BPD. Not a mental illness?

How do you define a mental illness? For years I was awarded the ‘reactive depression’ tag. Most of my care providers were sympathetic. They understood that just getting out of bed was a daily battle for me during those bad times. They knew that I only went to see them when I’d deteriorated to the extent that I could barely function for the cloying black fog which had settled around me. They let me cry in their surgeries. They gently encouraged me to take baby steps back to good health again. They agreed that mental illness was a bitch and that I was likely to suffer these relapses throughout my life.

But then a pdoc who barely knew me slapped a personality disorder diagnosis on me. ”You’re not mentally ill. Just mildly depressed. You need to stop stomping around this ward and remember there are people here who are much worse than you.”

And suddenly the reaction at my gp’s changes subtly. There are no suggestions of a future referral to therapy anymore. When I lose my control and dare to cry in front of them I’m told that my symptoms are just part of being me and there’s nothing they can do about it. They want me off meds because there are no meds for bpd. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not rude or angry, just dismissive. Afterall, a doctor wants to treat a patient and make them better. So why invest any time in a bpd’er who can’t be treated?

It appears I don’t get depressed anymore. Not like a ‘normal’ person. My mood swings are just the child in me acting out. Just ignore her. Selfharming? She’s just attention seeking. Ignore it and she’ll go away. We don’t like her because she doesn’t do anything to make herself better.

I’ve spent years battling these moods. I’ve held down jobs most of my life, despite feeling like I’m being thrown to the lions everytime I walk into a room full of people. I’ve worked hard in therapy. I’ve taken on board what people have said to me. I’ve accepted full responsibility for my behaviour and succeeded in changing much of it. I’ve learnt from the therapists how to look and act normal, to become less offensive to the public by hiding how I feel. I’ve spent a year at a therapeutic community, being broken down and built back up again into a more socially acceptable shape. I’ve lost who I am, if I ever even knew who that was. I’ve conformed. I’ve let people belittle my feelings for the past couple of years and tell me I bring my depressive moods on myself.

And where has it got me? I danced out of that TC on a high. Buoyed up by their expectations and insistance that I would be fine. That I could go back to work, maybe go to college again, be normal. 3 months later I started to slip. I tried to talk about it to them. Ask their advice. They put their hands over their ears. We’ve given you the skills. Go away and use them. Don’t mess up our success rate.

I knew what was coming. I’d been there before so many times. The only difference was that this time I only had myself to blame. I’d been told to let the past go. So when the urge to die became stronger each day, so did the guilt. Because if you’re not mentally ill and you want to die, then you must be a bad person right?

So that’s where I am now. Facing years of forever battling someone of my own creation. Because here in the UK a personality disorder is still seen as self inflicted. And whatever the reports may say, it is still a diagnosis of exclusion.


4 Responses to “BPD. Not a mental illness?”

  1. Alison Says:

    I have to admit I am slightly terrified of being told I have BPD, despite the fact I’ve secretly thought it was what was wrong for years. I tried to sway the professionals it was Bipolar because it’s a label people see to be more at ease with. The fact I didn’t mention the abuse when I was a kid was the reason I was continually labelled with “Recurrent Depression”… as soon as I mentioned it to the CPN I’d built my trust up in for three year wham, thrown in a TC and left to fend for myself… I feel I have taken a massive backwards step over the past 7 weeks.

  2. bippidee Says:

    I think it’s rotten how your cpn has treated you. She should have realised that group therapy would throw up a lot of emotions and that you’d probably need even more support. Unfortunately with group work they tend to take away any other care providers to encourage you to open up in group rather than elsewhere. I see their point but it’s not easy at all.

  3. deathlyhollow Says:

    “We don’t like her because she doesn’t do anything to make herself better.” this is something i tell myself so often. when people who know i have BPD talk to me about improvement and understanding my ‘illness’ and myself…i hear it laced in their voice. i try, but i can not get past it.

  4. lolo dpg Says:

    same thing happening to me i was starting to think i was an attention seeking neurotic bitch who thinks she need therapy when all she needs is a kick in the butt and stop feeling sorry for herself. i’ve tried 3 times to see a therapist and they all showed me the door after some time. the second one saw me for a longer while (a few month) because i had some rape related problem, and having been raped basicaly is a red carpet for therapy. i got over that but still feel barely functional, i feel sad/stupid/fake/violent/lost/spaced-out on a daily basis and i don’t know how to make them uderstand. all i can do is beg for some stupid anxiety meds a a kids dosage. wtf. the positive thing is that it makes me want to become a psychiatrist to show them how it is done. ^^ well that made me feel better 🙂 also you said when you talked about the abuse they got it immediatly but i don’t want to say anything about my childhood cause i don’t want them to negate those feelings as they did with the other ones nor make a fool of myself. my parents were (are) great in many ways, i don’t whant the doc to tell me it’s basically my fault if i turned out like this and should be grateful instead because i am grateful, i just cant’ forget nor forgive some stuffs that did happen. now i cant’ even dare to write on BPD forums any more cause i am ashamed that i got kicked out by the free shrink so it means i am normal and should not speak as a BPD at all. it feels lonely i guess i can only rely on myself like in the old days. it’s like a door for me had opened and is closing again. i don’t want it to close but everyone else does. sometime i think i should just set some stuff on fire or kill an animal so they would get i am not as well as i look. this “misunderstood” thing sounds so teenage lol. ho well. glad you wrote about this subject that as long as you’re not hallucinating or constantly wanting to kill yourself you’re “normal” (not mentally ill) and you’re solely responsible for your well being. good luck for the future.

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