Name: Zoe Zaremba.
Died: June 21, 2020.
Age at death: 25.
Cause of death: Suicide (Misdiagnosis; improper treatment).
Location: Aiskew, England, UK.
Zoe loved gymnastics and cheerleading. Her mother remembers attending competitions with Zoe, and remembers her as “an amazing, intelligent person with a dry sense of humor” who “helped many people with her knowledge and kind words”. Zoe valued truth and honesty.
Zoe’s mental health began to suffer when she was bullied in school at 13; at 16, she was diagnosed with autism. However, she continued her education and became a qualified accountant.
Zoe was unable to access proper mental health care; that which she did get was from people who had “limited understanding of autism”. She had a slow processing speed, which meant she took a while to respond to things–and staff saw this as her being “difficult, hostile, and challenging”. She was eventually misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder because of her tendency toward self-injury, despite having no other traits of the disorder. She was put into BPD treatment and developed what her mother believes was post-traumatic stress disorder.
The diagnosis of BPD followed Zoe through the mental health system. Even when a further evaluation concluded that she did not, and had never had, BPD, the diagnosis stayed on her records. This bothered Zoe a great deal, because she greatly valued truth and did not want an incorrect diagnosis on her record. She wrote a tweet that read, “I feel trapped in a living nightmare they have taken my hope and identity from me.”
As her mother says, “[Zoe] could never get her head around the fact that they had her down for a condition she never had. It upset her deeply. They had turned her into someone she was not.”
Zoe died by suicide.
Editor’s note: Borderline personality disorder, now called emotionally unstable personality disorder, is a common misdiagnosis for autism in young women. Autistic people sometimes self-injure to try to handle extreme sensory, social, and cognitive stress; but “professionals” who see a young woman with a self-injury problem may automatically assign a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder–even when the autistic person in question has no other traits of EUPD. This is compounded by the fact that, in the psychology profession, people with EUPD are stereotyped as problem patients–needy, clingy, manipulative, and anger-prone. People with EUPD stereotyped this way tend to receive substandard treatment; an autistic person will have autistic traits immediately misinterpreted in the worst possible ways. Zoe, who had survived bullying in school, found herself being bullied yet again by the people who were supposed to help her.
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