Diagnosis not definition

personality disorder

This is my journey so far

My journey with Carr Gomm started the same week I hit crisis point with my mental health. I was barely 6 stone and had been crying for a week straight.

Severely anorexic and struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I had hit rock bottom. A good friend persuaded me to attend an open recruitment day for Carr Gomm. I didn’t think for a moment that anyone would actually hire me.

Then someone looked at all the things I thought made me useless and broken, and saw a person….not my disorder. I can’t tell my story without being honest, even about the scary stuff.

What is borderline personality disorder?

BPD is like having bipolar disorder and schizophrenia chucked in a blender and poured inside your head. I was originally diagnosed as bi-polar when I was 19. It was then changed to BPD and attention deficit disorder (ADD) when I was 34. My symptoms include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • auditory and visual hallucinations
  • suicidal ideation
  • disassociation
  • insomnia
  • having to feel all feelings, all the time

My psychiatrist affectionately refers to me as his unicorn.

I am a hereditary high functioning quiet borderline. According to the textbooks, I don’t exist. All I can say is that some borderlines are made, while some of us are born.

My work as a support practitioner

My guess is that you might wonder how someone like me can function, let alone do the job I do.

I currently take one daily medication; a mood stabilizer that helps me sleep when my insomnia drags on for too long. I also have to do a mammoth amount of self-care. This includes:

  • mindfulness
  • yoga
  • keeping to my medication routine
  • setting clear boundaries
  • having a kick-ass support network, without whom I wouldn’t be here today

I am one of life’s fixers and can lose myself easily in the process of helping others. I am also incredibly creative and use music and art to express myself when I don’t have words.

In my role as a support practitioner and involvement champion, I enable people supported to live as independently as is possible, according to their choices. I champion involvement across our services by facilitating different groups, including:

  • a cinema club
  • cooking classes
  • a book club

I also help co-ordinate the National Involvement Network and different community groups.

Joining Carr Gomm

I started as a relief worker in December 2016, picking up two shifts per week across our services in Edinburgh and the Lothians. This was the best training I could have received.

I spent an amazing year doing rehabilitation work and teaching life skills. This was also the first service I was given an opportunity to key work. I had come full circle.

My second role for the charity was more difficult as I struggled with my anorexia. However, this is where Carr Gomm came into its own; not only as an understanding employer but also an incredibly supportive one, too. I joined a service I was familiar with and soon became a permanent member of the team.

I love that I feel empowered to be here and to do my job. The things I had always felt were my kryptonite are actually my superpowers.

A look into a musical future

My future goal is to work with other staff across the organisation to kick start the Carr Gomm community choir.

Music is hugely important in my life and was part of my recovery process. I would love to use music as a therapeutic tool to:

  • help others navigate the recovery process
  • help others express themselves

It can be hard for others to understand poor mental health. I usually recommend the 21 Pilots album Vessel as a good way of showing people the complexities of mental illness. Music helps people connect with their emotions, especially when going through dissociative periods. Singing in particular, causes a release of serotonin as it uses the same muscles as smiling.

Sometimes you just have to trick that lump of conductive goo into releasing the good stuff!