The man who diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2013 was one of only two psychiatrists working in the psychiatric unit where I was staying. He had a harsh bedside manner and a broad, looming frame. After smugly delivering my diagnosis, he shouted at me until I fled his office. Like an unfortunate number of other professionals, he refused to treat BPD patients and had no patience for our symptoms.
Mirroring the experience of many other BPD mental health consumers, I was told by a case manager employed by the same hospital that my diagnosis was a hopeless one and the faults in my wiring were too deep and too warped to ever be improved upon. In a tone slightly more quiet but no less condescending than the doctor’s, she explained how my condition would leave me an isolated, miserable and unwanted part of my community that no therapist worth their education would dare to treat.
As soon as I was able, I placed a phone call to the psychiatrist and therapist who I was already seeing on an outpatient basis. Thankfully, they were incredibly accepting and have done wonders working with me in progressing toward a healthier mode of thinking. The sad reality is my experience is a positive one comparatively. There are countless others struggling with BPD who were told by mental health specialists that not only is their condition their own fault, but because they are so deeply defective, treatment is futile and adamantly refused.
I’m here to say it’s not all your fault, and while you may have some unhealthy habits to work on, you are not a defective human being. You don’t belong stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys. (Bonus points if you’re familiar with the old “Rudolph” movie and caught that reference.)
Let my recovery be evidence of hope to you in the face of BPD. After fully and honestly participating in treatment, I no longer even meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD. My marriage isn’t without hills and valleys, but it’s healthy and full of deep, consistent love. I successfully and healthily play each role I’ve been given. In general, my life is one of emotional stability, and even in moments when that stability has been threatened, stable behavior comes through.
No, this isn’t evidence that the condition can be cured, even if clients like myself no longer meet the diagnostic criteria. There will always be “borderline moments,” chronic struggles those without BPD don’t typically experience. Yet, have no doubt — this isn’t the bottomless pit so many of us have been wrongfully led to believe it is. BPD isn’t a invincible, man-eating beast that brings a lifetime of struggle and then certain doom. It’s possible to cope, to breathe and to experience freedom.
You aren’t a lost cause just because you struggle to have your needs met. You haven’t lost your value just because of a diagnosis. Go forth and take gentle care. You can slay this beast.
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