September 11, 2014

I have experienced discrimination and stigma when telling people about my mental health condition (Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD), sometimes with soul destroying consequences. Rachael I had vowed to never speak about my diagnosis again and mentioning borderline personality disorder creates a churning in my stomach. But I realised that talking about it might help others.

I've been told by mental health professionals they wouldn't treat me when I had a breakdown because of my disorder - I would be "trouble". I was left for 3 months. I don't think I am "trouble" - my feelings and behaviour stem from self loathing and self hatred. 

I'd just like to be listened to with no judgement

A constant changing of feelings and moods can and does lead to misunderstanding with others; my self identity is very fragile and changeable from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. I have used alcohol, food and excessive exercise to deal with issues, emotions and moods in the past. A few years ago I stopped drinking but binge eating has been harder to overcome - with a healthy diet and trial and error I seem to be managing quite well and have come off medication recently. 

Early childhood experiences have lead to me being afraid of people and social situations; I relate better to children and animals. Being around adults is the same as someone else walking into a cage with a tiger; it's frightening for me - baffling, confusing and very stressful - but I keep trying. I do not have many friends - the ones who are around I do not see often: I prefer not to have to explain myself all the time or act "normal" because it is so draining. If I do open up I just hear the same advice from people - meaning well, I'm sure, but I've heard it over and over. I'd just like to be listened to with no judgement or opinions.

I have been in and out of abusive, dominating relationships and now remain single and happy with that choice. Suicidal thoughts and a fear I cannot live this life plague me on a daily basis. The tools I use to get cope with these thoughts daily are: art, gardening, sleeping, writing, swimming, cycling, music, television, and mostly time alone to get myself grounded. I've spent time learning about myself so now I know what I like; it amazes me that before I could not have told you what my favourite song was, let alone knowing the hobbies I might enjoy.

I've started telling people how they can help if I reach out

Now I am at a place where I'm stable and able to handle the daily ups and downs by accepting them and myself as I am right now. I've started telling people how they can help if I reach out, and I've started being honest about triggers. I still isolate and find being alone better then being around people; it's still exhausting and hard work from hour to hour, but it's not a battle anymore. If I need a week off studying I'll take it now and not drive myself so hard, all the time chasing wellness. There is treatment for BPD (although it is not always easy to get this treatment) and I've found it very helpful being in a room full of people who 'get it' and feel the same. Feeling less alone is cathartic in itself and staff do not judge.

I told a neighbour about my mental health with devastating consequences in my community, but I'm looking for a new place now. I never mentioned personality disorder to this person (I said depression) but she still stigmatised me; this led me to write this blog. The gossip has been awful: some people stopped talking to me, crossing the road. I have never known anything like this so I feel like I needed to speak out. I'm not dangerous: I'm still a human being with hopes and dreams, with the belief thats it's all possible still. I'm moving closer to my goals, slowly, taking it one day at a time.

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