An article on TheJournal.ie, written by the wonderful Patrick Kelleher, surfaced on Sunday where my struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder was available for the world to take stock of. He asked to interview me about it following this interview on the mental health budget cuts, and I agreed happily. In the past few months I have been ready to talk. I am no longer ashamed. I am ready to speak.
I expected backlash – it’s an Irish newspaper, for jaysus’s sake. There are serial trolls out there who gleefully wait for the weekend to roll around so they can take their hands off their own, raw penises long enough to type a spiteful comment before shouting abuse through their garage doors into their houses at their mothers, all before resuming normal service
(and Tara Flynn wrote all about this before in much better, cleverer and funnier terms than I ever could).
I guess I was caught off-guard when the post first went up – I scrolled to the end after reading it, a mixture of pride and anxiety mingling in the pit of my stomach (who would read it? Who would see it? What would they think? Has it helped anyone? I want it to help) and it was probably that distraction that let me scroll to the start of the comments. I saw them before I could stop myself. There were six, only 45 minutes after the post first aired. One guy talking about his sister having it but not really getting it, another calling me a hysterical feminist and that that was why I had borderline
(and like, obviously that’s the answer. Same way as trolling is linked to males with micropenises and long-term sexual frustration – but I don’t need empirical evidence for that, I just ask trolling commenters to glance down at themselves while in the shower).
I’ll admit that I cried. For a moment, tears rolled down my face as my heart broke temporarily. I’d done this interview to help others who were in the position I was in not too long ago. To give them a tiny shred of hope that no, this is not ‘it’. This is not life forever. It gets better the harder you work and the harder you try, and while having to try so hard to achieve some sort of quality of life over something that wasn’t your fault to begin with is horrendous, it’s the only way out of it. I wanted to spread that positive message, to drown out the negativity that dominates the internet on the subject of borderline
(and really, any mental illness that isn’t a form of depression or anxiety that ends up ‘magically cured’ after a bike ride). I cried for every single person with borderline or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or OCD or anorexia who felt that they might be brave enough to speak out, read my interview and retreated back into their stigma-covered shell simply because of those comments.
I sat with it all through a work shift. It hung heavily on my chest. That guilt that I had perhaps done more damage than good. I’d seen a couple of positive tweets and messages right before my shift started and that gave me the confidence to dry my tears and get on with work – strength I did not have this time last year. Strength I did not have before my stay in St. Patrick’s, or in the months of reflection and work following it. Strength I’m proud of having; it doesn’t make me special or different, though. It makes me human. It makes me real.
And then I decided. Rather than commenting pointlessly on an article where the comments would be lost or shouted down by the serial trolls themselves, I would make a blog post, dedicated to the comments on the article itself. Dedicated to the innate stupidity of some people who I rather hope just intended to be inflammatory, and didn’t actually think the things they said were true. I would rate the worst ones out of 10.
Thankfully, at the time that I went to write this, some of the really god-awful comments were removed from the post
as confirmed by my boyfriend, so I didn’t have to wade through them myself but I remember them, as they are still seared on backs of my eyelids where I see them when I have a spare moment to reflect on the article itself.
So. here we go:
1. The guy that linked ‘being a feminist’ to borderline personality disorder… What point were you trying to make? That people with diagnosed mental illnesses are more capable of compassion and not being a dickhead than you are? 0/10, poor attempt at correlating anything. Please see above statement on empirical evidence vs looking down in the shower.
2. ‘Ah lads would you stop my friend has this, he’s a great bunch of lads’ – a) that’s the joke they make about schizophrenia, so wrong illness and b) this is not what schizophrenia is either, so you’re actually incomprehensibly stupid. That poorly constructed, in-bad-taste joke actually refers to Dissassociative Identity Disorder, an illness that is absolutely nothing like schizophrenia or indeed anything directly to do with Borderline
(though I’m absolutely not dismissing the possibility of someone with either or both also having DID as a co-morbidity), very serious and incredibly difficult for the sufferer to deal with. What I would suggest is, given that you managed to get TheJournal.ie open – though I’m guessing that it occurred with great difficulty on your part – that there is a distinct possibility that you could also open Google and search ‘borderline personality disorder’, then ‘schizophrenia’, then ‘dissassociative identity disorder’. Once you’ve done that, I’d also suggest asking mummy to put parental controls on public forums so you can’t post anything silly until you’re old enough to know better. Good boy. 0/10, not researched at all
3. The girl who said that BPD was ‘an excuse for being a dick’ or something to that effect – surely if I have an excuse for ‘being a dick’, your comment is a misguided attempt at conveying jealousy that such an excuse does not extend to your own dickery? It’s a little bigoted if you ask me. 0/10, jealousy does not make a good basis for attack. Please try again.
NB: BPD is not an excuse for anything. it is a diagnosis of a collection of symptoms that make up a bigger picture which I discuss in greater detail here, and here. If you have BPD you are not a dick for having it. In the same way that a person who is diagnosed with strep throat is not a dick for having an illness, did not ‘bring it on themselves’, did not ask for it and is definitely not faking it because the symptoms are real and valid, your illness is real. It is valid. You are not an asshole.
4. ‘Portia’ who said BORDERLINE SO DO YOU HAVE IT OR NOT????, PSYCHIATRY IS A PSEUDOSCIENCE and other impossibly uneducated statements… a) Borderline Personality Disorder was so called when first coined as a term because it was believed to describe a disorder on the ‘border’ of neurosis and psychosis, as those with more severe forms of the disorder may experience psychosis, disassociation and other psychotic elements. It has since been renamed in the DSM-V to Emotional Unstable Personality Disorder, though some refer to it as ’emotional dysregulation’ and both newer terms are slow to take hold
(in the same way as it took years and several celebrities with the disorder to see Bipolar Disorder finally replace manic-depression as the correct terminology). As above, I would suggest you find your way to Google and visit WebMD or the MayoClinic websites where everything is laid out in a concise manner. b) What? It’s a science. Not a pseudoscience. You need a medical degree to become a psychiatrist. Medicine, last time I checked, was a science. Therefore, if we use our ability to infer things that make sense, medical degree + psychiatry = actual science. QED. Thank you for your time, 0/10 for writing an amalgamation of conspiracies straight off the worst Reddit thread anyone could possibly imagine.
5. The woman who said ‘this seems to be an advertisement for a certain private hospital’… If any hospital
or anywhere at all would like to pay me to advertise for them so I may earn back even the fraction of the price of a 5-week stay in St. Patrick’s, I’m ready and eager to do those adverts. Sadly, this was an impassioned account of my recovery and my experiences. Sadly, this ‘certain private hospital’ is the only place I could get timely and reasonable healthcare from at a time I needed it most. The nurses who work there are passionate as hell and were brilliantly supportive. I was privileged to have been able to stay there at all and the staff do not get nearly enough recognition for what they do. If this reads as an advertisement – you’ve clearly never been in there. 0/10, I’m saddened that that was your cynical takeaway message from the whole interview.
There were also several comments trying to advocate for me not taking medication – something I don’t take,
and which I clearly stated in the interview because it doesn’t work for me at all. It doesn’t work for a lot of people with BPD, but will work for some and works for millions of people in the world. Don’t listen to people who try to tell you what worked for them will ‘definitely work for you’ because that’s just not true. Your body is yours. Listen to it, work with your doctor sand your loved ones to see what works for you best. Have spotters (people who can inform you when you’re not acting yourself), have a plan with your doctors in the event of a particular medication not working for you. Research what you’re taking but don’t take anecdotal evidence as fact – read studies, understand the possibility of side effects and the amount of time they’ll take to work. Know what the weaning-off period can be like. Be informed and understand that they might be a lifeline for you or for a loved one and that you and only you, with the aid of people who can help, can decide what’s best for you.
I have a voice. When I started speaking it was weak. It wobbled and wavered and refused to get to the crux of the issue. It talked about the pain of depression and anxiety without explaining why medication doesn’t work for me. It talked about my symptoms while dancing around the nature of my illness. But now, it’s stronger. My voice is getting stronger and louder with every post and with every person I reach. The positive comments I got and the people that actually thanked me for speaking up about BPD have made that voice stronger still. I can and I will fight. I will always fight.