I have had mental health problems for a large percentage of my life, beginning when I was in my early teens. It wasn’t until recently that I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, depression and anxiety and dissociative disorder. Receiving my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder was a positive step for me as it explained a lot of the symptoms and struggles that I had experienced for most of my life, but on the other hand the diagnosis presented me with lots of stigma and discrimination, understandably adding a lot of pressure to everything I was already coping with.
Sometimes it is very difficult to know where one disorder starts and another ends
Borderline personality disorder is a very difficult condition to live with. Strong moods that fluctuate from extreme highs and severe lows that can last for weeks at a time. Strong thoughts and urges to harm myself is an all too often state of mind that I find myself in. Dissociative symptoms can cause severe lapses of memory and awareness, sometimes causing the mixing up of dreams and reality. These are only a few of the issues that cause distress for me. Sometimes it is very difficult to know where one disorder starts and another ends. Thankfully I am now receiving support in the way of medications, regular appointments with mental health services and a specialised form of psychological therapy.
It is wrong that so many people out there are being forced to suffer in silence because of stigma and discrimination
When I was young I started to self-harm. This is an issue that I still battle with to this day. I have attempted suicide several times and ended up in hospital as a result of this and self-harm. I have received so many judgemental comments from professionals when in these vulnerable situations such as being told that I must be mad for hurting myself and that personality disorders are not real mental health problems. I was once told by a mental health practitioner whilst being treated by a crisis resolution and home treatment team, that there was nothing wrong with me because personality disorders don’t really exist, and that I was lazy for not challenging my negative thoughts. These types of comments are so hurtful and need to be challenged. It is wrong that so many people out there are being forced to suffer in silence because of stigma and discrimination.
I feel now that I am able to talk freely about my mental health issues
In 2009 I started to struggle to hold down a job and my studies at the time. During this period of my life I was trying really hard to get through university to qualify as a paramedic, and the university that I was studying at didn’t offer much support at all for me with mental health problems. People wouldn’t understand when I couldn’t face the day and attend lectures, and due to a lack of support and discriminatory attitudes, I eventually had to leave and didn’t succeed with the career that I wanted so badly. These experiences made it very difficult to talk about my mental health problems and as a result I kept a lot to myself and suffered in silence. Now I am studying part time to become a social worker, and the university that I am studying at are fantastic! My lecturers and friends that I have made are so understanding. I receive special support for my struggles and I feel that I am able to talk freely about my mental health issues and know that I am being listened to and helped so much to achieve my goals.
It means a lot to me to be able to have the chance to write a blog like this so that other people who are experiencing similar issues can know that they are not alone. Many of my family and friends do not know about the contents of this blog, and I feel happy that I am able to share my experiences not only with other people struggling, but with them also. It is time to talk!