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Mahlie's lived experience

Mahlie is 37 years old, lives in NSW and identifies as a person living with BPD.


What was your experience of receiving a diagnosis of BPD?

I’d been diagnosed with the alphabet previously and my diagnosis of BPD was positive because the psychiatrist delivered it to me as a suggestion and then I fully endorsed the criteria myself, it was not “given” to me, but offered.

What would you like people newly experienced with BPD to know?

That it’s a diagnostic label, not a personal attack. Words in a book can’t express everything you are. Take from it what helps and leave the rest behind. Use it to find good treatments, skilled professionals and further education. Read things written by experts in the field and if a clinician tells you that you can’t recover, find someone new!


What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?

They were highly trained and skilled. They knew their own capacity and named it. They held hope for me when I could not hold it for myself.


What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?

Pointed me towards resources, education and skilled experts. Many should have acknowledged they were not the best treatment pathway for me and referred me to someone else.


What kind of psychological treatments worked well for you?

DBT re-trains my brain. Art Therapy heals my heart. Narrative therapy is changing my story.


What other things have supported you to live well?

My pug, all the animals in my life! Nature and her as my Mother and constant guide. My friends as my family.


Do you have any tips or tricks for managing distress or strong emotions you would like to share?

I draw a lot to cope with distress. I spend a lot of time doing things that are meaningful to me, like advocacy. I also go for long drives, walk my dogs and spend a lot of time in nature. I work on my own schedule and not other peoples.


What advice would you give to friends/family supporting someone with a diagnosis of BPD?

Take care of yourselves and say No. Have strong but kind boundaries and communicate them consistently. You should be accessing professional support yourself, connecting with other carers and practicing self-care. Educate yourself as much as possible.


What are a few things you thought you might not have been able to do but you did anyway?!

I’ve traveled the world and seen amazing things. I speak openly and strongly about my experiences and work respectfully with people to make change. I’m in the middle of a Masters degree! But my biggest accomplishment is that I am happy being me, managing my challenges and smashing every statistic that told me I couldn’t.


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