Peer Support Worker
“When people say to me explain what your diagnosis is, it’s quite hard to explain what’s going on in my head, when actually I don’t understand what’s going on in my head half the time,” Estelle explains.
“All I can say is that I feel emotions, so, so strongly. I can be impulsive, relationships with me are tricky, and I can be irrational, especially with money.”
23-year-old Estelle is living alongside Borderline Personality Disorder. At 16, she was admitted to a psychiatric unit and since then she has been passionate about working in mental health. She is now one of St Andrew’s peer support workers, which means that she uses her own experience of dealing with and overcoming her mental health struggles, to help patients. She also offers a viewpoint from an ex-patient's eyes when delivering training to staff on a daily basis.
She wants to tell her own story to help break down some of the stigma associated with Borderline Personality Disorder. According to a recent survey carried out by the Charity, only a quarter of the public were able to correctly identify the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, with 38% incorrectly believing that the condition involved having a split personality, something which Estelle herself has come across.
“A lot of people think personality disorder is different personalities, but actually it’s the traits you show within your personality. I felt like one side of me was possessed by a devil, one side of me was possessed by an angel. It sounds like a big fairy-tale dream now. When I look back at it, there’s things about it I still don’t understand.”
She also admits she’s faced a lot of stigma when she was struggling with her mental health.
“I’ve been told I was attention seeking, that I was a psycho, I’ve been called tiger from the scars on my arms,” Estelle explains. But she wants to raise more awareness of Borderline Personality Disorder so more people are educated and have an understanding of what it can be like.
Dr Emily Fox, is Director of Psychological Therapies, at St Andrew’s and works directly with patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. She too is keen to dispel some of the myths associated with the complex condition.
"Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition that is marked by emotional instability, challenges with relationships, challenges in sense of self, and challenges in tolerating stress. They can be exceptionally problematic; people may want to hurt themselves as they're in so much pain, but on the other hand they experience the best of things with incredible intensity - such as happiness, joy and love. The good news is that the condition is treatable, with the right therapy and support."
Get involved - follow the story on social using the hashtag #MentalHealthandMe and together we can break the stigma.