When Your Partner Doesn't 'Believe' in Your Diagnosis
I am a super cool individual. I set up benefits packages for small businesses. I write novels, play music, am getting into portrait photography and have a comedy life skills YouTube channel. I’m also raising the cutest toddler in the entire world.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2015 but it’s important to remember that I have always had these traits.
I was briefly married to a man who didn’t understand that following a recipe to the exact wording didn’t guarantee it wouldn’t come out over or undercooked. All he saw me as once the diagnosis landed was a list of symptoms on a page. “You don’t really feel like that,” he would say, “it’s just your disease.”
Approaching post-divorce dating filled me with a fear that I would be trapped with men like him for my whole life — unable to see me for anything but this label. Now, it’s 2018. The face of BPD is no longer Glenn Close, but those of the adorable Pete Davidson and the dimply Rebecca from “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.” But a quick Google search will pull up thousands and thousands of hate posts against people like me.
So one night, a month and a half into something promising with someone I’d met online, I decided to just get it all out in the open. “If you don’t want to be with me anymore, that’s fine.”
It turned out that he had not only heard of it, but was quite knowledgeable — of his own perspective on BPD. It was based on his own experiences which will remain private, but he asserted such diagnoses are a “self-fulfilling prophecy” created to sell pharmaceuticals. And, if that was how I chose to brand myself, he was not interested.
I thought, “OK. Someone who sees me as more than a label. He could see me as a whole person.”
The problem is, ignoring something so big as a personality disorder isn’t seeing someone as a whole person at all.
Because he believed that medication wasn’t necessary, he wasn’t very concerned when my budget no longer included my antidepressant cocktail. Two weeks later when I hit my first unmedicated manic episode, he figured maybe I was just withdrawing. He was surprised that I reacted to very small things with sudden, strong emotions that would pivot (or split) right away. He was surprised when I needed to message him all day long with every thought I had because I was at an all-time, unrestrained high. He stopped messaging back. I would go a whole day without an answer to my string of messages and I would call him out for losing interest. I found myself begging for validation and reassurance and getting none. (We with BPD often need at least 10 times more than your average bear).
I recognized these “frantic efforts to avoid abandonment” but couldn’t tell him (because it’s just a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” right?) but I also wasn’t able to stop. Because I have a personality disorder.
He finally burst open and told me I was just too much. “Just chill the (F) out!”
He had been afraid to tell me for fear of sparking a reaction out of me but to me that reaction was relief and laughter. I let him go with very little reaction and no fight.
Because the fact of the matter is this: the partner that doesn’t believe in the foundational clockwork of who you are is not a partner at all. And you’re better off focusing your efforts on being the best benefits-consultant-photographer-musician-comedian-mom-with-BPD you can be.