May is BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) Awareness Month. BPD is a mental health condition that comes with a lot of stigma attached to it. Also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, as this name suggests it is a condition characterised by unstable emotions, you can read more about what BPD is here. For now I just wanted to share ’5 reasons having a mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of’ to help raise awareness of the difficulties of living with a mental health problem…
We all know that having a mental health condition brings a lot of stigma and discrimination towards those people who are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with anything from depression to Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia or Bipolar.
With one in four people being diagnosed with a mental health problem at some point in their life, chances are you know someone who has one even if you don’t have one yourself!
Some conditions come with more stigma, prejudice and taboo than others but whichever it is the ‘mental’ label automatically means we often feel the need to cover up for our illness and feel ashamed to admit to our problems. However, doing this can actually make things harder for us.
If people don’t know how can they understand?
If we do not correct the misconceptions how can people learn the truth?
If we hide our mental health problems how can we get help and support to get better?
The answer to all of the above is that we need to stand up, be counted, give mental health problems a voice and educate those around us that having a mental health problem does not mean we a stupid, thick, weird, dangerous and someone to be avoided.
In order to do this we need to overcome our own shame and fear. So, here is a list of 5 reasons having a mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of. After reading I hope you will be brave and tell someone you have never told before that you have a mental health problem – not for sympathy, but to educate them that you are a ‘normal’ person too, and that one day it could be them so sharing is caring. Stand up and be counted! you might like it!! ;)
1. You are not mad, bad or dangerous – having a mental health condition does not mean you are a fundamentally flawed individual who is a risk to others. The majority of mental health conditions actually mean you are at greater risk of doing yourself harm than other people. You only have to look at examples such as Anders Behring Breivik – the Norwegian Mass Murderer to see that sane people are responsible for the most heinous of crimes, some may claim he was insane but that is clearly not the case, and even if it was insanity is different from having a treatable mental illness. Yes, there are cases of people with mental illness hurting or killing people, but often issues with poor care and treatment of the individual are at fault and even though these cases hit the headlines big-time they are no more frequent than the number of attacks carried out by the general population!
2. It is not your fault – You didn’t ask to have a mental illness, you didn’t choose it, you didn’t make it happen. Life events and experiences such as trauma, abuse and upbringing play a large part in why people develop mental illnesses. On top of that you may be predisposed to suffering due to biological and genetic factors. What ever the cause of your illness it is not your fault, all of these are things outside of your control. Nothing you did or have done can change this or could have prevented your illness.
3. You need help not punishment – When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness people can drift away, not knowing how to handle it or what to say. This is the worst thing people can do, the love, support and encouragement of those who care about you is all the more vital when a diagnosis is received. People with mental health problems need to be treated like normal, with compassion and understanding. They don’t need to be treated differently or hear crap like “pull yourself together” or “chin-up”. Backing off and abandoning people when they are struggling is only going to add to their problems as they struggle to deal with your behaviour on top of dealing with treatment, medication and stigma elsewhere. Friends and family should just ‘be there’ no-one is saying you have to change because someone you love has a diagnosis, just accept it and be who you have always been in their life that way both of you will be healthier, happier, and more productive.
4. You are not alone – As stated above, 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health condition at some point in their lives. So the chances are you know someone who has one or will suffer from one yourself. If you are struggling to understand your condition, diagnosis or not getting mush support from your health care providers there are lots of other places you can get help and find others like yourself who you can share your concerns with, learn from and support each other. From charitable organisations like MIND, Emergence Plus and Rethink, to online forums like The Black Dog Tribe, facebook groups, blogs (like this one) and many other online and offline support and information services are available.
5. It does not mean you are a failure – The majority of people with mental illnesses manage to maintain happy, fulfilled, productive lives. You may need to take some time out of work to improve your condition to the point where you can return and yes some people never manage this, but you can still lead a full life. Your past achievements do not vanish because you are unwell and you still have the rest of your life ahead of you to achieve whatever you put your mind to. First of all you need to take the time to make sure you are well enough, through treatment or just some time-out. there is still so much potential in you, you can be a success. You may wish to adjust your goals to make them more manageable with your illness but you can do so much, if you want to!
If you want to help raise awareness of mental health conditions there are lots of ways to get involved and make a difference check out these links for some examples…
If you have any other links please share them in the comments below :)
- This News in Mentalists – The Stigma and Marginalisation Edition (twim-blog.org)
- This News in Mentalists: The Alternative Reality Edition (twim-blog.org)
- BPD Misconceptions (authorjaenwirefly.wordpress.com)
- On the Borderline of Life – Guest Post by Mike (showard76.wordpress.com)
- See, even cartoon characters have mental health problems! (mentalillnesstoday.wordpress.com)
- Some Mental Health policy background in wales. (mentalillnessupportnetwork.wordpress.com)
- Mental Health in Prisons (faktensucher.wordpress.com)
- Mind the Gap – Guest Post by @MentalHealthCop (twim-blog.org)
- This News in Mentalists: The Hard-Boiled Late Edition (twim-blog.org)
- Creative Writing about Mental Health (9cinc.wordpress.com)
- On being both a mental health professional and a patient (twim-blog.org)
- The Relationship between Mental Health and Crime: Links and Resources. (drjezphillips.wordpress.com)
- Mental illness charity joins forces with Jewish Care (thejc.com)
- May is Mental Health Awareness Month! (redefininggood.wordpress.com)
- State of Mind: Stigma Still Slows Treatment of Mental Illnesses (njspotlight.com)
- Mental Illness in the workplace – “the last taboo in business” (employmentblog.brodies.com)