Someone close to me has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is having a particularly hard downward cycle. I’ve been doing what I can to help them but am running out of ideas, so I decided to actually do some research instead of relying on my haphazard and firsthand knowledge of mental illness. I pulled all the books I could find from my library, and the first one that came in was Get Me Out of Here: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder by Rachel Reiland. Thus, I read it first.
This book is horrific.
Books can be horrific. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov both come to mind, but they’re horrific in different ways. Get Me Out of Here is horrific because it presents an entirely false account of Borderline Personality Disorder while simultaneously promising that there is a cure and that cure is being wholly dependent on a psychiatrist/therapist and surrendering yourself to God.
During the course of the book, Rachel (not her real name) suddenly and sharply spirals into classic BPD symptoms including a love-hate relationship with her family, self-harm, and anger episodes. She ends up being hospitalized and while there meets Dr. Padgett (not his real name), a psychiatrist who, after a 10 minute conversation with her, immediately diagnoses all of her problems and wins her trust. Thus begins a 449-page journey towards recovery.
While this book was written in 2002 and Rachel supposedly began her recovery process in 1992, that doesn’t excuse the fact that nothing in this book sounds like BPD or realistic therapy and recovery. Rachel exhibits every single symptom of someone with BPD and develops every single side effect of the medication she tries. She apparently remembers verbatim what Dr. Padgett says to her and how she behaves on any given day – ten years later. Despite how extremely embarrassing it would be to relate, she has no problem telling us about the time she essentially masturbated in front of her therapist and goes into graphic detail about her sex dream about him. She spends the entire book idolizing Dr. Padgett, fantasizing that he’s her father, and he goes to great lengths to tell her that he is. He conveniently has a son and daughter just like she does so that he can directly relate to her troubles. She never discusses her physical ailments or how taxing and frustrating and painful it is to figure out what cocktail of medications work for her. In fact, after about three years of therapy, she is able to get off her medications entirely without any complications (including withdrawal). She conveniently finds God just as she’s reaching a turning point in her therapy. Everything about her story is oh-so-convenient. It’s unbelievable. She’s unbelievable. This story is unbelievable.
As I read it, I kept trying to see the person I know with BPD in this book. I tried to insert their symptoms, their history, and their problems. I couldn’t find them. The only thing that even remotely seemed like them was the BPD criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that Rachel inserted on page 119 – 121. But, given that they have BPD, that’s not surprising.
I am wholly convinced that this book was either partially or completely fabricated by someone in the psychiatric field. It is too pat, too convenient, too nuanced in the disease, and too blank in the supposed author’s personality. It smacks of insincerity and artificiality.
You have no idea how angry this book makes me. According to the back, it is “A lifeline if you suffer from borderline personality disorder; A godsend for your loved ones.” And yet it doesn’t portray someone with BPD as a real person with real problems. It offers nothing concrete with how someone should deal with BPD. It is sensationalism at its best, and it’s offering false hope. Worst of all, it’s portraying people with BPD as some kind of uncontrollable, ugly monster. It makes me sick.
So I do not recommend this book. I don’t recommend it to anyone with BPD or a loved one with BPD or even someone that wants to read a mental illness memoir. My only recommendation is if you find this book, throw it in the trash and set it on fire. Kindling is all it’s good for.