Mental health takeover: Best way to recovery for Norwich woman is to ‘speak up and begin a conversation’
- Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017
Sarah Booton, 34, from Norwich was first diagnosed with depression when she was 15.
She was prescribed antidepressants but was not diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder / borderline personality disorder (BPD) until she was 30.
As well as this, in her late 20s she developed an eating disorder and she has lived with severe anxiety for most of her life.
She said: 'For me BPD made sense and answered a lot of questions, giving a reason to a lot of my thoughts and behaviours. Not an excuse, but a reason.
'As a lot of people with BPD will understand it also gave me an identity, but it's the symptoms that need to be treated and not the label.
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'My condition fluctuates but most of the time my mood is low which affects every aspect of my life and the symptoms of my BPD. At times I do hate that my BPD has played a part in every decision I have made in life - good and bad- and I wonder 'why me?' Why did I get lumped with a disorder that affects everything that is me?'
Sarah went through various departments of the mental health service - some she found helpful, others she did not. Most recently she's been part of the region's mental health trust's Recovery College.
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'Being honest and open about my struggles has really helped me,' she said.
'I have never felt any shame or embarrassment and speaking out helps keep me well. Identifying what I value in life has helps me cope like education - I love learning and will keep on learning. Being outside in nature walking my dog, crafting, I've tried so many crafts and even held a fund-raising 'Crafternoon' for Mind.
'There is a lot of stigma attached to medication which I don't understand – meds have saved me from myself and allowed me to engage in therapy and other recovery methods. I have literally lost years to my illnesses but I have come to accept who I am now and my experiences have shaped the person I have become which is someone I am proud to be.'
Sarah's message to others would be not to be afraid of how other people will react when you speak up.
'I definitely encourage people to connect with others that have experienced difficulties – I get a lot out of spending time with others that have experienced mental illness, be it themselves or as a carer,' she said.
'Simply being with other people that I can relate to on some level is one of the reasons I attend Recovery College courses.
'Negative attitudes can make it near impossible for others to seek help. One way I deal with this is to remind myself that I have the upper hand over negative and discriminative people because I understand and I am aware, which makes me a much better person.
'Having awareness and knowledge puts people at a greater advantage to help themselves and also other people. I have also found that controversial subjects gets people talking – there is still so much controversy surrounding mental illness but I encourage people to speak up and begin a conversation.'
• For more from the EDP's mental health takeover special edition, click here.