Dean Pender talks about his on-going battle with poor mental health and Emotional Personality Disorder.
AS I tell you my story I want you to know that incidents that happened in my life didn’t bring on my mental illness, it was already there, but it definitely contributed to it.
Growing up I was always different to other children – I was always very down, emotional and would cry and worry about almost anything.
My upbringing was great but my school years were not so good. I was bullied through out all my years at school for being feminine/gay. The name calling and physical bullying affected me so much I would hide away, stay off school and not socialise.
At the age of 15 I went to see the doctor as I couldn’t understand why I was always crying and very distressed. The doctor prescribed me Prozac and basically left me get on with it. Mental Health wasn’t something you spoke about back then and it was rarely ever investigated.
I always wanted to be an actor and went to a performing arts college. Up on stage in front of people, I was full of confidence, but behind closed doors I lived a lonely life and always had that dark cloud hovering over me. I ended up losing that confidence and my dreams got crushed as I couldn’t be around people anymore anymore.
Like everyone life had it’s ups and many downs…..
In my own head I was always thinking way too much (and still do) – scared of life and anything happening to me or my family. I would go to sleep every nite and pray that we were all kept safe. Even now, sometimes if I feel really uptight I still do it.
As the years went by my mental health deteriorated. I started thinking people were laughing or talking about me. I told my doctor but his attitude remained the same, “here’s more medication off you go,” – basically just get on with it.
2011 was the worst year of my life. I walked around in a daze, constantly scared. It got so bad that in my head the only way out for me was to end my life! I tried, didn’t succeed and was placed in a hostel that had all walks of life in – people suffering with mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse.
Often I would meet up with my key worker and talk about things, but I always felt embarrassed for what I was going through so I would would brush it off, but then torment myself in my head.
On July 8 I found my best friend of twenty years dead, my heart just broke. I had never had seen a dead body before, but I couldn’t leave her side until the undertakers took her, which took hours. During this period I also suffered from domestic violence and for my safety the police and council told me that the best thing to do was move out of the area. So I moved to Brighton.
My thinking pattern changed and my depression just didn’t feel like depression. Family and friends noticed a change in me and my mum told me that some days I would just look straight through her. I felt empty, and lifeless, hated life and just wanted a way out.
I started to get manic episodes and some days I would feel like I had won the lottery. These episodes could last anything from an hour to all day. If I woke up at 4/5 in the morning I would bounce out of bed, be very energetic, speak fast and I loved going for long walks. I even felt like I could run the marathon! I would send messages to people about ideas I had in my head. Then BANG the come down would kick in – I would feel lifeless, broken and would find myself rocking while pulling my hair out thinking in my head “why me.”
At this point I was still on anti depressants and decided I had to change doctors. In 2017 once I spoke with my new doctor about what I was going through, I got an appointment with a physiatrist who told me I was suffering from Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder! I was over the moon as for the first time I had a diagnoses, and knew it just wasn’t depression and anxiety I was suffering from.
I tried different anti psychotic medications to get the right one for me, Quetiapine, which I still take. But, once again like my 15 year old self I was left to get on with it – I felt I wouldn’t get help anywhere. The Assessment and Treatment Service at the Hove Poly Clinic told me I wasn’t ready for their services and kept putting a stop on me seeing the physiatrist. I was stuck, and still didn’t know how to control it.
Time went by, I was in and out of hospital following multiple suicide attempts and didn’t know what to do – still feeling fearful of people and life and I wouldn’t go out. I was placed in every hostel in Brighton and Hove – my life was constantly moving and I was surrounded by people who would take advantage of me to get their drugs or alcohol. I was having sleepless nights and the fear got so bad I would barricade myself in my room and very rarely left it.
This year the council housed me in temporary accommodation and now permanent (thanks to the help of the Rainbow Hub and MindOut). I felt I could start a new life but was still struggling with my EUPD, depression and anxiety.
Having found out about MindOut I was allocated an advocate and following so many suicide attempts I joined a group session there for people dealing with suicidal thoughts. In one way this was helpful, but then I would come away after listening to everyone’s problems and take them home with me, which made me feel worse so I had no choice but to reluctantly leave the group.
Today I’m now under the physiatrist again as an emergency patient. He actually listens to me and understands what I need to learn about my health issues. He has put my name down for a twenty week course at the hospital to understand my thought process and how to live with EUPD, depression and anxiety.
I know my life will always have a dark cloud hovering over it but I’m going to try and make the sun shine through. I want to make new friends, socialise more with people and get involved in local events to make a change myself as the course that I’m being put forward for has given me that bit of hope that I will be able to deal with the way it all affects me.
If your reading this story and can relate to my story please don’t ignore it like I did or accept being given loads of medication and told to get on with it. Push and push for help…
Peace and love