Stigma Fighters: Libertas

My first dealings within the mental health system was at 13 years old.
I was suicidal and deeply depressed. I was prescribed anti-depressants
and had to see a counsellor. My counsellor tried family therapy where
she told my mother that she considered me to be an attention seeker. I
stopped talking about anything with her and after about a year of
pointless meetings I stopped going altogether. My mother didn’t help
the situation much either as she considered depression to be a
weakness. She has never changed this opinion either so she has been
one of the last people I have wanted to talk to about things over the
past 21 years.

20 years later, last spring/summer I had a breakdown. I was again
suicidal but this time I was experience much darker thoughts. I was
having vivid flashbacks and nightmares, hearing voices, self harming,
abusing substances, insomnia and my head was and still is rambling
mess of thoughts that make no sense. I was in the process of studying
for a degree in social work when I was triggered by a number of
different events. Eventually this built up to the point where I was
incapable of making decisions, professional judgments and was unable
to maintain boundaries. I was vulnerable and struggling to cope with
anything. My breakdown was fairly public in that I was suspended from
my degree and an investigation launched. Suddenly my secrets were
coming out to a bunch of people I would never have chosen to tell in a
million years. Even my family and husband were unaware of the traumas
have endured, I felt completely exposed and literally did not leave my
house for the next few months. I stayed in my room for the first 3
weeks until my husband told me I needed to come out.

My earliest trauma was around the age of 6 when I was sexually
molested by my next door neighbour who was 6 years older than me and
female. Two years later I was sexually molested by another girl and by
a 17 year old boy. The abuse with the second girl was only during two
holidays we took during the summer holiday. But the other two
continued until I was about 14/15. Over the course of the next few
years I experienced bouts of depression but given how my mother
insisted that this was a sign of weakness I never discussed anything
with her. My relationship with my family is complex too which has
never helped and probably added to my problems. I started self-harming
and abusing substances from 14, sexually I was promiscuous, confused
about my sexuality and desperate for someone to love me. To really
care about me. At 17 I was raped by a friend of a friend. It was
hideous and the ordeal meant that I became really depressed. I told my
mother about the rape, she slapped my face and told me that I was a
slut and probably deserved it. My drinking got out of control, I gave
myself away to anybody who wanted me and took whatever substance was
available. A couple of months later I fell pregnant with my first
child.

Prior to my pregnancy I had attempted suicide several times, the first
one when I had just turned 14 and the last one I was 17. I think I
took about 6 or 7 OD’s but none of them were ever enough.

My daughter saved me from myself. I stopped drinking and took care of
myself and my bump. Her father reappeared when she was almost 4 months
old, I was fighting PND and therefore having him around seemed like a
good idea. I had a CPN who visited me weekly to check I was doing OK
and there was a bed on a psych unit if I should need it. But because
of my mother, I never went. I never admitted how depressed I was
feeling and my relationship with her father seemed like a good idea. I
did love him. However, he was not the boy I had known before, he had
changed. He was aggressive and moody. We got into physical fights and
the last time he pushed me off the bed, I hit my head and felt like my
chest had been hit. I was scared of him. I ended things a few weeks
later and decided that my baby would not grow up in an environment
where she was scared.

By the time she was 2 I was married to someone else. He turned out to
be abusive in all ways possible, he never hit me though, he went to
but always hit whatever was behind me. I saw my GP and was put on
anti-depressants but I didn’t take them, I chose to drink at night
when my daughter was in bed. The fear of being mentally unwell and my
husband knowing seemed like a recipe for disaster. Fast forward to
last summer and I entered the mental health system fully having seen a
psychiatrist at A and E.

Since then I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder,
depression and anxiety. I have panic attacks and an addiction to
co-codamol and zopiclone. This diagnosis was and has been difficult to
come to terms with. Professionals seem to be ignorant to what it is
and either dismiss it out of hand or assume I am going to be violent.
I have been searching for a counsellor for the past few months but if
I mention my BPD I am passed up. I feel like I am a leper. Untreatable
and unworthy of help and support. This was highlighted last week when
I attended a drug and alcohol service for my addictions. They rolled
their eyes when i mentioned my mental health and the possibility of
anti-psychotics being prescribed. The nurse implied that the situation
was all my fault and that I was not worth their time or effort. I felt
like a loser and on my way home almost crashed my car into a lorry.

I have finally got a counsellor who I like and who phoned me only at
the end of last week to tell me that she was going to take me on. I
have a care co-ordinator who I actually like and a psychiatrist who I
am slowly warming to.

I am fighting everyday to keep on going. It has been an emotional year
and whilst the initial breakdown was last summer, I have had another
one in more recent months which has been more disturbing than before.
However, I have had some amazing support from the psychology team
within the mental health team. I have attended a therapy group
specifically for BPD and have met some truly amazing people.

One thing which I have seen first hand is that whilst we BPD sufferers
maybe unstable, each of us has something to give to society. The
people I have met are intelligent, funny, incredibly caring and
compassionate and more importantly they don’t judge. They accept me
wholly for who I am. It is the first time in my life that I have ever
felt accepted. It has made the past few months less lonely and now
that the therapy is finished I have some amazing new friends.

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I am 34 wife and mother of 3 amazing children. I have survived a
multitude of horrors but have struggled to share these with anyone.
This is due to fear, shame and guilt. I am accepting that I am
mentally unwell and embrace all support that I can possibly get. I
want to be well. My ambition is to become a counseling psychologist
and make a difference to the mental health community. No one deserves
to suffer in silence and I want to end this.
Twitter: @libertasbpd
Blog: libertasbpd.wordpress.com – The Twisted Journey
Libertas also blogs for anxietyunited.co.uk