Content warning. The following post covers my BPD diagnosis and, in part, deals with stigma. It contains language that some may find triggering.
It’s taken ten years to get answers. Ten long, painful years wondering why this had happened to me, but the most unbelievable thing has been my relief at having a BPD diagnosis.
Let’s face it, in the current climate a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is a kick in the teeth. It’s a heavily stigmatised diagnosis and one that the media love to throw around as a Bogey Man of mental ill health.
However, it doesn’t end there: stigmatising language has become second nature to us – a common currency of casual catchphrases to some, but ones with deeply detrimental meaning to others.
Some phrases have become so ingrained we even see them in video games.
Schizo, psycho, bunny boiler; the list goes on. These epithets have wormed their way in to casual language, adjectives used to show our disapproval at behaviours we find distasteful.
Weapons wielded to reaffirm our position within the pack, verbal attacks thrown in the hopes that we will be seen as “normal.”
We have become so at ease using these words as daily jargon; they have become so comfortable that they are now moving beyond the realm of the pejorative and have slipped into our personal lexicon, with us describing sporting losses as depressing and personal habits as being a “bit OCD.”
As I sat there talking with my psychiatrist the weight of my sins eased, the shame I bore for my actions hadn’t lessened but my understanding had deepened.
The pressure of trying to be “normal”, of wondering why I felt the way I did was, temporarily, washed away as we went through what BPD or EUD (Emotionally Unstable Disorder) meant as a diagnosis.
It was hard, baring my soul to a greater degree than I have ever done before. I sat with my wife, peeling back my emotional wounds while a professional expertly rubbed salt in them.
“Are you ok?” Eve said.
“Yeah” I replied.
“It’s just the look on your face.”
“No, I’m fine.”
My scars had been torn, the masks I wore cast aside as I tried to process what this meant, and the person who knows me best wasn’t going to miss it. Digging and clawing at where I differ from the norm, how my personality is disordered. Why I am broken.
I almost broke down when my psychiatrist apologised for not exploring this earlier. I have been seeing him for five years.
The doctor I had before him was fantastic but the complex nature of my symptoms:
Meant that we didn’t get anywhere beyond symptom management.
Lots of MRIs, EEGs and long wait times meant that it was a constant juggling act with no one medical professional able to untangle my symptoms.
When my current psychiatrist took over he focused on how my pain affects me and little more.
The constant revisiting of old emotional and current physical pain meant that I soon grew despondent with my treatment.
For him to acknowledge that he should have gone through this sooner was a huge validation of my anguish. I was so worried about being accused of making things up that I was afraid to say anything.
The diagnosis blazed in my mind, snapping the shadows of my past into focus. Bringing answers to questions I’d given up trying to answer. I felt exposed, raw, yet at the same time I felt free.
The pieces of the puzzle were coming into place, the fractured image of my life was at last becoming something recognisable, something I could understand. And with that understanding came freedom.
Freedom from the prison I’d made for myself, freedom from the fear, from the confusion.
I now look to the future from a new perspective, one of hope, because despite the stigma that surrounds BPD , I can see a way forward.
There is a path I can navigate and now I have the map.
The hills and valleys of my emotions no longer seem so insurmountable and while they certainly aren't a relaxing walk I can now, at least, see them as a conquerable challenge.
I will read them all and together we can fight the stigma that surrounds BPD.
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