Here I am with another rant, this time directed at the BBC. Especially Mark Easton, and yes, I am calling you out for your article Personality Disorder Patients ‘Let Down’ By System – which is completely horrendous in pretty much every single way.
Let’s start with what’s good with this article: people with PDs are definitely let down by the system. Thank you for highlighting what we already know. As a BPD sufferer, my life has dramatically changed since receiving my diagnosis three years ago and I know that it’s going to be with me for the rest of my life. In this time, I’ve been to six hour-long group anxiety classes as well as six hour-long CBT sessions (in which the therapist cried because I’m ‘too ill’). Also within this time, I’ve had my referral to the Personality Disorders Clinic lost multiple times, resulting in my first appointment after two and a half years. The result of this appointment being that I’ll have to wait at least another six months for any kind of treatment. This treatment would be four days a week, for FOUR YEARS, completely taking my twenties away from me and making any type of work impossible. Within this same three year period, I have tried to take my own life five times. This is only my experience, but I know this is very similar for a lot of other BPD suffers. We’re either seen as too mentally ill to help as it’s a complex and ‘scary’ condition, or when we show any sign of recovery we’re again discarded by the system. So thank you Mr Easton for highlighting in your article that ‘some question whether the illness even exists,’ adding to the stigma of mental illness – particular personality disorders – even being real.
Next, we move onto the case study of Catherine who tried to poison her colleague before being sent to jail, then finally a secure psychiatric unit. This is then followed by the statistic that an ‘estimated that 70% of prisoners have the disorder‘. Firstly, this is completely wrong as there are far more than just one personality disorder, in fact there are 10 which all have their own signs and symptoms:
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Dependant Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
For Mr Easton to lump all 10 together and then infer that this leads to violence, poisoning and prison is completely unfair. As someone both with BPD and with many friends with the same condition, I can vouch that the majority of us would much rather hurt ourselves than anyone else and feel other’s pain just as intensely as we feel our own. Many of us are extremely compassionate and have a ridiculously high level of self awareness as we need to be in tune with our feelings to ensure that we can feel some level of control on our ever fluctuating emotions. To group anyone with the same mental health condition together is ridiculous, two people with depression are still individuals, exactly the same as two people with personality disorders.
Finally – before I work myself up too much because of this article – Mr Easton writes ‘Borderline Personality Disorder – so-called because its symptoms are on the borderline between psychosis (an impaired relationship with reality) and neurosis (anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour).’ From this, it seems there really has been no research into this article at all, as the majority of mental health professionals have discarded this theory many years ago. As a BBC article, I would really expect a lot of research to be done on the sensitive topic at hand, such as correctly relaying the reasoning behind the name, or even stating as you did incorrectly, with the addition of saying that it is no longer in use – or even, just once, referring to BPD as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.
Thank you Mark Easton for adding to the stigma and doing very little research on such a sensitive topic. Thanks again for possibly really hurting those who have read your article and already feel alone and isolated whom – due to BPD – already have a suicide risk of 1 in 10. In the future, please don’t write about mental health.
**If you or your loved one’s condition is critical, suicidal, or just very worrying, please call 999. You can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 – 24 hours a day or Mind‘s infoline on 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri 9am-6pm)**