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I Will Not Remain Silent

"I saw how much society wants the mental health community to remain quiet...but I knew that I either had the right to be sick or the right to be different, to be myself. This needs to be known. I will not remain silent." —Kristen Bellows Read the rest of the story...

Kristen Bellows


kbellowsI don’t like it when people tell me that I’m strong. I don’t see myself as strong. I see myself as someone who did what they had to do to survive. Isn’t that what we’re all doing?

I first wrote about suicide in my journal at 12 years old. At 13 I began my 10 year battle with self-harm. I had no other way to cope with the emotional abuse I was experiencing at school. I was ignored and I spiralled down for 2 years.

During those 2 years I saw a social worker at my high school. She was helping me with my self-harm but lost me after she told me she never knew someone who self-harmed. How can you help me if you have no idea what I’m talking about that?

At 16 (2005) I was diagnosed with dysthymia and told I would be dependent on medication for the rest of my life. It was bitter sweet because I finally had proof that I was sick (not just seeking attention) but I also hated the idea of being on medication. I was prescribed 10mg of Prozac. Still, I was filled with a hope that was never there before, the hope that I could become a happier person.

Each month I reported back to the psychiatrist that the Prozac wasn’t working and after steadily increasing the dose to 40mg he added 2.5mg of Zyprexa to take at night which would put me in coma-like sleeps.

I had been on psychiatric medication for about 6 months when I attempted suicide, overdosing on Zyprexa. I was blamed, and I blamed myself. My medication remained unchanged after for a few more months and I started taking matters into my own hands mixing my pills with alcohol, overdosing on pain medication hoping I would fall asleep and never wake up.

Cipralex came into my life and something inside me steadied. I was still depressed, self-harming and not in a good place but for the first time I felt actually confidence that I could get through my sadness. After a year or so I stopped seeing my psychiatrist and stopped taking psychiatric medication.

Since then I graduated high school with extra credits in the arts, was accepted into university and graduated with my bachelor of social work in 2011.

I had acquired an anger that allowed me to thrive. I finally cared about myself, I stood up for myself and my self harm drastically decreased because of my new ability to tell people when I was upset. I thrived in therapy, despite being bounced to a new social worker every few months. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to live, and I wanted to be successful. I knew I was going to have to work hard to get there but I knew it would be worth it and I made it my only option. This anger got me diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at age 18 and with borderline personality traits at 23. Oh well, it was working for me for the most part!

As I matured and my life began to change I found it easier to apply the skills I had previously learned in therapy. I wasn’t afraid of applying for jobs and I had greater insight into my wants and needs. I went back to counselling and also with the help of a DBT workbook I am learning appropriate distractions and relaxation techniques to help me control my anger and self harming urges. I am now 8 months self harm free with the help of a reward system. I am a believer that if I want something then I can get it. It may be hard and I may hate it at times but it will be worth it!

Being labelled with BPD says to me that a doctor will always be able to give me a diagnosis but I get to decide what to do with it. I decided to become a mental health activist. I am involved in research, publishing, blogging, conferences, trainings and peer support facilitation. Being an activist has helped me become a better person. It is something higher than myself and gives me a sense of purpose I didn’t have before.

The more I learned about the mental health system and spoke with other activists, service users and non-users the more I saw how much society wants the mental health community to remain quiet. I had grown up being made fun of for being depressed and been called a “pain in the ass” for identifying as BPD as a young adult but I knew that I either had the right to be sick or the right to be different, to be myself. This needs to be known. I will not remain silent.I don’t like it when people tell me that I’m strong. I don’t see myself as strong. I see myself as someone who did what they had to do to survive. Isn’t that what we’re all doing?

I first wrote about suicide in my journal at 12 years old. At 13 I began my 10 year battle with self-harm. I had no other way to cope with the emotional abuse I was experiencing at school. I was ignored and I spiralled down for 2 years.

During those 2 years I saw a social worker at my high school. She was helping me with my self-harm but lost me after she told me she never knew someone who self-harmed. How can you help me if you have no idea what I’m talking about that?

At 16 (2005) I was diagnosed with dysthymia and told I would be dependent on medication for the rest of my life. It was bitter sweet because I finally had proof that I was sick (not just seeking attention) but I also hated the idea of being on medication. I was prescribed 10mg of Prozac. Still, I was filled with a hope that was never there before, the hope that I could become a happier person.

Each month I reported back to the psychiatrist that the Prozac wasn’t working and after steadily increasing the dose to 40mg he added 2.5mg of Zyprexa to take at night which would put me in coma-like sleeps.

I had been on psychiatric medication for about 6 months when I attempted suicide, overdosing on Zyprexa. I was blamed, and I blamed myself. My medication remained unchanged after for a few more months and I started taking matters into my own hands mixing my pills with alcohol, overdosing on pain medication hoping I would fall asleep and never wake up.

Cipralex came into my life and something inside me steadied. I was still depressed, self-harming and not in a good place but for the first time I felt actually confidence that I could get through my sadness. After a year or so I stopped seeing my psychiatrist and stopped taking psychiatric medication.

Since then I graduated high school with extra credits in the arts, was accepted into university and graduated with my bachelor of social work in 2011.

I had acquired an anger that allowed me to thrive. I finally cared about myself, I stood up for myself and my self harm drastically decreased because of my new ability to tell people when I was upset. I thrived in therapy, despite being bounced to a new social worker every few months. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to live, and I wanted to be successful. I knew I was going to have to work hard to get there but I knew it would be worth it and I made it my only option. This anger got me diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at age 18 and with borderline personality traits at 23. Oh well, it was working for me for the most part!

As I matured and my life began to change I found it easier to apply the skills I had previously learned in therapy. I wasn’t afraid of applying for jobs and I had greater insight into my wants and needs. I went back to counselling and also with the help of a DBT workbook I am learning appropriate distractions and relaxation techniques to help me control my anger and self harming urges. I am now 8 months self harm free with the help of a reward system. I am a believer that if I want something then I can get it. It may be hard and I may hate it at times but it will be worth it!

Being labelled with BPD says to me that a doctor will always be able to give me a diagnosis but I get to decide what to do with it. I decided to become a mental health activist. I am involved in research, publishing, blogging, conferences, trainings and peer support facilitation. Being an activist has helped me become a better person. It is something higher than myself and gives me a sense of purpose I didn’t have before.

The more I learned about the mental health system and spoke with other activists, service users and non-users the more I saw how much society wants the mental health community to remain quiet. I had grown up being made fun of for being depressed and been called a “pain in the ass” for identifying as BPD as a young adult but I knew that I either had the right to be sick or the right to be different, to be myself. This needs to be known. I will not remain silent.  

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