Daily WTF: Get Me Out of Here by Rachel Reiland

This photo is property of Hazelden.

This photo is property of Hazelden.

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.


2 thoughts on “Daily WTF: Get Me Out of Here by Rachel Reiland

  1. funnyleg says:

    Coming from someone who has experienced all circles and hurdles of BPD, I can tell you I would never read that book. I first had symptoms at age 13, I was “officially” diagnosed by a psychiatrist at the age of 20 and was already seeing a therapist.

    The reason I wouldn’t read that book is because I strongly believe, now at 48 years old that you NEVER “recover” or receive some sort of “cure” for BPD. To me, it’s similar to someone who is an alcoholic. Today, that individual is “clean.” However, any number of triggers could cause that individual to “fall of the wagon” as they say. I think BPD is exactly the same way. I think education is extremely helpful, I think therapy is a must, some group therapy possibly, and at first, some psychiatric medications to help with the symptoms all of us with BPD feel on a daily basis.

    I’m not a doctor or do research, but having BPD for 33 years now, I have tried all of the above. I am far from “cured” and know I never will be as there are always those triggers that “bait” you. However, I’ve come a long way in the last 30+ years.

    I highly recommend the following books for those who have a loved one or friend with BPD and you want to better understand their diagnosis and what you can do to help!

    #1 – Lost in the Mirror: An Inside Look at Borderline Personality Disorder
    by Rick Moskovitz
    – “Borderline personality disorder accounts for almost 25 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations in this country. “Lost in the Mirror” takes readers behind the erratic behavior of this puzzling disorder, examining its underlying causes and revealing the unimaginable pain and fear beneath its surface.”

    #2 – The Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Living with BPD by Alexander L. Chapman, Kim L. Gratz, Perry Hoffman
    – “If you or someone you love is struggling with borderline personality disorder (BPD), you need up-to-date, accurate, and accessible information on the problems you’re facing and where you can turn for help. But where do you look? Much of the professional literature on BPD is too technical and confusing to be of much help. And searching the Internet for accurate information can be treacherous, with some sites providing useful information and others giving dangerous advice and misinformation. If you’re living with BPD, this compassionate book offers what you really need: an easy-to-follow road map to guide you through this disorder and its treatment.This book provides answers to many of the questions you might have about BPD: What is BPD? How long does it last? What other problems co-occur with BPD? Overviews of what we currently know about BPD make up the first section of the book. Later chapters cover several common treatment approaches to BPD: DBT, mentalization-based treatment (MBT), and medication treatments. In the last sections of the book, you’ll learn a range of useful coping skills that can help you manage your emotions, deal with suicidal thoughts, and cope with some of the most distressing symptoms of BPD.”

    What I feel has been THE BEST type of treatment is called DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). Not every therapist/counselor or whomever your friend sees for counseling knows about DBT skills and is not trained in DBT therapy. I personally think it’s a must. The first TWENTY years of “talk-therapy” for me I realize now was a complete waste of time! However, DBT wasn’t really out there yet. My personal and the biggest struggle was self-harm. No one could help me with the intense feelings I feel that led to self-harm.

    So, that brings us to what I feel is the second best book for someone who wants to help and understand someone who has been diagnosed with BPD and for the diagnosed individual to read. However, with that said, one of the first two books is the best starting point for everyone, including the one diagnosed with BPD to read and get a better idea of this thing called BPD. I personally found myself nodding in agreement with each page I read and muttering to myself, uh-huh!

    #3 – Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha M. Linehan
    – “This book is a step-by-step guide to teaching clients four sets of skills: interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. A vital component in Dr. Linehan’s comprehensive treatment program, the manual details precisely how to implement DBT behavioral skills training procedures. It provides everything the clinician needs to implement the program in skills training groups or with individual clients. Included are lecture notes, discussion questions, exercises, and practical advice on dealing with frequently encountered problems. In a large-size format with lay-flat binding for easy photocopying, the book features over three dozen reproducible client handouts and homework sheets.”

    I hope this helps everyone to better understand Borderline Personality Disorder and ways in which you can help and they can help themselves. It’s not easy. It has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life (childbirth and parenting were easier!). I’ll be curious to hear back from you and what you feel helped the most.

    My blog is currently under construction, but check back later, it is: whoisfunnyleg.wordpress.com


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