Monday, 10 July 2017
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
I hope the people who begin to read this post take into account the harsh reality of trying to receive proper and effective treatment for BPD in Western Australia's mental health system. I want people to put aside the 'it cant be that bad' and 'well in my experience it has been helpful because I have private health'. I want to speak about the public health system, and what a group of us are doing behind closed doors to fix a system that is broken. To help the people living with BPD and may have a new diagnosis. To create hope in these individuals again.
If you are a person with a BPD diagnosis and are receiving the DBT treatment you have waited for over a long period of time, I commend you for surviving this long and congratulations on the continual progress you will hopefully make while attending DBT. But I wanted to focus on the main people out there who are struggling, who are living in fear and have absolutely no idea how to cope with their illness. I want you to know there are people out there with lived experience like myself, mental health nurses, mental health professionals and carers who are in the process of inventing a program and module to navigate and keep up with the ever rising demands of treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder here in Western Australia.
Today I was on the phone with Ellie Carr, who works at Lifeline WA and has 10 years experience as a mental health nurse in the system. She is as passionate as me for change, and along with others as passionate, we are currently meeting every six weeks to co design a program that will be assessable to people who are suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. We both agreed that it is the most stigmatised of all the mental health disorders listed (there are 205). We also know that we can not ignore the ever rising statistics of suicide in Borderline individuals. So a group of us are working hard to hopefully have a foundation that is funded in a years time where people will be able to receive the PROPER treatment and care that is needed to manage Borderline. We want to create that safe space.
I have had first hand experience of the disgusting, unacceptable and unfathomable stigma that comes when we reach out for help when experiencing our BPD at distressing moments. I dont blame the individuals as much, more of the lack of education when entering the mental health field. Depression and anxiety are approached in more appropriate and constructive manners. But when it comes to BPD, people tend to have variables when responding to a BPD patient. Variables and "double standards" should be non negotiable. Mental health professionals should not be able to pick and choose the care and treatment they give to someone with a over stigmatised diagnosis. People suffering should be treated equally in the system. There should be a standard set in the mental health field and systems, and unfortunately; a lot of professionals fall under the standard. We understand the frustration and difficulty you may be presented with when experiencing a BPD episode. But the biggest thing that can calm the distress is validation. That is something we fail to do time and time again, when validation is the most simple and effective thing to do to calm someone who is experiencing a BPD episode.
We are the first to plan an affordable (free) program here in Western Australia. We are hoping over the upcoming weeks, we can all start to be the positive ripple effect and be that change in someones life. I know a lot of people cannot comprehend how hard it has been for me to be stuck in a backwards system for 11 years. How hard it has been for me to stay alive when on countless occasions, I have not wanted to be alive. The mind numbing exhaustion of reaching out for help, only to be treated like nothing and then our episode becomes heightened 1,000 times more than it already was to begin with. How each time we are suicidal, we are escorted to the police station as we are on a waiting list for 12-18 months to receive the therapy we need in order to survive until then. Its a dull, petrifying and draining way to try live your life. We are treated as a minority as people think its a 'choice' to have a personality disorder.
Today I ask you all to take some time to reflect on the experiences you have had with Borderline. Whether it was lived experience, carer or consumer. This is a public plea to ask you guys to be the start of the positive ripple effect. And how can you help? By doing exactly what I said to do- VALIDATE. Do not disregard, isolate or exclude someone with BPD. They crave closeness and seek out trust in people as majority come from a traumatic past most may not ever begin to imagine. Be kind and compassionate. Its time to fix the broken parts of the system and reduce the suicide statistics. Its time for us to all try make a positive change.