7 Days of BPD - Day Two: Q&A with Stilli

1. Did you realise you had symptoms of BPD before being diagnosed with it?
I suspected it - when discussing my symptoms with my then care-coordinator she said there was clearly something more than depression and anxiety going on with me, and mentioned BPD.
2. How did your diagnosis come about?
I asked repeatedly to be diagnosed as *something* (I had no formal diagnosis when first being treated under a cmht) as I felt very lost and strange. The primary psychiatrist at my old cmht had a reputation for only diagnosing depression or bipolar, so I spoke to someone else. I met him once, I don't actually know what his role or qualifications were. he said it was likely that I had bpd, and that was written down as a formal diagnosis.
3. What is your understanding of BPD?
My understanding is that it is a disorder that comes about in people with some predisposition - an innate 'sensitivity' if you will. When exposed to a triggering incident - which usually seems to be highly traumatic - bpd type symptoms happen.
4. Have you always agreed with your diagnosis? If not, why not?
At first it was very validating, as I felt a lot less alone and like a random weirdo - it was nice to know that I wasn't the only person with these problems. As time has passed (I was diagnosed about three years ago) I have felt less comfortable with it - reading about others' experiences I don't often feel I recognise myself in them. I also think the diagnosis is misused - I have heard of people getting it as a punishment, for instance, and there is certainly a great deal of stigma surrounding the diagnosis.
5. What do your family, friends or loved ones think of your diagnosis?
I don't think they think much about it.
6. What treatment have you been offered for BPD?
Medication and therapy.
7. What treatment do you have or have you had? E.g. therapy, medication etc.
I have been on a lot of different anti depressants (none of which worked), and am currently on a low dose of anti psychotics (which don't seem to be working) and diazepam as needed. I have had skills workshops for dbt in the past.
8. Which symptoms of BPD do you have?
I self harm, I have disordered eating patterns, I spend impulsively, I have an unstable sense of self, I dissociate fairly regularly and especially when distressed, my emotional reactions are extreme (I 'overreact' a lot), I am extremely sensitive to being abandoned and relationships ending, I sometimes have delusions (I think).
9. Can you describe what they’re like?
I think a lot of them are self explanatory! Dissociation feels like I'm not really in control of my body or actions - I feel 'floaty' and unreal. The abandonment/ending things extends across all relationships and situations - it was very painful to move house, for instance, even though it's what we all wanted, and leaving my previous treatment team set me back a lot.
10. Which do you feel is worse, and why?
My extreme emotional reactions are really the cause of everything else for me, and I'm not a fan, to say the least. It's nice being very passionate about people and things, but it also means I tend to be clingy and possessive, for instance. However, I have a lot of anxiety related problems too, and so it can be hard to disentangle which symptoms come from which problems.
11. How are you treat by mental health professionals?
I've been quite lucky and have not been treated particularly poorly. My last cpn (before my current one, who is excellent) wrote me off as reluctant to engage, but that's all.
12. Do you feel they treat you differently to service users with other diagnosis?
Not so far as I know.
13. Have you had any bad experiences of mental health services?
Yes, especially when younger I was dismissed a lot.
14. What has been your best experience?
My old support worker was excellent, she was very supportive but knew when to push me.
15. Do you have any advice for others with BPD?
Don't give up. On hope of things improving, on improving yourself, on life. It's trite but honestly, it's the most important thing. Even when things are awful. And forgive yourself for the mistakes you have and will make. This diagnosis doesn't make you a bad person.
16. What or who has helped you the most and how?
My Spouse, probably, as he is also my carer and looks after me and keeps me safe a lot.
17. Is there anything you wish you’d known when you first began your journey?
Honestly, in retrospect I wish I hadn't pushed for the diagnosis. Yes it helped at first, but reading cruel and dangerous things written about BPD has done more harm than that good, and it's always going to be on my records. Although I've been lucky, I am anxious about professionals treating me badly because of it.
18. Do you have any regrets of things you’ve done because of BPD e.g. self-harm etc?
Mostly the way I've treated others. I had a very bad patch while at uni where I was very clingy to a few different people, and hurt some others in various ways, and I wish I could undo that.
19. Is there anything you think should be improved in mental health services?
More different treatments available, more services like day centres where people can just *be*, less reliance on things like CBT as a one size fits all treatment, more attention paid to mental pain even when there are no physical symptoms, more treatment before people get to crisis point. That's just off the top of my head, I would like a lot to change!
20. Have you had experience of being in a medical hospital since your BPD diagnosis? Was it different to before your diagnosis?
21. Why did you begin blogging?
I don't really blog, I'm just on twitter! @stillicides is where you can find me.
22. What affect has it had on your life?
I've made some great friends, I think, and it had also been helpful to have a place to let scary thoughts out.
23. Have you ever been admitted to a psychiatric ward? If so, what was your experience like?
24. What do you like to do in your spare time? E.g. career/education and hobbies/interests.
I can't work due to my mental health, mostly I play video games and read. And look after our two dogs!
25. Is there any last thing you’d like to say?
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