Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is almost always accompanied by an additional mental illness or illnesses, and in my case it’s no different. Before I was officially diagnosed BPD, I had both severe depression and anxiety. Psych Central describes BPD as:
“… a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. People with BPD are also usually very impulsive, oftentimes demonstrating self-injurious behaviours (risky sexual behaviours, cutting, and suicide attempts).”
“These individuals are very sensitive to environmental circumstances. The perception of impending separation or rejection, or the loss of external structure, can lead to profound changes in self-image, affect, cognition, and behaviour. They experience INTENSE abandonment fears and inappropriate anger even when faced with a realistic time-limited separation or when there are unavoidable changes in plans.”
After my stay at the Dubé Centre for Mental Health I received the “BPD” tag. Like I had mentioned in a previous post, there was a huge sense of relief upon receiving an actual diagnosis. It was no longer “what is wrong with me?“, but now “this is wrong with me.” The description fit. The symptoms were bang-on. I felt the diagnosis was accurate. I was now “Dave Stone, 34yr old husband and father of 3, living with anxiety/depression/and BPD.” I was relieved, I was ready to get into therapy and counselling and kick BPD’s ass. The thing is though, the more I read, the more I realized that this was going to be no easy task. I was reading phrases like “4-10 years of extensive therapy” and “working with a support team of therapist, mental health nurse, psychiatrist, GP, etc”. This whole “BPD thing” was staring to feel a lot like a full-time job. Then the doubts… “can I do this?”, “am I ever going to get over this?” and “is this even worth it?” But I was determined… and talk therapy began.
After about a month of counselling, and trying to figure out my “new life” of being a legit sufferer of mental illness, I got the blow that stung. That upset me. That I did not want to believe, and for sure not admit. After an appointment with my psychiatrist, a new “tag” was added to Dave Stone. And that tag was NPD, “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. The literal words out of my mouth were, “…shit. I don’t like the sounds of that one”, to which my psychiatrist very nicely pointed out exactly “why” he came to his diagnosis. And I use the term “nice” in this situation the same as I would describe hugging a cactus as being “nice”. It hurt. It stung. I didn’t like it. He was nice enough… it was the message I wanted to ignore. I went home, I got on google, and I read…
“Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra confidence lies a fragile-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you’re not given the special favours or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.”
Awesome!! Doesn’t that sound great?!? Now not only was I moody, depressed, and unstable… but now let’s tack onto that the “asshole” tag. Things just keep getting better. What could possibly be next? But you know, as much as I hated the diagnosis, it has really helped with understanding what happens in my head. Things all of a sudden make a little bit more sense, and you can kind of take a “knowledgable” approach to working things out. I’m a sports guy, so I kinda look at it as getting stuck in goal in hockey. You may have never done it before. You might not even know what hockey is. But if you know where the shooter is going to aim the puck… you have a much better chance of making the save. Having mental illness is like being thrown in goal. But having a diagnosis that gives some understanding is like knowing at least where the shot’s going. Where your moods are going to take you. What you’re going to react to. I’m going into this with at least that one advantage… and a pretty amazing team fighting for me. With those two things going for me, I’m gaining confidence that we’ll be pretty tough to beat.(see that, another hockey analogy)