Dignity is something that should be afforded to everyone. As a human being, we want to be respected and allowed to live without fear of humiliation, dehumanisation or degradation. However, to those suffering with mental health problems – including myself – dignity is not always afforded to us.
Yesterday, it was World Mental Health Day, an occasion marked by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting an event at Harrow College organised by Mind as they talked to young people who now volunteer and help support those effected with mental health after their own experiences. It made mainstream news, and got people talking all over social media which is never a bad thing. Every year, there is a theme for the day – this year, it’s dignity.
Long before my BPD diagnosis, I was treated to some horrendous situations due to my mental health. Employers had treated me poorly because I was ill, my last manager actually going as far as to call me a ‘psychopath’ due to my history of self-harm and suicide attempts. People that I no longer call friends have humiliated me due to behaviour that I couldn’t control, and despite explaining and apologising over and over – all they could see was that I was crazy. Exes have called me manic, jealous, mental, a lunatic, all as if they had never loved me at all.
Those who are suffering from mental health problems don’t deserve this treatment. There is no condition that will excuse or allow anyone to treat another human being poorly because of something out of their control. I didn’t choose to be born with BPD, depression or anxiety. Nobody chooses to be born the way they are, but we can’t switch it off. We take our medication, we go to therapy, we read the books, listen to the professionals and we try to live around this great big label that has been slapped on us.
We deserve understanding. We deserve compassion. We deserve dignity.