This week I have come across what can only described as 'hatred' for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. It shocked me. Don't get me wrong, years ago, before I was diagnosed with BPD, I used to work in the Criminal Justice System, and my specialism was Mentally Disordered Offenders, the majority of whom were diagnosed with some form of Personality Disorder.So, I was aware of negative attitudes to people with Mental Illnesses, and in particular, those with diagnoses of PD.
I found that being consistent and listening closely to what was being said to me, often helped me to manage my cases, in other words: compassionately treating people, regardless of labels, as if they were human beings seemed to work. (not rocket science is it?)
Anyway, back to the guy who has obviously had a bad relationship with someone with BPD. His take was that BPD doesn't deserve to be treated as a mental illness, but is just down us being some kind of 'crazy ass' (his words). He even managed to intimate that the abusive backgrounds of a large number of people with BPD was actually the fault of the victims. Initially I felt defensive of myself and others who have suffered from what some describe as 'emotional sensitivity' rather than BPD. Then I considered that perhaps, following a messy break up (I've been involved in my fair share of those!) his anger was robbing him of his humanity. Which is understandable.
Imagine suffering emotional and psychological pain that is so deep and so painful that the only solution you can think of is either to inflict physical pain to distract from it, or to believe that dying is the only way to stop it? Does that sound like something that you could sustain while maintaining a functional life? Yet many sufferers of BPD do manage to do just that, while holding down very respectable jobs and being creative and dynamic in certain spheres. This 'apparent competence' in certain spheres, my BPD-hating 'friend' points out as proof that BPD is made up by selfish women seeking to justify messy love lives and as an excuse to be nasty to men.
I think at this point we can recognise the ignorance and stigma evidenced here towards Mental illness in general. I mean you can't possibly run a country with a severely debilitating clinical depression, can you? Winston Churchill, anyone? Just because my professionalism and training allow me to carry out a job from 9-5 does not mean that the emotional distress I am experiencing is not real and does not have an impact on my mental and physical health.
I am responsible for the people I may have hurt throughout my life. I would say, though, if you rip the dressing off a burns victim, you can expect a strong reaction! My plea is: try to listen, try to understand, try to give space, and, if you think you are too angry or too hurt to see the human behind the label, make it a clean break.