22 Ways People Reacted to Their Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis
While for some, receiving a borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis can bring a sense of clarity — for others, a BPD diagnosis can feel confusing, or even scary. There’s a lot of misinformation about what it’s like living with BPD, and you might reject a diagnosis solely based on what you’ve heard.
That’s why it can be helpful to hear from others who’ve been there. We asked people in our Mighty mental health community who have been diagnosed with BPD to tell us how they reacted when they were first diagnosed. Remember: there’s no “correct” way to act when receiving a diagnosis, so whether you were relieved, or even angry, your feelings are valid. What you do with this information is what’s important.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “I was told it was anxiety, depression, an eating disorder and PTSD for four to five years. I knew it wasn’t just that and there was something missing. So when I actually had the BPD diagnosis I was relieved. But when I went home and looked further into it, I felt like a monster — embarrassed and ashamed.” — Beth L.
2. “Honestly, I was offended. There is definitely a stigma associated with BPD and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.” — Krystal T.
3. “I thought it was the end of the world. My therapist diagnosed me the day before she left for vacation, so not only was I freaking out because I thought I was ‘crazy,’ I felt abandoned, too. The only experience I had with BPD was what I saw on TV and with my stepmother who was incredibly symptomatic. I didn’t realize it was a spectrum disorder and that I was on the mild end. All I could think about was dying. That was all I wanted to do. I also wanted all of my loved ones to be like, ‘There’s something wrong with your therapist. There’s no way you have BPD.’ I understand things a lot better now.” — Joselyne S.
4. “I was an adolescent, so I was relieved someone finally listened to me. I had to advocate for myself to get a full psychological evaluation because I knew there was more to my issue than depression and anxiety. They finally did, and they begrudgingly gave me the diagnosis at 17, which got me into dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and today, I don’t meet the criteria anymore. So I am relieved — catching it when we’re young saved me years and years of continued struggle.” — Alyse R.
5. “I was so relieved. Struggling with this illness for years pushed me to the edge. When I was finally diagnosed, it was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders because I finally knew what I was dealing with. To this day, it is still a struggle, but at least I have a name, and having that means more than you can imagine.” — Jordan M.
6. “I thought it was part of my personality, that I was broken or something and I just needed to get over it and be better. I forced myself to ‘get better’ on my own, but I was just hurting myself.” — Angel R.
7. “My initial reaction was: ‘Oh wow, definitely accurate.’ My deeper reaction once I learned more was: ‘Wow, this just makes me sounds like a really crappy person.’ And honestly, the symptoms were making me act like a really crappy person. I could be angry about how unfair it is that I’m extremely emotionally sensitive and was never taught to handle it, or I can teach myself to handle it.” — Caitlin R.
8. “At first I was devastated! I wasn’t prepared to add more to the gang of disorders I already had. After accepting if for what it is, things started to make more sense” — Jay G.
9. “I was actually relieved. For once, my emotions made sense. There was a reason I felt and reacted so strongly. It helped me label my intense feelings, which allowed me to start managing.” — Evita R.
10. “I didn’t understand, but once I did research and everything I felt relieved there was a source for a lot I thought was wrong with me. It’s a diagnosis I’m really self-conscious about and hate having to explain it to people because the ‘personality disorder’ part always scares them. But I’m glad that after years of missing the diagnosis I’m finally getting treatment for it.” — Bri R.
11. “Afraid. Insulted. Alone. Most of what I’ve read makes BPD sound horrifying, and made me feel like I must be horrible to be around. I still struggle with feeling like I’m someone worthy of love and friendship. I have many amazing friends, but I still struggle with the stigma and the inexplicable shame I feel. I’m trying, though.” — April R.
12. “I honestly was scared. I knew about the stigma that surrounded the disorder and I was uncertain about how people would now view me. I knew that once my family figured out some of them would leave me.” — Nynaeve Beach
13. “I was relieved to know why I am the way I am, but it also hurt because I’ve had so many people, counselors included, tell me they hate working with borderline clients and I couldn’t be that way because I wasn’t ‘crazy.’ I have learned a lot about myself and how to properly care for myself and how to ask for what I need to help myself.” — Nicole F.
14. “I felt numb. I knew it ran in the family. My aunt has it. But no — not me. I couldn’t, I didn’t have any of the symptoms I’d seen in my aunt. I was sure I was just depressed and needed rest, but after being told I paid more attention to my behavior, I was loud and angry and started noticing all the usual signs. I’m on a medication that helps now and I feel a lot better. I even interact with the people in my life better.” — Samantha M.
15. “I was stunned. I called it ‘the other thing’ for about the first seven months because I was ashamed to have it along with my depression, anxiety and complex-PTSD diagnosis. But now that I’m being treated for it, I’m not ashamed of having it. Knowing I have this disorder makes me feel more in control of my emotions and I’m able to recognize when I’m having symptoms as opposed to believing that’s just the way I am.” — Kara R.
16. “It made no difference. I was in such a dark place at the time, it’s all really fuzzy memories. I say no difference because it didn’t change anything, all my symptoms were the same, it didn’t change me, fix me or make me feel part of a group. There weren’t support options and groups, or at least not like today. It’s so bad I can no longer work or have a decent social life. I struggled in silence. I try to support others struggling with BPD through supporting BPD groups. Using my years of experience, hopefully I can help one person struggle less.” — Heather M.
17. “Relief that I wasn’t making things up. Fear from my knowledge of the stigma around BPD. Anger that I had guessed it years before anyone officially agreed with me. I felt everything and nothing and really that’s just a theme for my life.” — Jess H.
18. “I hysterically cried a little to myself and then thought I was broken. But once the initial shock wore off and I actually did some research into the issue, I found it made a lot of sense (and it began to make sense to friends and family about why I was the way I am). It’s still a huge struggle some days, but I feel three years on and I am able to cope better now that I know what’s wrong with me and I feel less like a broken person who needs fixing and treating like a delicate flower.” — Terri F.
19. “I was so happy to know I had a diagnosis that made a lot of sense to me. Having a name and knowing I wasn’t the only one who had it was reassuring that I wasn’t ‘crazy.’ And looking back on life, I could see where BPD was significant as a child. I struggle and often don’t know who I am, but I do know I’m like a lot of people with this disorder and not an alien from outer space.” — Laura W.
20. “Denial! I denied my diagnosis for months. It took my therapist pointing out individual behaviors that met the diagnosis of BPD before I even attempted to try to accept my diagnosis. I still battle with acceptance to this day.” — Shonda P.
21. “It was like a light had been opened. I was able to understand with words what I was dealing with. I was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I was then able to get the right therapy and begin to heal from all the pain and confusion of the past.” — Hannah S.
22. “Excited! Ah, it was so refreshing hearing that everything I was doing, everything I was experiencing, was part of this mood disorder I could learn to manage and get under control.” — Sami S.
What was your experience getting a borderline personality disorder diagnosis? Tell us in the comments below?
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
Thinkstock photo via Chad Madden