You MUST Be With Normal People


Heartdrops.  Raindrops

Heartdrops. Raindrops

I was twenty-one when I encountered my first adult experience in the care of “mental health professionals.” I felt no humanity. I felt judged. I felt young, child-like again. Buck teeth. Embarrassed of myself. Angry as hell. All of this anger came out in the way I judged those around me who were struggling with severe mental illness.

If I could say one thing to my twenty-year-old self, I would say child you have a long, rough road ahead. Age and accumulated wisdom changed the confused, judgmental young girl into a woman who knows what it’s like to be the one being judged. When I wrote this I was lost inside my head, lost in a dark hallway. It was like when I stumbled through the darkness of my childhood home, terrified of the shadows, sensing my mother lurking in corners, waiting to hit me. Lost in my teenage self. In this post I believe my voice matches that of my twenty-year-old self as close as memory will allow…

The man seemed like an ass, right down to his too-smart black glasses and mono-toned voice. “Well, you have Borderline Personality Disorder,” the psychiatrist said. His tone sterile and cold; someone who can’t wait to clock out of work in the next five minutes.
Ok, and? God that damn lady down the hall is crying again! Ironically, I can’t stop focusing on just how nuts this lady is as she sits at the community pay phone wailing her old eyes out. Oh boy, here comes the lady (I think she is detoxing) who likes to complain about her roommate touching her items and then clings frantically to her boyfriend each time he leaves her. Pathetic, I silently think.

Mr. Happy in the sterile white coat snaps me back to reality. “Here is a book about your disorder. Your assignment is to stay in your room and read it. You re on lockdown.”

2015-02-08 13.55.55

I’m sad, really I am, but I can’t say why. All I know is that I’m so empty inside that I would not be full if I devoured another human being whole. Maybe Mr. Happy recognized this and thought it would be best to leave me to my own devices. Besides, as I would later find out, “Borderlines” are notoriously impossible people to cure, and a general pain in the ass for the mental health system. I don’t want to be a pain in the ass nor do I mean to be one. It just happens, just like taking a shower and brushing your teeth does for most people. These “normal” people see me and run screaming in the other direction.

“When you leave this hospital, DO NOT make friends with any of the other patients here. You must surround yourself with normal people. That is the only way you will improve,” the lovely intake counselor tells me stoically as she asks me the same damn questions the last ten people did.

Ironically, this counselor was misinformed. I’m not a “borderline.” I have PTSD. The mental health system was and continues to be a tangled mess of misunderstanding between staff and patient. Also, I’ve found it helps to connect with other survivors. We’re a group of like-minded people here in the blogosphere who give one another hope, and are empowered through the magic of words and art to express our hurt and advocate for change and understanding.

15 thoughts on “You MUST Be With Normal People

  1. Well said!!!! It is NOT borderline personality disorder (which should not be diagnosed if there is past trauma) it IS PTSD. I got so angry last tine a shrink tried to diagnose me with that and I rang the office to tell them that shrink had fucked up and I wasn’t going to see him again. I see another shrink tomorrow, and I’m terrified. X

    • bdlheart says:

      There is so much ignorance. The worst part-a lot of it comes from people within the mental health system. I want to back up and say there are many good therapists. I feel like the bureaucracy of the system keeps people trying to do their job with good intentions following nonsensical guidelines. On the flip side there is a fair amount of therapists who haven’t done their own work.

      • I remain deeply suspicious of psychiatrists because of their check-box attitude to mental health problems. The last psychiatrist I saw was a cut above the usual. He actually listened to me and didn’t slap a diagnosis on me. x

      • bdlheart says:

        It’s wonderful you found a reliable person. I’m working with a therapist who uses EDMR therapy and encourages healthy nutrition, light exercise and yoga. I’ve taken more from this combination then medicine alone could touch. I’m on a lot of meds, but I hope not to always be. I think when you find a good trauma therapists who has went through some of the same problems healing begins. Best of luck!

      • Thank you 🙂 Dr K has said that EMDR is an option for me as well. It’s weird, but I think I would welcome that in a way. The blank spaces are so scary. x

      • bdlheart says:

        I feel you completely. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to stabilize enough so I can dive into EDMR but I’m itching to start so I can work through my demons.

      • Same here! Apparently EMDR helps you recategorise the horrible memories and put them in the right place in your brain. Can’t wait to not believe it’s all happening again any more x

      • bdlheart says:

        I completely get you. I can’t wait to see a belt and not feel the mental, emotional, and physical pain. Hugs!

  2. Alaina says:

    This is so good. Brave and true. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. mandy smith says:

    bdl, my favorite line in this post: ““When you leave this hospital, DO NOT make friends with any of the other patients here. You must surround yourself with normal people…” And we wonder why we don’t feel like we fit in with the rest of society? The reality is, there are very few (if any) “normal” people out there. We all wear masks–including the “normal” people. Some therapists only add to our problems. Thank you for this post. It’s really important. ♥

  4. Mags says:

    Being the mom of adopted children with mental illness that runs in their birth families I have met many psychiatrist. In my experience there are very few out there that have any idea what to do to help people. The mental health system needs to be changed and people with mental illness taken seriously.

    I wish you all the best in your treatment, you are in my prayers. Your blog is very informative and bless you for having it out there to help others.

    Thank you for all your nice comments on my blog. Hugs

    • bdlheart says:

      I’m so thankful there are good people who care for these lost children. Love, kindness, and safety are sooo important for these them. I worked in a children’s residential psych center in my early twenties and sometimes no one would take them. Eventually they became accustomed to being orphaned unwanted wards of the state. Bless you for taking in so many of these children. The system is definitely a mess from children to adults.

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