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‘My voice has power to change things’: designing personality disorder care that treats people like people

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Kelly is a Worimi and Wipella (Wadjella) woman who lives and grew up on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja. She has a keen interest in promoting human flourishing and bringing lived experience into all aspects of service design. She sat down with SANE to chat about her experience co-designing a new model of care for personality disorder.

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Real stories from the National Stigma Report Card

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Aaron Fornarino is a SANE Australia Peer Ambassador, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at the age of 14 and was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Reflecting on the findings of the Our Turn to Speak survey, which form the National Stigma Report Card, Aaron says he can relate to many of the experiences reflected in the data.

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Living with borderline personality disorder: Aaron's story

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SANE Ambassador Aaron Fornarino

Following story as told to Fairfax media.

Living with complex mental illness is hard enough, but the accompanying stigma and isolation make symptoms worse and act like a handbrake on recovery.

That was the case for Aaron Fornarino, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at age 14 and eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). He spent his teenage years and young adulthood in and out of psychiatric wards and foster homes, where he struggled with self-harm, anxiety, depression and impulsiveness.

“It was just a really chaotic time,” says Fornarino, now a 37-year-old public servant in Adelaide.

“Borderline personality disorder wasn’t taken very seriously back then. I was sort of treated like an attention-seeker or a pest.”

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Five things nobody told me about living with a mental illness

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Since turning 18 I've actively sought and managed my own treatment, this includes seeing a raft of counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and health professionals.

I've had my share of hospital visits, undertaken a year of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), completed a 20 day inpatient Schema program and recently started an Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing program.

I also take medication and have found a lot of purpose through my work in the arts.

I've been through all this and I'm proud of my progress. But my journey would have been easier if someone mentioned, all those years ago, five simple facts about living with a mental illness.

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