One woman’s experience with borderline personality, mental health units and self-harm

“I’ve always struggled with being different.”

I’ve always struggled with being different. There was always been something about me that made others run for the hills, nobody wanted to be around me, and if anyone did they’d leave pretty shortly after. That’s just sort of how my life goes.

It turns out that it’s because I can’t see things in grey. It’s either black or white. All or nothing. I either hate you so much it makes me sick or I love you with all of my being. Why? Well, I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

In most cases of BPD, it stems from childhood trauma. Something in our brains shut off, and we don’t ever learn how to really cope with our feelings or what’s going on. I won’t go into detail about what happened to me, but it wasn’t nice, and I’ve never been the same since.

I was diagnosed when I was 18, although I’d been diagnosed with manic depression (which is commonly known as Bipolar) when I was just 10 – so I’m known to the professionals as being co-morbid (having illnesses that co-occur with each other).

I became aware that something was really wrong with me in middle school, as that’s when I really took a downward spiral and began self-harming.
I hid it for as long and as well as I could, until the teachers would no longer let me get changed in another room for P.E. Those that bullied me saw the bandages all over my body and then used that as another reason to target me. I became the “emo kid”, the one who should “do it properly next time”.

“I got to the point where I lost it”

It got to a point where I lost it and I started overdosing alongside the self-harm. I’d steal alcohol from my parents and take all the pills I could find in the house, just hoping I’d never have to face anyone ever again. It got to the point that I wasn’t able to attend school anymore and I had to be home schooled for a few years.
That didn’t stop the self-mutilation though. I was lonely, I had no friends and as far as I was concerned, I had nothing left to live for. I eventually went back to school to sit my GCSE’s then left again, going straight into work instead of college, so I’d never have to see any of them ever again.
I loved my job, and whilst I was working I didn’t do anything to harm myself and started to truly love my life.
Unfortunately, I then lost my job due to having too much time off sick due to another diagnosis: Crohn’s disease, a form of Inflammatory bowel disease.
 I haven’t worked since due to both my mental and physical health issues.
Despite taking up the support of the mental health services, I couldn’t find anything that worked right for me, if anything it made me worse. Eventually, I was admitted to a mental health unit. In fact, I was admitted to many.
None of them were a particularly nice experience, but the last one I was in was the worst for me (March 2016). I was too bad, I couldn’t be trusted and I was classed as a risk to myself and possibly others due to how mentally ill I’d become.

“All I wanted was to be left alone to hurt myself”

I had no control over myself anymore. All I wanted was to be left alone to hurt myself and punish myself for all that had happened in my life. I felt like I was completely alone and I couldn’t trust anyone anymore, and honestly, I’d just stopped caring.
I can’t bring myself to talk much about this experience properly yet, but I was admitted into a unit after I’d attempted suicide and spent 3 weeks in there, being watched by the staff at all times and not even allowed a pencil in my room to write how I felt. It was a terrifying experience as I’d always been on units for younger people (under 20’s) and this was the first time I’d been put in a full adult unit.
A few weeks after being let home from the unit, I was given a care coordinator who comes to my home to check in on me and see how I’m doing and if I need any help. She takes what I say back to my psychiatrist (who is lovely) so he knows exactly where I’m at when he next meets with me.

I’m on anti-psychotics now which have helped with the voices and moods a little, but it’s a working progress. I’m currently waiting to start intensive therapy to try to break my patterns of self-harm and to rewire my brain in the hope I can then begin to control my emotions and reactions to things.

For the first time in my life, I think I truly have hope that things might just work out. And that’s all down to having the right care. It’s not weak to show how you feel. It’s not weak to want to be alone. It’s not weak to ask for help.

To anyone who is suffering, you don’t have to do this alone. There are so many of us out here who know exactly what you’re going through. Don’t ever feel ashamed of who you are and how you feel. Your thoughts are valid. Your feelings are valid.
Don’t ever give up on hope. It’s there somewhere, you just need a little push to find it.
As told to

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