Was I Misdiagnosed as Borderline?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. According to Trauma Hospital Staff (Psychiatrist and Therapist and Staff) Just wanted to reconfirm this: I used to work from the age of 15 through age 30. In 2004, there was the first rape, then in 2005 another rape. I was struggling before those 2 things, and in 2004, quit my job for lots of reasons, and before then had a hard time keeping jobs because probably of the dissociation, and also the PTSD, and I’ve always had the diagnosis of PTSD, but had a bunch of wierd diagnosis…

Well, the hardest was when I had to quit my job in 2004, became homeless, waiting for Social Security Disability to be approved, and then was raped that year, in addition to attending church (for about 3 years consistently at the same church at the time and had a pastoral counselor that did some harm mixed with some good), at that time was really stressful, really painful, really confusing, and people in the church judged me a whole lot because of the cutting – that I don’t remember, but I guess another alter did… now I know who she is and why – because of the rape at the time and the stress of the homelessness…Anyways, from that time, she was out, and I was also agitated and feeling confused, upset, scared, and hurt by all the people that swore I was on drugs – I wasn’t, but still attended the church 12 step group, and was diagnosed at the behavioral center as Borderline with PTSD or CPTSD.

I took the DBT course for a year, tried a bunch of medications, no one wanted to listen to my complaints about the church people and their judgments, and most of which was from incidents I don’t remember. That was the first and ONLY year I was diagnosed with BPD at age 30. There were no cutting incidents before then, no scars on my body. I had also just given my daughter up for adoption because they thought I was not only post-partum, mixed with the PTSD, but at that time (2003) they thought I was psychotic because “in my head” I would hear and see a screaming child, and a bunch of horrid images. None of which I would ever do to my daughter, nor did I want to give her up. I did so because I thought I was psychotic. And later they diagnosed me because of the cutting “in church and at home” of which I didn’t remember, but “came to” in the ER and psych wards.

Just a few months ago, and about a year ago, I was admitted into a trauma hospital for the first and only 2 times in my life, because it was more geared with working with trauma and dissociation (which I didn’t know at the time, but people later (in 2006 and 2007) suspected the DID/MPD stuff, but beforehand thought I was psychotic or BPD or a bad sinner, etc.), and so in the hospital, both times, they said in axis II I had no personality disorders at all. I have DID, I have PTSD, I have Major Depressive Disorder, and I have Anxiety / based on trauma – but no personality disorder. i thought that to be odd since I have DID/MPD, but I got confused.

The DBT in the county facilities and the way the therapists at the county behavioral health treated me and other borderlines in the group, especially when I would cry because I was homeless, and little did I know I was having flashbacks of the recent rape, let alone the other stuff in my past – that I don’t have memory of, but it is “in my head and body feelings and images and stuff” – and well, the DBT was so frustrating back then. It was as if no one could hear or understand me, and I was judged all over the place and just asked to use coping skills, that I wasn’t ready to talk about anything, that I had to understand others. I did understand others, they didn’t get that I wasn’t like the others – I didn’t think in black and white, I cared about people at my church and what not, but I didn’t know what was going on, nor did I know how to explain it at the time, nor did they know that I never cut before in my life, and I don’t remember the cutting, I only saw the blood and scars and stitches after the fact, and they thought I was lying.

I thought they were lying when they said I would say things or do things, and again, they thought that was a BPD trait or something, but in fact, it wasn’t that I was lying, I really didn’t know what was going on. But I did accept responsibility, I did attend the groups, and I did attend for a year a very judgemental christian 12 step group, and dealt with the harsh judgement and rejections at my former church. I didn’t realize later that I have alters that have been ritualistically abused, that church was a trigger for them, that they would come out, that I would lose time, or even what all this was.

Since 2005, there was no more cutting, no more scars, only the scars left from mainly 2004, and a few times I think in 2005, after the 2 rapes. Could this still be a borderline thing or could it be just a picked-up habit somehow that got under control from an alter? Since I don’t remember, and since I do take responsibility, but at the time I was having what I thought was a nervous breakdown and thougth I was going crazy, I just took whatever meds and diagnosis they gave me.Later they found that antipsychotics made things a lot worse. I do feel suicidal at times, and I was in desperate need for help at the time, perhaps perceived as clingy and desperate. But beforehand and since the end of 2005/2006 up until now, I mainly stay at home alone, been a bit agoraphobic (not diagnosed, but afraid to leave the house because of getting panic attacks or being attacked, and do most of my shopping online, and only leave 4 to 5 times out of the month), and I feel more safer being at home alone than in crowds and I get scared sometimes to hang out with people moreso now because of the awareness of DID and the switching now.

THey said in the trauma hospital I was polyfragmented DID. Why some therapists when I tried to seek treatment for DID after I was diagnosed in the trauma hospital said DID was just an exaggerated borderline or they didn’t believe in it got me to wondering, what is your opinion. I know I should be satisfied with the trauma hospital’s answers, but that’s in a nutshell the experiences I’ve had. I no longer attend church but still have my faith, though really hidden and I’m scared of expression or attending a church now, and I moved out of state. In this new state, I have tried a new therapist out, and for the first time in my life, she wound up to be a very unethical one – having me stay at her home, meet her roommate, mom, which all seemed nice, until her roommate threatened me, and her roommate happened to steal my therapist’s pills of which my tehrapist asked me to hold them for her.

I was very close to my therapist, but she did a lot more stuff that I’d rather not go into, and now I have a fear about seeing a therapist. I just wondered if I have borderline or if the alter that is 12 years old that cut was just “acting her age for what she went through” and if DID/PTSD or CPTSD and the MDD fits like the trauma hospital stated, or if there’s a possibility I could be or secretly am a borderline in disguise. I just wonder. I have tried the DBT, but the coping skills so far since 2006 has kept “us” (me and the alters) safe for the most part, out of psych wards, and well, dealing with things alone now because we are afraid of the world. I hope that doesn’t make me or us borderline or anti-social, but could I be or be turning into that? Sorry for the long question and post, but wanted to find out.

A. Thank you for your very detailed question. Unfortunately, despite your detail, I cannot verify, confirm or give a diagnosis over the Internet. The Internet has many great functions but it would be unethical and very difficult to attempt a mental health diagnosis using this medium.

You have experienced many traumas and hardships. I would recommend that you find a therapist who you truly like and trust. It would probably not be a good idea to return to your last therapist and it is advisable for to consider a new church group where people are more accepting of you.

Also, be careful who you reveal your diagnosis to (i.e. maybe not the church members) because many people do not understand the diagnosis of DID and therefore tend to jump to erroneous or false conclusions about your disorder. I am not saying that your diagnosis is anything to be ashamed of in anyway, please do not misunderstand. But people do tend to be judgmental, even if they do not realize they are doing so. Generally, the more personal information people know about you the more they tend to use it against you.

I am sorry I could not be more assistance to you in helping you come to an accurate diagnosis. Getting the most accurate diagnosis is best done when you make an in-person appointment with a trained a mental health professional. I do wish you luck and thanks so much for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Feb 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Was I Misdiagnosed as Borderline?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/02/20/was-i-misdiagnosed-as-borderline/

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