lived experience

There is so much stigma around BPD, especially from professionals. Earlier in the year I presented to the emergency department suicidal. I waited all night to be seen and then was seen for ten minutes, told hospital doesn’t help “people like me” and sent home. Another time while in the emergency department I was next to a man with self-injury. He was told by a nurse he was taking up the bed of someone who was “actually sick”, unlike him. He protested and then was chemically restrained. I thought my case worker had a better grasp of BPD, but lately his attitude towards me hasn’t been at all compassionate or understanding. It began with the day he and my doctor started talking about discharge. I was so distressed afterwards that a member of the public found me catatonic on the nature strip outside the clinic. I lay there unable to get up or speak. The man called an ambulance. I should have been taken to hospital, but my case worker came out of the clinic and intervened in the process. He told them I had “Borderline Personality Disorder” and “ASD” and he was not concerned about my mental health. As a result I was sent home to suffer alone.

Another time I called my case worker asking him not to discharge me. He would not agree to this, and the conversation quickly escalated into me screaming at him that I hate him and wish I had never met him. I may have said some more things that I don’t remember. But it is only this evening that I realise why I was so mad at him. I realise I had every right to be mad at him. What he is staring at is PTSD. It is trauma. But he is treating me like somebody who’s being difficult. “We ask that you comply with the discharge plan”, were his words, like I was being a naughty child.

I was so distressed by that phone call that I called 000 and told them I was getting strong urges to kill myself. Thankfully I was taken seriously. I was taken to the emergency department and given a bed. I had to spend the night there as they wanted me to speak to the mental health “specialists” and they weren’t available overnight. The next day my case worker and a doctor I’d never met before called me. They didn’t even bother to see me in person like they used to, even though the hospital is right next to the clinic. I don’t know whether they thought that would reinforce my bad, “attention-seeking” behaviour. My case worker told me I was only allowed to have one short admission a month, and asked me if I wanted to use it now or over Christmas. The whole phone call was cold and clinical. I find it cruel the way they are restricting the things I need like a healthy-length stay in hospital, and their service.

When I miss my case worker and think he’s the only one in the world who really knows me I need to remember these things. His use of language tells me he thinks I’m being a defiant client rather than a person experiencing severe trauma. The way he is treating me is not compassionate.

There is one person who knows me better than my case worker, and that is myself. I recently bought a book from a spiritual shop called “Signposts: How to interpret the coincidences and symbols if you life” by Denise Linn. I bought it because of the section they had on abandonment:

“Have you given some group, person or social convention authority over your life, and are you now feeling separate from this? If so, this is the time to take authority for your own life. Find your own inner truth.”

Right now I am distracting myself with badge making. I’m making a whole lot of badges to raise awareness about autism, BPD and other mental health issues. I have learnt so much about these conditions from my own experience. Here is a picture of some of my badges. Colouring in the BPD Warrior sword metallic silver and gold is my favourite part. I designed that badge today and it has helped me a lot. People with BPD are warriors. We have had to experience things in our lives no one should ever experience. Then we have to live with a dysregulated nervous system and amygdala largely a result of the trauma, and then are frequently shamed and misunderstood for our reactions. I don’t think my case worker would survive a single day if he were to walk in our shoes.