7 Days of BPD - Day Five: Q&A with Katie Bayne
Friday 10 April 2015
1. Did you realise you had symptoms of BPD before being diagnosed with it?
Yes, I was one of those annoying people who had researched different conditions and was pretty sure I had BPD after reading quite a bit about it. I remember thinking “oh my god, it’s like they’ve taken all my symptoms and made it into a medical condition”.
2. How did your diagnosis come about?
It had been mentioned by my psychiatrist in the past, but she said that she was reluctant to diagnose me because of the stigma surrounding the condition. Then a few months later, I was in an acute psychiatric admission ward due to being suicidal, and when I was discharged, I had my discharge paperwork to hand to my GP, and on there it said that I was diagnosed with BPD. So I am not sure when I was officially diagnosed but I was never told face to face.
3. What is your understanding of BPD?
To my understanding, it is a condition that is partly genetic, partly environmental. It can portray itself in so many different forms but most people tend to have problems with mood swings, being hyper-sensitive to any perceived abandonment and hyper-sensitive to things in general, being impulsive, possibly problems with alcohol or illicit drugs. Often sufferers feel like they’re a child in an adult’s body and simply do not have the tools to cope with a ‘normal’ life.
4. Have you always agreed with your diagnosis? If not, why not?
I have always agreed with it but I have disagreed with how it has been portrayed many times.
5. What do your family, friends or loved ones think of your diagnosis?
Some of my family are sceptical; “but so many people could meet some of the criteria at any given moment, that doesn’t mean that they have BPD”, they try their best to understand I think but often believe that I am overreacting and just need to pull myself together. One family member in particular has BPD also so they ‘get’ it, but they disagree with the diagnosis simply due to the fact of how medical professionals often discriminate against people who do have it. My friends have been very understanding and have done their best to accept my quirks and problems.
6. What treatment have you been offered for BPD?
I have recently been offered DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy).
7. What treatment do you have or have you had? E.g. therapy, medication etc.
I have had CBT, and am currently undergoing a course of DBT. I have been on various anti-depressants, as well as anti-psychotics.
8. Which symptoms of BPD do you have?
(I have used the terminology from the PsychCentral page.)
* Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
* A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterised by alternating between extremes of idealisation and devaluation
* Identity disturbance, such as a significant and persistent unstable self-image or sense of self
* Recurrent suicidal behaviour, gestures or threats, or self-mutilating behaviour
* Emotional instability due to marked reactivity of mood
* Chronic feelings of emptiness
* Inappropriate, intense anger, or difficulty controlling anger
* Transient stress-related paranoid thoughts or sever dissociative symptoms
9. Can you describe what they’re like?
The only way I can describe any of it, is if you imagine that you are a child who is asked to live an average adult’s life, and cope how an adult would. You simply couldn’t. It isn’t that we want to be how we are. We simply cannot help it. Being terrified (yes, terrified) of people leaving me, is something that I wish didn’t affect me, but it does and it is absolutely horrible. And it would be lovely to not get angry over stupid things, like someone forgetting to buy me pasta when I needed it; the worst part is that I know how irrational I am being, but still I cannot help it. Long story short, it’s hell. And I would happily challenge anyone who thinks that people with BPD are melodramatic or attention-seekers to live just one day in our shoes.
10. Which do you feel is worse, and why?
Probably the fear of abandonment and relationship problems; despite being an introvert, I am still very much a people person, so being liked and being close to others is extremely important to me. However, my fear of abandonment turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy because I get so scared of them abandoning me that I try my best to get them to stay, but by doing that, I push them away until they do leave. That and the suicidal behaviour and self-harm, simply because of the possible damage to myself (and the psychological damage to others).
11. How are you treated by mental health professionals?
I’ve had great experiences and bad experiences, mainly in psychiatric wards but sometimes in outpatient services too. Often I feel like I’m not taken seriously because (in my eyes) they think everything I say is for attention.
12. Do you feel they treat you differently to service users with other diagnosis?
YES! I’ve thought this so many times; ‘if I had depression instead of BPD then maybe they would listen to me’. It’s so frustrating, and of course no one would actually admit it but they definitely do.
13. Have you had any bad experiences of mental health services?
Yes. I was “allowed” to take an overdose while in a psychiatric ward. While I’ve been an outpatient, I have told professionals multiple times that I’m suicidal and have a plan and none of them have bothered to actually make sure that I am safe. I have been treated like an attention seeker and patronised.
14. What has been your best experience?
When I was inpatient for being suicidal, I had the most wonderful nurse. She was like a best friend and a big sister. I wasn’t treated like a patient by her, she was 100% honest with me, made things fun, and all in all, made my time inpatient so much happier. She made such an effort with me and it will never be forgotten.
15. Do you have any advice for others with BPD?
If people judge you for having BPD, get rid of them. Anyone who judges you, isn’t worth your time. Try your best to co-operate with mental health services, as frustrating as they can be sometimes. And lastly, never give up, people with BPD are the strongest, most inspirational people I know, and every single one of you can get through this.
16. What or who has helped you the most and how?
I don’t think I could say one thing or one person. It’s more a combination of things; my environment, family, friends, etc.
17. Is there anything you wish you’d known when you first began your journey?
I wish that I had known how difficult things can be, but also how good things can be. Sometimes when things are at rock bottom, that’s when rays of sunshine peek through. It could be as little as a flower blooming, or my cat saying hello. But I wish I had known that there are positives in every day, because once I knew that, life didn’t seem quite as cruel.
18. Do you have any regrets of things you’ve done because of BPD e.g. self-harm etc?
I regret ever beginning to hurt myself, and I regret the suicide attempts I have made. I regret ruining relationships. I regret many things.
19. Is there anything you think should be improved in mental health services?
DBT should be available in every area, and I believe that there should be specific personality disorder teams, so people don’t have to deal with judgemental ‘professionals’ who don’t understand.
20. Have you had experience of being in a medical hospital since your BPD diagnosis? Was it different to before your diagnosis?
I didn’t find any difference.
21. Why did you begin blogging?
I only began blogging recently, but I have been part of Twitter and Instagram for much longer; I knew that there was a mental health recovery community, and I thought that it might make me feel less alone.
22. What affect has it had on your life?
Again, I began blogging too recently for it to have any effect, but Twitter and Instagram have been a huge help through difficult times, it’s a bit like having a friend.
23. Have you ever been admitted to a psychiatric ward? If so, what was your experience like?
I have been in a psychiatric ward twice. It was mostly helpful, I was admitted due to being suicidal so apart from once when I attempted suicide, I was safe. Most of the staff there were nice enough, and there was a few special ones who obviously really cared about the patients and loved their job.
24. What do you like to do in your spare time? E.g. career/education and hobbies/interests.
I love to horse ride, spend time with animals (especially horses and cats), read books, hoard stationery… I am currently unemployed however I have worked in retail in the past. I only left school a couple of years ago so I haven’t had a lot of time to do much else.
25. Is there any last thing you’d like to say?
Borderline personality disorder is not a life sentence. Recovery is possible. And if a loved one has BPD, please try your best to accept them for who they are.
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