Mental Health Week: A Personal Update by Jess Brown

By Jess Brown, BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Illustration.

Trigger warning: This blog contains possible triggers for people with mental health issues, suicidal feelings, and borderline personality disorder.

I don’t know who first said that life was like a kaleidoscope but whoever it was was on the ball. Maybe it was the person who invented kaleidoscopes…

The point of that saying anyway, for most people is that life is complicated and vast with lots of different colours and shades and shapes. It’s whacky and at times mesmerising. Often abstract. Often confusing and conflicting. Especially if you have a mental illness. There are many different types of difficulties people can face mentally and I happen to experience quite a few of them.

Since it’s coming up to Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) I want to talk about my recent developments with my own mental health. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Like a kaleidoscope it has multiple shades and symptoms, a goody bag of mental health issues. To name the most common ones –

  • Unstable and extreme emotions
  • Paranoia/abandonment issues
  • Depression
  • Self-hatred
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent breaks in reality/outer body experiences

There’s much more to it than that. I have it on the side of the spectrum that’s quite severe in all areas. My nature is contradictory due to the ever changing emotions and I’m also what’s known as high functioning so I can articulate things well and hide my issues well too. I can say or feel one thing and then have it flip back and forth, up and down in a matter of seconds. I’ve been suicidal constantly for years now. I have major trust issues and think everyone hates me. I am drawn to toxic relationships or things that will harm me. I am very self-conscious and despise my own image. My thoughts are constantly out of control like a hive of panicked bees. I’ve been on edge with this since I can remember. It flickers though.

Despite all of this though, I’ve recently found that I’m somewhere called ‘okay’. I’ve never been at ‘okay’ before. ‘Okay’ is odd. It’s almost like being teleported to an unknown planet. For the first time in my life I love what I look like. I love myself. Which isn’t an easy thing to be able to do. I still hate parts of myself and my looks but I’m doing way better than I have been. I’ve written many mental health blogs in the past and struggle with repeating myself.

To say I was still in the bad times would be a lie as I’ve improved and done a lot of climbing since this year began. I’ve managed to get good grades at uni, get myself a girlfriend and maintain two jobs. Which a year ago I didn’t think possible. I don’t quite know how this happened but it did. I got here through a lot of help and support. Again, it’s not easy and there’s no miracle fix but it’s a fact that there is always some form of help out there. You just have to go looking for it. Keep trying and you will get there. I never thought I would but I did. I still have all those issues that I mentioned and I still fall down every now and again but that’s okay because I get back up with the help of my support network. If you need help getting a support network you can go to these links for resources offered by the University to help with wellbeing:

And also here is the list of societies you can join if you are looking for possible friends. I’ve always found comfort in my friends and they are family to me.

It can be harder to cope when you live your life behind a mask that even you can’t sometimes take off, or even remember putting on in the first place. The above links can lead to you being able to take off that mask and talk which is sometimes the best form of therapy you can have.

Take a look at our YouTube videos featuring Sheffield Hallam students talking about their experiences with mental health issues.