By Kay Elizabeth Bitters
Apply the Salve of Love
When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar I, I jumped right into therapy and started trying out all the mood stabilizers. Nothing helped, except a bit of anti-depressants. This is when it became apparent to my health professionals that I was more than likely misdiagnosed. It was considered that I suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
I am not an angry individual, but I am on my way through overcoming. I have lived with this condition for over fifty years now. Recovery is more than an option, and never too late. The following eight points are issues I find worthy of discussion:
One: Personality disorders. Really? Is not every being on the planet a unique individual with divergent ways of coping with life? And what manifests is coping in ways that are not socially normal. Nothing more, nothing less.
Two: Impossible to cure. The human spirit is more than capable of overcoming in healthy manners. There are those who say there are no drugs to cure BPD for instance. However, do drugs heal anything? No. Prescriptions are helpers, enablers, but even insulin does not cure diabetes.
Three: Difficult to live with. Is it not difficult to live with anyone who is wounded and in pain? Would it be correct to say that those of us who can, should be caring and loving and feeding the warmth of human compassion rather than the judgment of superiority? Do we punish the walking wounded, or do we find ways to help them heal? Sure, it is not easy, but it is necessary if we want to be part of the solution. We give a crutch to a man with a broken leg, we don’t kick the other leg out from under him.
Four: Difficult to treat. What kind of therapist must protect their own ego above the care of their patient? As a professional, if you are not able to care for an individual, refer them to someone else. Let them know somehow if you are unable to help them, but acknowledge that they need help and you will see to it that they receive the right help needed. This goes for all you family members, too. See that your loved one gets help.
Five: Children cannot be diagnosed. It does not matter the label. Most of these issues manifest in childhood. How well did family members respond to the child in their midst who is “different”? Maybe the child has been abused right under your nose and you failed to see it. In most cases, this may not be the parent's fault, but it happens.
Six: Enabling the person is wrong. Supporting the mentally ill is absolutely necessary. Part of that is flat out honesty regarding behavior and expectations. What can and do you expect? Realism starts with the one capable of making the determination. Are you that person? Or are you damaged as well? Consult with a professional.
Seven: They need to get better. Rather than judge them, learn about their ailments. Educating yourself is the best way to support them.
Eighth: All personality disordered people are bad. (This one ticks me off the most.) There are over 500 different combinations in the set of nine DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) characteristics alone for the borderline, which is a human effort to define another human. By its own nature, even that is never completely definable and ever changing. So, our loved ones get out the list and say to themselves: they are manipulative; they are without compassion; they are without remorse. Really? Could be that you recognize those traits, as it is also proven by the same infant science of psychology, we mirror our own personalities on another.
So, start with love. This is the plumb line. Just because one does not see the blood gushing forth from the wound, or see the limp of a broken bone, or any other visible sign of pain, it is there. Learn what you can do to apply salve. And learn what you must not do to enable.
And for those of you, like me, diagnosed with some kind of label, it is unkind to expect others to just allow you to be a brat. Learn how to be the best person you are capable of being. Thank those around you for trying, even when you are not sure they really are helping. Don’t judge, just love.