I must confess…Stigma

This month is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Awareness Month and in the interests of being completely honest, I must confess that I was hesitant about revealing that I have been diagnosed with this mental illness.  In fact up until recently I had I ‘unspecified mental illness’ on my About page.  I was worried about the possible stigma that I would encounter.

BPD doesn’t get the best rap in the media, professional field or even on the internet I have found.  I committed to sharing an article or blog post on my Facebook Page about BPD every day for the month of May..it’s only the 5th day and I am already struggling to find articles that don’t demonise the illness.

In revealing that I had BPD I was worried that people would see these articles and see me in the words.  That people would begin to shy away, worried about the consequences of getting too close.  I was worried that they had seen movies like Fatal Attraction, and assume that, that is what all of the people with BPD were like.

I fell for my own stigma.  In trying to destigmatise, I was holding back one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.  How am I supposed to offer safe place for mental illness if I wasn’t being completely honest with myself.  It was a fear that felt very real to me.

I know that the reality is that I am more than my symptoms, I am more than a bunch of words written in a diagnostic manual.  I am more than the bad experience someone with the BPD in their life, because I am not that person.  BPD is not a one size fits all diagnosis, every single has a different combination of symptoms.  A person may even change the symptoms which fit them, as they go through therapy and life changes.

I also know that if no one talks about BPD in a more supportive light, then the stigma won’t change.  If there is no new conversation then old image will continue to gain momentum.  If people like me, people on the front line of living with this disorder don’t challenge the perceptions then there will continue to be the scary bunny boiler stereotypes.

It was this post I shared with Mindset Effect that was the catalyst for outing myself properly.  I had touched on BPD in the past, but this was my story, how BPD affected me, the reality of living with it everyday.  The post started something within myself, a desire to share the person beneath the illness.

I’m in a position to share my struggles, my triumphs and I owe it to myself to take advantage of that.  I owe it to the people who feel alone, the people have been misunderstood and the people who thought that they were the only person in the world who felt like this.  Most of all, I owe it to the people who know that there is something going on but don’t know where to turn.

Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess!

If you feel that you are struggling, I urge you to ask for help.  Tell someone, a friend, your doctor, or a trusted family member. 

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10 thoughts on “I must confess…Stigma

  1. Kathy

    Tegan – I think it was really brave of you to share that first post on your diagnosis and to keep up the campaign to destigmatise. That quote about the condition is really powerful, about people with BPD having such an ’emotional think skin’ – I am sure your awareness raising will elicit empathy and understanding.

    Reply
  2. Deb - An Inspirational Journey

    “I’m in a position to share my struggles, my triumphs and I owe it to myself to take advantage of that”.
    IT’S A SIGN! You should write for my series!!!
    Seriously though, this was a brave thing to admit! pat on the back for you my friend xx

    Reply
  3. Emma Fahy Davis

    Stigma is such a powerful thing, like you I often find myself making assumptions about people based on their diagnosis only to think ‘hang on, what if THEY are thinking that about ME?!’ I think those of us who are lucky enough (and I use the word lucky somewhat loosely as having a mental illness in the first place isn’t all that lucky) to live with mental illness yet are in a position to be able to articulate exactly what that’s like almost have a responsibility to do so because it is our voices, educated, intelligent, real, that break down those stigmas and prove that ‘crazy’ isn’t always the same ‘crazy’ shown in the movies, and in fact that unlike many physical diseases, mental illness presents so differently for each affected individual.
    All that great big long ramble just to say – great post!

    Reply
  4. Ness

    You’ve helped me so much in understanding the disorder and enabled me to help and understand my friends who have been diagnosed with BPD. Agree with Kathy and the others – keep it up. You rock.

    Reply
  5. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    You know Tegan I think you make us more aware that you are still the same lovely mum, friend and person just because you have BPD – it doesn’t define who you are, it is just a part of who you are. So enjoy your month baby! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Ali B.

    Great post Tegan! As always, an insightful examination of your inner workings. I’m so glad that the post you did for The Mindset Effect helped you to change the way you look at the illness and especially yourself in relation to it. If you’d like to reblog any of my other mental health posts in your quest to find material, you’re welcome to. 🙂

    Ali 🙂

    Reply
  7. Kirsty @ My Home Truths

    I love your honesty and how passionate you are about sharing your story with others to de-stigmatise and normalise BPD and other mental illnesses. Good luck for your blogging throughout the rest of May!

    Reply
  8. Janet @ Middle Aged Mama

    I am so proud of you Tegan, I felt similarly nervous about “going public” when I had depression many years ago. I know that I personally had an extremely negative view of BPD after my own experiences, and you have really challenged that and helped me see that it IS possible to live a great life and have successful relationships and not let bitterness and hurt overwhelm you (as it did my mum). Love ya to bits! xxx

    Reply
  9. Zita

    I hate that so much stigma is still attached to any mental illness in this day and age. I am glad there are people like you out there trying to fight the good fight to break it alll down! Great post as alwyas Tegan!

    Reply

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