Hi, I’m Faye Larkin. I’m involved with the Partnership thanks to Marsha Mcadam (co- chair of the Personality Disorder Strategy Group). She thought that, with my experiences of mental health services, I could help bring some meaningful change through collaborative working.

Since the age of 13, I have been in mental health services; I have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), Depression, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Over the last 13 years, I have travelled through the ‘system’; I would like to hope that one day, it would be possible for me to obtain a life away from being a service user.

However, despite the many labels I have been given, I know I am more than a diagnosis and a statistic, and I hope that over time, I am given more opportunities to show this.

I became involved with the Partnership in early 2018 working with experts by occupation such as clinical leads and commissioners; and experts by experience as part of the Borderline Personality Disorder Strategy Group, where we have been writing standards and an improvement plan to support people with BPD. I helped design a questionnaire for A&E departments so they can understand how people like me will use and relate to their services. I’m also a member of the Greater Manchester Adult Mental Health Steering Group.

In the short time I’ve been involved, I’ve seen a very positive and uplifting change in that people with lived experience are sitting with decision makers together around a table, having constructive discussions, about bringing change to mental health services in Greater Manchester.

Participating in this has provided me with a sense of purpose and offers me a focus away from the difficulties I am faced with daily. It is building my confidence through the opportunities that are often arising, for instance, attending various meetings where there is a full agenda and a room with hundreds of people in it.

The most challenging stigma I’ve faced and would like to fight is that ‘those with BPD are attention-seekers’. People with BPD are most misunderstood through this idea and it causes a lot of harm to the individual when that perception is held, as it can affect their care, treatment and support received.

In my past, various people, including a psychiatrist, used the term “attention-seeking” to describe my desperate and destructive self-harming coping behaviours. It was after a severe suicide attempt where I jumped from a bridge that my extreme distress and difficulties were finally taken seriously and this term was no longer used.

Stigma surrounding BPD has got to stop, it causes people living with BPD more harm.

A way to stop stigma is by understanding BPD. Learn about what causes BPD, the impact it has on people’s lives and the treatment and support needed to manage it.

But most importantly see the person, not the disorder.

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