Natalie Malcolmson: BPD Awareness: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Giving care to people with borderline personality
Selfless. Compassionate. Resilient.
Natalie Malcolmson gave up her public service career in 2014 to care for her husband, who has borderline personality disorder (BPD), a complex and often misunderstood mental illness.
She was horrified by the lack of affordable support in ACT, so she sought training in dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which has improved her and her husband’s quality of life.
She also set up BPD Awareness ACT to offer affordable community support for those with BPD and their families and to teach DBT skills to others.
“Learning dialectical behaviour skills changes the lives of those with BPD and their families,” says Natalie. “It is an evidence-based treatment for those who are highly suicidal.”
She says it is validating to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s exciting because it’s not just about me, it is also recognition for people with BPD and their families, who really struggle and who often feel hopeless and helpless.”
People tend to judge those with BPD because they have trouble maintaining relationships and often become emotionally dysregulated, says Natalie. “Once you understand BPD and that the behaviours are not on purpose, you can come from a more compassionate place.”
She wants to share a message of hope that people can learn how to self-regulate and improve their quality of life.
“I believe in recovery from mental illness, and I am committed to working with those who need dialectical behaviour skills the most but can’t afford it,” says Natalie, who was named ACT Carer of the Year in 2018.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
BPD Awareness ACT will use its grant to help fund the cost of hiring a venue for group sessions. The money will also be used to run a parenting course for those with BPD and to pay for community awareness activities.
“It is an amazing opportunity for people on a low income or on New Start to be able to access dialectical behaviour skills that will improve their lives,” says Natalie.
If you need support, please phone Lifeline: 13 11 14
__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __