Sarah's story

Sarah’s story

My problems started from about the age of 16, when I began feeling extremely depressed. 

A girl in the year below me at school committed suicide around that time. I don’t know why, because I didn’t know her that well, but I started having thoughts of suicide myself. I started doing badly in school, and would often skip classes. I began hanging out with a bad crowd, and started drinking and sometimes using drugs. I was really good at netball but I just lost interest in playing and quit my team. I think I was just confused, wanting to feel happier and was trying to fit in with those around me, people who accepted me to be part of their gang as long as I went along with what they were doing.

When my boyfriend at the time, who I had been with for a year, broke up with me, I thought my world was falling apart. I felt like he was abandoning me when I really needed him. I felt a mix of really intense feelings. I felt sad, worthless and unlovable. I was scared to be alone and I felt really, really angry. My moods began to change really quickly. Mum would say the tiniest thing to annoy me and I would fly into a rage. Sometimes I would have really scary experiences too, where I felt like I wasn’t really in my body, like I was distant and not real. That was when I began cutting myself. The pain would make me feel real again. But often I couldn’t even remember doing it. I was so embarrassed of the marks I would make sure they were always hidden.

My mum was really worried about me but I refused to go to the doctor or get any help. I was too scared. When I finished school I got a part-time job at the local supermarket. I fell in love with one of the guys that worked there. I thought he was amazing, and that we were meant for each other. Eventually we started seeing each other and I started spending all my time with him. It started off really well, but then I just started feeling like he was criticising me all the time. We started fighting often. I would get really angry, and even throw things at him sometimes. But then I would get so scared that he would leave me. Often I would cut myself or attempt suicide so that he couldn’t leave me. I lost a lot of friends around that time too. They said that I was too unpredictable and confusing. I would get angry at friends for no reason, and then feel so worried that they would leave me alone that I would frantically try to do favours or do nice things for them.

It was after I had a particularly bad fight with my boyfriend that I attempted suicide and ended up being admitted to hospital. I was referred to a psychiatrist and psychologist, who diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder and set up a care plan for me. I started therapy with the psychologist every week. It was really hard. Lots of times I felt angry at my therapist for getting me to talk about difficult and painful things, and sometimes I would skip sessions. In therapy we focussed on identifying and changing the factors that typically increased the risk of me hurting myself, finding ways for me to cope with my emotions, and trying to have better relationships with my mum and my boyfriend.

Sticking to my treatment plan was hard, and I did have setbacks. But I was determined to keep going back and over time I made some really big improvements. I stopped self-harming and no longer have suicidal thoughts. I feel better in control of my emotions and feel better able to cope with life. I broke up with my boyfriend, but I was able to get through the separation with the help of my therapist. I now have a better relationship with my mum and a few close friends, and I have been promoted to store manager at work. For me the hardest thing is stopping hating myself. When I did bad things I wanted to punish myself further by quitting my treatment. My therapist seemed to understand me and kept accepting me back into therapy and now I feel that I can start to accept myself also and feel really proud of how far I've come. 

I would encourage anyone to keep trying to get help, because help is there as long as you keep trying and don't give up.

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Last reviewed: 21 June, 2011

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