Borderline Personality Disorder: St John’s Wood woman’s ‘Over The Top’ fundraiser to highlight mental health and suicide awareness
- Credit: Archant
When a St John’s Wood woman was diagnosed with an under-reported mental health condition just as the country went into lockdown, she decided it was vital to raise awareness about something often-misunderstood and stigmatised.
Natasha Saifolahi, 34, has worked in television production and had a successful career working on programmes including Dispatches, and for companies like Al Jazeera.
But earlier this year, she was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) – which sees sufferers struggle to moderate emotions and feel things intensely.
Now she’s started a mental health podcast and is fundraising to support Mind as part of suicide prevention month – which is September.
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Natasha told this newspaper: “I was diagnosed literally a couple of weeks before we went into lockdown, and things were getting a bit out-of-control. For a long time I thought I had just been depressed.”
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She said it had been a difficult few weeks, and her diagnosis came after a number of traumatic life events, including a break-up and a redundancy.
“I took the news pretty badly, but thought what I needed to do was to educate myself,” she said. “I became a bit of a scholar. I found there’s such stigma, but also there are some great support groups and places to talk online.”
Writing on the Time to Change mental health awareness website, she explained how BPD felt: “I had always felt ‘different’ growing up. I didn’t have a stop button when it came to regulating my emotions. Even the ‘good’ emotions, exhausted me.”
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Hendon-born, Natasha said she felt her mental health had suffered during a high-powered career.
She added; “My career has been good – I’m surprised in a way. But I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my career, whereas I have kind of neglected my mental health. I would like people to know there’s a community out there, and it’s really supported me.”
Natasha said a kind of therapy called dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) which is tailored to those with BPD, though she said it’s something which needs to be offered more widely on the NHS.
She added: “Everyone would like to know there’s a cure, sure, it’s not a cure, but it’s got a really high success rate in reducing BPD symptoms– 80% – and I’ve found it really helpful.
“I’m now looking to be a DBT trainer, so hopefully I’ll be able to help others.”