In late 2018, I was diagnosed with bulimia. Although I was suffering for a long time before this, I was living in denial that something was genuinely wrong and I needed help. Like many young men, I was never told to talk about my problems – never mind anything about mental illness. Instead, we are told to simply get over it. Rather than talk about what is bothering us, we are told to keep it down and carry on pushing forward.
Any diagnosis of a mental disorder is frightening, but so too are those crushing depressions when you can’t function, the times when life is simply too much or when you are simply out of control. It was after my second suicide attempt that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The crushing, life draining, depressions I had noticed (obviously), but somewhere down the line I seemed to have missed the mania.
Initially when I was diagnosed, I was thrilled. I identified with the symptoms and my diagnosis meant I could finally get help, but when I googled borderline personality disorder (BPD) it was horrible to read how people talked about us. I read articles about how to get out of a relationship with someone with a personality disorder, how ‘toxic’ we are and how to spot us. It made me feel too ashamed to tell anyone for a long time.
There’s a limitation on who you can tell that you have schizophrenia - especially being from the BAME community. Not everyone understands schizophrenia or thinks it’s a real thing. Some people might think it means having a split personality, but it’s not like that.
To say that mental health stigma and discrimination have impacted on multiple facets of my life is an understatement. On reflection these issues have been and still are the biggest obstacles to my recovery from major trauma. This is due to my reluctance to “come out” about my challenges and to believe that I deserve some support. I am not good at asking for help out in the real world. It is a heavy weight to carry and one that I am increasing keen to dump.