“All we really want is love and acceptance, but all things considered, this may be hard for you to give. “.
BPD is one of the most stigmatised and misunderstood mental health conditions and its devastating effect can be found in a thousand untold stories by those who live with it. The chances of encountering ill mental health in a lifetime are approximately one in four, which means you’ll most likely be in contact with someone who suffers from a mental illness.
Jade Laurie-Hart is one of the many people that suffer from BPD. And like many like her, she has lived the unfortunate consequences that arise from the lack of knowledge, prejudice and stigma about her illness.
Since her early childhood, Jade suffered from various mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. However, she still managed to overcome those difficulties and complete a BA Honours Degree. But during that time, she kept having impulsive thoughts and feelings and started feeling like no one understood her. “There was nothing wrong with me. How could there be? I was just being silly”, she thought. She has a very colourful CV and has never committed a crime or inflicted violence.
The general term for her diagnosis is BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). The abbreviation is slowly filtering more into society. Jade believes that this is due to more and more people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses, as well as much more research in the professional medical field. Information, understanding, acceptance, prevention, dialogue are much better than stigma. The lack of awareness surrounding BPD is partly to blame for the myriad myths that have been floating around for decades and its bad rep. Knowledge overcomes prejudice and owning the correct information can eradicate stigma. Assumptions are way more harmful than the reality of one’s disability.
Despite being one of the most common mental illnesses diagnosed today, it still remains as one of the least understood and most stigmatised mental illnesses. In an article published by Time To Change, Jade stated that, “If there is no information or guidance on how to react to someone close to you, a colleague, friend, partner, whose mood constantly fluctuates in so many interchanging and irregular ways that are unbeknownst to you, how are you supposed to know what to do? What is the appropriate way to react? How do you access care, advice, support and relief?” And she is absolutely right to think that; education is the key to understand mental illness.
According to the American National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, “major depressive disorder occurs in more than 80% of people with BPD; anxiety disorders occur in about 90%; PTSD in 26%; bulimia in 26%; anorexia nervosa in 21%; and bipolar in 10%”. Jade has bravely confessed to having self-harmed, attempted suicide, suffered intense feelings, been depressed, and caved into emotional frustration. She also says she’s been labelled as ‘overdramatic, too sensitive and a nightmare’. This can be extremely painful, even more so than the disorder itself; these are the symptoms and the reality of people with BPD on a day to day basis, not premeditated choices.
One thing Jades feels that people most commonly misjudge is that people with BPD seem ‘selfish, desperate, controlling, or manipulative’, when the reality is that these people are in a constant struggle to maintain any sense of control and stability. “All we really want is love and acceptance, but all things considered, this may be hard for you to give. One thing that I find helps is when others validate my emotions, as I often feel guilty for having them”, she says.
When discussing the role of friends and support, Jade states that “I appreciate how frustrating and confusing it must be to keep up with someone with BPD. You are entitled to feel hurt, although it may not be the best idea to express this to the unwell.” It’s easy to lose sight of self-care for all the parties involved. It’s important to stay focused on your recovery, even if you’re doing just OK at the time.
Jade continues her journey towards recovery and is getting better by the moment, and her story has become a sigh of relief for those who have felt alone in this diagnosis. Please acknowledge that BPD is a complex disability. Help is real and recovery is possible.