The Emergence Diagnosis Debate

At the Emergence event in Sheffield, we were asked 'is a diagnosis of Personality Disorder helpful?'

  • everyone knows what they're dealing with
  • it's a 'doorway to treatment'
  • it's a relief to have a 'label'
  • able to access peer support
  • given details of available and appropriate support groups
  • it's helpful for professionals to have this sort of information in order to work with service users
  • access to right team of professionals
  • learn new skills
  • it explains your symptoms - 'oh! That's why'
  • assurance for professionals
  • helps towards funding appeals/arguments
  • provides validity
  • KUF  training means professionals are specially trained
  • entered on a pathway for the right treatment
  • determination to prove the stigma wrong

  • causes stigma
  • inaccurate
  • how do you define 'disordered'?
  • demeaning
  • it still doesn't mean you will tick the boxes for recommended treatment of PD
  • if you only 'have traits' of PD, what then?
  • no physical ways to diagnose PD
  • difference of opinions - who's to say what the right diagnosis is?

After listening - and joining in, some of the debate, I figured that a service user's opinion on this would depend on their personal experience and where they are in their recovery. If you asked me before I came to this hospital, I would've said 'no.'
I discovered my BPD diagnosis by seeing it on my discharge papers as a 'preliminary diagnosis' and I remember being assessed under the Mental Health Act once in Cumbria and the Doctor told me I definitely had BPD. When I returned home and met with my community team they said we wouldn't be listening to that 'just yet.' When they finally decided I did have BPD it didn't take long to realise there were no services in our area that were both trained in PD and could manage my risk. For three years, I went through all the shit of people labelling me an 'attention-seeker', not believing my hallucinations and doubting my risk because they thought I had control over it. So, I went through all the bad experiences that would leave me hating the diagnosis... And now I have the good experiences; I've been brought to a specialist hospital that gave me the environment I needed to recover in and I'd say the diagnosis - the label that people say you can never remove - doesn't apply to me any longer. It took five years, but if they'd given me the diagnosis at the beginning to make me eligible for the right treatment, it could've all happened a lot sooner.
Advice? If you have been diagnosed with a PD and are suffering stigma and feeling as though your diagnosis is a burden, it isn't. Use your feelings to propel you through your recovery and give you the determination to prove everyone wrong. PDs aren't a death sentence.
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