How I Was Diagnosed With a Personality Disorder You Might Not Know About

I like to label myself. I had multiple diagnoses before this one and it has always been helpful to me to understand what I was going through. So, when my psychologist suggested I get tested for personality disorders, I did my research.

I was convinced I had borderline personality disorder (BPD). I recognized myself in six of the symptoms, and only five were required for the diagnosis. However, the woman who tested me said two of the symptoms I recognized were not severe enough to count. She told me I had four symptoms:

1. Suicidal gestures and self-harm.
2. Severe mood swings.
3. A chronic feeling of emptiness.
4. Dissociation and paranoia.

These symptoms were enough to ruin my life, but not enough for the diagnosis of BPD. I’m partly thankful for that; this disorder comes with a lot of unfair bias and stigma.

However, the lady who tested me also found three symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). Which needs four symptoms for a diagnosis.

She told me I had:

1. Perfectionism that interferes with completing tasks.
2. Is highly inflexible when it comes to morals and ethics.
3. Shows stubbornness.

This was also making my life hard, but again, it went without a label, making me unable to put a word to what I was dealing with.

That is, until the woman explained that when a person has multiple symptoms from several personality disorders, but not enough for one specific one, they throw the personality disorder under a brand new label:

Personality Disorder—Trait Specified (PD-TS).

It’s fairly unknown but not uncommon. It’s hard to educate people about this disorder, because the symptoms can wildly differ per individual. It has been one of the realest things in my life and it has bothered me that it has been so hard to explain. But in the end, labels are just labels. Nothing about this defines me as a person. A diagnosis can’t even tell the story of what someone has been through, because everyone’s experience is different.

And I’m glad to say, these symptoms are slowly disappearing. People tend to think you can’t recover from personality disorders, but you can. And you get out of it wiser and stronger. I wouldn’t want it any other way. One day, I aim to work as a therapist. I’m going to help people just like me, and I hope I can tell them that this label doesn’t say anything about who they are and what they can do.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

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 741741.

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