Managing psychological disorders

I live with severe depression and borderline personality disorder (the former is being treated). Being new as a MA it has been very challenging to manage my study, work, Centrelink and the constant symptoms of my illness. I often have low energy, feel overwhelmed and cope in destructive ways. BPD is very hard to talk about because it is still highly stigmatised, despite there being hundreds of ways you can experience the disorder. How do I go about discussing a stigmatised disorder on campus? At the moment I’ve managed to apply for extensions when I need it, but it also affects my (part time) contact hours.

Thank-you for your question, and sharing your difficulties. I agree with your observation of borderline personality disorder (BPD) still being a stigmatised mental health issue that can be misunderstood. It is understandable that the symptoms you describe may affect your study at the moment. Embarking on a postgraduate degree is also a challenging task in itself.
In regards to your question about how to go about discussing BPD on campus, I imagine that your approach might depend on who you are talking to and the reasons for discussing it. For example, talking to a friend, compared to a GP or counsellor, or to teaching staff in your course. It is difficult to offer specific advice around this without knowing your particular circumstances but there are some helpful resources available online to help others understand BPD such as this fact-sheet from Orygen Youth Health or the Spectrum website. These may be useful when discussing BPD with others.

I am wondering what kind of treatment you are undergoing to address your symptoms of depression and whether you are receiving psychological or psychiatric treatment. If so, I’d encourage you to bring up your concerns with your psychologist or psychiatrist who may be able to support you in making a plan. If you are not currently receiving psychological therapy it may be something to consider, as there are specific psychological treatments for BPD that can be effective in overcoming destructive coping patterns and managing your mood and stress. If you don’t have an existing psychologist you are welcome to book an appointment with a counsellor at the Counselling and Psychologist Services who could discuss these options with you and assist in finding a suitable referral option for you if this is something you would like to pursue.

It sounds like you are taking proactive steps to improve your mental health by seeking treatment and also applying for extensions when you need it. I am wondering if you are aware of the option of registering for ongoing support from the Student Equity and Disability Support service (SEDS). This is for students whose study is impacted by their health or life circumstances in an ongoing way. You can read more about this and the eligibility criteria from the SEDS website.

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