Love me, please…

Joanne Kidd and Mark Kelly attempt to decipher the words and behaviour of people who have a diagnosis of personality disorder.

Joanne Kidd and Mark Kelly attempt to decipher the behaviour of patients who have a diagnosis of personality disorder

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Having pondered on the sometimes complex communication that people diagnosed with a personality disorder exhibit, we wondered if we could shed some light on the messages that are being conveyed. Behaviours that can seem unhelpful are just ways in which individuals are attempting to reach out to us.

When I behave irresponsibly or do unspeakable acts, I want to have your attention

My communication skills are impaired from time to time and I do not have the internal resources to convey them to you in a socially acceptable way. Sometimes I may shock you, but believe it or not, I just want to be noticed and have my existence validated. I cringe and suffer great remorse over some of the things I do.

I will sometimes defy all logic and be irrational

Please accept that I am a human being – damaged and unusual from time to time. Believe me, I do not set out to be a freak or alien to you. I want to connect with society too and to feel normal.

I can sometimes express intense anger and demonstrate this in ways which you may deem inappropriate or socially unacceptable

I want you to listen to me and to validate my feelings. I don’t do this to spite you – I just want to be loved like everyone else.

I can sometimes shun the ones I love and treat them in a cruel unaffectionate way

I am not always good at conveying my feelings and I often suffer regret and shame for the way that I treat others. I don’t want you to abandon me – I may have been abandoned as a child or suffered abuse, and this can sometimes reverberate in my current behaviour.

Alternatively, I may be clingy and crave your time and attention to a degree that you find difficult to cope with. I just don’t want you to leave me.

I will sometimes turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with my problems

I know that this is only throwing a cloak over my issues and adds to your frustration with me. I sometimes need an escape from my suffering and this can make me insufferable. Forgive me my vices. After a long day working with me you will probably also need a drink.

I do try to be a better person

I do not want to be saddled with labels or reminders that I sometimes do not behave in a ‘normal’ way. My emotions can sometimes be erratic, but I do long to be stable and contribute positively to society. I too have ambitions and aspirations.

Because I have attracted this label it does not exclude me from having other mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression

It hurts sometimes when you cannot see me as a person beyond my label who is capable of experiencing the broad spectrum of human emotions.

I may sometimes self-harm

This is always a sign that something is wrong. I sometimes struggle to cope with my moods and can’t express how I am feeling. Being patient with me and learning about why I hurt myself can be helpful. I am not an attention seeker – I’m in pain.

Sometimes I may appear to be cold and distant

I may have very few social relationships and prefer my own company. I may be shy and find conversation difficult.

I can sometimes allude to strange thoughts and see or hear things that are not there

Be there for me at these times as these experiences are real and frightening to me.

At times I can feel anxious if things appear disorganised or messy

I sometimes need everything to be done in a certain way and I do not like leaving anything to chance. I know that this can drive you up the wall and you may view this as controlling. Please excuse my obsessiveness from time to time – we all have our little quirks.

I may be overly suspicious and I can sometimes believe that others are lying to me or are trying to exploit me

I sometimes struggle to forgive insults and can bear grudges. This can make me difficult to form a relationship with, but when I bond with you and can trust you it will be worth the effort and you will get the best of me. I can be lovable and likeable please give me a chance – that’s all I ask.

About the authors

Joanne Kidd is a community psychiatric nurse in the Home Treatment Team, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

Mark Kelly is the manager of EMI Residential Unit, Orchardville House, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland

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