April 15, 2012

Charlotte blogs for Time to ChangeI started experiencing mental health difficulties at the age of fourteen, except I didn’t realise I was suffering with a mental illness. I thought I was ‘odd’ or ‘broken’. I knew something wasn’t right but I didn’t think that I was ill. I started self harming, it was initially an experiment to see if it made me feel any better, but from that first occasion I became addicted. The methods that I used became more and more risky and I had to become very ingenious in hiding my injuries.

I didn’t realise I was suffering with a mental illness. I thought I was ‘odd’ or ‘broken’

I didn’t tell anyone of my problems. If I didn’t understand what was happening, how could I expect anyone else to? Besides I was scared of their reaction. One day in class a boy shouted, ‘everyone who commits suicide is just selfish’. By this stage I was suicidal myself. I visited pro suicide web pages on a daily basis and was making plans to end my life. Hearing this public announcement made me even more determined to keep my secret. How could suicide be selfish? Surely it would be better for everyone if I wasn’t around?

Eventually a stressful day at college tipped me over the edge. I took a substantial overdose that left me comatose in intensive care. I pulled through and was admitted to a child and adolescent inpatient unit until I turned eighteen then faced the CAMHS to AMHS transition – but that’s another blog!

Since then I have spend over a year in inpatient wards, have been sectioned under 136 more times than I have fingers and engaged in various forms of talking treatments including hypnotherapy, not to mention the mystery that is medication. My official diagnosis is Borderline personality disorder, a label that has STIGMA written all over it.

It’s a complicated issue when it comes to stigma. Have I been stigmatised? Yes. Unfortunately mostly by people in caring or authoritative positions such as the police, A and E staff, university staff and even mental health professionals. These so called ‘professionals’ came out with every name in the book, attention seeking, game playing, putting on an A* performance… I could go on but you get the idea.

My official diagnosis is Borderline personality disorder, a label that has STIGMA written all over it.

I asked my nurse how they could be so cruel to me? The explanation? That my dangerous behaviours made people nervous and when people are worried about my safety they say these things in an attempt to prevent my behaviours. In reality the name calling just fuelled my dangerous actions, it was ironic that no one seemed to notice that it made me more distressed not less.

Some of the worst stigma I have experienced has been from the police, who have taken me to custody as a ‘place of safety’ on more than one occasion. During these times I have been stripped, handcuffed, laid face down on a mattress, had leg restraints on and had two police officers holding me down, all to stop me hurting myself. It was all fairly traumatic. But the worse bit? The laughing, telling me I didn’t care about my parents, that I was selfish and asking ‘which side of the BORDER I was’, when I tried to alert them to my diagnosis.

In the months following I developed an extreme phobia of the police. Every time I saw an officer I became  extremely distressed, I got to know their patrols and beats and avoided them. I convinced myself the police were out to get me. Luckily recently I have been working with an amazing officer from the London Transport Police who has shown me that the police are just normal people, unfortunately like in any career you get the talented and compassionate and the not so.

Of course stigma isn’t just name calling - a look or even a silence can hold as much stigma as a nasty name.

Of course stigma isn’t just name calling - a look or even a silence can hold as much stigma as a nasty name. In doing work around raising awareness of mental illness I am faced with the risk of experiencing more stigma. But if we don’t start talking about mental illness we will never dispel the myths that surround it. It’s a catch 22 but I believe if it takes us one step closer towards breaking the stigma of mental illness it will be worth it!

Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

I'm So gald that some one has

<p>I'm So gald that some one has spoken up about this. I can relate to this story so much and i fed up of being treated in the exsact same way. I really hope that more people with this complicated diagnoses speaks up because the more that BPD is understood, the more easier it might make it to talk about.</p>

I'm So gald that some one has

<p>I'm So gald that some one has spoken up about this. I can relate to this story so much and i fed up of being treated in the exsact same way. I really hope that more people with this complicated diagnoses speaks up because the more that BPD is understood, the more easier it might make it to talk about.</p>

BPD

<p>Someone in the outpatients dept of my mental health team gave me a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder( I suspect the very dismissive appt I got with a Psycotherapist). I have issues with trusting medical strangers due to previous experience so I had to leave the room partway through as I could feel my anxiety levels rapidly rising.My friend could not believe her attitude to me! I then was put forward for Cognative Dialetical Therapy. After several appointments with another stranger (male nurse) during which I kept feeling as if my answers to questions were not correct I drew a mind map at home showing what I did in my life.I received a letter cancelling the sessions to see if I was able to have CDT&nbsp; and the nurse wrote that he did not think that I have BPD! I believe that BDT &amp; CDT are the latest diagnosis and treatment trend that is being used when you don't conform to a specific theory. I have made suicide attempts and self harmed in the past and am on medication - antidepressants and anti psycotics but I also work and have brought up 2 daughters while remaining married for 25 years. My boss puts up with my symptoms as she realises how hard I have to work on keeping going. What other people have said to me in the past and very likely in the future have been negative and unhelpful so I really hope that there are more people in this world like the kind policeman and my boss because we need them. Keep on keeping on and dont let the unhelpful ones drag you down.</p>

bpd

<p>Ive BPD..and my experience is similar to yours.I saw a psychiatrist twice.I felt like a criminal.I was offered no further help after diagnosis.Im tired of explaining to people what bdp is...I get people asking me why im not working and how well i look....but the mind is my prison...i think &nbsp;they expect me to be drooling or have an obvious air about me that screams ..mentalist...now im saying...ive bordeline personality disorder...google it.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

great blog

<p>yeh, can totally relate to this as they say I have BPD. (needless to say I'm not so sure!)&nbsp;I've heard all sorts of stuff; your personality disorder is who you are, you are untreatable etc etc I'm not even allowed time out in a place I feel safe when I get too overwhelmed. They've tried all sorts of 'treatments', I've had all the name calling; manipulative, drama queen, attention seeking little **** (yes a doctor in A+E) that one was. The others mental health staff. And it makes me feel terrible. I already hate myself so much that I do all that stuff to hurt myself... why would they think telling me I'm nasty actually help? </p><p>I personally agree how they could think I have BPD, but even if I did, NO-ONE should have to deal with that kind of stigma. It turns out I have Asperger's. This they have agreed. How to treat a high-functioning self-harming young women with aspergers remains a mystery!! Treatments for BPD that might normally help with self harm... don't, because (all the ones I've tried anyway) involve communicating with people. I had one nurse tell me I had all the 'normal' social skills, I just didn't use them... turns out... I don't have them. </p><p>Anyway... off track, yes there MUST be less stigma; especially around self harm and BPD. If you say 'I have depression', the general public are generally more sympathetic, and most medics too. As soon as BPD gets put on the table everything changes. &nbsp;</p>

Welldone for speaking up

<P>What you are doing takes great courage!&nbsp; </P> <P>I too was a 14 year old with mental health problems and, like you, I tried so hard to hide it that I never got the help or support I needed.&nbsp; I often wonder now, as I'm finally getting help in my 30s, how different my life could have been if only someone had seen the signs and if those who did see the signs had taken me seriously, understood me and helped me.&nbsp; </P> <P>That's why it is so important that young people today speak out, and that brave people like you highlight the experience they've had so that maybe things can be different for the next generation, and one day the stigma will be gone.</P> <P>Good luck in fighting your battles.&nbsp; Be proud of who you are.</P>

By educating others, people

<p>By educating others, people will better understand that a person with a mental illness should not be labeled as so. Being ignorant about this topic has lead society to create this negative or intimidating stigma, which oftentimes is completely invalid. Keep standing up for yourself and educating others!</p>

Thankyou

<p>like the origional, blogger , looking back I too have had symptoms from an early age, but I was in denial, I Knew deep down , my behaviour was wrong , but when people commented on cuts, the same old excuse escaped my lips ''the dog scratched me''. I know people didnt believe me, but I was to ashamed to take the help offered, so after a while people gave up. it wasnt until I was 19 I finally got the correct diagnosis of BPD, before my diagnosis, I felt that I really was ''mad'', ''crazy'', ''Loopy'', ''a fruitcake'', I have since realised that BPD is just apart of me, and that there are people in worser situations than my own, instead of shying away from the truth, I no longer feel ashamed to admit I have a mental health issue, and use my own experiences to help others, proving that a diagnosis of mental illness doesnt have to mean you cant fulfil your ambitions.</p>

I feel stigmatised and misunderstood.

<p>I went to my GP with Bulimia, and I started talking therapy. Which seemed to unleash Pandora's box. Years of self hatred, self harm, anxiety, drink and drug abuse came out. I was suicidal and and very depressed until I was put under the crisis team. The doctor here diagnosed me with BPD, and smiled as she told me. I burst into tears, I felt the terminology 'borderline' offensive, especially when it is discouraged in Europe for years. I immediately started looking up what it is to be borderline. I finally saw that my lack of self esteem did encourage all of the negative behaviours. But I find it offensive when you read that &nbsp;I supposedly dangerous, manipulative, incapable of feeling.&nbsp;</p><p>I have been happily married for nearly 6 years, I have a great job as a teacher and a foster carer. I can empathise, and I cry when I read emotional poetry. BDP for me, is struggling with my own self worth. It is has nearly killed me on numerous times. I am really ill, and I hate reading that BDP is controversial, it is made up, I am indulgent etc.I can see the effect it has had on my partner, and it really hurts me to know that my illness hurts him when he sees me wanting to end my life. I wouldn't inflict the emotional emptiness and boredom on anyone. The lack of control of whether your good today or low. It is an awful mental illness, and I would like people to think twice before they stigmatise and label people with BPD.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

BPD

You are truly inspirational. You have overcome so much, well done!!! I hope you're really proud of yourself, you have so much inner strength, more so than you maybe realise. Keep that strength up beacuse you are worth fighting for. Other people can get so scared when facing someone with a mental illness...if only they knew how frightening it is to actually suffer with it...they're the lucky ones. Anyone at any time in life can develop a mental illness and I sometimes wonder if they became ill how would they feel if others reacted to them in the same way. Never forget how special you are.

not alone

your blog was eye opening, I was only recently diagnosed with BPD and GAD when I got sober. i had spent most of my adult life either on drugs or drunk hiding. I too was unaware as a teen for the reasons I acted up, couldn't deal with things that way others did, got wrecked constantly, always wished I was dead, made all the plans, made the attempts, was violent, etc etc etc. I'm 42 now with a string of broken relationships and 6 children and I finally understand what was behind it all. Thank you for letting me know I wasnt the only one going through it.

Beginning my journey

Thank you so much for sharing this, I have come to the point in my life whereby I have admitted to my family and c.lose friends that I may be suffering from a personality disorder and just starting the journey of finding out what is actually going on in my head. After years of disastrous relationships, broken friendships, rash decisions and a huge amount of grief for my my family I have gone to see a psychologist and am awaiting an appointment with a psychiatrist to help me better understand what is actually going on. Im terrified, its very daunting and helps so much to know that I am not alone in all this. thank you so much for sharing what you have gone through, you're very brave and I am proud of you and how far you have come All the best for your recovery xxx

sickening!

That's appalling and sickening! They thought that calling you names would help you, instead of making you feel worse? What kind of twisted logic is that?

What did you think of this blog? Tell us in the comments