"I always felt different" - Darren's story


Trigger/content warning: self-harm, suicide

In this blog, Darren speaks about his difficulties growing up and understanding his emotions without a diagnosis. After experiencing suicidal feelings and various hospital admissions, Darren received multiple diagnoses, but felt Borderline Personality Disorder was the one he resonated the most with.

I was adopted at 6 months old by a wonderful mum and dad, but when I hit age 11, I started to feel different compared to the other children at my school. It didn’t matter what crowd I used to hang around with, I always felt different. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere and found myself always overreacting to situations. I just wanted to fit in.

I was already harming myself at home. I never knew why, but it was some kind of punishment for myself. Emotions felt so intense, they actually hurt, and a few wrong words from another child would stick in my head. I reacted in the only way I knew how to, which was to fight. At 15, I knew I thought differently from others but didn’t understand why. I remember asking a girl out and when she said no, I harmed myself; the feeling of rejection hurt me like a knife through butter.

Over the years, things got worse. I ended up in a Young Offenders Institute when I was 18. It was a scary place to be in and I still didn’t understand why I’d overreact to the slightest things; how even the wrong look would set my mind racing. My anger was rage, my actions were inappropriate and my emotions felt so extreme. I started visiting my GP, where I was put on different medications.

  • Emotions felt so intense, they actually hurt.

I was first hospitalised aged 23 after a suicide attempt, but I wasn’t diagnosed. When I was 28, I attempted suicide again and it was during my second hospital admission where I received the diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder. I’d never heard of this before, so I googled the condition when I was discharged. A lot of it seemed relevant, but lacking empathy and emotions didn’t fit.

By chance, I read about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). To my shock, I ticked every box. I was already under the Community Mental Health Team receiving psychology, so I brought this up and received the diagnosis of BPD. I was prescribed different antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics, which helped with some symptoms, but not my outbursts or my unpredictable behaviour.

In total, I’ve had four stays on the psychiatric ward and accumulated 16 different diagnoses. My last hospital stay was in 2021. All the staff were panicking, asking me questions about whether I was feeling faint or dizzy. I was having several ECGs (electrocardiograms) a day. Four of my medications were stopped abruptly and I was told I had prolonged QT interval (an irregular heart rhythm).

  • Nobody ever warned me of the dangers these potent drugs could have.

Upon discharge, I was rejected by the mental health team because I hadn’t responded to any of their treatment. I was discharged to Suffolk MIND Connect (I can’t speak highly enough of Suffolk MIND), but after an initial interview, they informed me I wasn’t well enough to work with them. Luckily with my wife’s support, we put in a complaint. It took 16 months before I got referred to another team.

6 months ago, I made another attempt to end my life. As I promised my children I wouldn’t go to hospital again, I opted to be treated by the Home Treatment Team. Again, I can’t speak highly enough of them. They arranged a review with the hospital psychiatrist, who spent 2 weeks looking back through my history and listened to me speak about the complicated life I’ve had. He told me that the antipsychotics were poisoning me, causing me to have a ‘fatty liver’. Nobody ever warned me of the dangers these potent drugs could have. Two years on, and I’m waiting for a cardiologist appointment tomorrow, as my heart still isn’t functioning properly.

  • I have a “crisis box” with photos and letters my children have written over the years, to look at when I’m feeling suicidal.

I then received a diagnosis of mixed personality disorder, along with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. I guess this is why I’ve been so difficult to treat as my anxiety manifests as anger. I’ve worked with ‘Waves’, a group run by Suffolk MIND, and completed several recovery courses. I get a great sense of satisfaction helping others. I enjoy walking my dog in the forest, being mindful.

I’m currently on a DBT course, where I got a big compliment from the head of the Home Crisis Resolution Team, who told me he’s never know anyone so proactive in seeking help. I like to share my experiences so people don’t feel so alone, and blogging is a pleasure and distraction. I’m intending to start another blog just about myself and mental illness.

I’m lucky to have such a supportive wife and 3 beautiful children. I have a “crisis box” with photos and letters my children have written over the years, to look at when I’m feeling suicidal. Nobody should suffer alone. One day I’d like to be a peer support worker. I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m in a better place than I was.