tangible to lock on to.

I tried the exercise with a pen. With a necklace. With a cup of tea. I started making a list of things I could use in the future.

For the first time, I’d found mindfulness helpful. For the first time, I thought it might not just be a mental health buzzword.

Maybe it won’t work for you. Maybe it will. All I know is, it gives me something to which I can anchor my mind when it’s trying to float away into the fog. So maybe it’s worth a try?

What is your experience with mindfulness? Have you tried this method? What do you find helpful to deal with anxiety, dissociation, or brain fog? Let me know in the comments below!

 

5 Myths About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) is arguably one of the most misunderstood mental health diagnoses. The myths surrounding BPD are not just annoying for those who experience it, but can also be harmful.

Here are just five of the most prevalent myths surrounding BPD and those of us who live with the diagnosis.

1. We are manipulative attention-seekers.

Many people suggest that those with BPD are constantly seeking attention, and will often be manipulative in order to get it. This in itself isn’t entirely wrong, but it is framed entirely incorrectly.

Those of us with BPD are intensely afraid of abandonment and/or rejection, and we will often persistently ask for reassurance or validation (which may be seen as “attention”) in order to calm ourselves and ascertain that those we love are not imminently going to leave us. In some cases, this can display itself in ways that are deemed “manipulative”, but we are not making the active decision to manipulate you. We are acting out of fear, and responding in the only way we know how.

We don’t have evil intentions in mind. We aren’t trying to hurt you. We just need reassurance.

2. BPD isn’t a valid mental illness.

Often BPD is dismissed and its sufferers are seen as simply behaving inappropriately, rather than having a “legitimate” mental illness. Whilst there is still research being done to further investigate BPD, it is a valid diagnosis, recognised in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) used by mental health professionals. However, there are still cases of some mental health professionals refusing to acknowledge BPD as a valid diagnosis, and this can lead to some of us not receiving the treatment or support we need.

3. It is impossible to have a relationship/friendship with us.

Many of us with BPD struggle to maintain relationships with family, friends, and partners, again due to fear of perceived abandonment or rejection, and also due to marked emotional instability (rapid mood cycling, intense and overwhelming emotions, etc). However, there are many reasons why this doesn’t necessarily mean a relationship with us would be impossible.

Having BPD can display itself in ways which are generally not conducive to a stable relationship, however, those of us with BPD also have a significant capacity for love, empathy, passion, support, and kindness. We often instinctively put others’ needs before our own, sometimes to our own significant detriment. We have a lot to contribute to a relationship, and whilst leaving BPD untreated can cause relationships to become damaged, we have an amazing foundation of love and compassion on which to build a relationship, and with effective treatment, these relationships can be successful and fulfilling.

Learning to effectively manage our emotions and relationships is a large part of the treatment we receive, whether it comes in the form of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or Psychotherapy, to name just a few options. Our skills improve, we learn more effective coping strategies, and this, on top of our core ability to love and be loved, makes for an amazing relationship, be it romantic or platonic.

4. BPD only affects women.

The assumption that BPD only affects women is both incorrect and potentially harmful. Whilst the statistics tend to show that BPD occurs more commonly in women, it is still very much an issue for men too, and it is worth bearing in mind that these statistics only represent those who have been officially diagnosed. This may speak more to the fact that men are less likely to seek help with mental health issues, particularly when the issue with which they are struggling is seen as a predominantly “female” diagnosis so we may not know the true extent of the number of men experiencing BPD.

5. Everyone who has BPD experiences the same thing.

This is a significant myth because it is not only wildly false, it can also mean that we are pushed towards treatment methods that are entirely ineffective and do not address the issues we face.

In order to receive a diagnosis of BPD, you would need to meet 5 out of the 9 criteria below (taken from the NHS website):

  • Do you have an intense fear of being left alone, which causes you to act in ways that, on reflection, seem out of the ordinary or extreme, such as constantly phoning somebody (but not including self-harming or suicidal behaviour)?
  • Do you have a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with other people that switch between thinking you love that person and they’re wonderful to hating that person and thinking they’re terrible?
  • Do you ever feel you don’t have a strong sense of your own self and are unclear about your self-image?
  • Do you engage in impulsive activities in two areas that are potentially damaging, such as unsafe sex, drug abuse or reckless spending (but not including self-harming or suicidal behaviour)?
  • Have you made repeated suicide threats or attempts in your past and engaged in self-harming?
  • Do you have severe mood swings, such as feeling intensely depressed, anxious or irritable, which last from a few hours to a few days?
  • Do you have long-term feelings of emptiness and loneliness?
  • Do you have sudden and intense feelings of anger and aggression, and often find it difficult to control your anger?
  • When you find yourself in stressful situations, do you have feelings of paranoia, or do you feel like you’re disconnected from the world or from your own body, thoughts and behaviour?

As you can see, there are multiple combinations of five criteria one could meet, and some people meet more and up to all of them. Consequently, if you stood in a room full of people with BPD, it is unlikely that you would meet two individuals who meet exactly the same criteria as each other, and even if they did, it is almost impossible that they would experience those criteria in exactly the same way.

For example, even if you were to meet two people who both experienced identical criteria, including “impulsive activities” as one of them, one individual may experience this in the form of drug abuse, whereas the other individual may experience it in the form of reckless spending. These two forms of impulsivity carry with them their own risks and consequences. Therefore, even within the criteria itself, there are several variations.

Those of us with BPD may find we have certain similarities, but we are by no means experiencing the same things in the same way. As such, it is crucial that treatment and support are flexible and adaptable to each person’s needs, so we don’t a) waste time and resources on ineffective treatment methods, and b) run the risk of someone slipping through the net and being failed by the medical system.

So those are just five of the most common myths about BPD! What other myths or misconceptions have you heard? Has a BPD myth impacted your access to support? Let me know about your experiences in the comments below.

Hello!

Welcome, everyone! Let’s get started…

I’m Fox, and this is my blog. You can find out a bit more about me here.

I decided to call this blog The Patchwork Fox, because a) I’m Fox, and b) I think of myself as a bit like a patchwork quilt. A mismatch of different sections, all different colours, patterns, textures, sizes… The sections by themselves might seem insignificant, but when they’re all put together, they become something kinda useful, and maybe even a bit interesting… At least I hope so, anyway.

In this blog, I’m going to be talking about mental health, self-care, LGBTQ+ issues, cats, creativity, and pretty much any random thoughts I have. I hope at least some of my posts will be interesting and/or useful, but only time will tell!

Okay, that will do for a first post. Time to get on with some actual content! In the meantime, please feel free to check out my Twitter and Instagram, and if you want to drop me a message, click here, or send an email thepatchworkfox@gmail.com.

 

Hello

%d bloggers like this: