An individual’s personality is essentially who they are so describing it as disordered only furthers their sense of unacceptability and isolation from others. This is particularly unhelpful as the group of individuals that it is applied to tend to have very little sense of their own unique identity as it is.
I have also felt it has been used to pathologise my normal human emotions and fails to recognise that I have many very helpful and healthy personality traits as well as some damaged ones. In this respect, I am the same as everybody else. I am not disordered and different.
The psychiatric labels and diagnoses I have been given have further augmented this sense that I am different and wrong. I accept that some people find a diagnosis helpful and validating and how they are used is more important than the words themselves, but words can be powerful and deeply hurtful. When a diagnosis feels more like an insult than a meaningful understanding of distress something is profoundly wrong with it.
At the very least, the mental health system should keep its users’ safe from harm. At times, it has failed me in this fundamental task.
I have experienced sexual violence and exploitation whilst under its care and it has failed to manage the risk I have presented to myself in an appropriate way.
During this first psychiatric admission, I was raped whilst on a period of leave. On my return to the ward, I reported this but was not offered any medical assistance other than the offer to see the male junior psychiatrist on the ward which I declined. There was no discussion as to whether I wanted to involve the Police and the incident was never mentioned again. I have never been sure whether I was believed or not. A couple of days later the perpetrator rang the ward asking to speak to me. A nurse came to tell me he was on the phone and when I explained who he was her response was:
“Yes, okay but do you want to speak to him?”
Several weeks after this incident my self-harming behaviour escalated, and I was transferred to a more secure ward for a week. Whilst on this ward a male patient asked me to show him where the light switch was in his room. I stood in his doorway to point it out and a female nurse shouted at me to get to my room. She told me exactly what sort of girl she thought I was for trying to get into bed with the male patient and when I protested and became agitated her response was that she would send in male staff to restrain and inject me if I didn’t calm down. I went to bed terrified, ashamed, distressed and crying.
After returning to the original ward I would leave during the night and engage in sexual activity with strangers and then self-harm. The ward was in central London and the staff sanctioned me leaving the ward on my own in the middle of the night. Some of the sexual encounters I mentioned to the staff, some I did not.
Continued in Part 4.
Written by Anonymous