The stigma surrounding mental health is still really bad, despite the efforts of thousands if not millions of people standing up and speaking out against it. We (the mentally ill) still fear getting help, talking about their mental illness, face bullying, are told we are faking, or that we are lying, or worst of all are told to go hurt/ kill ourselves.
I myself have been told some pretty awful things. One time an old friend texted me words of hate and shame, she told me I was lying and that she hated me. That night I tried to drown myself in the bathtub with weights. She pursued me over text, Facebook, Google Hangouts and Instagram. I blocked her on all platforms and changed my number. But she didn’t rest there. It took a huge toll on my mental health. But I didn’t say anything to anyone besides telling a friend about a message here or there. Finally, during my partial hospitalization program with Rogers, I opened up to my therapist and she called the police and the police informed this girl that if she ever got into contact with me again she would be pressed with criminal charges and a restraining order would be filled. Her mom called back and began saying at him that I had just gotten released from a mental hospital and I was unstable. Thankfully the officer had seen my evidence and told the mom that if that was her first defense that there was probably some guilt on their side of things, and he ended the call. Later this was found on her Instagram:
These comments were made the morning after the Orlando murders took place. I was distraught for weeks after reading this. To this day, thinking about me sick to my stomach. These users used to be friends of mine. And in the weight of the Orlando aftermath, I was being compared to mass murderers by people who used to know me! And it was on display for anyone to see. I couldn’t eat and cried for days. I hated myself more than I ever had in my whole life. This and other bullying I’ve faced has made me very scared to open up about any of my mental health issues or the bullies that were telling my support system that I’m a liar. Instead of getting help, I was letting my illnesses get the best of me. I was scared that if I told someone that they’d treat my like I was a crazy person and I’d lose them from my support system. Instead I watched nights turn into days, tossing and turning until I could lay awake no longer. One of my best friends and I went nearly a whole semester not talking because I couldn’t risk being judged – which was compounded by the fact that borderline patients have severe abandonment issues.
I wish I could say my story is unique or an uncommon occurrence, but I see people with mental health issues receive just as bad or ever worse hate on a daily basis. I see someone post something about their battle against anorexia and read a handful of atrocious comments. Later the same user posts a picture of some hate on a forum about her and it’s nothing but negativity. This user then tried to commit suicide three times and only by flukes are they still alive. When your mental illness is already lying to you, and you’re struggling to hold the tidal waves of depression and dissociativeness at bay, you can barely keep your head above water. Bullying takes down any and all efforts we’re making to stay afloat.
We already have a stigma to battle. If you Google “Borderline Personality Disorder”, you can find websites that tell you we’re “evil” and “liars” and “manipulative.” If someone were to read those, and then hear I have BPD, they would immediately be scared of me and distrust everything I say. But that’s not true. I’ve been called a liar all my life, but the truth is, people who know me can usually tell when I’m lying because I’m so bad at it. And after one lie I got caught up in led to me hitting rock bottom, I strive to always be truthful, even when it means something bad for me. As for calling us manipulative, well… as children, Borderlines often do not receive adequate affection and attention from the people who are supposed to give exactly that. Because of this, we crave it when we get older and feel like we have to overachieve and perform more in order to “earn” it because doing “enough” as kids didn’t have an end result of proper validation. However, we are also often put down, endlessly criticized and even bullied or neglected as children. We feel we don’t deserve the attention we end up getting so we “split” ourselves and succumb to self-hate. And remember, Borderlines feel emotions roughly FOUR TIMES as intense and extreme than normal. With all that being said, hopefully, you can understand me when I say we are not manipulative. This is just one example of a thousand comments I wish I could make to combat the stigma.
The stigma stands in the way of us mentally ill, by discouraging us to go to therapy/ talk about/ get help for our illnesses. It scares us into silence. It causes others to wrongfully jump to conclusions or make assumptions about us, driving a wedge into compassion and community. It causes us to get blamed for things we have no control over and makes us hate ourselves even more. It can cause us to hurt ourselves or even attempt suicide. When you add bullying and negative comments on top of the stigma, it can compound these negative effects. Please, not only make an effort to end the stigma surrounding mental health but help combat the bullying and abuse we receive from less educated folks. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.