Estelle's story

Estelle talks about some the stigma and discrimination she has faced when trying to get help with her mental health – and why she’s chosen to share her story to help others.

Estelle's story

Photograph of a young woman, smiling into the camera

See Me, not my notes!

My name is Estelle, I am 34 years old, and I have a current diagnosis of EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder). I have had a think and feel that the time is right to share my story and my experiences with the mental health system, in the hope that I can:

  1. Let people know they are not alone
  2. Help end stigma and discrimination which continues to exist and
  3. Help make a change

I was first known to mental health services when I was 18 years old. My life experiences of trauma, bereavements, being bullied, self-esteem issues and lack of confidence from as early as the age of seven led to a lot of complex responses and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, self-harm and hospital admissions. I have faced so many battles when I’ve tried to get help with these destructive coping mechanisms to prevent crisis and attempts on my own life.

I’ve been lucky with my current community team, in that they take time with me and understand me and my needs. When I had a care plan put together, it had a step-by-step guide to help me follow a set form of helpful guidance when I’m having a difficult or crisis period, which was good – but it all depended on who I was approaching for help when they weren’t there.

Over the last 14 years in the mental health system, I’ve come across so many stigmatising attitudes. Several times, I have felt as if I have been discriminated against because of my mental health when I was only asking for help.

For every excellent professional, I have encountered others who have been really unhelpful, including CPNs, doctors and psychiatrists, who don’t seem to understand.

I’ve been called a "time waster" and "boy that cried wolf too many times".

The worst for me was being called "attention seeking" when I was seeking help.

I once had to endure hours of waiting in A&E late at night when I was in crisis, to be told to go home, have a cup of tea, have a bath, go for a walk. This advice, as many of you know, can work but when you’re not well and trying to get help because you know it won’t work, it makes you scared to approach for help outside of normal doctors’ hours. Sometimes I am afraid to ask for help because I’m worried about what they might say. No one should feel this way.

I am very aware that our healthcare system has been under immense pressure, which has had a huge effect on services and resources, but I – and many others – have had negative experiences for years.

In 2021, regardless of the diagnosis or reason for asking for help, nobody should be stigmatised or discriminated against for any reason.

More people need to speak up. More needs to be done to educate those who do not fully understand. We need to stand together to raise awareness and make a difference.

Too many lives have been lost when people face stigma and are denied crucial help. This can’t continue. Vital early intervention, understanding, care and compassion save lives. We need to do better.

Back to stories