This article is a guest blog from Kaylene who is a health care professional and student based in USA.
Read on as she shares her experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder and working as mental health support worker!
Kaylene.B: My Truth
Things have been heavy for me lately. I wish I could say that everything is okay but it’s hardly that. As a mental health support worker and working hard towards my dream career goal, it’s hard to admit this, but the psychology world holds a certain stigma for providers.
That they have to act in a professional manner all the time, which is unrealistic.
(Disclaimer: I think it’s okay to set this standard in professional setting however when a colleague is struggling i find that ironically there’s lack of support for all of us.)
If you don’t know anything about "BPD" otherwise known as borderline personality disorder, let me give you a glimpse of how life is like living with this condition.
Everyday I experience prolonged or rapid intense emotions that gets in the way of work and school.
If you don’t experience mental illness or aren’t familiar with BPD I’ll break it down:
What sadness might feel for you is deep soul crushing depression for me
What anger feels like for you is intense fury for me
What anxiety feels for you is pure panic for me
It is difficult to explain to people how my emotions and feelings work even within a professional setting.
There’s this expectation to always tame your emotions and “leave your worries at home”. While that is valid to an extent, the stigma prevents future mental health professionals to reach out.
Many folks actually deal with a plethora of mental health issues and are scared to be open of their struggles in fear that some might lose their jobs.
Many individuals fear that the person they are treating might be skeptical of their credentials and assume they aren’t qualified enough.
I feel that the more people in grad school who are pursuing a career in psychology in some form should be honest about their emotional and mental health challenges.
In reality in being open your life struggles helps normalize talking about mental illness.
As a person who has experiences being an outpatient it always brings me great comfort that my providers had similar experiences than me; it made me feel less alone.
I feel betrayed and immensely hurt from people I work with co-workers who roll their eyes at me and quote “what is it this time?”
Or senior leaders saying “I understand your feelings but there's a time and a place" or " not everyone here will be has understanding”.
My feelings and experiences felt dismissed most times i had to suppress my stress and challenges because i was afraid to appear “sensitive“ or “fragile” even in front of my coworkers.
I won’t deny this rebuttal is kind of valid to an extent I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable or had anyone think less of my work ethic.
I fear that I appear unstable in front of others— however on my mental health was slowly eroding. This past still haunts me and affects the way I approach opportunities until this day I do research about the organizations values making sure my work environment won’t ignore my future grievances.
I was feeling helpless I couldn’t share my experiences in fear.
I would get let go or judged by fellow peers. Hearing folks loud whispers saying,“ she needs to understand that not everyone's going to be empathetic“
While this is true its also suffocating to think that most of my peers wouldn't even bat an eyelash if i was in a big mental health crisis.
It‘s almost like i was the person who kept crying wolf, no one took me seriously.
As i work through school barely trying to keep up with classes all the while trying to guide people to their goals so they can live a life worth living. Its bizarre I was doing all of this when i was barely taking care of myself. It was kind of sad considering this workplace are supposed to put “mental health” first above all.
I suffered with so much situations and personal problems that being called strong is an understatement. I was more than that I was and am a person whose worth is limitless. A person whose feelings that move mountains for people and those feelings are okay to talk about at any given moment.
I should be allowed to cry and not feel embarrassed, or have people incinerate that my neuro-physical conditions that gets in the way for me to work effectively.
Resilience is just one aspect of me and being vulnerable is definitely not a weakness of mine, I wrestle with accepting this belief of mine sometimes!
Its hard to be open in a world who dims your authenticity, most times I feel like saying nothing because in the moment i felt well what’s the point if no one is going to listen to me?
The answer is that its complicated. You might have to explain your emotions a lot of times and there's people who wont get it but there's going to be a small few who comes close to understanding.
This is crucial in mental illness recovery, though it takes time and varies for everyone.
If you reached up to this point I hope you choose to be the difference.
Your feelings matter as any person who misunderstands you their beliefs/ opinions about you is not your responsibility but theirs.
From Kaylene B