Friday, 13 January 2017

BPD and stigma.

When it comes to mental health, not all conditions were created equally. I could honestly go through the entire DSM and write the societal view on each condition. Lord knows I've heard the views enough times. But I'll give you the edit...

Depression and anxiety have the least stigma, but that's not always a benefit because they're seen as not as significant as others. Eating disorders, particularly bulimia, are seen as a joke- how often are the popular girls in comedies given bulimia? PTSD is to be worn as a badge of honour, but only if you got it in the military, because then you're a hero. Got it from anything else? I can send you plenty of TRIGGERED memes, urgh. OCD is a quirky or anal personality trait. She's so tidy! She's totally OCD! Schizophrenia is really misunderstood (fact: it's not having split personalities) and terrifying and dangerous for the public. Same as psychosis- how often do you hear about schizo/psycho killers, eh? How many actually have diagnoses, eh?

And Lord, don't get me started on borderline personality disorder (as you can imagine, I'm totally about to get started on BPD).

For those of you who don't know a lot about it, BPD is characterised by emotional instability- really intense highs and lows, usually really quickly fluctuating- and problems with things like identity and relationships. Self harm, suicide attenpts and dangerous behaviour all join the party. And from the people I know who have had it (bear in mind I was on a hospital ward for women with BPD for 2.5 years, so I know a lotttt of people with it), it tends to strike people who had shitty childhoods.

The general consensus on BPD is that those affected are manipulative, dramatic, jealous, dangerous attention seekers. And whenever a film features a female stalker, they're ALWAYS diagnosed BPD. Hell, even Ugly Betty featured a girlfriend of a main character who tried to kill Betty because she thought she was making moves on her man. She'd lost her shit because she had BPD. Snore. It's the laziest way to create a villain, ignoring that people with BPD are far more likely to be victims of abuse because they get into such dodgy relationships and typically have low self-esteem.

My diagnosis was changed last year from BPD to Complex PTSD, among other shit. Generally, I don't really care any more what I'm diagnosed with. I haven't cared for quite some years, although it did used to be really important to me. I knew the BPD label didn't fit me, but I wouldn't have cared too much what my notes said if it wasn't for the stigma, including from mental health teams themselves. Knowing that any contact I made with professionals was blighted by a condition I knew I didn't have was tough.

Which is pretty screwed up, since even if I did have it, I'd be just as deserving of time and care. Even if I did have it, I'd still be worthy of recovery. Even if I did have it, I wouldn't have been dangerous.

Even if you have it, you're no less deserving of anything than anybody else.


  1. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this. Having BPD is tough, especially when you are faced with constant stigma and labels and poor treatment, all because of three little letters.

  2. I get disgusted with the treatment and judgment of anyone who has a mental illness. I have depression and people foo foo it regularly and think I can just snap out of it. I don't like how people are depicted in movies as it lessens the truth of what people are going through in real life xox

  3. this is so true, i had to discharge myself from my CMHT appointments because of constant insinuations that i "brought [borderline personality disorder] on myself" - i've actually been improving far more rapidly by educating myself and placing my recovery solely on my own terms