SAMANTHA is 45 years old, lives in WA and identifies as a person living with BPD
What was your experience of receiving a diagnosis of BPD?
Having experienced previous mental health issues, I was not aware I was experiencing BPD and was not diagnosed until my early forties. My therapist reframes and validates my experiences and challenges as an individual rather than as clinical diagnosis, which is helpful for me facing stigma.
What would you like people newly experienced with BPD to know?
You are not alone and have every right to seek support and information, there are wonderful treatment programs available. I strongly recommend peer support programs as a positive means of connecting with others who have a lived experience of BPD where you can find them.
What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?
I currently have a supportive therapist who has enabled me to feel confident, share my challenges and feel empowered. Being able to express my emotions without feeling shame or patronised is important. Peer support has enabled me to connect with others and feel validated.
What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?
In the past, practitioners could have contributed to my wellbeing if they had validated me for who I am. Concentrating on symptoms disempowered me as I was not getting my emotional needs met. I felt stereotyped by diagnosis and standard symptoms.
What kind of psychological treatments worked well for you?
Psychodynamic Therapy has given me the confidence to reveal my emotions and work through past and present relationships with people.
What other things have supported you to live well?
Peer support groups have been valuable in improving my wellbeing, connecting with others who understand me and offering valuable insight into coping skills and managing daily living. Volunteering and supporting others has also enabled me to connect with others and improve my well-being. Spending time with my family gives me joy and enables me to feel positive about life. I also enjoy walking in nature and writing as a means of relaxation.
Do you have any tips or tricks for managing distress or strong emotions you would like to share?
I have learnt to distract myself by being active, spending time with my cat and dog. I have also tried to apply positive thinking into my life to motivate myself. I believe in trying to turn my obstacles into opportunities.
What advice would you give to friends/family supporting someone with a diagnosis of BPD?
Just be there, be willing to listen, try not to judge and to see the person you care for as who they are. Be there to support them and if possible, find a support group in the local community to connect with others. Share your experiences to avoid feeling alone.
What are a few things you thought you might not have been able to do but you did anyway?!
Work as a teacher for over fifteen years, volunteer in the community, become a mental health advocate and share my story.