BDSM and alternative sex have been hot topics in the wake of 50 Shades of Grey. Joining the terms B & D (bondage and discipline), D/S (domination and submission), and S & M (sadism and masochism), BDSM describes a wide variety of erotic practices and alternative sex. Proponents of BDSM say that mutual consent distinguishes it from crimes such as sexual assault and domestic violence. Not only is BDSM not pathological, they say, but it can even be healthy, therapeutic, and rewarding. The issue is far too complex to discuss in its entirety here, so I wish to make only a couple narrow points, especially as they pertain to alternative sex, BDSM and people with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

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I asked my Facebook friends what they wanted to know about borderline personality disorder (BPD). Someone asked:

“I’d like to know how does one discover or come to terms with being BPD? It took me years to learn of my depression, and I would assume one doesn’t always know they have BPD – so how do they find out? And once they find out, then what?”

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I’m very open about my condition. I even write about it on Facebook and volunteer information in class. And I like calling myself “a borderline.” The peculiar self-reference is deliberate. For a while I subscribed to the idea that we are not our diseases—we are not borderline, we have borderline—and to be fair, I still do; however, I also think there’s power in language and have decided to reclaim “borderline” to reduce stigma.

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Hi, my name is Mary Hofert. I was born and raised in a Chicago suburb and moved to Hawaii six years ago where I am currently studying law. Prior to Hawaii, I lived in a conservative area of Michigan where I started college at 18. It was there, during my first year, that I became severely depressed and sought professional, psychiatric help. Unfortunately, it took eight years of regular therapy and psychiatric care from an assortment of professionals in three states—including an inpatient admission following a suicide attempt—to find the correct diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. Keep reading »

Navy veteran, Scott Panetti, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1978 and hospitalized 14 times for the disorder. In 1992, he suffered a psychotic break and killed his wife’s parents, telling the police that “Sarge” did it and demons were laughing at him. Amazingly, he was allowed to represent himself, and passed up a plea deal that would have saved his life. At his trial, he wore a cowboy suit, subpoenaed Jesus Christ, the Pope and President Kennedy, and argued that only an insane person could prove the insanity defense. He was sentenced to death. Keep reading »

While not one of the nine criteria for a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), selfishness can be a symptom of the disease. Selfishness interferes with healthy relationships, worsens risky behavior and worsens addiction–all symptoms of BPD. How do we know when we’re being selfish? There are three questions to ask. Keep reading »

Recently I was at Three Carrots vegan restaurant in Indianapolis City Market when I struck up a conversation with a prosecutor. I mentioned the city’s mental health court, and she told me it no longer exists. It was phased out after the judge retired. When I expressed my concern, she said she was sympathetic. “I’ve got a guy right now who needs to be in mental health court. We can’t let him go because he has nowhere to live, he needs treatment, and we can’t keep him in jail forever . . .” She shook her head, and we both agreed it was sad that the leading provider for mental health services is the Marion County Jail. Keep reading »

While working on an article for a different web site, I stumbled across a study about mental illness among journalists. According to the study, the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is higher among journalists than the general population. While journalists tend to have “positive personal attitudes” toward mental illness, they are often afraid to reveal their mental health struggles. Keep reading »

There was one fatal flaw in my plan to wake up screaming–I wasn’t asleep.

This was not a nightmare, at least not in the literal sense. Although surreal, this was real—I was really pinned to my apartment floor, three people from Waco’s Antioch Community Church really were yelling at Satan and said people really were attempting to perform an exorcism without my consent. Later, I would take the incident up the church’s chain of command: the burden of proof never on me to prove it happened, but to prove that I was not “manifesting demons.”

This is an extreme example of the mental illness stigma often seen in the Church. Keep reading »

It’s Halloween, and for mental health consumers, it can be an isolating time. The stigma of mental illness is reinforced with every “haunted asylum” attraction, “hanging man” decoration and “mental health patient” costume. More Than Borderline‘s Becky Oberg talks about how Halloween often reinforces negative stereotypes about mental health consumers, such as “they’re violent,” “they’re deranged,” and “they have no control over their actions.” Keep reading »