Hi, I’m Jo and I’m diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Depression and Anxiety. These all create problems for me in so many different ways.
I was first diagnosed with depression ten years ago at the age of 19 although I had been struggling for many years before hand. Getting help was a long road for me.
I had been hiding a lot of what I was going through from everyone until I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The pressure of hiding it made everything worse.
Talking about my problems was the start of getting the help I desperately needed. It was not an easy journey. There were many times when talking was the last thing I wanted to do and many times I just couldn’t bring myself to express myself. I felt all sorts of negative feelings towards myself about talking. I thought it made me weak, needy or a burden to those around me. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I really felt people would judge me for talking.
The stigma surrounding mental illness made me reluctant to be open. This is why Time to Talk Day is so important.
Since opening up to people about my mental illnesses I have been overwhelmed by the positive responses I have. It has led me to so many great opportunities including blogging, meeting my inspiration and finding some of my best friends. But it hasn’t always been easy to be honest about what I struggle with. The biggest difficulty I had was when I was first diagnosed with BPD about 6 years ago.
When I first discovered I had the diagnosis of BPD it was by accident. No one had ever said to me explicitly that I had this diagnosis or that they were even considering this as a diagnosis. Instead I found out through reading a copy of a letter sent from my psychiatrist to my GP. At that point I had little understanding of what BPD was. I’d only heard about it a few times and had no idea of the stigma surrounding this diagnosis nor what it meant for me.
I decided to ask my psychiatrist about it and she talked it through with me explaining how I fitted the criteria for diagnosis. She then asked me to read a book about the condition. It was awful. The book in question made the point that all people with BPD are manipulative. This made me so upset. I didn’t think I was manipulative. I decided there and then to not talk so openly about my BPD diagnosis.
This went on years. I told very few people that I had this diagnosis. Even my family were unaware. I couldn’t deal with them reading all the things I had read that about people with BPD. Then I met some others with the condition who were all round awesome people and my perspective changed. Maybe having this illness as a diagnosis wasn’t the end of the world. Maybe I could do something to help battle the stigma surrounding this mental illness.
I decided to share my story more and open up to those around me. I found some brilliant information from the Mind Charity’s website and armed with this I spoke out. I wanted people to understand I was still the same person just with a label. People needed to know we weren’t all bad.
Opening up about my mental illness led to me sharing blog posts and Facebook posts all about life with BPD and I heard from others who felt the same way or who were dealing with a mental illness diagnosis. It was great that people were fighting against the stigma. Also I met people who offered me a place to talk. A peer support network. Even if we just asked each other if we were OK.
Overall talking about my mental illnesses has led to many good things. And asking others how they feel is just as important to me. This Time to Talk Day we should be highlighting that if you have a mental illness- you are not alone.
This post was written by Jo for Time to Talk day 2019. She can be found at her blog: meandmymentalhealthmatters.wordpress.com