15 December 2006
Time to get on my soap box...
So last night The Cop Magnet and myself had the TV on for background noise. Some how or another it ended on on Discovery Times (I think it was). Supermax was on. Supermax is a show about, well, prison. I just sort of listened with one year while I practice my Spanish (I can now tell you if an elephant or horse is under your airplane or table).

Apparently one of the prisoners has been institutionalized in some way, shape, or form since he was 13. He was touted (this was taped in 01) as the strongest prisoner that this prison ever had. He could even rip through "indestructible" suicide blankets (straight jacket?). Now, while the prison staff never said that he was ever violent with any of them he was a self-mutilator. He has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). My ears perked up and I decided to pay closer attention. I have BPD and I wanted to see where they were going with this.

A couple of the staff members did pretty well - you could tell that for the most part they had no experience communicating or dealing with someone with a mental condition (I hate the words mental illness) of this nature. They said he'd never been violent with them but because of his incredible strength and the propensity he has for injuring himself, they take special precautions when they are handling him. That part I totally understand; if you don't know how to communicate with someone with this kind of disorder, you really don't know what to do if they hit crisis mode. I suppose this is especially true if the person has never went through any sort of DBT therapy

It was one other guard, I think he was a "higher up" than the others that were interviewed, that really irritated the crap out of me. To paraphrase (because after the first two sentences came out of his mouth I was too busy admonishing him through the television to listen), he more or less said that people with BPD are a threat to society and should all be institutionalized because they hurt people.

Now, I am not saying they should turn this guy loose on the street - I am pretty sure that eventually he would snap and hurt someone. I mean, he's in prison for a reason. But to totalize every BPDer as a danger? People like the guard are dangerous for people like me. Because of "normal" people like him, people like me get stigmatized and totalized.

We are so much more than this disorder. We didn't ask for this disorder. We weren't born with this disorder. It isn't a chemical inbalance. We aren't all the same so keep your effing cookie cutter mold to yourself.

BPD is generally brought on by severe childhood abuse. It isn't like we go through a job loss or a divorce and then all of a sudden, bam, we have BPD. Now, maybe if the divorce was from a spouse that was completely abusive... This isn't some disorder that we just take Prozac for and then everything is all rosy. Sure, some people do function better with medication. I took medication for several years and got into some good DBT therapy. I'm medication free now for almost TWO years. Do you know what brought on my medication free days aside from therapy? One of my abusers died. My dad died. No more being told that everything is all my fault and that I should have never been born.

People like that guard shouldn't work with inmates (and I aint saying I want his job). If he can't take the time to learn about different mental disorders and how to better manage them, he shouldn't be "taking care" of them or speaking to a cable television show about it.

I know two other people with BPD besides myself. Neither of them are a danger to society. One has attempted suicide before but never has she been considered a threat to the public. The other is kind of like me. A little narcissistic, doesn't put up with much BS, and while she does have "fight or flight" tendencies...it takes a lot to push her to that point. Just like it does for me.

I've never, never, never just attacked someone out of the blue. The only physical altercations I've been in were started by other people.. I defended myself (rather vigorously - fight or flight mode).

I am just so sick and tired of the stigma that people like me get stuck with because of morons like that who think they know what they are talking about when, in reality, they are ignorant. Is that to say that all BPDers aren't dangerous? I couldn't tell you because I don't know. I just know what I know from my own experience.

Take it or leave it - but leave the stereotyping alone.
posted by -atomik kitten @ 9:05 AM  
  • At 12:35 PM, Blogger Margaret said…

    Great Rant!

    One of the big political issues here in Savannah is our prison conditions. On one hand we need a bigger facility and on the other hand we realized that a large percentage of our jail population are those that suffer from a mental condition.

    No we should not lock them all away however I do believe they should be removed from the general prison populations. Many have been in jail before for smaller brushes with the law. More or less because their condition warranted the action. Shoplifting, anger management issues, etc.

    If their mental condition was noticed at this point and they were placed in a facility that rehabilitated them according to their conditions. IE: Hooked them up with Dr's and therapy as well as job training and other rehab services that they offer to the general prison populations. If this was taken into account, there would be many who wouldn't return to jail or would have a better quality of life when released.

    Savannah is in the midst of a battle between lumping all criminals the same and adding wings onto our existing system.

    However, I would rather see my taxes spent wisely on some sort of acknowledgement of inmates with mental conditions and place them in a facility so they can serve their punnishment as WELL as receive treatment.

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