○○ Borderline Personalty Disorder: A Real Life Account ○○
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. To mark the occasion, here at Girlie Gossip we have been posting one article every day to help raise awareness and #ENDtheStigma.
Today, we interviewed Diana Kenney. Your average 40 something women, whose outward appearance triggers nothing significant. Diana is, however, one of the 7 in every 1000 people to be diagnosed with a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in the UK. For me though, Diana is just my Mother!
BPD is a serious mental health condition that impacts on a person’s ability to manage their emotions effectively. People who have BPD struggle to maintain stable relationships and often behave in impulsive and disruptive manners.
○○ Interview ○○
Can you tell me a little about your mental health?
How do I start? I have had mental health problems since I was young, I can’t remember any different. I was given anti-depressants when I was 16 and I was on them for years but they didn’t help. I was 46 when I was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and it was a relief really. When he described the symptoms it was me, it was how I felt.
Do you feel comfortable telling people about your mental illness?
Yes! I have nothing to be ashamed about. It is not just me that has it. I think people should be more open about it. People do look at you like you have two heads, but they shouldn’t. We aren’t all bad. We are just trying to get through each day as it comes.
Do you think people treat you differently when they know you have a mental illness?
Yes, absolutely. I find that people don’t really know what to say and when they hear borderline personality disorder they can’t wait to get away from you. I don’t have many friends. People are afraid I think. They may even think I might hurt them. It’s not like that though. People never invite me anywhere because they don’t know how I will be, and I don’t want to go anywhere for the same reason. It is a lonely place when you have BPD.
Do you see yourself differently after being diagnosed with BPD?
No. I feel relieved. I always knew I didn't have post-natal depression, or bipolar, or anxiety. I knew there was something more. So it was a relief. I am not ashamed either, it is who I am.
How does your mental health impact on your daily life?
It is torture. Making simple decisions is hard, like deciding what you want to eat. You wake up angry and it can last all day. I don’t want to be near people or talk to people. Medication doesn’t help. I struggle to be around people because I worry I will outstay my welcome and I can’t make conversation. It is hard, I feel like I just go back and forward every day. It affects my relationship a lot too. It is not nice when people see the horrible side of it, and when you are close to people, they do! ✧
Do you think people understand BPD?
Definitely not. No buts about it. There should be more information available about it and there needs to be more help. I think some people think they know what it is, but not many people really know the ins and outs. People don’t ask me questions about it either, I would rather they did. I think they might worry I would be angry if they asked.
Do you think young people should be taught about mental health in school?
Definitely. The younger the better too. I think this is the only way to put an end to the shame people feel.
How easy was it to access support for your mental health condition?
Someone comes to see me once every three weeks. Though, I don’t think it helps. They often give me leaflets and they stop for one hour. I think there should be groups or walk-in centres. I have had to wait for months to see a psychiatrist, I am still waiting, and this is normal. People will not get better if they don’t have access to the help that they need.
Do you think there is enough support available in the UK for Mental Illness?
Definitely not and I think this stops people from getting better. People want help too, they are crying out for help, I know I do. But, it can take months. In the meantime, we are left sifting through junk mail which tells us what we already know. It is unbearable some days, but we just have to get on with it.
What would you say to other people who have a borderline personality disorder? Advice?
Try as hard as you can to get the best help you can. I know it’s hard, but sometimes you have to ride it out. Be angry, cry, and scream, it’s okay. But reach out, when you are rock bottom, find something, someone, anything! The Samaritans for example. Some charitable organisations can pull you back from the edge. But, no matter how hard it is, there is always someone you have to fight for, your kids, your partner, yourself even. Don’t have to be ashamed of who you are.
○○ Just a Mother ○○
People with BPD are often thought to be dangerous, and the condition is associated with fear, uncertainty and defined by an overall lack of knowledge. Though there are times when my Mother struggles to show affection or be consistent, that is a symptom of her illness. As a person, she is kind, warm, affectionate, and absolutely hilarious. If people didn’t look beyond her illness to see the real person, they would miss out on the best parts of her.
I love my Mam exactly as she is. She doesn’t need to be saved or cured. She simply needs to be found, understood, and appreciated for exactly who she is.
If you are affected by any of the things discussed in this article you can find support and advice through NHS Choices Helplines.