Yesterday marked the first day of BPD Awareness Week in Australia, and what would be a blog about Borderline Personality Disorder without a post focused on this?
This years focus is on raising awareness about BPD while decreasing the stigma associated with the disorder, and as someone who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder I can’t stress how important I think this is.
I’ve been diagnosed with BPD for about a year and a half now and I’m no stranger to the stigma that comes along with it. I’ve had my parents tell me to “just stop ruining your life” after an overdose, my GP tell me to consider others worse off such as starving children and the homeless (because curing mental illness is that easy), my partner’s family members tell him how I’m not good for him, my partner’s grandmother asking him if I’m physically violent towards him after she read up on BPD in a quick Google search (despite never giving an indication of being abusive towards him in the six years we’ve been together, three of which we lived with her) and my work place enforcing unnecessary and unfair restrictions on me due to having to take time off for mental health hospitalisations.
In a nutshell, the stigma and discrimination associated with BPD sucks. I find most people either consider you to be acting dramatic or just seeking attention, have no idea what BPD is or assume you are an embodiment of all the negative associations with BPD you read on Google (such as manipulative, abusive, uncontrollable, etc.). People with Borderline Personality Disorder are already hypersensitive and aware to other’s attitudes and opinions of them, and dealing with this kind of stigma is unbelievably detrimental. For example, my GP once told me my behaviour was taking too much of a toll of those around me and that if I ever had children the government would take them away. This brief comment sent me into a month-long suicidal spiral. While these comments are not always meant in a malicious way it doesn’t mean they hurt any less.
It’s because of this that the awareness around BPD needs to be raised; both in the community and among health professionals. Yes I have BPD, and yes I’ve had six psychiatric hospitalisations in the last 18 months, and yes sometimes I go into awful depressive slumps that take me weeks to crawl out of, and yes I struggle socialising with family and friends, and yes I self-harm, and yes I’ve had way too many dangerous overdoses. But that’s not all that I am. I have a job working with special needs children and I have two uni degrees while studying for a third and I always go out of my way to be kind and friendly to others and I own a house and have a partner and a small zoo of pets that I love. Unfortunately, however, people tend to focus on the former, something I’m sure other suffers of BPD and mental illnesses are far too famililar with.
This is not okay. This needs to change. People with BPD are not lost causes or not worth it. They are people just like everyone else who have amazing things to offer.
Even if BPD Awareness Week can help even a few people gain a better understanding of BPD then I consider that a win; each person who becomes informed is another person who will no longer contribute to the stigma so many people with BPD face.
I also think it’s important to appreciate the amazing people in my life who have supported me through this illness. I have an incredible psychologist, an amazing psychiatrist, an excellent community mental health team and most of all an absolutely wonderful partner who has been with me every step of the way even though he sometimes struggles to understand and despite the fact alot of my ineffective behaviours impact greatly on him, too. I know how lucky I am to have these supports and I’m so thankful for them.
For more information on BPD Awareness Week check out BPD Awareness – there are some awesome programs and events running all over Australia throughout this week and they have excellent resources available if you want to educate yourself or others. We all need to work together to make this change happen and BPD Awareness Week is an incredible step in the right direction.