About the group
Connecting Personalities is a peer support group that runs through Dial house and is open and available for anyone to join who has lived experience of a “personality disorder” diagnosis.
The group is a really supportive place which always welcomes new members; the group seeks to provide a safe space for peers to get together in a non-clinical setting and empower each other through understanding and encouragement by those who really understand what it’s like to live with the diagnosis.
The group has been running for almost a year now which is amazing, our first birthday will be on 18th October; I can’t quite believe that the group has been running for a year already. It has been such an honour to be involved with the group from the very start and watch the group grow how it has. We started from very humble beginnings with one member for a good month or so and now we have a small group of regular members and more that drop in and out when they can make it.
The values of peer support are so great, from receiving genuine empathy and understanding from peers, having access to a regular source of support, a space to feel un-judged and in turn helping increase levels of self-esteem, confidence and the opportunity to support others while feeling part of a community.
While the current coronavirus pandemic has meant that we are no longer able to meet in person anymore, we still meet online via zoom each week. We really hope we can get back to meeting in person as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are interested in joining the group we run via zoom each week alternating between Fridays and Saturdays, please call dial house on 0113 260 9328 if you would like to be added to the group zoom invite list.
Introductions from a co-facilitator of the group; Why I knew the group was necessary and how I got involved.
I’ve always been extremely passionate about breaking the stigma around mental health issues and especially the “personality disorder” label. Having lived with mental health issues since I was a teenager and then the “personality disorder” label later in life, I’m acutely aware of the stigma and lack of understanding that surrounds the diagnosis and how misconceptions around personality disorders can affect your day to day life and care. Perhaps more importantly, how they can lead to a lack of care and support.
I became incredibly disillusioned with the lack of support for those of us who have to live with this challenging and stigmatising label, which I personally believe is an unhelpful diagnosis. I myself reject the “personality disorder” label as I feel it only serves to label a person’s emotional distress or trauma in a way that blames the individual and can often lead to secondary victimisation by professionals, also affecting the support one receives. My own frustration with the stigma and problems this label brings drove me to try and challenge it in some way and fight for better care for those living with the label.
Originally I wasn’t really sure where to start or who would even listen to what I had to say, but I felt that I had to at least try. I nervously attended a PD Network involvement open day with the hope that maybe I could do something that could help challenge the stigma of the label. This is where I had my first introduction to Dial House, when I met the Director of the Leeds Survivor-led Crisis Services (LSCS). I was absolutely blown away with the Dial House’s ethos of person-centred and trauma informed approach to care. I’d finally found a place that was so in line with the way I felt mental health and crisis support care should be. I went with such low expectations that my voice wouldn’t even have a place at the event. Yet, when I left I was full of hope having received an invite to visit Dial House for meetings with the Director to see how I could get involved and possibly make a difference to the support those in the city with the personality disorder label could receive.
After having some really positive conversations about how we can improve services and break the stigma around the label, I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to help set up and co-facilitate a personality disorder peer support group. Beyond the PD Network’s DBT and Journey programmes, there is such a lack of care for those with the label; I really hope that we have found a way to bridge that gap in care through the Connecting Personalities Group.
While I personally feel the label is unhelpful, what’s so great and makes the group so rich and diverse is that it also has equal space for those who find the label useful. We recognised there are also those who identify with the label and those views are equally valuable within the group. The group is such a fantastic space which offers a safe environment for everyone, whatever your experiences and beliefs on the label may be.
I really hope the group continues to grow and ensures the provision of safe, non clinical peer support for all those who need it, while living with the label in Leeds.