When Receiving the Proper Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis Takes a Long Time


I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in December 2016, at the age of 36. The diagnosis was bittersweet. I was happy to finally have someone recognize I have BPD, but if it wasn’t for my doctor I might have had help earlier, and maybe I’d be further along in my recovery.

I can’t remember exactly when I first thought I might have BPD, but I had found out about it online and identified with it. I forgot about it for a while but in the latter half of 2015 I became convinced that I had it. The trouble was, I couldn’t convince anyone else. I went to see my doctor at the time and he dismissed everything I said. I had started to see a counselor, and with every symptom I mentioned to my doctor, he would say “counseling will help with that.” At the end my doctor said, “You haven’t told me anything that sounds like a personality disorder.” He insisted on increasing my dosage of antidepressants and refused to refer me to anyone. In the meantime, I was having similar conversations with my counselor, and she just told me she wasn’t qualified to diagnose.

Soon after this I realized I had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and when I went and told my doctor my symptoms he immediately agreed with me and referred me to the mental health team for assessment. Over the next few months my OCD took over and I became obsessed with that, basically forgetting about anything else. When I went for my appointment with the mental health team I was diagnosed with OCD and was led to believe that my OCD had tricked me into believing I had BPD. I didn’t really talk about any other symptoms because I was so focused on the OCD.

I had made a close friend around this time who became my “favorite person” (FP) —I didn’t know what that was at the time. I knew I had symptoms perhaps unrelated to OCD, mostly wanting to be ill and thinking no one cared about me, and a lot of self-hatred. But I didn’t think too much about what that all meant, until my friendship started to become too much for my FP and she left temporarily. I was so upset about it all that I did things to hurt myself because I thought that would bring her back. After that period I came to realize I had abandonment fears that I hadn’t realized existed before. I started to think about BPD again and went to my therapist with my concerns. Coincidentally, she specializes in personality disorders and told me she had her suspicions before that I might have BPD. She did a questionnaire on me and then diagnosed me with BPD. I met seven of the nine criteria in some form.

Getting a diagnosis felt a bit weird. I was annoyed that the doctor hadn’t believed me earlier. When I thought about it, it seemed obvious that I had many of the symptoms. I’d self-harmed on and off since I was a child, progressing from banging my head against the wall to cutting myself. I couldn’t bear to be single, when a relationship ended I was thrown into despair and had to find another one immediately. One previous partner left me because of my “moods,” and another one because she went on holiday for two weeks and I cried and thought she would forget about me. I guess I felt abandoned. My ex-FP once didn’t reply to a text message for hours because she was at a friends house and I was terrified she had died and got myself worked up. I had a problem with people not responding to texts in general, and had deleted people’s numbers from my phone when they didn’t reply. I had a hard time believing people cared about me and I always thought I was going to be abandoned. If someone else got sympathy I thought it meant they cared about them more and I would sometimes do things to get their attention back. But I also had times where I couldn’t be around people, I found it too much and I wanted to be alone.

I guess I grieve for the life I could have had. I was really miserable for most of my 20s and had seen various doctors and mental health professionals and no one realized I had BPD. I wonder what my life would be like now if I received therapy earlier. Maybe I could have had a more “normal” friendship with my ex-FP and we could still be friends now. Maybe I’d be further along in my career. Perhaps my relationships would be more stable. But there’s no point in living with regrets.

Since my diagnosis I have found more and more similarities with other people who struggle with BPD that show me the diagnosis was the correct one. The road to recovery is a long one, but at least I am now on the right path.

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

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Image via Marisa9


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Borderline Personality Disorder

woman

When Borderline Personality Disorder Makes You Apologize for Things That Aren't Your Fault

I am pretty well known among my friends and family for apologizing profusely. I do it all the time. I’ll apologize for things that aren’t my fault, for things I have no control over, for things that had nothing to do with me — the weather for example. The list is never-ending. I actually have [...]
asian woman alone in dark room with head buried in arms

Why I Miss Being in a Psychiatric Ward

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. It sounds weird, right? Why would someone want to be deprived of their [...]

Why I Don’t Want to Change My Borderline Personality Disorder

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. I sit across from my psychiatrist and he talks at me. This is [...]
25 'Embarrassing' Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder We Don't Talk About

25 'Embarrassing' Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder We Don't Talk About

When you live with a health condition, oftentimes there are some unwanted — or “embarrassing” — symptoms you have to learn to live with. This is something many people who live with borderline personality disorder are familiar with. Maybe your intense fear of abandonment affects your ability to have stable and secure relationships. Maybe you [...]