Patient view

Mental health nurse helps me feel empowered and independent

Jo Mullen says her community mental health nurse Nadine MacArthur has helped her find purpose after a borderline personality disorder diagnosis.

Jo Mullen says her community mental health nurse Nadine McArthur has helped her find purpose after a borderline personality disorder diagnosis

Doing things differently: Nadine McArthur and Jo Mullen

Nadine and I met during my first admission to the psychiatric ward at Dr Gray's Hospital, Elgin, Moray, in 2003. She was my named nurse at the time, and has been my community mental health nurse for the past three years.

Although I had to give up paid employment due to my mental health problems, it has always been important for me to be engaged in purposeful activity. Nadine appreciates this, and encourages me to draw on my teaching skills and experience, as well as my knowledge of borderline personality disorder (BPD), my primary diagnosis.


Two and a half years ago, Nadine brought it to my attention that there were few resources on BPD locally, especially for those newly diagnosed. So, with Nadine's support, I wrote a booklet about my experience of living with BPD and some of the ways I'd learned to cope. Again, with her help, more than 650 booklets have been distributed, including 150 made available in the community and in the psychiatric ward.

The booklet was just the start. I went on to develop a programme for self-awareness – Wot R U Like? – for mental health professionals to deliver to people with a BPD diagnosis or similar challenges. Nadine and I delivered a training session about the programme to our community mental health team who went on to use the pack.

We have delivered four training sessions on Wot R U Like? together in Dundee, Aberdeen and Fife. These training sessions have involved several hundred miles of travel. Nadine generously undertakes the long drives because I am too anxious to use public transport. 


Two involved overnight stays in hotels, with the result that Nadine was away from her family. She used her knowledge of me to avoid situations that cause me to feel anxious. Nadine's willingness to work in a collaborative, yet supportive, way is central to me leading a purposeful life and experiencing the joy of achieving, despite the difficulties I face daily. 

The way we work together is a challenge to the traditional relationship between patient and professional. Having BPD, this is vital since, in the past, I have tended to place people who help me on a pedestal. This way, I feel much more empowered and independent than ever before.

I am so grateful to Nadine for taking a risk to do things differently.