Before you go, I’d like you to have a look at this. It was something that came to me yesterday…and I wanted your thoughts.
I looked down at the piece of paper and read the words, I wasn’t really taking it all in as I read it on that first occasion. Just processing the information enough for it to register, the actual processing to the point of confusion would come a little while later.
The piece of paper had a list of nine symptoms listed, and these symptoms are as follows. Now, I would like you to see if any match yourself:
Symptom List 1:
- frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
- Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.
- impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5
- recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.
- affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).
- chronic feelings of emptiness
- inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).
- transient, stress-related paranoid ideation, delusions or severe dissociative symptoms
How many do you have?
They are by the way straight from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. They quote:
“A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.”
How many do you have?
Now, have a look at these, which are also from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association:
Symptom List 2:
- Characteristic symptoms: Two or more of the following, each present for much of the time during a one-month period (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
- Disorganized speech, which is a manifestation of formal thought disorder
- Grossly disorganized behavior (e.g. dressing inappropriately, crying frequently) or catatonic behavior
- Negative symptoms—affective flattening (lack or decline in emotional response), alogia (lack or decline in speech), or avolition (lack or decline in motivation)
- If the delusions are judged to be bizarre, or hallucinations consist of hearing one voice participating in a running commentary of the patient’s actions or of hearing two or more voices conversing with each other, only that symptom is required above. The speech disorganization criterion is only met if it is severe enough to substantially impair communication.
- Social/occupational dysfunction: For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance, one or more major areas of functioning such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care, are markedly below the level achieved prior to the onset.
- Duration: Continuous signs of the disturbance persist for at least six months. This six-month period must include at least one month of symptoms (or less, if symptoms remitted with treatment).
Okay, I included that second set, which were listed on the paper for a reason I will get to in a moment. Let us return to the first set.
How many did you have?
Well, if I was being honest I have seven of them. Technically, if you have more than five, then you may be suffering from something called Borderline Personality Disorder.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
“Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and behavior. This instability often disrupts family and work life, long-term planning, and the individual’s sense of self-identity. Originally thought to be at the “borderline” of psychosis, people with BPD suffer from a disorder of emotion regulation. While less well known than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), BPD is more common, affecting 2 percent of adults, mostly young women. There is a high rate of self-injury without suicide intent, as well as a significant rate of suicide attempts and completed suicide in severe cases. Patients often need extensive mental health services, and account for 20 percent of psychiatric hospitalizations.”
(from the National Institute of Mental Health)
Now, the reason I included a quote there instead of writing about BPD in my own inimitable fashion is because I haven’t got a clue what it is. In fact some GPs and MH workers I’ve spoken to have been unable to fully explain to me what BPD is. There are even some health professionals who don’t believe in the validity of the condition because of the wide variety of and frequent overlap of symptoms with other disorders.
Which is why I included the second set of symptoms…
…and of those three, I have demonstated over the years to have all of them, including the “at least six months” part.
Those symptoms are for schizophrenia.
So, following this, I have an official diganosis of bipolar type 1 – but according to the criterias above, I’m also suffering from borderline personality disorder as well as schizophrenia.
Which is where things get complicated!
What the fuck is wrong with me??
Borderline Personality Disorder – What The Frack Is Going On In My Mind?
After months of pondering, thinking, researching and trying to work it out – I have come to the conclusion I will never know.
You see diagnosing mental illness is not an exact science, there are many factors which must be taken into consideration and with the frequent and intense overlap of symptoms – especially with the personality disorders of BPD, bipolar and schizophrenia – of course I am going to exhibit symptoms of all three illnesses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I suffer from all three illnesses. Even the medication which is used to treat these illnesses are very similar, in some cases, exact.
It’s obvious I do have traits of all illnesses, but regardless of the label (which is all the diagnosis really is) I just suffer from a mental illness.
It doesn’t matter if it’s called borderline personality disorder, bipolar, schizphrenia, narcissitic personality disorder, Bob or Fanny Craddock’s Apple Pie Disorder (who wouldn’t want to have that!)
They’re just my condition, not who I am.
They just complicated things because I like knowing what it is I am fighting, it gives me a focus and something to hold onto. It took me long enough to come to terms with bipolar, let alone a possible new addition to the wealth of frackedupness in my mind. All this incident did was create further confusion and complication in an already confused and complicated mind.
It wasn’t what I needed.
Not after everything that had been happening.