Friday, 3 February 2012

I reject your reality & substitute my own!

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My psychiatrist told me I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I rejected his diagnosis. Because that's how it works, right?

"Mrs Jones, I'm afraid you have cancer."
"No I don't. I am sick of young whippersnappers like you telling me what I do and do not have! Now give me a prescription for Endone and I'll be on my way!"

Is Mrs Jones' cancer like Schrodinger's cat? Unless she looks she neither has, nor does not have, cancer, right? Because that's exactly how I feel about BPD. I neither have, nor do not have, BPD - unless I go back to my psychiatrist. And I haven't. It's been nearly a year. It was March last year.
"Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychological condition marked by a prolonged disturbance of personality function, characterized by depth and variability of moods.
The disorder typically involves unusual levels of instability in mood and black-and-white thinking, or splitting. BPD often manifests itself in idealization and devaluation episodes and chaotic and unstable interpersonal relationships, self-image, identity, and behavior; as well as a disturbance in the individual's sense of self."
To be diagnosed as BPD, a patient needs to present with five out of these nine symptoms.

* frantic efforts to avoid feared abandonment
I will do anything to avoid being abandoned. I have broken up with boyfriends, purely so they couldn't break up with me. When people move away, as people tend to do throughout life, I take it so personally. To me, the fact of the matter is I am not worth enough to them for them to stay near to me. Whatever the reason for the move (work, family, relationships, etc.) it is simply more important to the person than I am. And that hurts so deeply.

* intensity and instability in relationships

* suicidal behaviour, or acts of self-harm
I cut myself throughout high school. I would carve a sparkly spiral on my wrist whenever I was sad. If that was already bloody and scabby, I would carve a star into my ankle. I planned to kill myself in 2005. My dad went to football on Monday nights. On the Sunday, I decided to wait until he went to football and then take every tablet I could find and lay down in bed. If I was still alive when Dad got home, he would just assume I was sleeping & leave me be & I'd be dead by the morning.
Last February I made an attempt. Late one night, I was so overwhelmed by everything that I got up from my bed & headed towards the kitchen of my shared unit for a big sharp knife. As I walked past my housemate's room, I felt a small voice creep up & I squeaked out his name. The sound of my voice, so pitiful, terrified me and I ran back into my room sobbing hysterically. My housemate came running into my room to find me begging him not to let me kill myself. He'd later tell me I had screamed his name & sounded terrified, not pitiful.
These days, I discovered I have physical urticaria. I can stratch myself, feel pain, see an angry red weal & know it will be gone by morning.

* an unstable self-image or sense of self
This is a huge one for me an I have trouble explaining it. I believe I am very different to other people. I don't understand the way other people's brains work and why they do what they do. I'm confused by basic human interactions and am always paranoid that I am doing it wrong. I feel like I wear myself as a costume that fools people but inside this costume is a weird alien who desperately pretends to be normal. It's really hard to describe...

* impulsive behaviour (eg. spending, substance use, reckless driving, sex, binge eating)

* emotional instability due to reactivity of mood
I am shocking with this. The smallest things affect my emotions and they do it in a huge way. A few careless words can send me deep into a spiral of sadness and paranoia. I analyse everything and come to conclusions that are usually painful to deal with and upsetting to me. I hate going to the grocery shops and will come home in a bad mood that I have been known to take out on people I love. Recently, I got insanely angry at my dog for not helping me carry my groceries into the house. Yeah, I know...

* chronic feelings of emptiness
This could be BPD and this could be thanatophobia / existential anxiety. Either way, I absolutely cannot fathom the point of life. I sit and ponder why... just, why...? I am the kind of person who needs goals. I am that donkey that will only walk if there is a carrot dangling right in front of me.

* intense, inappropriate or uncontrollable anger
In grade 10, a guy in manual arts was teasing me. The next thing I remember, my friend touched me on the shoulder. I had opened my tool cabinet, grabbed a chisel & was making my way towards him while the class looked shocked. I describe the part I don't remember as 'red'. It's like my memory was replaced by blindingly bright red. And getting angry at my dog for not bothering to help me carry groceries is not exactly appropriate, is it?

* paranoid thinking under stress or 'dissociative' symptoms
I play football. I'm pretty good. But I won't try to do anything - tricky passes that I am perfectly capable of doing or dribbling the ball up the field, taking on a player - because I am so paranoid the team will hate me if it goes wrong. Even though if they do the same, I'm OK & just yell out encouragement. Some players haven't come back this season. I am convinced it is my fault. I don't know why, I just am. They were there last season when they didn't know I had joined the team, but they won't come back this season.
If someone is upset - or I perceive they may be upset - I believe it's my fault. I usually can't think of a logical reason why it's my fault. And then I believe that it's because I'm so selfish and such a bad person that I didn't even notice what I did to upset them. It's exhausting being so paranoid.
And the dissociative symptoms? I have repressed so much of my life - moments I have been stressed, movie endings that have upset me, confrontational conversations... I just dissociate and somehow come out the other end alive.

It's still something I am considering - whether to accept this diagnosis or not. And in all honesty, this is the main reason I don't want to accept the diagnosis:
"Pejorative terms to describe persons with BPD such as “difficult,” “treatment resistant,” “manipulative,” “demanding” and “attention seeking" are often used."
Imagine a trained professional basically saying to you, "you are mentally ill. How do I know? Because you are difficult, manipulative, demanding and attention-seeking." It hurts. I'll tell you that. Luckily, the few people I have told this to have laughed. They say that if they were to describe me, they would never ever use any of those words. Except "attention-seeking". But they would use it in the "I like to be the centre of attention by being bright, bubbly and entertaining - not by faking drama or making stuff up to get attention. They understand that I am still 'me'. And if 'me' has BPD, so be it. They still love me for who I am, mental illnesses and all.

You may think I am being too open and revealing by writing this blog post. But I am me. If I wrote about the complications of pregnancy, that would be fine. If I wrote about having diabetes, that would be fine. If I wrote about actually being diagnosed with cancer, that would be fine. Obviously they would all be sad, but  in revealing my tragic medical history, I wouldn't be revealing too much. Well I have a mental illness. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have thanatophobia / existential anxiety. I may have Borderline Personality Disorder. And if I do, that kind of sucks... but I refuse to be ashamed of it. Like the ad says, "I can treat my mental illness. I can't help how you treat me."

Miss SAMawdsley xx

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  1. Kudos to you for speaking out; more people should if they can! I should (and keep meaning to) write a few kindred posts about my own mental state(s)...

    Keep being brave, keep being honest & open, and mostly just keep being awesome! :)

  2. Thanks, Dave! :) If you do write a post, let me know! I'll link to it here! xx