Leading expert on Borderline Personality Disorder and founder of what is potentially the most effective therapy treatment for the disorder ‘Dialectal Behaviour Therapy’, Dr Marsha Linehan has ‘come out’ to reveal her own mental illness problems and the belief that she herself suffered Borderline Personality Disorder in the New York Times today. But what does this mean for those who suffer BPD and other mental health disorders?
Well here in the UK, probably not much – it hasn’t even made the news here (yet). Most people (except those in the field) will probably not even know who she is, much less care. And her groundbreaking dialectal behaviour therapy “does not happen here, even privately, unless you are an inpatient” – as I was told by a private psychiatrist (who specialises in BPD). The stigma around mental health is still such that no-one wants to admit to having BPD or any other mental health problem – except maybe a bit of ‘depression’ (not to disregard depression in any way but ‘everyone’ seems to have it nowadays! It is the ‘only’ ‘socially-acceptable’ mental health problem).
The stigma and intolerance of mental illness is ever pervasive in modern society. We live in a world that does not tolerate ‘difference’. A world of hatred against anyone not seen as ‘normal’. No wonder even ordinary people that get a diagnosis are so scared of what others will ‘think’ of us, and worry for our future – holding down a job, let alone a career is difficult when your illness can knock you off your feet at any time, such that you need to take more ‘sick’ leave than anyone else. But while many of differences gain support in the public eye to ‘stamp out’ things such as homophobia, racism and disability discrimination (which while it should encompass mental health issues these are rarely considered ‘real’ disabilities). Celebrities will ‘come out’ as being ‘gay’, and openly support various causes but who is willing to stand up for mental illness? Who will jump on the bandwagon for us?
Not many, Stephen Fry revealed his Bipolar disorder in 2006, but since then there has been very little else to suggest any celebrities have anything more than ‘depression’ – wait I hear you cry, what about Britney Spears? Well, very true, she shaved her hair and was clearly having some serious problems, but despite many claims that she may be suffering bipolar or borderline personality disorder there has been no ‘real’ evidence and she certainly hasn’t ‘come out’ as having a mental illness herself. Of course in addition to Britney, there are loads of other celebrities who are ‘supposedly’ Borderlines, from the deceased - Hitler, Marilyn Monroe and Diana Princess of Wales to Charlie Sheen, Angelina Jolie, and even Winona Ryder (who famously portrayed real life BPD sufferer Susanna Kaysen in the acclaimed film ‘Girl, interrupted’ – which also saw Angelina Joile in the role of a ‘psychopath’)
So while this news is very helpful personally to borderlines around the world (it reassures us further that we are not alone and if ‘she’ can make it so can we!), it is only a small step in the realm of acceptance of mental illness within a society that would rather continue to plead ignorance…
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- Which celebrities have Borderline Personality Disorder? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Blog Round Up – The Three C’s and BPD (showard76.wordpress.com)
- BPD Did You Know (untreatableonline.com)
- Interview – Life as a ‘professional’ student (showard76.wordpress.com)
- How do I live with Borderline Personality Disorder? (showard76.wordpress.com)
- Yep, this is me without a doubt. (blogaplooza.wordpress.com)