May 2, 2014

sarahWarning, some readers may find this post triggering.

My son recently watched the Avengers Assemble film and compared me to Dr Banner, who turns into the Incredible Hulk whenever he gets angry or upset, which, yes, is kind of funny and I am glad he had found a way of understanding it, but really who wants to be compared to a Monster?

It happens as quickly as flicking a light switch

Ever since I was a child I have experienced very rapidly changing mood swings. Not like your normal 'tantrums', but a lot more aggressive and more verbally abusive. It was always put down to things like changes at home or a 'phase' I was going through. It’s hard to explain to people that even though it is your body you literally have no control over what is coming, it happens as quickly as flicking a light switch and varies in how in long it lasts, sometimes it’s a short, sharp outburst and other times it has lasted for days.

I felt so alone and had no idea where to turn

A month ago I took an overdose and was taken to Southend A&E. The doctor in A&E was brilliant, she seemed to really understand me. I was sent to a ward and spent three nights there. A crisis liaison officer came to see me - this person was awful to me and said: 'You’re here because you made a choice, you need to learn to cope better, stop wasting my time and go get a job. Work is what you need to feel better - I’m sick of people like you wasting my time when there are 'real' cases out there who need help'.

I sat crying and felt so alone and had no idea where to turn. I felt so frustrated and angry. I had asked for help and this is what I get told? If I had a choice do you think I would be this way?

I didn't really want a 'name' or 'label' being attached to me

I was sent to Basildon MHAU where I saw a mental health professional, who gave me the diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. ’Wow’, I thought, ‘this thing inside me has a name?’ This should have been a good thing, right? But it wasn’t. I didn’t really want a ‘name’ or ‘label’ being attached to me. “But I’m Sarah” I thought, ‘that is my name’. This thing living inside me had been a part of me for so long that to me it was just part of what made me .. well .. me. But suddenly giving it a ‘name’ like it was a person really unsettled me.

On the one hand I now understand that for some reason my mentality has frozen at around 14 years old which was when a close family member was murdered, and that due to coming from a dysfunctional family background and the environment I was in I did not mentally develop properly. So where I should have gone through teen years, had the hormonal changes and then come out the other side, this never happened and they call this Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. This is why I act the way I do and it’s not my fault.

The words Personality Disorder are against my name

But on the other hand it just felt like suddenly I became less of a concern to the professionals. Now on my notes the words Personality Disorder are against my name and it seems to me that the professionals who were once welcoming and helpful have become shut off and don’t want to even be in a room alone with me. My experience is still one of frustration and there is just such a lack of understanding within the NHS overall.

It's great to find a group who all support each other

Very recently I found a support group locally to me and hearing others stories and experiences made me finally feel like I had found people that understood. It is great to find a group who all support each other. But it is still an ongoing, draining battle for me when it comes to the doctors and professionals because I talk well and look ‘normal’ and keep clean and well presented I have to constantly ‘prove’ what the problem is.

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