This is a post about my diagnosed personality disorder and me.
Often people are criticised for their own self-diagnosis of supposed mental health conditions. Society argues that people will sometimes say they have self-diagnosed depression (to excuse them from being a miserable cow), or anxiety (when they want to avoid doing something), like when
people (I) used to feign the symptoms of asthma to get out of PE back at school.
But one mental health condition you won’t get people self-diagnosing themselves with willy nilly is “personality disorder”. This is something no-one wants to identify themselves with, whether officially diagnosed or not. As I’ve often said, if I threw a “I have a diagnosed personality disorder” party, I know no-one would come! The psychiatric label doesn’t exactly cover me in glory. PD is s**t (to live with AND to be labelled with) but in many ways, the labelling of myself as having it causes as much trouble as the symptoms of the disorder itself, certainly the milder aspects of the symptom list anyway.
One major issue, (both for me and wider society), is whatever I think, whatever I do, whatever I feel. however I act, whatever decisions I make, and whatever behaviours I choose, EVERYTHING is inclined to be interpreted through the lens of my supposed ‘fuckedupness’, even if it’s the world that’s f****d up or other people who are f****d up.
Often I want to shout in a loud voice “IT ISN’T MY PD, IT’S MEEEEEEE”, because I honestly think EVERYTHING about me is interpreted as pathological.
When you have a PD, unlike other mental health disorders, this psychiatric label vomits over the whole person, shrouding them in sticky toxicity.
A depressed person has depression. They are not the depression.
But a PD, where the hell does that end and me begin? That is a tricky question, certainly in the eyes of society/humanity at large.
In the past (before I was psychologically enlightened) if I met someone with a diagnosed PD, I must admit I’d probably be super wary of them, because I’d be vigilantly looking out for signs of their disordered-ness at all times, after all- it’s their personality that’s f*****d, right? I wouldn’t think their brain was dysfunctional, or their neurotransmitters, or their circadian rhythms. I would think (understandably) it was them and all them.
But now I have this wonderful label attached to me on my medical records, I have now become that very same person that I once might have been wary of; so I’ve had to revise my understanding and prejudices quite drastically, otherwise I would have no self-esteem at all.
It doesn’t help that a report just out on PDs cites the stat that 70% of people incarcerated in forensic settings have a diagnosed PD. No differentiation is made between the different subtypes of PD, so the public will naturally think that someone like me could well have criminal tendencies, even though people with Borderline PD (like me) and far more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else. It is the anti-social PD crew that comprise the majority of prison populations, not the BPD crew, and for the record, my police record is unblemished. I also have no points on my driving license, am a loving caring mum and do shit loads of mental health charity work to fundraise and use my writing to dispel stigma. I am a good moral person who is caring and giving and compassionate towards people. That doesn’t sit well with the PD stereotypes, but there you go. I know the good bits of me are still me, and I resent the bad bits of my mental health symptoms defining my whole identity and self-perception, so I try to keep my self-assessments balanced.
I am both good and flawed, and all the shades of grey in-between.
So, in my life off the blog, there are two recent examples where I have made decisions that could easily be interpreted by others as evidence of my personality fuckedupness. but I put it to you that before you do this you please give me a break and refrain from seeing everything about me as being due to this sticky toxic dripping in vomit label below.
ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code F60.3: Borderline personality disorder.
I get so sick of having this label. I can’t articulate how much I can’t stand it. I know some people with this diagnosis don’t mind it, but anecdotally, based on what I read and who I speak to those people are in the minority.
For the record, I didn’t pull out of my story being published in the glossy magazine because I have BPD. I pulled out because I wasn’t happy to have my important story edited down to the bare bones, by a editorial team that feared a backlash due to the sensitive/unusual subject matter.
Also for the record, I didn’t pull out of co-organising the mental health hike because I have BPD. I backed off because the expectation level financially of what the event would generate, (in combination with the ‘cost-saving at every turn’ philosophy) was all to the detriment of my vision for the event, which was about communicating an anti-stigma mental health awareness message and promoting the positivity of exercise in healing emotional wounds. I felt the charity were utterly taking the piss as to what they thought was fair to ask an unpaid volunteer to put the time in to deliver, and as I am in a financial situation where I need paid employment, I wasn’t prepared to be taken for granted as a volunteer who wasn’t even being remunerated a minimum wage for my substantial efforts. My whole event (I was the original creator and driving force behind it) and my vision was in danger of being quashed and overtaken by desires to impress corporate sponsors, and money had become everything, diluting the integrity of the event (which was to create positive momentum for change in terms of mental health awareness and celebrate the memory of someone who tragically lost their life by suicide). That is what matters; families, people, life itself. So if having self-respect, the confidence to assert myself and the confidence to walk away from things that clash with my values is disordered, call me disordered.
I don’t think this was about my PD traits at all, other than how I have to protect my energy as an emotionally vulnerable person. Apart from that aspect, my decisions are not all about my PD, they are about ME!