June 12, 2014

Nik blogs about how his friends help him with borderline personality disorderI had always known I was different, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2009 that I felt that I understood why.  My illness had been playing havoc with my life, and it was a relief to have a diagnosis that made sense to me.

It was during my time at university that I became quite unwell and after being discharged from hospital, I was evicted from my university campus and had to stay in a hostel.  The university called me into a meeting and said they didn’t feel safe having me there.  They thought I was a danger, to myself and to others.  In fact, due to the stigma around personality disorder many people believed that, even though I had never been violent to another person.  

I felt reluctant to open up, especially when dating

Because of these experiences, I felt reluctant to open up about having mental illness, particularly when dating.  That was until I met my partner, Hardeep.  It was love at first sight. She liked the fact that I was a writer.  I showed her some things I’d written about my experiences.  Unlike others, she didn’t run away. She put her arms around me and said, We’re going to be fine.

In 2010 I vowed to work on my recovery with the guidance of the Cambridge floating support team.  My life has since been transformed.  Currently studying to become a personal trainer after losing 11 stone, I’ve also published two books about my experiences.

I've got a good group of people around me - my own Wolfpack

Aside from my wife Hardeep, a good group of people have stuck with me since university, which I consider my own Wolfpack!  My friend James and his other half Zoe have really been there for me.   As well as Nathan, his partner Gemma and my dear friend Yael.  They’ve been really supportive over the years and I consider them family.  They didn’t leave me when they could have done. 

Nathan and James tell me when I’m being an “idiot”, but have always been there when I’ve needed the odd rant or a cuppa.  They also know when to give me a bit of space.  A lot of people dropped off the radar once they knew I spent time in a psychiatric unit, mainly because they didn’t know what to say.   These friends have been like a rock to me.   I remember simple things they’d do like meet me in town for a coffee just to get me out and about.

There's a lot of misinformation about borderline personality disorder

The three of us stay in touch as much as we can.  Over the years their other halves have become good friends too.  Nathan was the best man at my wedding and I’m very much looking forward to the time when I can repay the same honour.  These friends have really been there for me.  They’re good people.

There’s a lot of misinformation about borderline personality disorder. It affects men, too, and just because someone has it, it doesn’t mean they are, “bad”. The more we speak out, the more things will change and mental health problems will no longer be the last great taboo.

These are my five tips on how to look out for your mates:

  • If your mate is acting differently to what they normally do, try not to make a scene about it and try to have a quiet word to see if they are ok
  • Try to make yourself available to said mate if they need you
  • Try not to judge what is said and what happens if they become unwell
  • If your friend gets really unwell and has a diagnosis maybe read up on it
  • Sometimes honesty is the best policy, walking on egg shells doesn't always turn out the best way

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