I’ve grown up struggling with things the people around me found easy. I barely went to secondary school and, when I did, I was frequently told people forgot I went there. Between 11 and 16 I was in and out of the counsellor’s office and, because I was so young, it was assumed to be all a phase. I went back to the doctor when I was 17 and was put on an NHS course for a disorder I still hadn’t been told whether I had or not. Eventually I was diagnosed with depression and told I showed traits of emotionally unstable personality disorder. An official diagnosis of EUPD at 18 was unlikely as, with the right approach and care, my traits could be reduced and controlled. These traits included feeling emotions more intense than others leading to difficulty coping in some situations.
Speaking out about this is difficult
I became serious about getting help when I moved to university and suffered serious depression resulting in my dropping out. I had seen a lot of councillors over the years but never really been helped. I felt I could finally see clearly how much I had missed out on and knew that this time, I needed to see someone properly.
Speaking out about this is difficult. When I talk about my depression I suddenly feel people becoming careful around me, as if one wrong word will send me spiralling. When it comes to EUPD, it may seem small as I only have ‘traits’ but it is still a massive effect on my life and I carry the word ‘disorder’ with me where I go. That word paired with ‘unstable’ are not words you want people associating with your personality but I am lucky that I know this disorder is not who I am. It can be hard to believe people will be understanding when your only awareness of EUPD/BPD is it being referenced in Criminal Minds during the suspect profile. The cultural references of depression are not much better. For this reason the stigma has to end and positive images of the mental health need to be encouraged.
Mental health stigma needs to end so that people can talk about their difficulties freely
I still have not spoken out about my mental health very much although I do not think it is anything to be ashamed of. Telling my close friends was one of the most productive things I could have done as they encouraged me to seek proper help and have always answered the phone when I needed them. It is sad to see how many people I’ve spoken to could resonate with me straight away as they were feeling the same and it felt like sharing my story allowed them to share theirs too. Being comfortable to talk about what’s happening in your head shows others that it’s okay for them to and helps them get the confidence they need to seek treatment.
The only way to end the stigma around depression and emotionally unstable personality disorder is if we start to talk about it openly. Mental health needs a positive face raising awareness rather than the negative one we all hide behind. It’s difficult to get your head around being so vulnerable to people in your life, or that you barely know, but by being brave we can give these people the information they need to end the stigma.
What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?