Am I marked as defective forever with Borderline Personality Disorder?
November 22, 2008 11:20 AM   Subscribe

How do you shake off the shame of being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder? Will anyone ever want to be my friend again?

I've been depressed for decades and thought that was just the main problem but after spending four days in the hospital (suicidal idealization hold) a psychiatrist (whom I only met for 15 mins) mentioned that I had Borderline Personality Disorder and that I will have suicidal thoughts forever. She didn't explain what it was but from searching the net and past experiences with people with BPD I know it isn't a good thing.

I feel such a sense of shame and do not know what to do. I feel embarrassed to leave the house and fear that I will never ever have any friends or lovers again in my life because no one wants to be with someone with BPD.

I also feel betrayed that my regular therapist and psychiatrist never told me this and probably hate me and find me difficult to work with and are hiding other diagnoses from me.

All I can think is that every feeling and action I do now is suspect and that I will always be seen as a manipulative bitch. Which is the worst thing to me as I've been raised to be polite at all costs and to never bother anyone. If I was bleeding to death on the floor and it was after 10pm I wouldn't phone you for help because that would be rude.

Is it possible to shake off the shame of this or will I always feel like this? How do I adjust to being alone forever now? I've been single and sexless for ten years due to the depression and now to think I will be that way for another 50 years is awful.
posted by beautifulcheese to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
no one wants to be with someone with BPD

That's not true. No one wants to be with someone who behaves in the bizarre and infuriating ways associated with BPD.

If you put your effort into not acting like someone with BPD, and you successfully avoid the BPD behaviors, you will be indistinguishable from people who don't have BPD.

And if you're self-aware enough to write this question, it would seem you are self-aware enough to fight this disease.
posted by jayder at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2008 [12 favorites]

Everybody has some issues of some kind or another that does not need to be revealed during the first conversation you have with people.....I would advise that you do your best to act and feel normal (in fact the "Fake it till you make it" is a psychological technique that has worked with many patients)...and eventually that will be the only thing people will see (if that is not the case already)...if and when you get close enough to a person that you feel the need to tell them about the demons in your closet you let them know and from there see the response.....I know it sounds bad but I am sure that if a person loves you and cares for you enough their response most likely will be to protect you and to help you cope with it......
posted by The1andonly at 11:28 AM on November 22, 2008

I'm not a psychiatrist, but wouldn't diagnosing someone with BPD take longer than 15 minutes? And isn't it odd that your regular therapist and psychiatrist never mentioned this to you?

I'm not saying that you don't have BPD. It just strikes me as a little odd that someone who has known you for 15 minutes can tell you that you have it, whereas someone who has known you for comparatively longer (especially seeing as how that person is a qualified mental professional who shouldn't be withholding this information from you) hasn't mentioned it to you.
posted by Solomon at 11:30 AM on November 22, 2008 [15 favorites]

Assuming your diagnosis is true, it means you will have to be naturally skceptical about some of your emotionally-charged thoughts. It is tough, but that also means that all of your stuff that you wrote up there isn't true. You're a human, you will cope. Its built in.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:32 AM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, echoing what Solomon said, it's unclear whether the hospital psychiatrist revealed something that had been noted in your medical file (by another mental health person) or was making a diagnosis herself.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2008

1. The doctor can not do a proper diagnosis of Borderline in 15 minutes.
2. This post is your depression talking - look at all the negative assumptions - no one will ever be my friend, my regular doctor hates me, and so on.
3. Were you a manipulative bitch yesterday? If you weren't then you aren't going to be one today.
4. Being borderline just means that you are a certain list of symptoms. If you are (and remember, point #! - you might not be) your doctors may have been treating the symptoms without worrying about the label. Some therapists try to avoid using diagnostic labels just because even people with the same label can have such very different experiences. Even if it is true, there is no reason to tell anyone (aside from your mental health professionals) about this label. You are just you.
5. Even if you are borderline, it certainly does not mean that you will be suicidal forever. People who do have BPD can recover. Even without treatment it gets better as you get older. People who do get treatment, 75% no longer reach the definition of borderline 6 years later. (That doesn't mean that you have to wait 6 years to get better but rather that it is very complicated. Most people show real improvement by the end of the first year of treatment.

Finally THIS IS YOUR DEPRESSION TALKING!!! 90% of what you say in the post is either not true or a major, major exaggeration - even if the diagnosis is correct - which it might very well not be. DISCUSS THIS WITH YOUR OWN THERPIST ASAP to get a more accurate perspective.
posted by metahawk at 11:41 AM on November 22, 2008 [21 favorites]

1) I agree with Solomon that the 15 minute diagnosis is kinda bogus. if you are concerned that the diagnosis seems valid, I would recommend a more thorough evaluation with a recommended and diligent doctor.

2) if you are BPD you already were and yet there were people in your life who loved and valued you. this hasnt changed you just have new (potential) information about yourself. an accurate diagnosis is a good thing, because then you can seek some appropriate treatment which at the very least will hopefully alleviate your depression, enabling you to be more functional and enjoy your life.

good luck!
posted by supermedusa at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2008

Beautifulcheese, you are not marked as defective forever. The doctor said you have a disorder; not that you will be alone forever. Why be embarrassed to leave your house? Nobody knows what the doctor said.

You feel betrayed by your doctors. That's understandable, but first -- ask them for a second opinion. This was a diagnoses by a single doctor after 15 minutes with you. It seems a bit odd that she would say you will always be suicidal and offer no suggestions or therapies, or even explanation. If you'd been in the hospital for a body pain, and the doctor said you'd always feel it but offer nothing else -- wouldn't you seek a second opinion? Talk to your regular therapist and psychiatrist for their opinions.

Let's say the diagnosis is wrong. Excellent! Don't worry about what the doctor said. Let's say the diagnosis is correct. Excellent! Now you know better what needs fixing, and your doctors can offer better counseling and drug therapy.

There should not be shame in having mental problem, any more than there should be no shame in having a physical problem. Just as with a physical problem, you need a correct diagnosis and then a plan to move forward. Don't let one person's comments paralyze you into inaction. Instead, make it work toward getting you healthy.
posted by Houstonian at 11:48 AM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Short read for now.
Longer, different read for later.
posted by rhizome at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

As Solomon suggested, a diagnosis rendered after 15 minutes of interpersonal interaction raises questions.

Did the psychiatrist administer any personality tests to you, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)? Did she render the diagnosis after thoroughly reviewing your prior history and/or consulting with your previous doctors? Please hesitate before defining yourself by a label. As Oscar Wilde said, "to define is to limit." Personality disorder diagnoses are not necessarily lifelong sentences. Many people develop improved coping and relating skills with time and therapy.

Some suggestions:
Consider asking your previous doctors whether they concur with this diagnosis.
Consider asking this present psychiatrist why and how she arrived at the diagnosis.
Lastly, consider only telling others on a "need to know" basis -- meaning very few people in your life need to know your diagnosis, if it applies.
posted by terranova at 11:58 AM on November 22, 2008

I'm really sorry to hear about your hospitalization and all the suicidal thoughts, beautifulcheese. I can only imagine how you're feeling.

Regarding the diagnosis of BPD, I'm not a professional, but I am a frequent user of psychiatric services. I've had chronic depression and recurrent suicidal thoughts for a number of years.

At one point, a psychiatrist I was seeing entertained the theory that I might have BPD. I thought it over, read some books on the topic, and ultimately rejected the label. Why? Because, not only did I feel that the profile presented in the clinical literature did not really fit me, but because it did nothing at all, as a diagnosis, to help me. It didn't indicate anything I could do about it, and I find the concept itself to be supremely misogynist in its underpinning assumptions. Basically, the clinical description of BPD is of an angry, emotionally labile, socially difficult woman with issues -- but, honestly, after a lifetime of being shit on by a culture that by turns idealizes and devalues you as a woman, what normal, complex, sensitive human being WOULDN'T be angry, emotionally labile, and socially difficult?

If you choose to accept this diagnosis, recognize it for the limited thing it is -- a heuristic, just as the first article linked by rhizome suggests. If you decide it is valid, that you meet the profile more than not, then try to extract some use from it that may lead you down a path to a more effective form of treatment for your depression and suicidal thoughts than you've found in the past. For personality disorders, the idea of dialectical behavioral therapy often comes up. Maybe it's worth trying; I don't know.

I do agree that your depression is making it difficult for you to deal with this news properly right now. You are categorically unable, at the moment, to see any potential positives in this situation, and I can completely sympathize with that. When my doctor suggested BPD, I felt like I'd been simulateously punched in the gut and had BITCH tattooed permanently across my forehead.

The only thing I can offer you is this: you are not broken. You are a person who is having troubles. Troubles are inevitable, and can be fixed. In fact, they are worth fixing in order to preserve your life, which is immeasurably precious.
posted by peggynature at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2008 [13 favorites]

I'm going to point out one (damning) thing.) A psychiatrist that I saw diagnosed me with this. And prescribed meds.

When I talked to other people (that I knew he saw...)....They all were diagnosed this way. They had all be prescribed meds. Nobody wasn't on meds.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I think (years later, off meds, etc.) that my psychiatrist sees everyone as broken. And if their dysfunction doesn't fit into a clean category, they get told they're BPD. And if this was a staff/country psyche - 15 min may have all they had to determine your state.

Even if you have BPD, You're not broken. Nobody can predict your future, certainly not inside of 15 min. Not even Greogry House. He's a fictional character. Yes, most of your fear at the moment is your depression.

You're not going to be alone forever either. You're on a path. Seeking help is the first step.
posted by Towelie at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

A borderline person would never ask a question like this.
posted by neuron at 12:13 PM on November 22, 2008 [4 favorites]

Wow, she told you you would be suicidal forever? What a fucking quack. She should lose her license for that. How idiotic and hurtful, to try to take hope away from you like that, for NO REASON.

Don't listen to her. Talk to your doctors, who know you. Take a deep breath. A lot of this is (as mentioned above) is depression talking.
posted by sondrialiac at 12:25 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Having been in that position (in a mental hospital, quickly diagnosed with chronic depression, not properly diagnosed with PTSD until some ten years later), I, too, would be a little leery of a 15 minute evaluation from a hospital psychiatrist. Discuss the issue with your therapist and regular psychiatrist.

As far as the shame goes, I understand the feeling of "So, what, am I just broken forever?" This upset me for a while after I was first diagnosed with PTSD. Don't focus on this. Do your best to act and try to feel like a "normal person", which can often involve even pretending how you think someone without this illness would react in a situation. And you may slip up on occasion, but don't beat yourself up over it ... a shame spiral won't help you work towards mental/emotional stability. Sure, it's difficult, at times. Sometimes I have panic attacks that overwhelm me to the point of not being able even to call in to work (yeah, it's lost me a few jobs). Once every couple of years I flip out at someone over something unimportant -- the past two years of unfelt anger unleashed. When I feel shame closing in on me, I try to remind myself that I am doing my best in a difficult situation. It doesn't always work, but it helps.

I have had a number of very close friends and lovers with various mental illnesses of running a pretty full gamut of severities, from schizophrenics on down. Don't worry about finding friends and lovers.

Above all, always remember: you are more than a mental illness. Be strong, and best wishes.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Regardless of your diagnosis, it was extremely irresponsible and cruel of the psychiatrist to tell you that you will be suicidal forever, especially in the context of a 15 minute interview where nothing was explained to you. Nobody should ever suffer that kind of treatment - I'm sorry that you have. It's not your fault you were treated so badly. No disorder will EVER make it OK to be treated badly - by your psychiatrist, by your regular therapist, by your peers. It doesn't mean you'll be alone, either. Recognize that the way you feel right now is a result of your depression and unhappy situation, not your worth. There is nothing at all that says you can't be happy and loved by wonderful people. Unfortunately, it seems as though happiness and wonderful people are both lacking at the moment, so you need to take initiative and seek out help and support. (Personally, I suspect that bringing up your diagnosis with your regular therapist will be useful.) Do this with the knowledge that you are a valuable person who is NOT "defective" and never will be, no matter what label you may be given.
posted by Cygnet at 12:40 PM on November 22, 2008

IANAD or a psychologist or a therapist.

I think that if you are not sure that you have BPD but think you might, you should consider asking your regular therapist for a screening, or if you are not comfortable with that, ask your primary care physician for a referral to a (new) therapist who can do a full analysis and either diagnose it or rule it out.

If it turns out that you have BPD or another personality disorder, you may indeed need medication. But it will help you.

I have a dear friend with BPD and it has certainly been a struggle for her. But it is no struggle for me to be her friend. She has many other terrific friends as well. She is dear and wonderful and kind and smart and hilarious. She also takes medication, goes to therapy, and works hard to be aware of how she operates in the world, something at which we could all stand to work a little harder.

beautifulcheese, you note that you feel betrayed that [your] regular therapist and psychiatrist never told [you] this and probably hate [you] and find [you] difficult to work with and are hiding other diagnoses from [you].

As others have said, this is probably your depression talking. Also, my friend with BPD explains what it is in part by saying that she has a strong sense that things are black and white and never gray, that people are either with her or against her, that there is no neutral. Your comment sounds a lot like the kind of thing my friend has described as part of her journey.

I hope you find some peace from the pain you are obviously feeling. There is no shame in any of this. Treatment really can improve your life. I wish you well.
posted by isogloss at 12:47 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I disagree with neuron, that "a borderline person would never ask a question like this". I've had a few friends diagnosed this way, and not only would, but have written posts just like yours.

But you don't know that you even have BPD. As everybody's pointed out, 15 minutes really isn't much a diagnostic time --and yes, there is a certain amount of misogyny that can come with this diagnosis that makes me wary. However, let's assume this loser is correct, and you do have BPD. Here comes a bunch of anecdotal evidence.

I am acquainted with a few people diagnosed as BPD who have ruined lives all around them. You name a batshit action, and they are likely to have performed it. I feel sorry for these people, because they are clearly hurting, but they are intolerable.

On the other hand, I am friends with a few who are productive, interesting, capable people who just happen to have some behavior extremes that can get out of control. They can be difficult, but they are not bad people, and I care about them and enjoy their company.

The difference between the BPD people in my life who are miserable, and those who are doing well, appears to have a lot to do with whether or not these people are assholes or not. That is not to say the productive ones don't have their moments, but they are facing their problems with a considerable amount of personal strength and courage -- despite how toweringly high their emotions run, and how frightened they are of being rejected or unloved.

You know, being difficult in itself is a fact of life. Most people are pretty difficult in their own way. This is not proprietary to BPD. But we tolerate and love each other anyway, because even if someone is hard to get along with, they offer us good things, too. The same high-voltage emotional flow that makes life hard for my non-asshole BPD friends, also has made them sensitive to human rights and animal welfare, and has made them extremely funny and insightful.

I dislike it when people treat mental illnesses as if they are just character flaws ("Anxious people just need to calm down! Depressed people just need to lighten up! Everyone needs to take up meditation and adopt smug senses of self-satisfaction!") But if you have a mental illness, and you still have control of your attitude, then try not to worry that you are an irrepairably damaged or defective loser simply for being sick. Find a psychatrist who will take care of you and help you take care of yourself, and do the best you can.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:52 PM on November 22, 2008 [6 favorites]

I have two different friends who have this diagnosis. Both of them are good friends and nice people.

I also used to know horrible manipulative people with it, but that's beside the point.

You have two options here. Either you were misdiagnosed and have something like Bipolar type 2 (easily missed) or regular clinical depression, OR you may indeed have borderline. If the latter, this does not mean you won't have friends or that your life is totally screwed.

I would bring this up with your other therapists. They can help you discern what the real truth is-and more to the point, help you in your recovery/coping. There are specific types of therapy that are helpful to someone with borderline.

Again, the fact you were able to post this question bodes quite well for you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:08 PM on November 22, 2008

There are certain very identifiable traits that, taken together, are well-known to be part of BPD. Comments (like rhizome's) that BPD isn't really a coherent/reliable/meaningful diagnosis, etc., do not seem helpful because the commenter is asking about a problem she takes seriously, and saying that the diagnosis is bullshit isn't really helping, when in fact there's a great deal of research and writing out that saying that the diagnosis actually identifies a real-world condition.

It would be like someone coming here and saying, "I'm doing really poorly in school and would like to do better. Any suggestions?" and someone responding, "School is bullshit. Read this article and that article that debunk contemporary education."
posted by jayder at 1:35 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would be friends with someone who had BPD. I would not be friends with someone who consistently and/or unapologetically behaved like a jerk. It's ok to have BPD- just do your best to not be a jerk, and try to apologize & make up for it if you accidentally do.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:18 PM on November 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

There are certain very identifiable traits that, taken together, are well-known to be part of BPD. Comments (like rhizome's) that BPD isn't really a coherent/reliable/meaningful diagnosis, etc., do not seem helpful because the commenter is asking about a problem she takes seriously, and saying that the diagnosis is bullshit isn't really helping, when in fact there's a great deal of research and writing out that saying that the diagnosis actually identifies a real-world condition.

Actually, Jayder, I'm not sure we know for certain if the OP believes this is a legit diagnosis, other than that she had a bad reaction to it, didn't have it explained to her by the psychiatrist, did some research online, and has had past experiences with people identified as having BPD.

I think rhizome's comment is actually very useful, given the context of this question, and of the history around BPD itself. That is a significant thing to consider for anyone faced with this diagnosis.

I think it is healthy to question things we don't agree with. No one here is calling anything bullshit or categorically denying the possibility that BPD exists or is the right diagnosis for the OP. But given that she received the news after a 15-minute consult, it's more than prudent to suggest she look into other possibilities.
posted by peggynature at 2:33 PM on November 22, 2008

I also disagree with neuron. My partner's sister has BPD, and she does ask things like that.

What's really difficult here is that he and I can tell her things and give her our perspective, but that doesn't make her see it the way we do.

For example, we can tell her, "You have a disease. No one should ever be ashamed of having a disease." She still feels ashamed, regardless.

She is a loving person, particularly with her adult children, but at times she is angry and has great self-doubt. We praise her and give her good advice. Sometimes she takes it, usually she does not.

She can be manipulative. She is "polite" and has trouble standing up for herself and asking for what she wants overtly. She is more likely to try to obtain her needs through passive aggression and occasionally giving nonfactual information.

She does have suicidal thoughts as recently as this month, and she has acted out at times. But, she is still alive and intends to live. She can be many things, and sometimes we become frustrated. Be she is always a person of value, and she is worth knowing.

She has intrinsic worth and we do not consider her "defective." We consider her to have an illness.

And perhaps, so do you.

I don't know if you have BPD or not. It seems likely that within your four-day hospital stay, you would have encountered more than one health care providers who would have spoken together and reached some conclusion regarding your diagnosis. If you received a diagnosis in what seems to be a curt and callous manner -- and that is what I would call it from the description -- that is not a good thing. It is also possible that the communication was filtered through your unique perception and self-doubt. In other words, what you heard may not be quite what the doctor said. You have a right to ask for clarification and, if you feel it is necessary, a second opinion.

I don't know what more to say, except that your therapist and psychiatrist do not hate you. Their job is to help you to the best of their ability.

Not knowing you personally, I don't know what to advise. I hope that what I've related helps in some way, and that you work on all the things that trouble you. Life is hard sometimes, really, and sometimes we make it harder on ourselves than it has to be.

Be good to yourself.
posted by Robert Angelo at 2:36 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I will note that a therapist once told me that he could never tell his patients with BPD that they were BPD - because of the nature of that disease it would cause the trust they had built together to fracture enough to be a detriment to further treatment.

I sincerely doubt that someone could diagnose you with a mental disorder in 15 minutes, so if this was something your therapist did not share with you, but noted in your file, it may be for a very good reason. It is best not to jump to conclusions over something that someone who, as noted many times above, was at best lacking tact in a profession where tact is vitally important. (thus leading to questions about their competency in other areas)

I wouldn't take what this person said to heart - talk with your regular therapist.
posted by Nixie Pixel at 4:21 PM on November 22, 2008

There is no reason to be ashamed.

There's a lot of good advice in here, but I want to very specifically call out that you have absolutely no reason whatsoever to be ashamed. None.

Make an appointment with your usual professionals and ensure they've access to the file generated during your recent hospitalisation. Specifically tell them you want to discuss the difference between this diagnosis and the understanding you had from their work with you.

One thing to keep in mind as you navigate these more tumultuous waters that they may have known this all along and didn't feel it was useful information for you or your situation might be out of their league. And the new doc could be wrong. It's happened before, especially in that type of intake situation.

You've got some hard work ahead of you, probably. Save your mental and emotional energy to get through that. Don't use it to beat yourself up or second guess everything, even though that's probably coming to you pretty easily right now. Fight the temptation to let this drag you down again/further. You want to be better, and that's the best way to get there - being gentle with yourself and carefully feeling your way around all of this new information.
posted by batmonkey at 4:53 PM on November 22, 2008

I hate to disagree with everyone who's saying 15 minutes isn't long enough for a diagnosis. While that on its own is true, in the context of a hospitalization, there are generally more than one person examining a patient and logging information in a file. And if there are several very clear tell-tale signs like multiple attempts, self-injury evidence and impulsive behavioral patterns, then maybe this doctor knows what she's talking about.

Or maybe she doesn't. Talk to your therapist about her thoughts on the matter.

Also, what people are afraid of isn't the label of BPD - most people haven't even heard the term. People are afraid of befriending demanding, manipulative and unstable people who will wreak havoc on their lives. By very virtue of your description of your own relationships, I'd wonder about said BPD diagnosis. While not all diagnoses exhibit all symptoms, highly turbulent relationships are a staple of BPD, and I'd be wary of diagnosing a case without them.

(I am a clinical psychology doctoral student)
posted by namesarehard at 5:15 PM on November 22, 2008

Diagnostic terms exist so that health care workers can adjust their treatment to help YOU get well. The terms used may shift, physicians may disagree on a diagnosis, and some symptoms may be subjective. What remains constant is that you are a valuable human being. You are a person, not a pathology. If you talk to the therapist and psychiatrist you have been working with they will almost certainly be able to help you as a person rather than as a diagnostic profile.
posted by abirae at 5:30 PM on November 22, 2008

The people in my life, that take their lives seriously, and take responsiblity for themselves concerning their traits or disorders, make it in many peoples minds. Their are millions of people in this world that live very, very dysfunctional lives and participate in very, very dysfunctional relationships, and never get a label or diagnosis. Just by posing a question to the hive mind,strikes me as a way of taking your life seriously. I disagree with the statement that someone with BPD would not ask this question.

I tell others that a diagnosis is merely a way for the professionals to communicate with each other as to what they observed; via the chart notes. Do not treat it as a label. That will only depress you.

Be careful who you trust your secrets with. It has certainly burned me before.
posted by captainsohler at 5:59 PM on November 22, 2008

From a different perspective: A family member was diagnosed with BPD not long ago, after years of thrown up charcoal, wrist-stitches and hospital rooms without sharp edges.

The diagnosis gave us a different perspective on her mental illness - she was no longer simply just lashing out at those who were close to her, she had a genuine disorder with symptoms and recognizable thought patterns. Knowing all of this, it made coping with the low periods (and there were a lot of them) much easier, and we knew what to take with a shaker of salt and what to be truly concerned about.

Knowing that she had BPD actually brought us closer to her, and with our steady encouragement, she's doing a little better every day.

The book ,"Stop Walking On Eggshells" by Paul T. Mason is an excellent primer about the disorder, and may help your family and loved ones gain some perspective about what you are going through.

Most importantly though, please know that your diagnosis isn't a curse, it's a starting point. A stepping stone perhaps, to something better. The people who are close to you love you for *who you are,* and not what you do.

Please take care.
posted by kaudio at 6:22 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you considered taking 5-HTP. I know someone who has benefited noticeably by taking it (100 mg./day). Good luck!
posted by rumbles at 7:00 PM on November 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was first diagnosed with BPD about eight years ago, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was an accurate diagnosis. Today I am largely asymptomatic. I work, I go to school, I have friends, I'm in a long-term, loving, stable relationship. So BPD is not in any way a "forever" thing.

Yes, there is some stigma attached to BPD, and you may run into some very nasty characterizations of the disorder and those who suffer from it. But I haven't found that stigma to be terribly debilitating. For one, most folks I interact with on a regular basis don't know I have BPD. Those who do have been pretty good about not jumping to conclusions about my actions and motivations. People still like me. My family still loves me. Doctors still try to help me.

Discovering that I have BPD was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Before I knew about the disorder, I really just didn't understand why I acted the way I acted sometimes, and did the things I did. I felt that there was something just inherently, irredeemably wrong with me. Finding out that I was experiencing a well-established set of symptoms, that other people felt the same way I did, and that there were ways of treating the problem-- that was enormously freeing.

I wish I had time to write more; I'll echo what others have said about the uncertainty of your current diagnosis and the necessity of talking this over with a trusted therapist. I'll also direct you to this comment I wrote a while back about living with and recovering from BPD. Please don't hesitate to memail me if you have questions.

Oh, and:

A borderline person would never ask a question like this.
posted by neuron at 12:13 PM on November 22

Not true. I don't know why you think that (or why others agree with you). Do you think people with BPD can't experience shame or fear? Can't be introspective or articulate emotions?
posted by bookish at 7:59 PM on November 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

So, they told me I might be BDP when I was first assessed.

Then when I suggested it to my next psychiatrist, he laughed at me!

Take that as you will.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:43 PM on November 22, 2008

Stop Walking on Eggshells might be a good read for your family or friends, but it's not written for the people that actually have BPD and wouldn't be terribly helpful for you. It might even needlessly depress you further.

When a friend of mine was diagnosed with BPD (after several years of being told she was depressed, bipolar, or a few other things) she read Lost in the Mirror and thought it was wonderful (in a "someone actually understands" way). She tried Get Me Out of Here but it was a bit too long for her attention-span. I thought it was quite good though.
posted by K.P. at 3:56 AM on November 23, 2008

You don't have to tell anyone about your diagnosis. Your life has not changed except for this label.
posted by Electrius at 4:03 AM on November 23, 2008

You don't have to tell anyone about your diagnosis. Your life has not changed except for this label.

I disagree. You don't have to tell everyone you know or everyone you meet. Or anyone on a first date. But at the point where things get a little more serious--the point at which you would expect him/her to tell you about certain things (a child from a 1 night stand they know about but have never met, a drunken Las Vegas wedding they still haven't had annulled, a year spent shooting heroin because they thought Kurt Cobain was cool, or that they have some physical ailment like epilepsy that limits their activities and for which you might have to render assistance if necessary)--you do need to inform a person in a developing serious relationship.

But it doesn't have to be a big deal, it can be just like informing someone of any other issue. "I was diagnosed with _________ once. I used to have [list of issues] but I've had them under control for [period of time]. I still occasionally have [this issue] and I would ask that you not [do/say thing] which makes me panicky. And if I get panicky about it anyway, it's best to [do/say thing] and I'll calm down."
posted by K.P. at 7:41 AM on November 23, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry for not responding to my own thread. I'm still just numb and blown away at the idea of what to do but I thank you for your responses. I will do as many of you suggested and bring this up with my own therapist on Tuesday and see what she says. As well with my psychiatrist when I see him in December.

It has helped to hear that this doesn't automatically flip some switch in me that makes everyone see that I now have a mental illness, or a worse one than before. I haven't been suddenly stamped with BPD on my forehead even tho it feels that way. The fear is lessening some.
posted by beautifulcheese at 4:52 PM on November 23, 2008

Diagnoses in psychology are based on matching symptoms to a list in the DSM (usually, and I am generalizing). Even if you do have a diagnosis of BPD, all it means is that symptoms you were exhibiting matched those under BPD in the diagnostic handbook.

Don't worry that this is a definition of who you are or what you are. It is a label for a set of behaviors and thought patterns and other symptoms. A collection that can be addressed in therapy, if you have any of them. It's not a scarlet letter and the people who matter will continue to see you as you, not as "BPD woman."

(I too am a tad sceptical of that diagnosis because of the way you got it, if it was just from that visit.)
posted by subbes at 8:18 AM on November 24, 2008

Response by poster: To follow up my therapist said she doesn't think I have BPD at all and that it is not in my file and that in all the conversations with my regular psychiatrist he has never brought it up. That I may have one or two of the tendencies (self injury) but that I'm just deeply depressed w/ other stuff (Yay!)

Thank you for your sensible words and the calming thoughts and hugs. It helped get through the wait and also slapped some sense into me and helped me see this disorder a different way.
posted by beautifulcheese at 4:12 PM on November 25, 2008

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:06 PM on November 25, 2008

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