so is this where I begin?

Primary diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder.

Yep.

When you see that in your chart it can feel like a kick in the stomach. Maybe I was a little behind the times when it comes to research on mental illness but the only basis I had for BPD was the movie Girl, Interrupted – and it isn’t like that was the picture perfect vision of what suffering from borderline is like.

I should probably start off by saying my original primary diagnosis was ‘Depressive Disorder’ , ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder’ followed by ‘Eating Disorder NOS’ with borderline personality traits. After my latest downward spiral I think my therapist made the right choice by changing my primary diagnosis. Isn’t it odd though that we don’t get much of a say in our diagnosis even though it IS ours? That isn’t to say that I don’t agree with mine because I practically fit it to a tee but it definitely doesn’t help when there isn’t a TON of information out there on this versus some of the more common mental illnesses.

Borderline Personality according to NAMI

Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis:

Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis: DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria

A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self image and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood ** and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
    Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating).
    Note: Do not include suicidal or self-mutilating behavior covered in Criterion 5.
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures or threats or self-mutilating behavior.
  6. Affective [mood] instability.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms.

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association
** Data collected informally from many families indicate this pattern of symptoms may appear as early as the pre-teens

Well I can tell you that this list is me pretty much to a tee – and if THAT doesn’t make you feel crazy I don’t know what will. So here I am faced with the reality of exactly what this means. There is a little comfort in the fact that there is a reason WHY I feel the way I do, why I do the things I do and so although this isn’t a huge comfort it does make me feel like there is hope for me.

I spent most of my life thinking that I was crazy, different and all around fucked up because of the things I did, things I said and how I felt. I never wanted to be on meds, I never wanted to be in therapy (and my family wasn’t exactly the most supportive in either of those areas) but here I was at a crossroads in my life. I was unhappy, alone, sad, depressed, scared, tired and a mired of other emotions and so after a harsh push from a friend I started seeking help (eventually I will share this story but not for my first post).

Never having been in therapy before I found it extremely hard to open up to a stranger but thankfully my therapist has made me feel super comfortable with sharing and eventually I was able to open up to her without fear of judgement. Currently I am on 20 mg of prozac and seeing my therapist once a week and I actually just finished a DBT group therapy program. I will get into that more as the days go on but for now I just wanted to give you a little background as to who I am, what BPD is and how I am learning to deal with the idea that this is something built into my mental pathology and something I can’t run away from.

Running is what I am typically good at – running from the things that scare me, running from painful memories and feelings…but what I am slowly learning is that you can’t run from this. You can’t run from your mental pathology and if I want to move forward in life I am going to have to figure out a way to live as a borderline but not allow the diagnosis to define me.

I hope you will stick around with me on this journey.

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