Content Warning: Borderline Personality Disorder
Relief: When the Diagnosis Sets You Free!
“There is no greater pain than not knowing who you truly are; and such a relief when diagnosing what’s behind your Personality” (D.S).
The Correct Diagnosis of a Sensitive Personality
In 2018, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The diagnosis came as a relief, as I had already gone through numerous psychiatric treatments, and different approaches in psychotherapy. I’ve even taken ten different types of medicine in one day, during years of treatment. However, medications were able to combat symptoms of depression and anxiety, but not my soul aches. These were deep, intense, and lasting, especially the chronic feeling of emptiness, typical of the borderline personality.
The chronic feeling of emptiness is like an insatiable hunger, unable to be filled with things, food, or people. The formless void is always there to remind you that it exists; just like the wind, you don’t see it, but you feel it in every millimeter of your skin, body, and soul.
It’s funny how this feeling of emptiness and inadequacy has always accompanied me throughout my life.
I have always had an easily irritable mood since childhood, being considered today a highly sensitive child as I used to react very deeply to sensations, feelings, and relationships. As I grew older, the same emotional responses didn’t seem to stop.
When everything was going well, intense joy and confidence washed over me. On the other hand, when something lets me down, I imploded with rage and wished the whole world could feel exactly what I felt. These sudden mood swings were pathological responses to the stress I used to feel in the environment and my interpersonal relationships.
For each new crisis I had at home, a new critique was given to me. There were so many labels, that I could create an extensive dictionary. Terms like dramatic, exaggerated, foolish, childish, and fearful have stuck with me all my life. I felt like the “Ugly Duckling” fable, where a clumsy baby bird tries to adapt to a family that rejects it, even when it tries its best. I felt that way until the day I left home, got married, and became a Swan.
My husband, realizing how much I suffered from each new episode of emotional dysregulation, sought psychiatric help with me. However, the correct diagnosis only came after ten years, as I was misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety. For this reason, no medication or psychotherapy had any positive effect on my mental health.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at age 38. Today, at 41, I write about the importance of breaking the stigma, seeking psychiatric help, and how the right psychotherapy can make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from the disorder. In the case of BPD, Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the most effective approach, as it teaches some behavioral skills that help to develop a life worth living.
The Right Therapy and the Conversion of Suffering into Art
Dialectical behavior therapy has taught me how to develop a more balanced life by acting with the Wise Mind, which brings together the logic of the reasonable mind and the sensitivity of the emotional mind into a serene state of spirit. The Wise Mind is a very useful skill, as it helps us make decisions with confidence and balance. It makes us reflect on how we think, feel, and act when relating to and facing situations daily. And it is precisely through understanding the value of reason and emotion that I seek to treat each text on mental health that I develop with love and wisdom.
Yes, I became a writer in mental health to promote the importance of seeking psychiatric and psychotherapeutic help and thus break the stigma on mental illness. You only break the stigma about mental health by talking about it.
With the sensitivity and intense passion of a borderline person, my articles deal with everyday anxieties in an empathetic and visceral way for those who experience pain and soul conflicts in their skin. I learned to convert my pain into art and as a form of expression because understanding other people’s pain first involves understanding your own pain.
It was with an article that I introduced Borderline Personality Disorder to my family. In the text, I detailed all my internal struggles to manage my emotions, control my impulsiveness, and reflect on my chronic emptiness–one of the main characteristics of the disorder. They were very touched and identified with the piece, as they understood the reason for my difficulties in relationships, as well as my crises of emotional instability.
Many people believe that receiving a diagnosis is like receiving a label or being placed inside a box. However, in the field of health, diagnosis plays a key role in identifying and understanding an individual’s health conditions. Additionally, a diagnosis can offer validation and relief to a person who has long struggled with unexplained symptoms, providing an explanation for what they are experiencing.
The correct diagnosis is important, as its intention is to provide a more accurate understanding of what is happening to a person’s health. It can help identify the underlying problem, guide appropriate treatment, and provide information about the prognosis.
I know that Borderline Personality Disorder does not define me, but it shed light on the main issues that brought me pain and discomfort, such as my mood swings, instability in relationships, my terrible fear of being abandoned, and my dysfunctional beliefs and obsessions with some tasks, in order to alleviate my anguish and emptiness.
As Marsha Linehan (a psychologist and creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy) says: “people with BPD are like people with third-degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Without emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
Being aware of what it’s like to have a Borderline Personality Disorder is a journey of self-knowledge and relief from the symptoms and pains of the soul.
Through a combination of psychotherapy, medication (when needed), self-care practices, and the development of a support network, individuals with BPD can learn to manage their symptoms and experience a better quality of life. It is essential to remember that recovery looks different for everyone, and progress can come in small steps.
But all this was only possible for me after my diagnosis was confirmed. With proper treatment and support, I am now able to cultivate resilience, gain a greater understanding of myself, and find relief from challenges associated with the disorder.
Diagnosis Brings Relief in Living with Peers
It is important to emphasize that the relief of a correct diagnosis does not come only to those who suffer from some type of illness or disorder, but also to those who live with the person in distress.
My husband told me that before my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, it was very difficult for him to deal with my mood swings, irritability, and emotional instability. It was like walking on eggshells, as any opinion or word uttered during a conversation or discussion could be the reason for a new crisis or misfortune.
The relief of a diagnosis brings valuable guidance on how to act in moments of anger or anguish and provides clarity, allowing individuals to learn more about their symptoms, causes, and potential treatment options. In addition, it brought me emotional relief because, through knowing the cause of my psychic functioning, I am able to validate my experiences, reducing the guilt that I used to carry due to my high emotional sensitivity.
Today, I am able to understand that I don’t need to adapt to any mold or pattern of behavior to be accepted. I am what I am, with my qualities, defects, and peculiarities.
A diagnosis often requires adjustments in life, but it also opens doors to personal growth and adaptation. Individuals may discover newfound strength and resilience as they navigate the challenges associated with their condition. Dealing with a diagnosis can lead to personal transformations, increased self-awareness, and a reassessment of priorities. It can inspire individuals to adopt a healthier lifestyle, develop new hobbies, or pursue hitherto unexplored passions, like writing, in my case.
As for me, the ugly duckling has become a beautiful swan who, with the beauty of her vulnerability, seeks to strengthen those who once felt rejected, awkward, or devalued. Her texts travel the world, and her words transform lives beyond the borderlines.