Diagnosed as Borderline. Will My Therapist Still Like Me?
I really hope you’ll answer my question… as I am in an incredible amount of anxiety and emotional turmoil, and I feel like I can’t turn to my therapist for support. He just told me a couple of days ago that I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I was absolutely devastated to hear this, because I have worked in the mental health field myself. No one likes Borderlines. We are manipulative, unlikable, demanding, draining, taxing, etc, etc, etc. I have always feared that I had this diagnosis, but I was really hoping no one would agree with me. My therapist told me for almost two years that he didn’t think I was Borderline, but obviously he has changed his mind. I think I really made him mad when I cried to him on the phone one night. He told me that it was inappropriate to be going into certain things on the phone, and that I was manipulating him to keep him on the phone. I was mortified because he has always told me to call him if I was upset. He had even said this twice over the previous two weeks. Now he is really short with me on the phone, and I am paranoid that his whole opinion of me has changed. I am afraid that everything I think, feel, or do will now be interpreted as “just being Borderline.” Is everything he has told me in the past now null and void because I have this diagnosis? Am I no longer allowed to feel hurt or angry–because this is just Borderline? I am so scared about what this means for the future of my treatment with this therapist. He has told me in the past that he has worked with other BPD clients, and has helped them to no longer have that diagnosis–and that was really rewarding for him. He has also said several times that he is not into labeling, as this says nothing about a person or why they are the way they are. I am just hoping that I won’t lose the relationship we’ve had. I have had a really close attachment to him for two years and he has said in the past that we have a good working relationship. Is this all over??? Please help.
A. You shouldn’t think that because you have been diagnosed as borderline your therapist won’t like you. Borderline personality disorder may have gained a negative connotation with the general public. As mental health professionals we have an obligation to help change that perception.
Life is extremely complex, in any case, and it’s only made more difficult when an individual has depression, anxiety, borderline personality or other disorder. If problem-solving and navigating life’s challenges were very easy then therapists might not be needed.
Many individuals with borderline personality disorder have unique challenges but the same could be said for all other mental health disorders.
I can’t interview your therapist so I cannot know whether he has changed his opinion of you because of the diagnosis. I highly doubt that he has. He was the one who diagnosed you as borderline. He’s likely long suspected the diagnosis. Therefore it would not make logical sense for him to stop validating what you say simply because you’re now diagnosed. He may have altered how he interacted with you, based on something he felt was inappropriate in that particular phone conversation. Part of the treatment associated with borderline personality disorder is placing boundaries and limits on interactions between the therapist and client. It’s one of the features of dialectical behavioral treatment (DBT). Based on the limited information provided in your letter I suspect that he was following the treatment protocol of DBT.
Nothing you wrote leads me to believe that he’s attempting to end his therapeutic relationship with you. I know this is a concern for you. Try not to take these new limitations in contact as a rejection. It may feel like it is but what he may be doing is modeling the necessary skills for the development and maintenance of a healthy relationship. Characteristics of healthy relationships include clear and delineated emotional, psychological and physical boundaries and limitations. I would encourage you to share your feelings with your therapist. Therapy is often not pleasant or easy. It’s hard work but it’s worth it. Try to hang in there. I wish you luck. Thank you for writing.
Randle, K. (2009). Diagnosed as Borderline. Will My Therapist Still Like Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/11/diagnosed-as-borderline-will-my-therapist-still-like-me/