As its Mental Health month in NSW this October, I thought I would share my journey with you.. Well the edited version!!
I have Borderline Personality Disorder.
What is it? Think Multiple Personality Disorder except mine is the only voice in my head.
Quite a lot of prison inmates charged with serious violent crimes have BPD. Its hard to pinpoint the exact number but its anywhere from 20% up to 47%. Its slightly higher in the female population. This fun fact I remind hubby of frequently.
Woman are three times more likely than men to suffer BPD.
I guess this is because BDP has its beginnings in a traumatic event. Sexual violence is the main cause.
My traumatic event was swinging off a live power line when I was 6. Thankfully I walked away with a few nasty injuries and some scars.
The main symptoms are a feeling of insecurity, persistent impulsiveness, confused emotions, and self harm. All of which I have battled at some point. Other associated issues are panic attacks, OCD and feeling sad all the time.
The results of these symptoms differ for everyone but heres what its been like for me.
The insecurity has manifested itself as a need to control every part of my life. It drives my family crazy! I am much better since I became aware that not everyone is like me but I had lists and rules for everything and got very angry if those weren’t followed to the letter! Was like OCD. It does come in handy. With some of the jobs I have had where routine was the key its been a blessing. I don’t think I’d have been good at wool classing otherwise. And when rouseabouting tidiness is the key.
The impulsiveness – where do I start!! Alcohol and telling people what I think. Not always together! But I walked out unscathed!! Thankfully because I also have mild Aspergers (if I was 4 now that would have been the first diagnosis – BDP starts in the teenage years) I have issues with personal space so one of the other risky behaviors associated with BPD, sex, wasn’t an issue.
Confused emotions. I have trouble knowing what I ‘should’ feel. Should I be feeling worried when someone gets seriously injured or just have this angry feeling because they have now put my day out. That sort of thing. Sounds heartless but that’s it! I often respond with anger due to the confusion of feelings. It has been good in times of high stress. I have seen some horrific and life threatening injuries that I could just deal with while everyone else panicked. I’d be half way to hospital with the patient before they got their act together,
The self harm didn’t start until I was pregnant and living in an extremely abusive relationship I thought I deserved (confused emotions again). And I wasn’t self medicating either.
The panic attacks are a more recent and truly frightening thing!! To be in a public place and too feel the world go wobbly, not be able to breath, not wanting to share this event with everyone around you is awful! They were bought on by medication for misdiagnosed depression.
The problem is I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD until three years ago. Prior to that, even after being hospitalized due to a suicide attempt (Panadol doesn’t kill you apparently) they thought it was just depression, baby blues, anything but really. One person got close when they diagnosed me with PTSD. BDP mimics the symptoms.
I was only diagnosed after I had a two and a half week “moment” - my anxiety levels increased, I hid in the house from everyone, covered all the windows, was terrified of the kids, thought constantly about suicide and how I could achieve it and lost about 10kg in a week. Surprisingly I was admitted to the ‘closed ward’ at the local hospital. It was in there they diagnosed my illness and from there I started the long hike out of that pit!
I found a fantastic psychologist who I gelled with. This is very important.
I did a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course through my local Community Health centre. They taught me that not everyone thinks like I do and showed me how to deal with that curse!
I joined Nutrimetics by accident. I just wanted the skincare and makeup at a huge discount but got so much more! I discussed in a previous post how much the wonderful people involved have shaped my life. For the first time I had people who believed in me for who I was, not what they wanted me to be or to get something. That is the single most powerful piece of knowledge I have. I have never had friends before.
Sheer willpower has been the biggest driving force. I can’t let my kids down. I am all they have. I can’t let the suicidal tendencies take hold. And I need to be functioning well enough to support them in case they end up with this inheritable mental illness and feel as I did all my life that nobody cared.
All the attention this month that I have seen has been about normalizing mental illness. That’s great. But the services provided for the treatment of mental illness isn’t nearly enough.
Medicare pay for a certain amount of psychologist visits and even then there’s a gap to pay. And its not nearly enough visits.
And while sitting in the ED of the local hospital for 4 hours waiting to be admitted during my psychotic break I wondered how people who didn’t have the support I had got on. Did they just leave and commit suicide as my thoughts were suggesting?
I had lived most of my life being seen as that strange kid who can’t get on with others – the ‘black sheep’.
But it has shaped who I am and for that I am grateful.
Don’t let these awful feelings define who you are. Their are a lot of farmers doing it tough and the rate of male suicide on our farms is terrible. Get help, don’t be afraid.