Multiculturalism and BPD

Multiculturalism and BPD
In this piece I will reflect on my upbringing in a predominantly Caucasian area of the UK as a Punjabi and my tumultuous teenage years leading up to my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in my mid-20s.

I had an idyllic childhood, parents who doted and generally a great life. However, there was a lot of contradictory information where, I was told to be myself and live what would be perceived a “typical teenage” life. I made friends who unfortunately got judged and I was berated at home for even contemplating them being friends. However, when it came to family, I had to hide the “Western” side of me, being limited to what I can say and because I was not immersed into the Punjabi culture, I had to keep everything surface level because I did not know what was required of me culturally or characteristically. I was also given superficial reasons to stay away from South Asians but never a proper nor rational reason, just because my mother said so. The contradictory information became too much, and it seemed that being part of two cultures was hard work.

I had to watch what I wore, my weight, competing with my high achieving family members and generally lose myself to the requirements of my parents.

I resorted to being the “yes” person and I believe this caused mental trauma and subsequently, my BPD. There was no textbook diagnosis as to why it developed. Also, halfway through my GCSEs we moved to Spain, again, a Western country and more contradictory information on how I should live my life. The party lifestyle became too much in my already conflicted mind and it has been nine years since I was hospitalised in Spain for my BPD.

My extended family were never told so just assume, when they saw a hint of it, that I went off the rails. I have come off my medication but still have monthly to six weekly check-ins with my psychologist. I dress how I want; I make friends with who I want, and I can confidently say no to whomever. It is still a bumpy road where my parents still try and question my choices in life, but I married a Caucasian British man who from day one knew my situation and accepted me as I was – warts and all!

Now in my life, I am studying for my degree in Criminology and Psychology which has made me question why there are so many difficulties in cross-cultural individuals. Why can they not openly be who they want to be, wear what they want to and like things their parents don’t without being scolded like a child? Why is there a taboo surrounding mental health in South Asian communities and less so in others?

I am hoping to research in such depth that I can present this area of topic for my dissertation but more than anything else, I wanted to share my experiences to help others who are going through the same situation. I was a “yes” person but made the conscious effort to make sure I was making myself happy, I made my feelings aware to those around me and, now it does not matter to me who is trying to stifle me into a certain way of thinking, I am clear on who I am, what I want and working hard to get it.

For those who are suffering in any way with their mental health, I would advise seeking help, putting in the work to improve your situation but above all, stay true to who you are and don’t let anyone make you feel inadequate.

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