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When a Doctor Said My Borderline Personality Diagnosis Was Wrong

Back in May, I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. I had spent most of that afternoon in the emergency room until I was sent via ambulance to a hospital where they could better help me and provide inpatient services. I did not want to go at all. In fact, I fought my parents for allowing the ER doctor to send me away.

I got to the hospital and was ready to hate everything there. My eyes were threatening to release tidal waves of tears again. And before I knew it, I was in my bed, listening to the steady breathing of my roommate, wondering how on earth I was going to survive there.

I woke up the next day with my eyes red and puffy, too scared to speak to anyone. But I was lucky. My roommate immediately initiated conversation with me and introduced me to all her friends, and soon enough, I didn’t feel so out of place. I was ready to go at all the therapy sessions with my best efforts.

I was soon assigned many people to care for my needs. Each day, I was assigned a new nurse to answer any questions I had and to look after my general health. I was even assigned to my own psychiatrist. I wished I could’ve met with the psychiatrist I already had worked with at that hospital, but she was too busy.

So, I started over with a new psychiatrist. And although I was nervous to go over the same old questions and pour out my whole life to him, he seemed nice enough. I began to relax around him, and I actually enjoyed meeting with him.

We began talking about what I was struggling with, and I told him everything. I even brought up my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, which was given to me only a few months before my hospitalization by two people on my mental health care team. I had never heard of that mental illness before, but it made sense and matched up with a lot of my behaviors and thought patterns.

I was waiting for him to explain further when he cut me off.

“You don’t have borderline personality disorder.”

Wait, what? I had been told by two people that I had BPD, and now apparently I didn’t? It made no sense to me, so I asked him if he was sure.

“My therapist and other psychiatrist told me I do,” I pointed out.

“Well, you don’t. Borderline personality disorder is found in adults and in those who have had a past of abuse. You don’t match up to either of those two standards for this diagnosis.”

“Oh.” That was all I could utter. I felt ashamed. He probably thought I was stupid for matching up some of my behavioral patterns with a diagnosis I didn’t even have. He probably thought I was just some naive teenager trying to find something to blame my problems on. He probably thought I was pathetic.

And after that conversation, I thought I was pathetic too.

I was furious — not even at him. I was furious at my therapist and other psychiatrist for making me look stupid. I was mad I was working so hard in therapy for a mental illness I didn’t even have. So I pushed away that diagnosis.

When my mom visited, I told her I didn’t have BPD. She was confused just like I had been. She was a little annoyed that the doctor had disregarded a diagnosis because unlike most of the people with the diagnosis, I wasn’t an adult or abused. I didn’t really care. I decided he was right and I shouldn’t acknowledge that as a diagnosis anymore.

After my release, I didn’t work as hard in therapy. I became stubborn. And my therapist noticed. I told her there was no point in me working so hard because I didn’t have BPD.

For the longest time, I remembered that doctor’s words and associated the embarrassment and shame with them. I’d believed him. Until recently.

My mom attended a conference about borderline personality disorder in teenagers. And it’s not uncommon, although that doctor made it sound like it was. Plus, you do not have to be abused to have this disorder.

So, what’s up with that? The doctor wasn’t up-to-date on new research. My mom wrote the hospital a letter, giving them the opportunity to attend the conference as well so they could have more recent research.

All this experience with this doctor did was make me take a massive step backwards in my progress, which is not what I needed at the time. I ultimately had to return to the hospital two months later.

I don’t know if he went to the conference, but I do know how little he made me feel when he totally disregarded my diagnosis. All I can do is hope he looks into newer research so nobody else has to feel as little and ashamed as I did nor lose crucial progress in their therapy.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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