For a very, very long time – about 4 years now – I’ve been certain I have a personality disorder. I guess it always felt like, to me, something was always inherently wrong with me, something that was not depression or anxiety, like, in the way that I view the world.
I settled on BPD for a while, and have considered myself Borderline since then. I’m in therapy, and have been for a year or two, and while I haven’t been diagnosed, as I am under 18, I’ve just barely begun DBT with my therapist.
Unfortunately, something else that’s consistently bothered me is that while I have this deep, gut feeling that something is wrong with me, I am also consistently afraid I am not “sick enough”, or that I’m not really Borderline, which sends me into a panic. It feels like I have created my entire identity around this fact, and the idea that I’m not really BPD makes me terrified.
I fit a lot – nearly all of the symptoms – but one symptom that I dealt with heavily during middle and high school has seemingly gone away, or at least lessened, and that’s the mood swings.
I do get really big and short bursts of anger a lot, usually resulting in my hitting myself and cursing under my breath, digging my fingernails in my hands behind my back, etc. I used to act out but stopped doing that in high school.
It just feels like I should be having more mood swings. Like, I read so much stuff from other people with BPD talking about how everyday is just an up and down, whereas I have a good number of days that are just… fine, or many where I feel like I feel nothing at all.
But I still hit every other symptom, such as:
Fear of abandonment. It’s gotten to the point where I downright assume everyone is or is going to leave me, so while I’m terrified of it, I just sorta.. accept it? I’ve pushed everyone away and isolated myself so much at this point, there’s nobody to abandon me. I’ve sort of done the work for them.
Sense of identity. I’ve always felt like I’m not a “real” person, like, I’m only things related to other people. Like, I’m so-and-so’s friend around so-and-so, or my sister’s brother when I’m with my sister. Like my identity is based entirely around the people I am around, and there’s no real substance to me. I tend to act like a wildly different person depending on who I am around, and more so than the usual person.
Anger. As I said before, I get flashes of anger that hit me as fast as they leave me. I’ll just bite my tongue, punch myself, etc. Many times late at night I’ll have angry breakdowns where I practically throw a temper tantrum, hitting myself, screaming into pillows, etc.
Attachment. Although I currently am self-isolated, I have in the past experienced incredible emotional attachment to people. This is one of the things that seems to have stopped, though, as it now feels like I don’t care about anyone, or anything. It feels like I’m unable to connect to people anymore.
Impulse. I have the impulse to self destruct daily, though I also have ADHD and learned skills early on in life to deal with this in particular. I can tell it apart from my ADHD impulses, though, as they are usually violent against myself – like sticking pins in my fingers, or slamming my head into a wall – or self destructive, like deleting accounts, or telling a friend I hate them.
Black and white thinking. People are either right or wrong, yes or no, etc. It’s also how I just experience the world. I’m in love but I also hate somebody at the same time. I want to be better but I want to drown in my misery. It’s like everything is always both opposites at once, and I can’t understand what I really want, or what’s right or wrong.
So, yeah, I know I very clearly hit many of the hallmarks of BPD – but the mood swings seem to happen maybe a few times a week, instead of many times a day. Am I still BPD? I know this can’t give me a diagnosis, but it feels like I’m just “faking it”. Like I got bored and decided, hey, I have BPD now. Am I just “high functioning”? Do I have a different personality disorder? Should I bring this up with my therapist, since we’re starting DBT?
A. These are the types of things that you should be discussing with your therapist. She should know about what you are experiencing and thinking. The more she knows, the more she can help you.
You’re right about not being able to provide or confirm a diagnosis over the Internet. It’s impossible without interviewing you in person. I appreciate your very detailed question, but I would recommend asking your therapist those same questions. She would be in the best position to answer them.
You mentioned being under the age of 18 and thus cannot receive a diagnosis of BPD. You might have some of the symptoms of BPD, but they may also be a function of your age and developmental stage. Your brain is still developing. Many people under the age of 18 are having similar turbulent experiences; it is the nature of adolescence. By definition, it is a transitional period. It is also precisely why mental health professionals are reluctant to diagnose mental illnesses in persons under the age of 18.
You have been in treatment and you’ve improved. Keep up the good work. Your efforts are better spent on participating in treatment and utilizing the help that you have been afforded rather than on attempting to pinpoint a diagnosis. If treatment is working and you’re feeling better, that’s all that matters. I wish you continued success. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle