Mental Health

What They Won’t Tell You About BPD

I found out eight months ago that I have Borderline Personality Disorder *BPD. It’s taken me a long time, this whole time, to not only come to terms, but understand the symptoms as well. I’m still learning, to be honest.

It’s 4am as I write this. I went to bed hours ago, but some thoughts kept me awake until I was forced to get up and write about them, right now.

First off, let me explain to you that, eight years ago my therapist wrote in her personal notes the suspicion that I may have BPD, but she never told me. Over a year ago, my boyfriend started researching my symptoms online. I have bipolar 1, but he felt that I was presenting symptoms outside of the spectrum of bipolar. Several things came up, which is why armchair diagnosis is not good and rarely accurate, but he kept coming back to BPD. Despite not ever knowing anything about BPD, I heard *personality disorder* and immediately recoiled, accusing him of gaslighting. Six months later, while he was sleeping in bed, I took a BPD aptitude test. Yes, I know how silly that is. No, I do not put truck in random online “tests.” But, I did happen to get a score that was very high above “Extremely Likely BPD.” I took my knowleadge of the “test” results in to my following therapy appointment, where my therapist proceeded to not only go through the BPD DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) checklist with me, and check each box as I fit every symptom, but she divulged the reasoning behind not wanting to write it in my charts or formally diagnose me.

You see, Borderline Personality Disorder is highly stigmatized and misunderstood, not only by the general population, but specificly by medical professionals. I say specifically because it is their job to be informed and they are routinely misinformed. I went home upset and feeling somewhat stabbed in the back, for having this information kept from me for so long. But eight months later, after reading everything I can about BPD, and involving myself in multiple support groups, I finally understand why she felt she was doing me a favor. I still feel that she should’ve told me, but also understand that she wasn’t even aware that there was a treatment (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy *DBT) for BPD until around the time I brought it into conversation. I can see why she felt keeping something from me that has no treatment would make sense, she was sparing me the grief.

Now let’s put my therapist situation aside and go back to the medical professionals, and misinformation, and expand into thousands of articles written about people with “BPD” warning potential partners to steer clear, telling horror stories of our narssistic ways, and unfeeling habits. Making bogus accusations that we’re severely manipulative, and can cry on command, make up suicide threats, lie to get our way, make horrible parents, and my absolute favorite, do not have the capacity to love.

This is what she was sparing me from, are you less mad? Because after hearing stories about people with BPD being turned away from the emergency rooms, hung up on by crisis lines, dismissed by doctors, and psychiatrists, and shunned by their friends and family, I am the opposite of mad.

Here’s the thing. I could spend all day listing off each untrue claim and explain to you why they are myths. But rather, I want to focus on something I feel is more important for you to understand. If you know anything about autism, which is NOT a mental illness or chemical imbalance, but a neurotype, but if you know anything, you’ll recognize the common misunderstanding that people on the spectrum are unfeeling or lack emotion, even claims of narssism. What we know within the autism community is that the opposite is true. People on the autism spectrum generally not only feel so intensely in their emotions, but also experience high sensitivity sensorily. They spend so much of their energy processing all the input that they have little energy left over for output. It leaves them scrambling to regulate themselves and leaves the neurotypical observer or interactor to assume that their buddy on the spectrum just doesn’t care enough to pay attention, or respond in the way a neurotypical would.

Now let’s look at BPD and apply that same logic, yes we seek attention, there is fear of abandonment, we have what is called an FP (favorite person) of whom we attach our existence to and rely on for emotional validation, we have trouble regulating our moods, splitting, identity confusion, and  intense emotion. But can you see how all of these symptoms are related? The number one thing I’ve come to understand about myself, and others with borderline personality disorder is that we are so very highly sensitive that we present our symptoms with abandon and desperation. We display different than someone on the autism spectrum, but the idea is the same; which is, we are so profoundly sensitive that often we act out in attempt to protect ourselves from harm. Too often our emotional response is counterproductive to our desired outcome, but in the process of trying to regulate our sensitivity we do things that someone without BPD wouldn’t do. We’re so busy trying to hold ourselves together that we fall apart much more than I would like to admit.

Many of us have done regrettable things to get attention, many of us have walked away from a relationship, or pushed people away out of fear that the person we were walking away from might walk away first, it’s a form of self preservation, to protect ourselves from being hurt. After all, it’s better to hurt ourselves than to let other’s inflict the pain. Too many of us use self harm as an emotional regulator. We cling, and need, and beg in many different forms for compassion, honesty, understanding, patience, and love, and that’s the thing. That. We. Don’t. Get when  someone sees the diagnosis of BPD hanging around our necks. The very thing we need to mend is withheld by longstanding stigmatization, ableism, and misinformation.

Of course we need to learn to give ourselves the things we crave, and that’s what treatment is for, but in the meantime stop alienating us by villifying our sensitive nature, and instead offer us the appropriate equivalent of a simple hug.



9 thoughts on “What They Won’t Tell You About BPD

    • I wish I knew. It’s such a shame. Sometimes I wonder how much the name borderline personality disorder has to do with the stigma, but it has to go deeper to have had so many medical professionals misunderstand us.

  1. Amy says:

    I just wanted to say thank you! Thank you for being honest, for putting yourself out there, and most of all thank you for writing this in such a way that other people can understand what goes on in the mind of a person with BPD. I have been trying to get my boyfriend to understand what I deal with everyday, and everything I’ve shown him has either gone over his head, or almost sugar coated BPD. This explains it well.

  2. Caja says:

    Wow! So spot on true. I feel my therapist doesn’t trust me because of the diagnosis of BPD she gave me. I agree with her diagnosis and it has made a lot of my behavior and feelings make sense for me, but I don’t understand her distrust. But maybe she’s right and I just don’t realize that yet 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • Try not to let her possible mistrust of you cause you to mistrust yourself. Therapist patient relationships can be tricky. I hope your therapist learns to trust you. TBH, I have a hard time trusting myself because I’ve ruined things in my life that I didn’t want to ruin, but I think it’s important that your support system understands that the side of you that may not be trustworthy, is not the genuine you, and that is what you need help from them to control and cope with.

      • Caja says:

        The thing is that I did something to my therapist that boomeranged in a way I had never expected it to. I really hurt her and she says I ruined the connection between us. It took me eighteen months to trust her enough to even have the nerve to get connected and attached to her.
        But although I see that I did something really wrong because of the way she reacted to my action and friends tell me it was a absolute no go, I wasn’t able to see this beforehand. My friends don’t judge me about it, they just explain my therapist’s side and feelings. But my therapist seems to judge me even though she above all people should know how a BPD mind works. Guess I really stepped on her Achilles heel.
        But even though I can now see that, there are a few things that surprises me. I don’t see why something I did can cause such reactions. It doesn’t even feel like it was me who did it. I can’t internalize her feelings and emotions. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed about it.
        But I know I’m not an evil person who intentionally wanted to hurt her.
        Anyways… I ***peeeeep*** up. So much is clear to me now.

      • I guess all you can do is try to keep being honest and hope that at some point your therapists feeling of mistrust will mend itself. We learn as we go. I personally find myself having to learn the same thing several times before it sticks, unfortunately.

      • Caja says:

        Well at this point she’s not even sure if she wants to continue therapy with me. Normally I would have immediately dropped her after the way she reacted. But for some odd reason I don’t want to lose her.
        And that’s not just because I don’t want to have to start all over again with a new therapist.

      • Well, I hope you do try to explain to the therapist what you’ve told me, and that you would like to stay with them. Might be helpful to you if you can figure out why you value the therapist and let them know that too. I’m sure that would help. Best of luck!

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