Borderline Personality Disorder: The Embodiment of Mental Health Stereotypes
My Experience Living with BPD
"Borderline Personality Disorder" (BPD) came about in past medical terms to define a person that was borderline between neurotic mental health problems and psychosis. However, in newer medicine, this is no longer the way most mental health is spoken about. BPD is a broad diagnosis with individuals suffering from it experiencing a number of different symptoms that are individual to that person.
I was recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. This came about after 6 months of one to one counselling. I was lying to myself, lying to my counsellor, and lying to the doctors about how serious some of my mental health symptoms are.
My mental health symptoms are wide and vary day to day, but they include:
- Extreme paranoia
- Psychotic episodes and experiences
- Extreme fear of abandonment
- Intense swinging emotions
- Impulsive actions
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviour
Alongside BPD, I also suffer from Severe Panic Disorder and Severe Depressive Disorder.
BPD is also known as Emotionally Unstable disorder, but as I’ve never personally been told "Oh you have Emotionally Unstable disorder," I find it hard to connect to that term.
My journey began after a month of constantly seeing, hearing, and feeling things that simply were not there. It would become worse at work, where I would hear my name constantly being shouted, alongside horrible snide comments about myself. All of this alongside seeing shadowy figures following me around, I could not cope.
I finally told my councillor about what I was experiencing as I could no longer control anything in my life, my mood was all over the place and it was really affecting my personal relationships, I was fighting with my boyfriend constantly and pushing everyone away.
He referred me to the city's secondary mental health team, in this case it was the "Rapid Response Team" who then, after an hour-long meeting where I told them the exact same things that I had told my councillor, referred me to a service called PSYPHER.
PSYPHER is a service that helps 16–25 year olds that are experiencing psychosis. I waited 2 months for an appointment with this service. After this time on the waiting list, I was seen by a junior doctor who specialised in psychosis. After explaining again everything I was experiencing, she said to me that as psychosis is a broad diagnosis, she didn’t feel like I was only experiencing this, and that it was a symptom of something else, however she did not tell me what. Instead she told me she would send me a letter explaining what would happen next.
I waited about a month, and I didn’t hear anything, no letter came, nothing.
At an appointment with my doctor, I asked if he knew what was going on, so he checked to see if he had been sent anything. This was when I received my diagnosis. My doctor had been sent a letter by the Junior doctor that stated she had referred me to a different team as I had BPD. This hit me like a lead balloon. My partner also suffers from BPD, and I know the stigma around BPD, and I also know from my experience with him, that once you receive the BPD diagnosis, it’s almost as if local services say "Oh, they’ll be fine in a few hours, they’re just unstable."
Everyone stops caring.
At this time, I was regularly seeing my doctor. My doctor had been prescribing me various medications for the past 6 months to try and help with the various things I had been experiencing. Right now, I am on Duloxetine, Quetiapine, and Propranolol. However, as I had been passed from pillar to post and thrown around teams, I had not been receiving any other help other than the medication I was on, and a 5-minute chat with my doctor.
Everything was spiralling out of control, I had to take two months off work, and they simply didn’t understand, they threatened to not pay me while I was off sick, so I returned for a month against my will.
Something that always made my mental health worse, was working at my current place of work. I was experiencing bullying from a couple of members of staff, to the point where I was considering killing myself so that I didn’t have to go through it one more time. The sad thing was that they were higher up in the management triangle than I was. So, I was unable to speak out about what I was experiencing.
At the end of September 2017, I handed in my notice at work, in an impulsive and not totally thought through act of braveness. In doing so, I also told my line manager how I felt, and I told the store manager in a 7-page letter. I am not totally sure what, if anything happened to the two members of staff that had put me through such trauma, but it was empowering to get it out there.
Currently, I am sat on a waiting list for DBT. No one cares about me really, I sit at home and panic about my life. I nap most of the day in an effort to escape my mood swings and explosive behaviour. I try to go into university, but I often experience severe panic attacks at the thought. I have lost most of my friends as they either don’t care, or they don’t understand.
I have become the embodiment of stereotypical mental health illnesses, I am the sad, suicidal, overweight, lonely girl that can’t leave the house or even open the curtains. I cry because I can’t express sadness or angry any other way. When I’m happy, I’m on top of the world, I can do anything. But still I sit here, waiting, on an NHS waiting list, falling through the cracks.