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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Personal story:

Georgina McLaren

Georgina McLaren

Georgina started self-harming as a 12-year-old while completing Year 8. Her parents arranged a school counsellor. The school counsellor told her she should be ashamed of her scars. Georgina said the school counsellor did not suggest she seek psychological help but instead tried to talk to her about how she felt. Georgina was not ready to be helped at that time but feels now that if she had been offered some early intervention, she would not have become as unwell as she did.

At the age of 18, after years of self-harming, hospitalisations, various diagnoses and extensive contact with the mental health system, Georgina was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Today, Georgina says she has been irreparably harmed by the mental health system. She felt disempowered and lost, and the only way to get the attention she felt she needed was to self-harm.

I have been made to feel that I am just an illness—that I will never be anything more than that. Except that I’m not even worth the diagnosis of an illness—I’m just a broken personality so I can’t be fixed. I have been passed from practitioner to practitioner. I have lost all my trust in the system that has not been there for me. I will never ever lose the scars that the system has given me.

When Georgina was hospitalised again last year after a relapse, her lack of trust in the system had led to her not reaching out for help:

This system has tried to tear my life apart for the crime of having [borderline personality disorder] with no history of trauma in my life. Many practitioners have suggested that I am faking my illness. To have it suggested that you are faking something that is as horrific as [borderline personality disorder] because you weren’t abused or assaulted as a child just eats away at the part of my brain that has been told many times over, you’re not sick, you just want attention.

Georgina explains that her experience made her feel that she is unworthy of help or beyond help. She has had to fight all the way to receive the help she so desperately needed to help her manage her complex mental health challenges.

Source: Interim Report, November 2019