Working On Us Prompt: Stigma

For the fourth time, Rebecca of Beckie’s Mental Mess hosted the Working On Us prompt last Wednesday. I didn’t get to participate before and I really wasn’t sure I could make it this week. After all, I couldn’t load the post at first and then it was my birthday yesterday, so I was occupied all day.

The topic of this week’s prompt is stigma. I forgot the exact wording of the questions, but I’m just going to use the opportunity to ramble.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. This is, as many sufferers will know, a highly stigmatized diagnosis. Borderlines are thought of as manipulative, unfaithful, volatile, generally awful.

It wasn’t like I wanted this diagnosis. I didn’t feel I fit the criteria. I mean, I had at the time been in a relationship for over five years and it wouldn’t cross my mind to cheat. I wasn’t particularly attention-seeking either. I didn’t go around manipulating my therapist into offering me more and more support and threatening to kill myself if she didn’t.

Yet these are stereotypes. I do have a really unstable sense of self. I do have a lot of rapidly shifting emotions. I do fear abandonment. I do self-harm. I do dissociate and suffer with stress-related paranoia.

I must add here that my diagnosis of BPD replaced DID and PTSD, which generally get a lot more sympathy. The reason my diagnosis got changed, is that my therapist went along with a DID peer support group leader’s opinion that I had imagined my dissociative symptoms.

Years later, my BPD diagnosis got downgraded to BPD traits, but I got an additional diagnosis of dependent personality disorder. DPD is characterized by an inability to stick up for oneself, passiveness and clinginess. I don’t think I meet the criteria at all. The reason I got labeled with DPD is because I thought I neeeded long-term supported housing and my psychologist thought I didn’t. She told my mother-in-law upon my discharge from the mental hospital that I can stick up for myself really well. She said that the DSM diagnosis that comes closest when a patient suffers institutionalization, is DPD. Well, there is a difference between a dependent dynamic and a dependent person.

The same goes for all personality disorders: they describe patients, not dynamics. A person with a personality disorder may be more likely to engage in a certain dynamic, but the disorder isn’t the same as that dynamic. This is the reason narcissistic abuse really isn’t a thing. Yes, people with NPD are more likely to be abusers than those without NPD, but abuse is a dynamic, whereas NPD is something affecting the patient. Let me tell you here that I’m in Facebook groups for narcissistic abuse survivors, but only because they’re the only groups that acknowledge the specific psychological damage dysfunctional families can cause.

I fought the BPD and DPD diagnoses, because I didn’t feel I met the criteria. However, this does allow the stigma to continue. Of course, I do have BPD traits. That doesn’t make me a monster. And of course I was a pain in the ass of my last psychologist. That doesn’t mean I have DPD.

8 thoughts on “Working On Us Prompt: Stigma

  1. I so understand what you are saying. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and the stigma for that diagnosis is horrible also. People-even medical personnel-wait for my head to turn 360 degrees when they read this on my chart. It is a sad thing. Good luck to you. You deserve a good life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that’s so sad! I hate it when even medical professionals, even psychiatrists or psychologists, stigmatize mental illness. That’s why I wrote this post, because really both therapists who diagnosed me with personality disorders, bought into the stigma.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear you. I was diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder last year, together with dysthymia, and while it’s not quite as badly stigmatised as borderline, and not even heard of that often, not in Poland anyway, it’s still a PD which creates a lot of stigma, because personality disorder sounds so heavy and big even on its own, and due to that I was stigmatised by my very narrow-minded last therapist. I was actually relieved to get that diagnosis because I was seeking for answers for a long time and I finally knew what’s going on in this regard, but I can imagine that the stigma must bother you even more since you don’t have neither borderline nor dependent personality disorder in fact and the BPD stigma is extremely strong, I really feel for people who have to deal with it. Wishing yu a belated happy birthday and hope you spent it in a nice way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Astrid, I’m so thrilled you were able to participate in Week#4 Prompt #1 of “Working on Us”, series. Your insight on being stigmatized for having BPD was so moving, but you have truly overcome it with your means of sharing such a difficult period in your life.
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this week! God Bless YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Exactly! You do have traits, but you are you, not your diagnosis, labels arent always good either, so just be yourself, continue to seek treatment, and nevermind all the labels! some professionals suck!

    Liked by 1 person

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