So the book finally arrived yesterday and I finished it by, well, yesterday. I want to share my thoughts about it, especially in terms of BPD recovery.
The book gripped me from the beginning, maybe because I enjoy books and films on mental health or those written off as ‘insane’. Anything that has anything to do with mental wards and psychiatry and you can count me in! The whole thing just fascinates me, but also because Susanna is a very talented writer. She adds a unique touch which makes the whole thing more relatable – snippets of her case notes from her time of admittance to discharge, between chapters of the book. I don’t feel so alone in my BPD anymore but something about seeing the ‘concrete hard’ evidence of her time made it seem so real. This is a writer who has lived it, and is still living it. This is someone who has ventured to a place I have not been and is back, writing this book. How awesome is that?
I wanted to read this initially because my psychologist told me her BPD manifested in terms of some psychotic symptoms (seeing things that aren’t there) and while she describes it a a little, I was hoping for more detail. I was also hoping for the slow progression to recovery which gives me a lot of hope, insight and determination to keep going. Rachel’s ‘Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder’ takes you through that journey and truly leaves you believing that if she can do it, so can you. I don’t think that was the purpose of this book which did leave me a little disappointed. It would have been nice to understand how during her 18 month stay at the hospital she started to feel better. Which therapists/nurses supported her? What activities made her change her outlook on things or did she leave feeling pretty much the same? All I was really left with was understanding that her time at the hospital did help, but on discharge she was in remission rather than recovery and the real work probably began once she left the hospital and began her adult life.
On the upside, Susanna has a very quirky, at times – sarcastic and witty outlook on things and, as if right on time in my life, she too questions the diagnosis.
‘What does borderline personality mean, anyhow?…to quote my post-Melvin psychiatrist: “It’s what they call people whose lifestyles bother them.”
“The person often experiences this instability of self-image as chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom.” My chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom came from the fact that I was living a life based on my incapacities, which were numerous.’
And what were the capacities she wanted to live her life based on you may ask?
“Boyfriends and literature: How can you make a life out of those two things? As it turns out, I did.”
There were also points during the book where she described her experience so accurately, in such a well-thought out and vivid manner that I just had to pause and contemplate.
“Something had been peeled back, a covering or shell that works to protect us. I couldn’t decide whether the covering was something on me or something attached to every thing in the world. It didn’t matter, really; wherever it had been, it wasn’t there anymore.
And this was the main precondition, that anything might be something else. Once I’d accepted that, it followed I might be mad, or that someone might think me mad. How could I say for certain that I wasn’t, if I couldn’t say for certain that a curtain wasn’t a mountain range?
I have to admit, though, that I knew I wasn’t mad.”
The whole thing does make me laugh at the same time. If not a ‘recovery’ book, it is entertaining, thought-provoking and proof that those with mental illness can live a fulfilling life outside the diagnosis. Susanna is proof of that.