Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Perils Of Being Emotionally Unstable

It's 2013, January is steadily disappearing and I haven't written a new blog post in a little while. I've been struggling quite a bit with mental health issues lately and it's made writing on my blog quite difficult, but I think it's time to give it ago.

Trigger warning for after the cut; talk of domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, courts and mental health



Taking my abusive ex-partner to court was a really difficult thing to do. He was being charged with harassment because of the following;

  • Kept standing outside of my place of employment and watching whilst I worked in a manner that was very intimidating given our past.
  • Occasionally he'd come in and flip out of control, shouting and making threats - eventually I lost my job because he kept doing that and scaring away customers.
  • After I passed one of his friends on the street or saw them in a bar he'd be there in no time calling me names and making threats.
  • He made a fair few threats to kill me and I believe he would have on a couple of occasions if police sirens (called by witnesses) hadn't scared him off.
  • He kept sending letters telling me about things he knew I'd brought for my (ground floor) flat which he could have only known about by looking through the windows.

The police were very supportive and arranged for me to give my evidence via a video link because the idea of ever seeing his face again was making me break down completely, I'd been living in fear of it for so long. The court date was pushed back by the defence at the last minute and I spent another 3 months telling myself it would all be better after the hearing.

At the hearing I gave my testimony and spent much of the time in tears as I had to relive what had happened. It was hard as the magistrates frequently had to tell him to "be quiet", "stop banging the wall" and to "sit down" which really intimidated me at the time. It was all going as well as these things can until I was asked by the prosecutor why I was so scared of him and I tried to explain it was because of the abuse I'd lived through. The magistrates stopped me and told me they couldn't hear about any events that happened before a certain date (which included our entire relationship, criminal damage to my property, sending the police to my home for no reason simply to scare me and more death threats). How do you explain why you are completely terrified of someone who breached pretty much every basic human right you had until you no longer believed you were a proper human being any more, when you can't say anything about the way they treated you? I couldn't find a way. When I left everyone was very nice and explained that because of his behaviour in the dock, the two outright lies he'd told that had been contrary to other statements he'd made, the testimony of the witnesses and the fact they couldn't find one witness for the defence he was finally going to get what he deserved.

After the hearing  I got a phone call to tell me that he had been found 'Not Guilty' and given a serious warning that if he did anything else it would come straight back to court and he'd be charged. The reasons the magistrate gave for this verdict was because I had been "overly emotional" given what he had done (that they had been able to hear about) whilst giving my evidence which threw my testimony into doubt. I was the reason he got off. My emotions were the reason he was able to tell everyone he was innocent of *everything*. I was branded another lying woman by everyone that knew about it and my world fell apart. Things got so bad I had to move to a new city. All because of my emotions.

So when I saw my psychiatrist and she told me that as well as depression, anxiety and PTSD they were adding a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder I crumbled. Of course, that apparently just made me look more emotionally unstable because "the diagnosis shouldn't have made [me] cry, most people find it very empowering". It brought back all the feelings of pain when the abuse I suffered was dismissed because of my emotions. It made me feel like they were saying I was a broken person and therefore brought it upon myself/was over exaggerating things. I became scared that by my activism, blogging and tweeting was me unhealthily engaging in confrontations so I cut it right down.

It gave me time to think and to talk to those close to me about it. I have come to realise the diagnosis is clearly incorrect. I really don't fit the diagnostic criteria at all. So, I am trying to challenge the diagnosis. It's been taking up a lot of time and energy and it's really thrown me back into a similar head space to that which I was in after the court case. In an effort to get past this blip I thought I'd write it down and draw a line under  it all. 

3 comments:

  1. Blimey, Em. This was a brave post to write. I knew something of the court case from earlier posts, but this diagnosis... really glad you're challenging it. It is a controversial and contested diagnosis in any case, and I've known lots of people (who at least roughly fit the criteria, unlike yourself) who have greatly resented the diagnosis on the grounds of the wording.

    Best of luck with this.

    I have to say that the nature of your activism as far as I've seen it, the writing you do, the Intersect talk you gave, your twitterstream, is the very opposite of emotionally unstable. You do not seek conflict, you do not fixate on small issues - or fixate at all, come to that. You are not confrontational, aggressive, melodramtic or attention-seeking in any way. Some activists can be like that at least some of the time, because of their justified rage, but you are particularly calm and level-headed in everything I've seen of you on-line.

    Meanwhile, I know folks with BPD and they are in no way like the stereotype, but they would struggle to do what you do in the way you do it.

    I can't imagine how this has made you feel, but I'm really glad you're contesting this. Best of luck with the next few months.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks sweetheart x

      I've gone through the diagnostic criteria and I really can't make it fit, I don't have problems with interpersonal relationships, with aggression, with impulsive behaviour or self harm. The only similarities I can see are tied into my behaviour during flashbacks/regressions or when my PTSD has flared and I've not slept in 2 or more days. Then I have (or appear to have) mood swings and can feel suicidal. I personally don't believe that EUPD describes that phenomena very well in my case. Still, we'll see. I didn't have much luck convincing my psychiatrist to change it at our last meeting but I'm going to keep gently plugging away.

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  2. A lot of the personality disorder diagnoses have been criticised by feminists saying that all the things associated with women by society and the media are now also being diagnosed as disorders. Definitely worth reading up on

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