Molly Knight Raskin is a freelance writer, reporter and producer, formerly of The News Hour With Jim Lehrer and The Baltimore Sun. In 2007, Molly received the prestigious Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism for her proposal to write about Borderline Personality Disorder in the mainstream media. The result was a lengthy feature in the July/August 2010 issue of Scientific American Mind, When Passion is the Enemy,” which put a human face on BPD, while delving into promising discoveries in neuroscience and therapy.
For it, she was honored (see video above) with the 2010 Award for Excellence in Journalism from the American Psychoanalytic Association, who recognized her “well-documented commitment to covering mental health issues. To Molly and her determination to cover borderline personality disorder and mental illness in the highest journalistic regards — congratulations!
I am honored to play a tiny part in Molly’s story. When the article first hit the shelves in June 2010, I wrote a post about it on our Kickstarter page. I’ve reposted it below:
Amanda’s Battle with Self-Injury Featured in SciAM Mind.
Thanks to journalist Molly Knight Raskin for highlighting my story in a comprehensive BPD article in Scientific American Mind titled, When Passion Is The Enemy.
Finding yourself in a published article is an exciting, nerve-wracking and humbling experience. On the one hand it’s a chance to share a part of yourself with a larger audience, but on the other hand, you don’t really know which part of your story will be shared. Molly did her journalistic due-diligence, interviewing me a number of times over the course of a year. As she came to know me, I often alluded to crises but intentionally kept specifics vague. I knew, however, she would eventually ask me the tough questions.
For the first time, with this article, my battle with self-injury is being shared openly. As I read the opening paragraphs I began to cringe, perhaps realizing from an on-lookers perspective, how grave this illness is. It brought me back to one of the worst moments in my life, where I engaged in acts I simply couldn’t understand, couldn’t control. I began to feel ashamed as I read the words my family would read; behaviors they weren’t able to prevent because they couldn’t even know the extent of the struggle I endured. It brought me back very quickly to my life underground in a battle that no one saw. Even today, with all my speaking and advocacy work, it is rare that I mentioned self-injury outside my therapist’s office. It is something I still continue to struggle with. I just compartmentalize it well.
Molly quotes psychiatrist Glen O. Gabbard, saying how “you could meet a patient with BPD in a social setting and not have an inkling that the patient had a major psychiatric disorder. The very next day the same patient could appear in an emergency room in a suicidal crisis and require hospitalization.”
My therapist often tells me that I have the kind of apparent competence that Dr. Gabbard speaks. People who begin to know me are often shocked to hear that I have a mental illness. Then again, most of the people in our BPD support group look just like me. I remember one woman who said, “I’m so glad to know that there are other people like me, out there with this disorder. And you all look so normal.”
Self Injury is perhaps the most misunderstood and puzzling symptom to bear witness to. When you really break down why people self-injure, it makes complete sense if you don’t have any other kind of coping-mechanism to use in order to survive. Yes. Self injury is a survival tool, albeit a seductive, dangerous one.
I wouldn’t want anyone to find themselves in this exhausting battle. It humbles me to think that so many others continue to suffer alone in self-injury. Perhaps that is why this story needs to be shared openly with others.
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