Welcome to the third post of the 9-part series! (You can find the first two by clicking on the links below)
The intention of this post is to talk about my diagnosis. I think I’m mainly going to discuss my thoughts and feelings surrounding the reality of being diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder” (BPD), especially the ones I felt when I was first diagnosed but we’ll see how it goes. This post has been the hardest to write so far. I’m not sure which aspects to focus on or what message I want to get across but anyway, I hope it is still insightful.
I use the “” when I write the diagnosis because I don’t quite agree with the name of it. What I feel the name says to those who know nothing about it, is that the person suffering has a ‘disordered personality’; there’s something ‘wrong’ with it and therefore with them as a person. Your personality is pretty much who you are and to have a label attached to it which basically calls it ‘disordered’ is a bit shitty to be honest. It’s not really surprising that there’s still a huge stigma attached to the “personality disorder” illnesses and I feel the name contributes to a large part of it. I do NOT have a disordered personality, I am NOT flawed and my diagnosis does NOT define me as a person; it is NOT who I am.
Things have, however, changed slightly! BPD is now also known as “Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder” (EUPD) which admittedly does get shot of the outdated ‘borderline’ part of the name but, the ‘personality disorder’ is still present, therefore not changing much in my opinion. I believe that the connotations of the phrase ’emotionally unstable’ are still mostly negative and further contribute to the stigma. It is often debated that the ‘PD’ should be dropped completely. I’ve mentioned it in a previous post that BPD is thought to stem from trauma in childhood and therefore should be named something which reflects the trauma it is caused by. I tend to agree.
Anyhow, the name of the illness doesn’t make a difference to the symptoms of the illness, they’re still the same.
There are 9 main symptoms of BPD (although, I feel there’s a lot more to it than these 9). In order to be diagnosed with it you need to be showing signs of at least 5 of these to a point where they affect your life;
- Fear of abandonment and doing anything to prevent that from happening
- Intense emotions that can change extremely quickly
- Unstable relationships and difficulty making/maintaining relationships
- Unclear or unstable self-image which can change depending on who you’re with
- Impulsive, self-destructive behaviours including doing things that could harm you such as binge eating, reckless driving, promiscuity, gambling or getting into debt
- Frequent self-harm or suicidal thoughts
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Explosive anger which is often difficult to control and can be triggered by seemingly ‘trivial’ things
- Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality also known as paranoia and dissociation
If you would like to read further about the symptoms and the illness itself, I have attached a link here (Mind Borderline Personality Disorder booklet) which can be downloaded as a PDF and printed or read online. I find it extremely helpful and insightful, and I often direct those who aren’t familiar with the illness to it.
I experience every single one of the 9 symptoms listed above. Thankfully not all at the same time and a handful of them are currently more under control than others, but it’s not an easy mental illness to live with. The aspects I seem to be struggling with most at the minute are my emotions and unstable relationships. I think they can both be a result of each other. My emotions are so intense and can go from one extreme to the other in minutes and it’s exhausting. However, it is also understandable that this is exhausting for others to be around too and I feel like I’ve lost a lot of my friends because of it lately but, shit happens, I’ll get over it and move on I suppose.
I was diagnosed with BPD (I’ll call it this throughout for the sake of consistency) around 6 months ago (I’m lying, I’ve just checked and I have been diagnosed with it a whole year now come September 21st and that has surprised me so much, wow). Along with the diagnosis of BPD I was also told that I have depressive and paranoid traits and I didn’t agree with the paranoid traits at first but, the more I become self-aware the more I can see this.
It’s a funny one being diagnosed. There’s a lot of mixed feelings, well, there was for me. In some ways, I felt relieved. There was finally an explanation for my thoughts and behaviours. I always felt there was more to my mental illness than depression and anxiety (not that having any of those is easier or less simple, it’s not. I understand everyone has their own battle). But, it always felt more complicated in my mind, and now I knew why. The diagnosis also meant I could now receive the correct treatment and work towards improving my life. Apparently, there isn’t a cure for BPD but with the right therapy and treatment it can be controlled.
However, I also immediately felt like everything was going to change now I had been given this horrifically stigmatised label. I felt people were going to suddenly start judging me when they found out and I would be treated badly or differently because of it. Even though BPD had been suspected by myself and my therapist for a while, it still came as a shock and I still had to process it all. What did this mean for my future? Would it prevent me from getting a job? Is it something I’m going to have to hide from everyone? Am I going to be like this forever? All of these questions were buzzing around my head and in the end, I felt like everything was going wrong.
I became quite ill as I couldn’t process it all, but I’m now finally starting to realise that it’s not all that bad. Things haven’t change that much since my diagnosis, it hasn’t been a catastrophe and the world is still revolving. It was just inside my head, being the massive over-thinker that I am. I have now realised I am still me. I’ve lived with BPD for years anyway, just without knowing what it was, so if anything I have more clarity now and that’s not a bad thing, however shitty a diagnosis of BPD may seem.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a mental health diagnosis or label does not change who you are as a person, it does not make you any less of a person and it should never define you. People who care will still care, whether or not you have something to call the bunch of symptoms you experience or not. Because at the end of the day, thats all it is, a bunch of symptoms and because of the society we live in, they have to be labelled and we all have to fit nice and neatly into little square boxes, when in reality, everyone is different. No two mental health illnesses are the same, every individual has their own experience of it and that’s okay.
So, no matter how much stigma I may face or how unworthy BPD can make me feel, I am going to keep talking about it. Talking about it helps me and hopefully helps others. Talking about it will normalise it and will hopefully help reduce the stigma and that’s what I’m here to do.
I might have BPD but I won’t let it define me.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope it was in some way valuable to you. I’d love to know your thoughts on the BPD label, do you feel the name of it fits? What should it be instead? Also, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.