I was regularly abused for a year by someone I had least expected. It left me with emotional damage wrongly diagnosed as borderline personality disorder (BPD), the most stigmatized of all mental illnesses. This diagnosis assumed that my reaction to the mistreatment was simply due to over-sensitivity. The psychiatrist did not recognize that I was being emotionally abused, claiming instead that I had a problem with relationships.

He did not hear what I was trying to tell him. He did not hear my truth. The trauma led to years of disturbing memories causing suicidal depression.

If psychiatrists don’t listen, who will hear what mental patients like me feel and think? Who will listen to our stories?

I believe a great many of us who try to tell our truths to mental health professionals are not understood. I myself have snapped at times when there’s nothing I can do to have it known how badly I’ve been hurt. To be heard when I try to explain the tragedies that have befallen me at the hands of people who should know better. How I want my pain to be made better!

I’m sure there are many like me. Our lives are complex and often cause us a lot of fear. It is a reality, as sure as the reality of being mistreated by a world that does not see us as real people. This is what we live with. This is our truth. Yet too often that basic truth of who we are is not recognized.

When you’re seen by a psychiatrist, what he sees is your over-wrought behavior and anguish as you try to tell your story. Too often, he doesn’t have the patience to fully hear you, to have compassion. The easiest thing to do—and what he feels it is his job to do—is to give you a diagnosis of some kind.

So you get labelled somehow: borderline, delusional, psychotic. All these diagnoses were ones I received during the times I went to the hospital, hoping to have my story heard.

They missed the whole point of what I tried to tell them. I’m not “crazy.” I was simply having a tough life where people were hurting me. And I just couldn’t take it anymore. I needed help. But does that make me psychotic or delusional? Would you call that mental illness?

We’re real people who live with a lot of pain. Please listen to us.