I want to preface this post with sending out some love to anyone who’s reading this who has a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) (also called Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) diagnosis.
I know that many people (including mental health professionals) will treat you differently because of this diagnosis. I have witnessed people with BPD being called manipulative for how they cope/ask for help, abusive for lashing out while overwhelmed by emotions which often stem from abuse they suffered in childhood, being told that they can’t be treated – that they will just have to learn to live with their illness (which, by the way, is totally untrue!), and just generally being treated like crap, both online, and by professionals in real life.
This is unfair in the extreme. Your illness is not somehow ‘your fault’ because it was caused by how you developed from childhood. In fact, that just means that it definitely is not your fault.
As for the stereotypes, I have never found my friends with BPD to be manipulative, or abusive. In fact, they have been completely the opposite, picking me up when I’m down, because they can relate.
I have to say, it’s not all doom and gloom. Some people feel like BPD is a good diagnosis for them. They feel they meet the criteria, and are happy to have something to explain how they feel/behave. But even if the diagnosis has felt positive, I’m not sure I know of anyone who hasn’t had a bad experience due to how they’re perceived because they have BPD.
So, this is the part where I say that one of the reasons I know how badly people with BPD are treated (especially by professionals) is that this diagnosis has been following me around for a while.
Despite only meeting two of the criteria for a diagnosis (you have to meet five, and most people I know would meet at least one), and not meeting the criteria for BPD treatment (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)), I have had professionals tell me I have BPD repeatedly for the past couple of years.
This has changed their attitudes towards me. I have been treated with suspicion, I have had my crises minimised, and on one occasion, I was told that a member of the Crisis Team couldn’t do anything to help me, because I ‘just had unstable emotions and that was just how it was’.
The fact is, my emotions are very stable. Very stably low. That’s what depression is. I have flashbacks and nightmares which cause me distress, avoid things that might remind me of the trauma, and feel constantly on alert. That’s what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is.
Unfortunately, because of my need to avoid things that remind me of the trauma, it’s only recently that I’ve been able to start talking about it, giving professionals a fuller picture of what’s wrong.
Still though, because of my propensity for self harm/suicidal ideation (one of the two criteria I meet), the ’emotionally unstable’ label has stuck around, like chewing gum on my shoe. (As an aside, if you are a young woman who has issues with self harm, you are much more likely to be diagnosed with BPD than men with similar issues).
Not wanting to rock the boat, I haven’t really said much when people have said I have BPD. But it…just didn’t fit.
So, at my last appointment with my (new) consultant, I ‘put on my big girl pants’, and asked him about it. He said that it was on my records, but that he had it as ‘under review’. We had a chat about it, and in the end he said that he was very clear that I had a ‘complex mood disorder’. Mood disorder because of the depression, and complex because of the trauma. So not a personality disorder, after all.
I finally feel understood, and like we can make some progress.