Stigma is a huge part of the battle for those wanting to discuss mental health openly. The definition of stigma is a disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Normally this is caused by someone else’s view on the circumstance, quality or person, however just recently I have read a lot about self-stigma and this is what I want to discuss today, mainly because I believe I am guilty of this too.
Now I know this might sound slightly strange considering I write about my mental health quite openly. I am, though, nowhere near as open in real life about some aspects of my mental health. My family for example know about my depression but not about my Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD or formerly BPD) and this is down to how I see the condition in myself.
Please don’t get me wrong here; if someone told me they had EUPD I would not think negatively of them. I would actually, probably, be open with them about my own diagnosis. Yet if someone was to ask me for my diagnosis I would be reluctant to mention the EUPD unless I really had to or felt comfortable that the person I was talking to would not be negative towards me for that diagnosis. This is for me a form of self-stigma and helps fuel the stigma surrounding a personality disorder. It is something I feel ashamed of and that really isn’t right.
So why do I feel this about my EUPD diagnosis? I am after all much more open about my anxiety and depression diagnoses. Well I think it comes down to the stigma that there seems to be with mental health professionals surrounding personality disorders. I have heard of mental health professionals not treating symptoms of those with BPD as they see it as part of the “manipulative” nature that the disorder supposedly has (I hugely disagree with this myth). I have also had experiences where I was told that, because I have this diagnosis, I am manipulative and other myths that surround EUPD/BPD. Therefore, if a health professional is going to act in this way, how can I expect someone without the knowledge of the condition to act?
So what can I do to change this? I hope that by writing this blog and attending events linked to mental health I will gradually gain the confidence to not only talk about my diagnosis but also some of the symptoms I have from my diagnoses. I also hope that by writing and campaigning against the stigma surrounding mental health, the stigma surrounding personality disorders will reduce. This will hopefully make it easier for those of us who have them, as a diagnosis, to discuss what we deal with on a day-to-day basis.