Speaking up is hard, but I want to give others hope

A diagnosis more commonly known asBorderline Personality Disorder, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder was the diagnosis I had waited so long for. Finally, I had a name for something which I’d been struggling with for 7 years. An answer to why I felt overwhelming feelings ofanxiety and worthlessness, why I struggled to manage without engaging in self-harming behaviours, why I was so impulsive and why I’ve struggled with relationships, often intense and filled with fear of abandonment.

However then came this feeling of shame. I felt that it was more acceptable to be diagnosed with an illness like depressionbipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, which people are increasingly aware of.  I felt that, because I had a personality disorder, people would not accept me because they didn’t understand what it was.

Although my illness affects me as an individual, I didn’t want people to think the illness is who I am and what characterises me, that my personality is at fault. My illness is in fact still a disorder of mood, much like depression or any other better-known mental illness. Through it all, I am still Emily.

No matter how low I’ve been, I’ve always tried to support those around me who have been struggling. There are mental illnesses in my family, in my friendship groups -it’s literally everywhere I turn. I’ve been lucky: I’ve also received support from my friends, family and peers.

I’m still struggling, and speaking up is a big deal for me. However, I hope that by speaking up about my illness, it will give others the confidence to do so. I volunteered at StereoHype, a Time to Change project, and this gave me the opportunity to raise awareness and ignited my passion in reducing the stigma I know is there, even if I haven’t necessarily faced it myself.

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