, May 4, 2016

My name is Sara. I have two boys aged 3 and 5, and they are my life, my whole world. But I also have another part of my life that I kept hidden for so long. As a teenager I struggled immensely with low self esteem, feelings of emptiness, the need to surround myself with people ALL the time, self harm and intense relationships which consisted of infatuations with people and deep sadness when things didn't work out. I remember thinking is it just me? What is wrong with me?

Last year it became impossible to hide when I was admitted to a woman's crisis house, because I had got to the point where I no longer wanted to live anymore and had actually acted on it. I had reached that point where I truly believed my family would be better off without me.

Being away from them was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I felt guilt that I should be there with them, I wasn't as important as them, I would just have to get on with it and be there for them. I'd tell myself I was selfish for concentrating on myself. But what I soon began to see is that I couldn't be there for them, I was so unwell I couldn't even look after myself properly. They would be OK. I explained to them best I could, because I always want to be open with my children about this.

In January 2015 I finally had a doctor tell me: “it's not just you.” I'd heard of borderline personality disorder from a close friend who'd just been diagnosed with it, and I knew in my heart I had it months before they told me. But something about the actual diagnosis made it seem more real.

At this point, I realised there is a huge stigma that comes with this condition. I felt it coming from the general public, from friends and family, and believe it or not from professionals who were supposed to be experts in stuff like this. I faced a lot of judgement. When I explained the symptoms of BPD, people would say: "but nearly everyone feels that at some point." I think that's the problem: yes, everyone does feel these at some point, but to be diagnosed with BPD, you feel these symptoms to an extreme so much that they hugely impact your ability to function in society.

The hardest part for me was being constantly called "manipulative", "selfish", "liar". And while it does come across that way, all I can say is that I don't mean to be any of those things. We are constantly fighting a battle in our heads which sometimes lead us to do bad things. But I want people to realise it's an illness. I don't choose to be this way, why would I? Why would anyone?

I also know that there are so many professionals even psychiatrists that are not properly trained in this condition, and I have been treated at times almost like a problem causer or a waste of time. This needs to change. People need to realise that this is an illness, not the person. I am still Sara. I am not just BPD.

What I hope this blog and others like it do is let us stand together to fight off this stigma and discrimination we still see. There is nothing to be ashamed of. If I can make one person with this vile illness feel they aren't alone, and if I can change one person’s mind about BPD, then I have succeeded.

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