As I asked my psychiatrist whether he knew of any DBT* practitioners in Ballarat, he casually mentioned my having the disorder and that, yes, DBT would definitely be helpful.
Which was news to me, because when I discussed it with my previous doctor, she dismissed it and suggested that I simply had a “vulnerable” personality, whatever that meant. Still, she too confirmed that DBT would be a good option for me.
Yet my own research led me to some really strong resonance with the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), particularly the constant feelings of emptiness, difficulty in identifying and managing emotions, an inability to develop and maintain long term relationships and a poorly developed sense of self. It also explains my “foot in mouth disease”, always saying the wrong thing and offending people without meaning to. I lack the ability to self-censor. I don’t know what might offend others.
Why haven’t I been diagnosed until now?
I suspect that it’s because I’ve been in therapy for nearly fifteen years and I’m addicted to self-help books. I have managed to learn strategies to cope with the various symptoms one by one, through mindfulness, meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy.
My constantly returning depressive and anxiety symptoms have probably done a good job of masking the underlying cause. It is easy to diagnose depression and anxiety, not so easy to do with BPD.
Some people have told me that a BPD diagnosis is sometimes seen as the last resort for psychiatrists, when nothing else seems to fit and no treatment seems to work. It is also often reserved for those who self-harm, which I don’t, unless you count my constant picking at my cuticles and dry skin on my feet. (I know – gross!)
What does this mean for me?
A better understanding of my symptoms and the areas of my mind and thinking I need to work on. I need a better understanding of my emotions and the thoughts that cause them. A lot of the time, I have absolutely no idea, why I feel the way I feel and it takes some multi-layered unpacking to find the actual thought processes behind the feelings.
I don’t really know how to deal with the emptiness and low self-esteem, but I will find out.
I am relieved to have a diagnosis. Relieved to know why I am different. Relieved that there are strategies to help me cope.
I know I can’t be cured, but I know I can learn ways of managing the disorder and function more effectively than I have been.
* Dialectical Behaviour Therapy