I’ve had a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder for three years, it was previously diagnosed as Bipolar but changed when I was admitted to a mental health ward.
It took the staff nurses two weeks to realise my symptoms didn’t present how Bipolar should, and two assessments by two different psychiatrists to pinpoint it as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Once my diagnosis was formally changed, I noticed a drastic difference in how the psychiatrists and some of the staff nurses treated me.
For the large part, I’m extremely grateful to the nurses at Royal Glamorgan for all the care and support I had. Another part is extreme despair at how I went from a pleasant patient to a troublemaker – despite no differences in my behaviour. The stigma of mental health is something that plagues society, but I discovered first hand that it wasn’t limited to the general population.
This brings me to the point of this article – I happened upon the BPDFeels hashtag on one bad day of incessant, paranoid Googling.
BPDFeels showed me that I wasn’t alone in my despair at the stigma in mental health units towards BPD patients. I initially put my suspicions of my treatment down to the symptom of ‘misinterpretation of situations and dialogue’, basically me thinking they hated me when really it was BPD yelling in my head.
Then I saw an ACAS exerpt stating that BPD sufferers in the workplace often make false allegations of sexual harassment because we interpret things differently. I make an effort to clarify things I don’t quite get, but they’re often ambiguous in nature – sexual harassment is rarely that. BPDFeels opened my eyes to the reality of how I would suddenly be perceived because of my diagnosis.
Cue a few weeks of crying and isolation because this sudden, largely inconsequential change to my diagnosis meant that I’d be considered manipulative or abusive. Of course, BPD sufferers can be those things but it’s certainly not on the level everyone thinks it to be. It got to me more than it should have, but it honestly felt like my future went up in flames.
This silly little hashtag turned out to be my saving grace, I wasn’t alone and now I had a place to share the funny, sad or irritating things that happened. It’s a place where I can distinguish myself from my disorder (unstable sense of self is another symptom, won the mental health lottery with this one), it’s somewhere I can go on a bad day and find things to laugh about, it’s somewhere I can be open and honest about BPD without the fear of judgement or rejection.
BPDFeels is more than a hashtag, it’s a community.