Thursday, 26 October 2017

How to know if someone you work with has a personality disorder

Recently a large newspaper wrote an article with the same title as above. The article was filled with stigma and was very damaging. It was taken down and a statement was released by time to change, and I hope an apology will follow soon. But this is a topic close to my heart, having a personality disorder myself.

So how can you know if someone you work with has a personality disorder? The best way to determine this is by getting to know someone over time, listening to them, and being open to talk about mental health - the positive and the negative! There is no foolproof way to identify a person who has a personality disorder, other than them telling you that they have that diagnosis. If your worried about a colleague then offer support, see if you can do anything to help, pop a little note or email to them to make sure they know they’re no alone and its OK to speak out. Equally give them time, they may need time before they feel able to disclose something like that.

It may also help to familiarise yourself with different areas of mental health, both for you and your colleagues sake. Explore what can increase mental wellbeing and what can decrease it. If you know someone struggles with a particular disorder or illness then ask them what its like for them, or go to information pages like mind, rethink and more. Remember everyone is different and unique, a personality disorder or other mental health condition may be a part of they’re life, but get to know them as a person, not just diagnostic criteria. 

What is a personality disorder? When we talk about personality within psychology and psychiatry we aren’t looking at what general society refer to when using the word personality. We often think of personality linked to words like bubbly, caring, compassionate, rude, aggressive, in your face ect. If we take that as what is disordered that would be incredibly damaging, telling someone that who they are is disordered in some ways. However in psychology and psychiatry personality means the way in which we deal with life difficulties. So a personality disorder is a disorder/difficulty that effects the way we deal with life difficulties. Its an important thing for people to know, but often its not talked about, whether thats because of lack on knowledge or stigma. 

I have borderline personality disorder, sometimes known as emotionally unstable personality disorder. The key symptoms are emotional instability, and rapid changes; emotions being extremely intense; difficulties with impulse control; chronic emptiness or unstable sense of self; self harm; suicidal tendencies; splitting (having conflicting urges, impulses, desires and not being able to choose one); and more. These are all things that make some aspects of my life harder, however there are ways in which these parts of my mind can be used as a positive such as being fiercely loyal and committed; gaining emotional intelligence and wisdom through what we go through; being empathetic and deeply caring; being able to see things from multiple view points; and many more! 

So to sum it up for you:
1 - talk to your colleagues and friends about mental health
2 - invest time in knowing more about mental health and mental ill health
3 - if someone you care about has a particular disorder or illness look it up, ask them about it, familiarise yourself
4 - remember everyone is an important, valid individual who has they’re own struggles and experiences that shape them

Love to you all

L x

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