Receiving a borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis can be both relieving and overwhelming. There was a name for this thing bubbling inside of me? Suddenly, my world made sense when I learned about BPD. Once my initial relief subsided, I was left with the same set of BPD symptoms and fears I’d always had. I thought I would share a few words of wisdom I wish had been passed to me when I first learned about my borderline personality disorder diagnosis.
I need people to stop using the borderline diagnosis as an insult. As someone who writes primarily about mental health, it’s easy for people to figure out that I’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) via a quick Google search. Part of me is relieved that it’s in the open – it frees me of the shame bestowed by secrecy and saves me from having to explain myself to people. But the other part of me worries that people who learn about my diagnosis will pigeonhole me based on their own misunderstandings of what BPD entails (Reclaiming Borderline to Reduce Stigma).
When defining borderline personality disorder (BPD), most resources will present you with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) criteria, but I wish to reframe the borderline personality disorder diagnosis. Not only is the DSM flat-out wrong about certain aspects of BPD (such as its understanding of people with BPD as lacking empathy), but it reduces a complex experience of being human to a diagnosis packed with bias. Let's reframe borderline personality disorder and think about the diagnosis differently.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is widely underdiagnosed. However, the problem is not just a matter of healthcare access, as even BPD individuals who seek treatment are misdiagnosed. The problem runs deeper in the packaging and distribution of knowledge among professionals. The majority of mental healthcare providers hold misconceptions about BPD, and even those who don’t seem to perpetuate myths around borderline personality disorder.
I asked my Facebook friends what they wanted to know about borderline personality disorder (BPD). Someone asked: "I'd like to know how does one discover or come to terms with being BPD? It took me years to learn of my depression, and I would assume one doesn't always know they have BPD - so how do they find out? And once they find out, then what?"
I once read a book by a homeless man, and he talked about the first thing his guru said to him: "Everything that happens to you is for your own good." As a rape survivor, I argue with this, but it stood out to me. My version would be "Everything that happens to you is to teach you something." I recently learned a major fact about my BPD diagnosis from a woman at the bus stop.
The good news is there is hope. BPD is treatable. However, it is useful to know if you fall into a subtype in order to better communicate with your mental health professional. You may not know where you fall, and you may not fall into one of those categories--that's okay. What's important is that you understand your diagnosis, in order to improve the outcome of treatment.
Borderline personality disorder does get better if you work at it. You are worth the wait.
Some people believe that the term "borderline" is stigmatizing and inaccurate. Should BPD be renamed? If so, what should it be called?
Schema therapy shows tremendous potential for treating borderline personality disorder (BPD). In this video, More Than Borderline's Becky Oberg explains domains, which are related to basic childhood needs, and the schemas that can form if those needs are not met.