So, you’ve survived your Hellish childhood. You’ve been abused either sexually or physically – sometimes both.
You may have experienced neglect, poverty, bereavement…
You may have found yourself on the periphery of your world – your family – your fellow students – often your friends – your work colleagues…
You may be fortunate enough to have negotiated these rocky waters unscathed. Alternatively, you may have developed any or all of a cluster of symptoms that serve to make your days … fucking challenging.
Your reward for all this?
A label – a destructive diagnosis laced with prejudice…
Borderline Personality Disorder.
Go on, try it on for size.
Yes, I know, it sounds pretty meaningless, doesn’t it?
Borderline of what?
Where’s the acknowledgement of all the shit and trauma you’ve gone through?
Well, in the ‘60’s, doctor whoever wotsisname found there were patients who didn’t fit neatly under either psychosis.
deciding that there was a group of folk – my people – who hovered somewhere in between.
To my mind, the creator of this label went to the same school of wilful dingbats as those who sought to call elephants ‘pachyderms’.
For those of you who aren’t up to date with your Latin, ‘pachy’ means ‘thick’, ‘derm’ means ‘skin’.
If only they’d taken a couple of steps backwards, they’d have seen the elephant (in the room) in its full glory.
But no…instead we’re left with an umbrella term for a cluster of symptoms that carry with them seemingly endless judgement from many of the professionals, friends and family charged with our care.
In recent times, it would appear there has been a push to destigmatise the condition by the folk who come up with the names for mental maladies…
In the U.K., we’re now referred to as people with ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’
That’s better! That’s so much less judgemental, isn’t it?
Hey, wait a minute! ‘Emotionally unstable!?’ I thought it was the ‘Personality Disorder’ bit that was brimming with stigma?
So, imagine going through much of the shitstorm that was your early life, only to be given this bastard diagnosis that breeds prejudice.
A diagnosis that doesn’t go any way to acknowledge what happened to you.
Everyone I know who’s ‘attracted the label’ of borderline personality disorder has either suffered abuse, neglect and/ or a steady drip feed of exclusion in their early lives.
Take a step back. What are we dealing with here?
We are more than a cluster of symptoms. We are people who’ve experienced trauma while we were growing up – where we developed any number of emotional defence mechanisms to see us through. Defence mechanisms that served us well at the time of the trauma, but now…? Well, not so much.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a result of trauma.
I’d like to suggest it was a kind of post traumatic stress condition – but that doesn’t tell the full story.
Paradoxically, receiving that label, a diagnosis we’d hope would be the gateway to the effective treatment of this bastard condition, has instead led to more trauma, through the institutional prejudice inherent in a system that asks ‘What’s wrong with you?’ instead of ‘What happened to you?’
That way, the person with the label becomes the problem. Not what happened to them. Not the way they’re treated by society. Not the shortcomings in services…
You’re the problem.
You’ve gone through all that shit. You’re faced with health and social care services who, at the drop of a hat, will declare you’re failing to engage with services.
The conclusion? The services aren’t shit. You are.
And then folk have the audacity to tell us not to fall foul of ‘Self Stigma’.
I mean, just because everyone else sees you as shit, doesn’t mean you should join in.
This needs to be addressed at every level, root, stem and branch. The whole systemic treatment of folk like me is flawed.
We could try ‘Post traumatic stress disorder’ ?
It’s not that simple though, is it?
We could whack the word ‘complex’ at the beginning…?
Closer…but no cigar.
‘Post’ suggests the trauma is a thing of the past.
Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to look further than that. Because of the way we’re still treated across society – at home, at school, in college, university…at work, or by the welfare system…
This is trauma – nothing less.
Walk a Mile