Part 1 of 2 I was diagnosed as a #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder personality in my early 30s, but I had been experiencing “symptoms” since age 12. After telling me about BPD, and going through the criteria, the therapist told me he wouldn’t treat me. I lived with seven of the nine criteria of BPD for nearly 30 years before I found someone willing to help me.
My mom was a borderline, as was her mom. Grandma Dorie was abandoned as a baby and adopted by my great-grandparents. She didn’t find out about any of this until a few years before she died. My grandmother beat my mom, while my grandfather abused Mom psychologically. Oh, right, Grandpa John. His mom died when he was a toddler, his father remarried, and pretty much ignored my grandfather for the majority of his life. So both my mom’s parents were abandoned as children.
When my mom was about six, my grandparents dropped her off at an orphanage as “punishment.” They left her there for a few hours, then came back and picked her up. Later in life, my grandfather would tell that story as a joke. I truly believe this was the event that broke my mother.
Both my mom and grandmother were borderline mothers. Grandma Dorie was the witch and the queen, while my mom was the witch, the queen, and the waif. My mother was narcissistic, manipulative, cruel, and incapable of unconditional love. Unlike my grandmother, though, my mother could also appear helpless and in constant need of the love she was unable to give. It was a horrible way to grow up.
Let’s skip over the three decades I spent self-harming, the two suicide attempts, the #EatingDisorders , the #Trauma I’ve survived, and fast forward to the moment I found Bert. Bert was a therapist in Vermont who specialized in treating borderlines. I began individual therapy, group therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy or DBT. My husband would help me with my DBT workbooks, he went to therapy with me, he listened and learned and supported me. And I got better.
I graduated from therapy and DBT, but life happens, so I needed another therapist after we moved to Minnesota. Eventually, I found Dave. Dave helped me through the residual effects of my mother’s death, he helped me with the Children’s Theatre lawsuit, and he’s still available if I need a refresher.
The clinical term for my status with BPD is “borderline in remission.” I cannot stand this term, because it implies that all my criteria can come back at any moment, destroy my life, and I have no control over any of it. Which, frankly, is bullshit. But I think I know why mental health professionals use this language.
Earlier this year, I was watching a documentary about a psychiatric hospital. At one point, the filmmaker speaks with a woman who is either a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse. He asks her about BPD, to which she responds (and this is verbatim), “Borderline Personality Disorder is the only fatal mental illness.”
There it is. Borderlines can never recover, we are only in remission. BPD is fatal. This also explains the stigma attached to BPD from so many mental health professionals. Why should they treat people with BPD when we’re just going to kill ourselves? Therapists who refuse to treat borderlines are actively creating scenarios where people with BPD will experience thoughts of self-harm and/or suicidal ideation. Just food for thought.
And now we come to Depp v Heard, the defamation trial currently taking place in Virginia. Johnny Depp is suing his ex-wife, Amber Heard, and last week, Depp’s attorneys called a psychologist to the stand. The psychologist revealed she had administered psychological tests to Heard, including the MMPI-2 and tests for PTSD. After evaluating the results and speaking with Heard, the psychologist determined Heard has #HistrionicPersonalityDisorder (which I had to look up), and that Heard is a borderline.
The second the psychologist stated Amber Heard has BPD, I looked up at the ceiling, sighed, and said “Well, here we go.” Suddenly, drama channel hosts had somehow gotten a PhD in psychology overnight, social media was rife with misinformation about BPD, the stigma flowed like a goddamn river, and borderlines were the most evil, destructive people on the planet.
This is the eighth criteria for borderline personality disorder:
“Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).”
I want to make something crystal clear. What Amber Heard allegedly did to Johnny Depp is horrible. Physically assaulting a loved one, spouse, or partner, is never accepted behavior, no matter what me