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Elspeth’s visit a big hit at Cygnet Hospital Ealing

Cygnet Hospital Ealing recently welcomed Elspeth van der Hole, who has lived experience of borderline personality disorder to share her experiences with the service users on New Dawn Ward, the hospital’s specialist Tier 4 personality disorder service for women.

Elspeth was invited to the service by the hospital’s therapy lead, Daniel Mansaray. He reached out to Elspeth via social media as he had seen the work she had done raising awareness of personality disorder. Daniel had noticed that Elspeth also used boxing as a therapeutic activity which was of additional interest as he runs boxing sessions with the women on New Dawn Ward to aid emotional regulation.

During Elspeth’s visit Elspeth and Daniel ran a voluntary group where Elspeth told her back story and gave examples of what had helped her reach recovery, alongside coping mechanisms. There then followed a discussion for anyone else to safely and confidentially share their feelings and back stories. Afterwards they held another optional session for anyone who wanted to try out some boxing fitness.

The sessions were very well received from everyone who took part. Speaking afterwards Elspeth said, “To be able to share experiences with the women in there really felt so special and for someone who has lived experience with Borderline Personality Disorder I know how important it is to see positive representations of the diagnosis.

“We so often feel put into a bracket where we can be left feeling hopeless and abandoned which exacerbates the feeling of being outcast from society. It was a really beautifully emotional moment for me to see women I could relate so deeply to, and to see them feeling heard, understood, listened to and being able to provide first hand evidence that despite diagnosis we can, and will, live good and happy lives.

“Boxing was a huge part of my recovery. Using exercise as therapy and boxing in particular has become so much more than just a sport. Boxing is a moving meditation, a moment where I feel fully in control of myself, my emotions and my body. Boxing doesn’t allow for me to stray away from being anywhere other than that present moment, and as a woman, a woman with a personality disorder who regularly feels judged, I know how empowering it can be to feel in control for even a moment whilst you feel out of control in every other aspect of your life.

“Thank you Cygnet for having me along, I can’t express how grateful I am that you all took time out of your day to hear my words, share with me, and trust me with your emotional space.”

A huge thank you to Elspeth for taking the time to come and share her story.

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