In the 14 years between my first and second diagnoses, therapists had continually refused to label me as BPD, asking me “How would putting a name to the condition help you?” I grew to learn that this was probably because BPD is widely considered one of the most complicated mental health conditions to treat. They wanted, it seems, to find any other diagnosis but that. The last therapist I saw was the one who finally re-diagnosed me – but he reduced me to tears with his bleak prognosis and evident discomfort at having to talk to a BPD patient.
Lynne, also 30, is a full-time mum. She had similar difficulties being diagnosed. “I wasn’t officially told I had BPD until last year,” she reveals. “Having the diagnosis was such a relief – it confirmed for me why from such a young age I have reacted, felt and thought the way I do.” The worst parts of BPD for her are “dealing with rejection and simply seeing everything in black and white”. However, she says “When I’m happy I feel absolute elation – there’s no middle ground for me.”
Helen, 24, is a final year medical student who hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry. “As a trainee doctor suffering from BPD, I feel I have a unique perspective on the disorder,” she explains. “All too often I’ve heard doctors describe BPD patients as difficult and manipulative, and I’ve felt quite sad. I often think, how would you feel if I told you I was one of them? Would you be shocked? There’s still so much stigma attached to personality disorders, even among healthcare professionals.”
Elly, 32, is an office manager/PA. Like mine, her experiences of therapy have been disappointing. “I went on a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme,” she recalls. CBT is a form of therapy which attempts to help patients manage problems by changing the ways they think and behave, rather than simply talking through their issues. Sadly, it didn’t seem to work for Elly and she found it very uncomfortable. “It was incredibly hard and, bizarrely, I ended up trying to sabotage it all the time: always making my shrink laugh, threatening to leave, coming up with conspiracy theories about us being guinea pigs.”