the worst things to say

Natasha Tracy’s list of worst things to say to a person with a mental illness, from her article Stop Minimizing Mental Illness: Worst Things to Say at her blog| Breaking Bipolar:

  1. Snap out of it
  2. There are a lot of people worse off than you
  3. You have so many things to be thankful for, how can you be depressed?
  4. You’d feel better if you got off all those pills
  5. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger
  6. Go out and have some fun
  7. I know how you feel
  8. So you’re depressed, aren’t you always?
  9. This too shall pass
  10. We all have our crosses to bear

Natasha’s personal favourite is We create our own reality.

The one I would ad to this list is We all feel that way sometimes. This is, of course, and like all the others in this list, coming from a loving and well-meaning place — in this case, that I am not a complete wierdo, not so different, not defective, since what i feel is not so different from others; but then, what is the point of a diagnosis? Doesn’t that mean that while I have the same feelings as others, they are more intense and last longer and this is the disability? The effect of this phrase is that I feel shame, guilt and confusion. Oh, if everyone feels that way, and I am the only one who is needing support around this, I must be a real loser.

My own mind begins a relentless loop of shaming put-downs, which often resembles the contents of Natasha’s second list, of the inherant messages in the statements above:

  1. They could choose not to be sick if they really wanted
  2. Their illness is not serious
  3. They have no “reason” to be ill
  4. Their treatment is wrong
  5. They’ll be better off from it
  6. They would be fine if they would just “go out”
  7. Their illness is minimal
  8. Their pain doesn’t matter
  9. They should just wait for the pain to end
  10. Their illness is just like anyone else’s problem
  11. They choose to be sick

And here we have arrived again, at the old corner debate of weak vs. ill. Do i need a big kick in the ass and to just “stop listening” to the thoughts and feelings I have, or do I need to accept that it’s not as simple as that, forgive myself, and lead my life accordingly. Again and again, I see that the kick in the ass theory can have disastrous consequences. That I am so hard on myself that few sane people would survive a day in my brain. That I have accomplished a lot with the kick ass technique, but that it has further damaged my brain and almost cost me my life.

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, and as Natasha speaks about also in the last part of her post, others are not so lucky as to write about it. Death by mental illness is a real and prevalent threat — a lot more prevalent than a lot of people are able to see.

I’m going to finish by recommending another one of Natasha’s posts, about the best things to say to someone with a mental illness. More people need to know these things. People with mental illness, or in trauma recovery, are far from minority status in the world. The status quo is the new minority.


dialectical vs. cognitive behavior therapy

These excerpts speak about the experience I had with cbt, and seem to illustrate well what is different about dbt from cbt. click on the headings to view the sources. Continue reading


the concept of the high-functioning borderline

the mental health community in general is still in debate over the existence of bpd subtypes. Whatever the truth is doesn’t change my reality, but that doesn’t mean i won’t still follow the discussion, or participate in it however I can. What are your thoughts?

Article by Bon Dobbs on “mentalization” and “attachment” in BPD (The comments on this article are also very illuminating)

I will be making a longer post very soon about my experience in CBT and why i left the program. blessings, HJ

meandering (unknown)

meandering (unknown)

no one has managed to convey this aspect of identity confusion as well for me as the post that is linked below.

the image to the right also illustrates the phenomenon well; although it’s title implies that we are aimless, which actually couldn’t be more opposite to the truth, for me.

anyway, once again, I am relieved to recognize myself in another’s writing.

sometimes the best mirrors are in each other.

Constant career changes – the BPD unstable sense of self and identity.


inwards vs. outwards: no one is better, no one suffers more

I came across a bdp discussion forum last night discussing the notion of the Quiet (or Inwards) Borderline. A post there expressed disagreement with bdp subtypes, and criticism of the notion that Quiet Borderlines either a) Suffer more than “outwards” and / or b) Are somehow less ill or easier to deal with.

painting by tammera

painting by tammera

Some of my writings here on this blog might inspire similar reactions, as if I am demonizing outward bdp and making saints of inwards.

I don’t think it’s useful in any contemplations of bdp to compare levels of suffering — that is completely subjective, and impossible to ever really know or compare.

I think there are indeed many outcomes of the underlying patterns that define bdp, but those underlying patterns are the same in all of us, and we all suffer greatly with them.

Some of us turn our suffering inwards. In my case, it can be impossible for those around me to know what is going on for me until I become desperate enough to let it show; and in my case, I must decide to do so. Consequently, I often feel like I am a fraud, “dramatizing” my feelings in order to receive support that maybe i don’t deserve. Am I over-dramatizing or minimizing my experiences? It is a different reality in every day, or every moment at times. I feel the chronic aloneness, emptiness, self-doubt and fear of abandonment of any borderline; and my sense of confidence, status, personality and role in the world are as unstable. I am inconsistent in mood, energy and personality; which is often devastating to my relationships, and perpetuates my aloneness, self-doubt and abandonment fears in an endless cycle.

In my experience of being an inwards borderline, no one would say that I am a difficult person. I think what some might think (though they would never say it) is that they do sense something a little unsure or unstable, something i am hiding from them, and they therefore do not deem me trustworthy, and are not very comfortable around me. There is a sense of caution, like there is something dark and scary beneath the surface that is scarily subtle and ominous enough as to make people quietly and sneakily distance themselves from me. No one would think that I am mentally ill and may just require a little extra patience, support and encouragement; they just think i’m a little “off” and aren’t really drawn to get to know me too well. Some of my friends are probably saying this is a load of crap, but my recovery depends on my own ability to validate this experience I have, intentionally let it show and receive the treatment that I need around it. I have to choose and work at living more honestly in the world to escape the endless isolation that swallows me whole. It is the degree of this, the intensity to which i feel it, and my ability to hide it that qualify this a dangerous, precarious and pathological reality. The hardship of this outcome of bdp, and the common misconception on the parts of friends and mental health professionals, is the assumption that because I can control what I show, I cannot truly need treatment. This leads me to thinking that I am a fraud, until I read about others this way, and the term “quiet borderline.”

compassion painting

the heart of the matter of living

While the quiet borderline (in my experience) experiences subtle social isolation, invalidation and abandonment by the mental health profession for not being “ill” enough; the outward borderline, it seems to me, experiences overt social isolation and abandonment by the mental health profession for being “too ill to treat.”

Both borderline outcomes end up feeling the same thing–isolation, hopelessness and unworthiness. Both suffer. Both require and deserve radical acceptance, compassion and support. One is not “better” than the other; and one is not more treatable than the other.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Please comment!

Love, HJ

just wanted to share the incredible stories on this site, and the inspiring project itself. this man has been riding all over the world to talk about mental illness and end the stigma. he is arriving back home to Vancouver, BC, Canada this fall.

Check out Ride Don’t Hide:

blessings on your day everyone. big heart from hj

ride dont hide logo


BPD in France

It is refreshing to read something other than what I am beginning to call the “cliche” or “hollywood” version of BPD. I sometimes feel like some kind of a BPD fraud because i don’t have the angry outbursts and had begun to draw my own conclusions about (what I called) “internal” and “external” versions of BPD.

I’m not really sure who AAPEL is, other than its stated mission to support those with BPD and their loved ones; and, judging by the grammatical condition of this translation, I can assume that this is not written by a trained professional. None the less, I still feel relief that any organized body of bpd experience is making similar observations that help me (and maybe some of my readers) to not feel like a fraud any more.

I just don’t agree with the statement that the perception of friends and family is a criteria of mental illness; not with bpd anyway. I believe and understand how a person can be mentally ill without anyone suspecting it and how this is, in some ways, more painful and isolating.

The document is taken from the website of AAPEL (France): The formatting below is clunky because i couldn’t get the bullets to publish correctly …

NOTE: I didn’t translate this, but I have made grammatical corrections to the translation that appears on the website above, for clarity, and have omitted some sections in what I am posting below. In red are the aspects I have not read or heard talked about outside of my own head before reading this.

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