Working After Being Mental/Stigma

Hi chaps, here is some writing, elsewhere!

There are 2 things I’ve recently written floating about. The first is an article for One in Four on working post-mental-illness. (Which made it into the Guardian’s society daily, hooray!)

Working it out

After four years of treatment, three years on benefits and two interviews, I finally found myself one job.

I thought I’d never have a job again. My employment history is fractured at best. In attempting to work when I was ill, I made that situation and my health worse. Claiming benefits took a long time, but when I was finally successful, it gave me the space I desperately needed to get well. It gave me time, above all else. Time to sort out my housing, time to attend appointments, time to process what was happening to me and learn to live with it.

After three years receiving benefits, I realised I was no longer ill enough to justify claiming them. At the same time, I lost my entitlement to the support that came along with benefits and therefore lost all help toward getting a job. For the first time in four years, I was absolutely on my own. At that point, though, I felt that was where I was ready to be. Well, sometimes. At other times I almost crumbled with the fear that I wasn’t ready for work, that I wasn’t prepared for life without stabilisers.

And a piece with the mental health campaign, Time to Change, on stigmatising yourself.

used to be a very prolific blogger on the subject of bipolar disorder. That was, until I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Bipolar disorder, through the visibility of sufferers such as Stephen Fry, could be construed as one of the more acceptable mental health conditions to have. It is associated with great creativity. Borderline personality disorder, however, is a less acceptable condition to have, if anybody knows what it is at all. It is portrayed in the media via the prisms of films like Fatal Attraction, with the terminally attached Glenn Close cutting her wrists as she waits for the disinterested Michael Douglas to call. Within mental health services, its image fares little better. In this study, 84% of mental health professionals said that people with borderline personality disorder were the hardest client group to deal with.

I hope you like them. And hooray for feeling able to write again! It’s been months!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for this — and hooray for it surfacing in the Guardian.
    BPD still has such a bad stigma attached to it that it is indeed near impossible to get back into employment. So I am much heartened by your success, the more we talk about BPD and recovery, the less frightened and hostile our society will become… eventually.

  2. You’re right about bipolar being less stygmatized than borderline personality disorder. That’s unfortunate. Mental illness understanding has improved over the last few years a tremendous amount, but there is still work to be done.

    I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder. It’s tough to live with. I am still on disability, but I do have a blog. I don’t earn any money from it so it’s no big deal. But I enjoy writing… it helps me work through things.

    I really like this blog. I look forward to reading it in the future.

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