I wanted locking up

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) causes one in 10 of us to
commit suicide. The word borderline can be mistaken to mean half a
disorder, which could not be further from the truth. It means that
we border between neurosis and psychosis.

I have spent all my adult life under the care of psychiatrists and
hospitals. For the most part, nobody had any idea how to help me,
if indeed they had any interest. My mental health deterioration
began when I was 15 and I had no hope of recovery until I received
specialist treatment when I was 27. BPD is becoming more prominent
within mental health, but a great deal of my experience is of being
let down and sent away to cope in whatever way I could, which I
never did. Within acute hospitals I was misunderstood, neglected
and, at times, cruelly treated. Some professionals genuinely wanted
to help me, but were at a complete loss over how to. When I was 25
I cut my throat, convinced that I would never obtain the help I
desperately needed.

When I was 26, I was misdiagnosed with “an extremely manipulative
personality disorder of the antisocial type”. I began to believe I
was a very bad person. A couple of years later, after my stepfather
came into my bedroom at night and had sexual intercourse with me,
the nurse I confided in told me I was “a psychopath” who was “just
trying to split up” my stepfather and my mother. These were not the
only damaging words I was told by people who were supposed to be
looking after me.

Violence towards myself and others escalated to an alarming and
dangerous degree. When a member of my family threatened to sue the
consultant in the event of my death, I was finally placed under
supervision, awaiting transfer to a secure environment. I did
receive the help I needed and was accepted for assessment by a
secure hospital. There I was believed about the abuse I had
suffered at the hands of my stepfather, exacerbated by some mental
health professionals.

I was locked up for three years in a specialist unit. The secure
building gave me a framework from which to start my recovery. Many
people fight against compulsory treatment while simultaneously
making it perfectly obvious that is exactly what they want. I can
see how frustrating this must be for carers who do not have the
insight into why this happens and the skills to help challenge this
need. The hospital took care of me, and the staff accepted me and
proved to me that they understood. Slowly I learned to stop
fighting and to trust again. That is often what it takes.

We cannot all afford to wait 12 years before getting help. It is
all very well for some to say we have no place in acute wards, but
often there is little choice. I have been living in the community
successfully for eight months, have a voluntary job and started a
degree in September. I still have struggles but these days I can
manage them. People like me are treatable; we are not hopeless
cases. I certainly could not have come this far without the expert
help I had. I am very lucky indeed.

Zoe Roberts is a mental health services user.

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