Reduce stigma, don’t create it.

This post is about another blogger. I feel a little bit uncomfortable and anxious writing this as the last thing I want to do is hurt anyone or make them feel uneasy. But I feel as though this needs to be said and I would be doing a disservice to my fellow BPD sufferers if I didn’t say it.

The blogger, who I’ll call Sarah for sake of this argument, is a mental health advocate. Not by her own admission, but by the message that her posts represent. She posts daily about her struggles and she is an incredibly admirable person. She suffered for many years without answers by the sounds of it, and that’s truly heart breaking when reading the entries on her blog.

Sarah is the sort of blogger I love. I love people that open themselves up to sharing their experiences so that others feel less ‘strange’ and alone. It’s noble and brave. And sometimes yes, it makes the blogger feel good aswell. It makes you feel alive and that you’re a part of something when other people can relate to your troubles. You’re not crazy, afterall.

down_with_stigma_bpd_awarness_buttonsHowever, there was a post that Sarah made earlier on today; making reference to a time when a doctor thought she may be suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. She went on to boldly claim that all of those she has known with the disorder in the past had formed abusive friendships with her, and it was an illness that she ‘despised’ – so as you can imagine she was happy when her concerns were put to rest and she was diagnosed with something else entirely.

I tried to kindly correct her in her comments box, with a small compliment, followed by:

Please know that all Borderline’s aren’t like that though, I promise! 🙂

To which I received a response stating that she found it hard to believe what I had said, as the people she had known with the disorder were all ‘textbook cases’.

I find this hard to swallow. And not because I have a severe fear of choking.

I don’t judge anyone else’s problems. My god, how hypocritical would that be. I’m scared of everything, I can be a psycho bitch more than occasionally and honestly I don’t make sense in my own head, never mind yours.

I don’t understand Schizophrenia because I’ve never experienced it.

I don’t understand Clinical Depression. I’ve never experienced that either.

I don’t understand Multiple Personality Disorder. Or Anorexia.  Because again – they’re not something that I’ve ever experienced.

But because I’ve never experienced them things, I have less of a right to judge. You cannot judge someone based on something that you don’t understand. It’s ignorant and it’s quite frankly wrong.

Never mind the fact that we are not our disorders. We are people that have disorders. We are all different. I don’t know how many times this has to be said before people start to realise that. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that BPD is probably one of the most varying disorders out there. There are no two Borderlines with the exact same issues and I for one am a bloody good friend whether you like to believe it or not.

I sometimes shut the world out, and that can include the ones I love, but I am always there for the people that mean the world to me and they know that. I would do anything for them and I wish them nothing but the best in everything that they do.

The thought of someone despising something (That’s a strong statement!) that I have because it ‘terrified [them]’, and then putting me and all the other BPD sufferers into a stereotypical box of crazy, frustrates me more than anything.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that really is what blogging is all about. I do understand that. It’s a place that people use as their diaries; to be honest and open when they can’t be those things anywhere else. The strangers that read our profiles are our supporters and our friends, sometimes more so than the 3-dimensional people outside of the screen.

But you also have to understand that there are people reading what you write from all backgrounds and areas of life. And if you ask me, by making that comment, Sarah undid all her previous hard work of reducing stigma – because just for a second, she was a part of creating it.

Can all of us that suffer these horrific disorders, please get on the same page?

lovelauren

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24 thoughts on “Reduce stigma, don’t create it.

  1. andywritespoems says:

    As a bit of a misfit myself I’ve been around people of all persuasions, LGBT, depressed, anorexic, self harming, I’ve fallen into a few stereotypes as well (I wanted to be the stereotypical emo with the long fringe black hair etc) but I absolutely agree, we are not our disorders, we are the ones that work to overcome whatever hurdle life throws at us. Fantastic read.

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      Thanks, Andy. Did you achieve that desired look in the end? I just find it harder to believe that someone that is currently suffering can dislike others that suffer. We should all be on the same page 🙂

      Like

      • andywritespoems says:

        I realised it wasn’t me. It was what I thought I wanted but not what I was happiest with. I dealt with depression and that led me to find a lot of grunge bands with hairstyles I tried to mimic. I think if you hate yourself for your disorder you have it in you to hate the others who also suffer, but I think that is a hatred for the disorder and not the individual. Some people feel cursed and unfairly limited by their disorders.

        Like

      • bylaurenhayley says:

        That makes sense. Well I hope you feel as though you know yourself a bit more now (not that I think even the ‘normal’ completely know.) It’s a learning curve that’s for sure!

        Like

  2. prideinmadness says:

    I have a few people on my blog share with me horrible experiences of parent/child and intimate relationships where the person abusing was labeled with BPD (or in some cases “undiagnosed”). The only thing I could do was empathize with their experience and share with them how my experiences of bullying and intimate partner emotional abuse helped shape what doctors are calling BPD in me. I also pass along the measure that just like “regular” people there are horrible people out there who HAPPEN to be labeled with BPD but there are also very nice people who happen to be labeled with BPD.

    I think the fact that she was able to dictate her diagnosis says something about the mental health system. If we’re going to keep enforcing a biomedical model of mental illness then the patient shouldn’t be able to decide their diagnosis. People diagnosed with cancer don’t like the diagnosis but that’s what they have, they don’t get to make a fuss and suddenly have something else!

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      I completely agree. And I do understand that people’s experiences form their opinions on people. If all you’ve known is abusive people with BPD then yeah, ok. But I’m sure she has also suffered stigma associated with what she has now been diagnosed with, so it just seems crazy to me that you’d inflict that on to others!

      Like

      • prideinmadness says:

        Defense mechanism I guess. I know I used to judge others with the same diagnosis as me (back when it was depression). I would find a way that I’m not “as bad” as them. Sometimes I will still fall back into that because when I was younger I always had to prove myself worthy so I wouldn’t lose friends.

        In no way to agree with perpetuating discrimination and the thing with mental health discrimination is that it’s everywhere, woven into our culture that we can’t see it, as I’m sure you know.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. sandysetonb says:

    Too right.
    No-one is their disorder.
    Disorders are descriptive constructs.
    Sometimes they are representative of an illness, sometimes they are descriptions of patterns of behaviours that often go together.
    Unfortunately these shorthand descriptions have been turned into something concrete that they were never meant to be.
    Many disorders come and go as research provides more information about them.
    BPD is often a result of early adversity and abuse of different kinds.
    There are helpful therapies for changing some of these difficulties.
    Sandy
    Vajrablue.com

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      Completely. I think the lack of understanding that comes with BPD definitely comes with more stigmatisation than say Depression. But then actually when I really think about it, because people use the word ‘depressed’ too freely, people are even becoming unsensitised to that and treating it like nothing now!

      Like

  4. the Prodigal Orphan says:

    My wife has lived with the diagnosis (or label, if you will) of BPD for almost seven years.
    She’s lived with the mindset, the challenges, the torture and the battle for over fifty years.
    Her mom, her brother, her childhood.
    I love my wife more with each passing day.
    Last night, fighting insomnia, I was laying in bed behind her, my arms wrapped around her, and it just thoroughly blew me away how much I love the way she smells. How comforting it is, how safe it makes me feel. And after forty years together it just really, really hit me last night.
    I hate BPD. I hate what it did to the tender soul my wife was in her very early years, the tender soul it tried to destroy for decades afterwards.
    I hate the distorted thinking, the behaviors and I hate that all too often Liz has no say in the matter.
    I also hate that the Irish DNA flowing through me makes it so easy for me to get so damned sunburned early in the spring / summer. I hate that some of the things that happened to me actually happened to me.
    I love the fact that Liz was able to get by the years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and become a loving, caring, nurturing, compassionate pre-school teacher for almost thirty-years. Lots of special needs kids who needed the stability she was able to bring into their lives…
    … often at the same time the BPD had her trying to force me out of her life before I took off on my own (which, of course, I was going to do because Liz was so sure I was going to because her mother told her all guys do because her hubby cheated on her once and all her sons cheated on their wives and I, being able to write my name in the snow, was also going to cheat on her because she was this and that and I couldn’t possibly love her… sound familiar?)
    And when things got beyond manageable for her, she took a medical retirement and fought back at The Beast harder and stronger than ever before.
    She still has her little routines that are sacred to her (watching “The Big Bang Theory” EVERY night at seven come hell or high water), our house is still crowded with the faeries and gnomes she has collected over the years, all knives have to be kept in a separate drawer from the other silverware, her nail polish all has to be on the TOP shelf of the medicine cabinet.
    Like I care.
    BPD?
    BFD.
    And in my travels through numerous blogs on the subject, I hear of people with the same traits / characteristics / quirks and I hear a bunch of folks with an entirely new spin on things.
    One thing I learned after years of multiple choice questions on exams in school and tests for job promotions …
    you can automatically discard any answer that includes either the word “always” or the word “never”.
    And while some people at my work thought I was too disturbed to keep working, I had a Judge in a Social Security hearing tell me I wasn’t disturbed enough for Disability.
    We lunatics just can’t catch a break.
    Either we fit into the pattern everybody seems to want to assign to us or we don’t, whether we don’t or whether we do.
    Certain aspects of my illness have negatively affected those around me.
    Woops.
    I feel sorry about it, I feel sorry for it and after that is all said and done, I frankly couldn’t care less if someone understands that or not, because they don’t have to live with those things and be haunted by them nearly as much as I do.
    And I find myself to be a uniquely charming asshole in spite of those things.
    So there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lifeofmiblog says:

    Well I’m with you on this one. I don’t have BPD but just among those I know that do, they are all nice people who just have “off” periods, like we all do…I am quite a horror when I am in a black period, as you will see if you read my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laura S. (Borderline Med) says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for the post Lauren. There’s all kinds of explanations as to why she may have that opinion, but in the end it’s still stigma. Unfortunately, as you point out there’s stigma from “healthy” people but there’s also stigma from those who suffer with mental illness too. It’s a product of soooo many years of stigma….but slowly it will come down. “Dripping water can wear away a stone” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mira Koussa says:

    I am fairly to blogging i started like a week ago but to find out that there is whole community of BPD sufferers/Mental health advocates here is pretty awesome…

    LETS END THE STIGMA 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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