1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I couldn’t possibly be one of these statistics. I just wouldn’t accept it. However, last October I received the confirmation that I had feared for many years…I had a mental illness.After many assessments, appointments with various health professionals and a period of crisis, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and despite taking most of my life to accept it, it did give me some sense of relief. Finally, my thoughts and feelings had been acknowledged and validated. I have always had very strong mood swings and struggled to maintain stable relationships with friends and family. I do anything to avoid change and then act impulsively (I quit my job on the spot and was on a plane to Central America within 12 hours). One minute, I can be very talkative and engaged and then within seconds it can change for no reason whatsoever. I end up being fully consumed by irritation, anger, worthlessness and suicidal thoughts. Other aspects of my illness includes episodes of severe anxiety, panic attacks and psychosis.
My family were made aware of the full extent of my mental state just over a year ago, as I had become quite good at hiding the most disruptive nature of my illness. Whilst growing up, I always knew that I was quite different to other children my age. In fact, my mother was told by my primary school teachers that I was a moody child who isolates herself and is very introverted. This continued to be a recurring statement that was thrown about throughout my adolescence and remains even now in my 20s. However, I grew up in a house where there was never any sort of discussion around mental illness. I know that this is not uncommon, however having been brought up by parents of South Asian descent, I learnt that issues of mental health were shrouded by secrecy and silence. There seems to be only two reactions to mental illnesses within the South Asian community – no acknowledgement whatsoever or ridicule. So, when I finally confessed my inner darker thoughts to my parents, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame and weakness. In hindsight, I should’ve opened up years ago, knowing how incredibly supportive my family have been since my crisis. I would’ve been hospitalised if it wasn’t for my mum, who quit her job to become my full-time carer and only now can I fully appreciate how lucky I was to receive care from SLAM’s Home Treatment Team for 5 months.
After months of hell and finally getting my medication right, I can now confidently say that I’m no longer in a crisis episode yet I’m still far from being the functional adult that I crave to be. I’m still receiving weekly help from my local community health team and am on the waiting list for the appropriate therapy (DBT).
If anyone is struggling at the moment, please know that you’re not alone and do not suffer in silence like I did.