Despite the fact that I’ve been blogging since 2015, I would still consider myself to be a relative ‘newbie’ to the blogging world. I would definitely say that I am still trying to get the hang of this thing, and that it’ll be a long while (if ever) before I get to the highly accomplished and professional level of some of my mutuals. But for now, I just want to continue talking about my own struggle with mental health and hopefully helping others along the way.
My name is Rosie. I am now twenty years old. I am a second year English student. For years I have been struggling with mental health issues, and two years ago, at the end of a long admission under section, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I am now struggling within a system in which many professionals *still* associate sufferers of my illness with attention seeking and conscious manipulation. I am struggling within a system in which therapy is supposed to be the course of treatment, yet the waiting lists for this treatment are years long once you are even accepted onto them. I am struggling within a system in which I am willing (at this point) to accept any help, yet there just isn’t the help available. Yet I am surviving, and I am fighting.
Some important initial things about BPD:
- Although not everyone with BPD has experienced trauma, the vast majority have. It is thought that 60% of people with BPD have experienced sexual or physical abuse. I imagine the figure for emotional abuse would be much, much higher. Rather than people with BPD being somewhat ‘dangerous’ or ‘manipulative’ to other people, it is more often than not the other way round. People with BPD have been damaged. They need support and they need love.
- That there is enormous symptom overlap with BPD and other illnesses and conditions. Yet for the same symptoms, others with a diagnosis deemed more ‘valid’ by professionals are treated with sympathy and support. Parallels are especially made between BPD and two other conditions: complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and autistic spectrum disorder. But one does not cancel out the other, and it is thought that it is actually less common to have ‘pure BPD’ than it is to have dual/multiple diagnosis.
- That although Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been extremely reluctant in the past to treat children under their care for BPD, a recent rise in the diagnosis of ’emerging borderline personality disorder’ in 16 and 17 years old has meant that young adults on the brink of 18 have been able to access the correct treatment. It would be brilliant if this could be the case across the country in which many young people are misdiagnosed.
- Some professionals, particularly older ones, still adhere to the toxic stereotypes of borderline personality disorder which were taught in medical schools years ago. Some professionals do make the hysteria-BPD connection. And some professionals will diagnose any self-harming female on their acute ward with BPD without even observing the patient or properly assessing the case. Some do believe that there is more ‘choice’ with BPD than there is with other illnesses. I am hoping that this will change over time, and I am happy to see so many other people talking about their own experiences with BPD.
- Some professionals are scared of BPD patients. This seems silly to say, but it has been reiterated to me even by health workers. Other than dialectal behavioural therapy, which is hard to come by and takes time and effort on behalf of a patient who may be presenting as at immediate high risk, there is no set treatment for BPD. And there are still ongoing arguments about what exactly causes it. So when a highly distressed and unpredictable patient is placed in a professional’s care, the professional fears this responsibility and can project this onto the patient by dismissing them as ‘attention seekers’ and therefore displacing the responsibility.
- And some professionals really do care. There has been a huge shift in the way that professionals see personality disorder patients. I have met really kind doctors, nurses, support workers and more who see beyond the illness, who see me, and genuinely want to help me. I am delighted to have friends who have struggled with my debilitating illness going into mental health nursing and jobs within the service with a positive attitude towards the illness. The stigma is there and when you have this illness sometimes its difficult to see beyond it, but there is also kindness that cannot be ignored.
I am hoping that in this brand new blog, I’ll be able to tackle the stigma against my illness. I want people to be able to recognise that it is an illness. An illness that takes 10% of its sufferers. And an illness in which with the appropriate care, recovery can triumph over a tragic death to suicide.