Life in a Bind – BPD and me

My therapy journey, recovering from Borderline Personality Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I write for welldoing.org , for Planet Mindful magazine, and for Muse Magazine Australia, under the name Clara Bridges. Listed in Top Ten Resources for BPD in 2016 by goodtherapy.org.


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Stigma

I came across Cavelle’s excellent and memorable description of what stigma involves and how it can affect the experience of those with mental health difficulties, and I wanted to share it. I can strongly relate to the feeling of isolation that comes from the need to be guarded about my mental health difficulties, and to the anxiety over who to tell, and when. Apart from my husband (and even he didn’t know how far back my difficulties stretched), no one knew about my mental health issues until three years ago. Even now, there are around ten or so people who know I suffer from anxiety and depression, and a smaller handful of friends who know about my BPD diagnosis. No family members (other than my husband) are aware that I have ever had mental health issues.

My work with my ex-therapist, Jane, was the catalyst that prompted me to think about opening up to a few more people, whereas in the past the idea of letting anyone know had been completely inconceivable. My relationship with my current therapist has enabled me to continue along that road, in a very small and gradual way. But the questions are always there: who should I tell; when should I tell them; how much should I say; what will they think…..

Like Cavell, I believe that education and talking about mental health are key factors in the struggle to try and reduce and eventually eliminate mental health stigma. I feel privileged to be part of a community of bloggers who are trying to do just that!

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A different kind of inner view: World Mental Health Day

Nightminds final

In some parts of the world, 10 October – World Mental Health Day – is already over. In other parts of the world, the day is only just gathering momentum. But for as many as 450 million people around the world, it will be mental health day again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

For those 450 million people, today’s spotlight on mental health hasn’t made their darkness any lighter. Their hope is that it’s made the depth of that darkness more visible; its character more evident; its blackness more tangible; its presence more acceptable.

The world is changing  – but slowly. Stigma and ignorance are gradually being chipped away by greater knowledge and understanding – but will they be eradicated? Maybe not in our lifetime. And maybe not in the lifetime, gone too soon, of those 1 million people every year, who let go of the ledge from which they are hanging. The world is changing – there is a World Mental Health Day – but it won’t change in a day. It won’t change because of a day.

It will change because every day, those who share our nightminds, reach out and share their darkness with each other. Those who share our nightminds see us brightly and embrace us warmly. And that embrace enables us to open up a little of our darkness to those who do not share it, and to risk being truly seen. And the more we risk being truly seen, the less alien our nightminds seem. The world will change because 450 million people can’t be wrong – though they may feel like ‘wrong people‘ to their core.

If you’re not one of those 450 million people, do go out and do on World Mental Health Day -on this one, and the next. Read about mental health; learn about it; talk to someone with mental health difficulties; raise awareness; give generously, in whatever way you can.

But for the other 364 days of the year – just sit with me and share the view. Let me show you what I see, in the hope that one day, I can learn to see the things that you do.  Let us share the view, if not the sights. Let us see together, if not as one. Let my darkness be a revelation and let your acceptance be my light. That’s how we turn World Mental Health Day into every day. Until we no longer need a day in which to try and understand that we’re all living life on the very same ledge, but with a different vantage point. Until we realise that it’s not the colour of our souls that differentiates the darkness from the light – but just the axis on which our world is spinning.