Stop the stigma
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is such a harsh definition of the condition I have. People mistake it with dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality disorder) all the time. I don’t know how many people have asked me, ‘how many personalities do you have?’ I look at them in awe as to how clueless some people are towards mental health.
Just to clarify, there is only one of me! BPD is a condition where the people process and regulate their emotions differently. They are in the process of calling it Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), which is fractionally better than BPD but it still has the title Personality Disorder in it!
It manifests itself in your late teens and early twenties. It often stems from trauma. The majority of people who have it self-harm and attempt suicide. I can put my hand up high to those symptoms. What people see are the symptoms but few delve deep into the dark hole that is their mind and try to fix the child in those who have it. Schema therapy does that – it tries to fix you from the child up.
Of course self-harm and suicide are maladaptive coping modes but they come part and parcel with the condition. The idea is to tell the inner child that everything is ok, that the trauma that occurred is never going to happen again and that I am safe now.
Schema therapy tries to soothe the vulnerable child in us and develop the healthy adult. It also attempts to negotiate with the demanding critic and banish the punitive critic in us. Everyone has heard the terms fight, flight or freeze. These are ways in which schema therapy allows you to distinguish the different needs at the time. Not everyone has every one but the majority of people who have BPD can identify with most what I’m trying to describe.
I was diagnosed when I was 18 but my trauma started when I was 12 and lasted 8 years. I was seen to be on the severe side of the spectrum and was self-harming 5 and 6 times a day. Schema therapy had me doing that roughly twice a year until this year. I found this year particularly bad and have gone off the rails a bit.
I am writing this from a locked ward in a psychiatric hospital. I’m not saying that to frighten people, its not like I’m Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Coocoos Nest. I have my own room surrounded by my own things and even have my own bathroom. The health care assistants (HCA’s) are very good to me and bring me Lego to make for a display that is out in a corridor beside the main reception. People hear of psychiatric hospitals and think of them with dread in their minds. Its not like that at all. The stigma needs to be lifted so that people aren’t afraid to go and ask for help if they need it. I’m not only addressing this to people with BPD, I’m addressing it to the wide variety of conditions that are out there; OCD, depression, anxiety, psychosis…...and the list continues.
‘Scars tell you where you’ve been, but they do not predict where you’re going!’ That is a quote I like to carry with me everywhere. People can see physical illnesses. If you break your leg you’re going to be in a cast or a boot until it heals. Emotional scars are deeper and require professional help to mend. I’m one of the lucky ones. I have had, and continue to have, the opportunity to learn about my illness and why I feel what I feel. I know I need to work everyday to keep on top of it but you can’t do that without talking!
Please, I’m begging everyone out there with a mental health condition to say the one word that is the hardest to say yet its only four letters long – HELP!