There was one fatal flaw in my plan to wake up screaming--I wasn't asleep. This was not a nightmare, at least not in the literal sense. Although surreal, this was real—I was really pinned to my apartment floor, three people from Waco’s Antioch Community Church really were yelling at Satan and said people really were attempting to perform an exorcism without my consent. Later, I would take the incident up the church’s chain of command: the burden of proof never on me to prove it happened, but to prove that I was not “manifesting demons.” This is an extreme example of the mental illness stigma often seen in the Church.
More than Borderline
It's Halloween, and for mental health consumers, it can be an isolating time. The stigma of mental illness is reinforced with every "haunted asylum" attraction, "hanging man" decoration and "mental health patient" costume. More Than Borderline's Becky Oberg talks about how Halloween often reinforces negative stereotypes about mental health consumers, such as "they're violent," "they're deranged," and "they have no control over their actions."
Recently I sat on a panel of mental health consumers. Our goal was to educate people about mental health through drama and a question-and-answer session. When it came my turn to speak, I said that some mental illnesses were more stigmatized than others, fully knowing this would be controversial. Much to my surprise, I saw several heads nodding in agreement!
My diagnosis varies, depending on who you believe. I remember one nurse practitioner told me I was too meditative and introverted and must have narcissistic personality disorder--no one backed up that "diagnosis," but it's in my file. I'd love to be able to get it removed. But as a borderline personality disorder patient, I have no right to see my file without my psychiatrist's permission. The same applies to past practitioners' notes. Which leads to an interesting question--should psychiatric patients have the right to see their file?
I'll be honest--normally I hate celebrity "news." But one story recently provoked a lot of strong feelings--Amanda Bynes was tricked into going into a mental health facility. It raises a question: Should parents ever deceive their child to get them psychiatric help?
I'm acting in a play called "Nobody Needs to Know." In one scene, a recovering alcoholic explains that she once thought alcohol--vodka in particular--was the answer to her psychiatric symptoms. When another character asks why it isn't the answer, she gives several reasons why it isn't. Here are three reasons I've learned as to why alcohol isn't the answer to borderline personality disorder (BPD).
I became suicidal while on active duty in the Army. What happened next was a classic example of how not to help a suicidal person.
I spent nine months on the borderline personality disorder (BPD) unit at Larue Carter Memorial Hospital in Indianapolis. At the time, it was the only inpatient unit specializing in schema therapy for BPD in the country. Recently I learned that this unit, which changed and probably saved my life, is now closed. It made me think about what happens to patients when psychiatric hospitals close--it rarely ends well.
I've written about my abuse at the hands of the Antioch movement and my escape. It took a long time before I could attend church again, and the abuse did much to exacerbate my symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). I had to find what the Bible calls "beauty for ashes." I had to find peace amidst the pain.
Recently I was talking to a volunteer from a domestic violence shelter and I asked if calls had increased since the Ray Rice video was made public. The answer was yes, because awareness was being raised. According to HealthyPlace, women with mental illness are at a greater risk of being abused. So I decided to write about signs of an abusive relationship, how domestic abuse can affect a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and the warning signs of an abusive relationship via the Domestic Violence Screening Test.