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This is why I'm glad I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder

For 15 years I struggled with paranoia, trust issues and a fear of abandonment – and doctors continuously fobbed me off with diagnoses and tablets that didn’t seem to fit

Beth Rees
Thursday 17 May 2018 13:13 BST
Beth struggled with her mental health for over a decade before she finally received the right diagnosis
Beth struggled with her mental health for over a decade before she finally received the right diagnosis

People always tell you to trust your gut. They always say that if you get a feeling about something, you’re usually right. Well, I always had a gut feeling that I was different.

I used to get hysterical about not fitting in and not having an identity. My stepdad used to say “you’re just a square peg in a round hole. You’ll find your fit somewhere.” But I never believed it.

Since I was little, I’ve felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by life, overwhelmed by my emotions, and I didn’t know how to handle it.

At school, “friends” whispered behind my back and mocked my appearance. I was always paranoid that people were talking about me even when they weren’t. I hated everyone but I hated myself more. I’d come home, go to my room, turn on some angry rock music and cry hysterically into my pillow. I wouldn’t sleep for days, getting creative at 3am, writing self-loathing comments in a diary about what it would be like to die.

This was how I learned to cope. Closed door, shouty music and crying until I couldn’t breathe.

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This all worked well for me until years later when I started living with someone and couldn’t hide anymore. He called me out on it and I knew he was right. I was aware, once again, how different I was and how “normal” people didn’t deal with their emotions the way I did. I made an appointment to see my GP. He made me do a test and told me I had depression and anxiety. I was prescribed antidepressants and was on my way.

The years that followed saw heartbreaking goodbyes, frustrating job losses, serial dating and uncontrolled spending. I was trying to manage my low self-esteem, paranoia, trust issues and fear of being abandoned by doing all the wrong things. The trips back and forth to the GP grew tedious as they never listened and fobbed me off by telling me that my extreme mood swings and suicidal thoughts were down to depression. The medication made things worse, so I stopped taking it.

In 2014, my life took a positive turn when I met my current partner. Immediately, my intrusive thoughts of abandonment, lack of trust and self-hate presented themselves once again. I tried really hard to hide them from him and didn’t tell him for a few months about my depression. I kept telling myself that I was worthless, ugly and that he’d realise this and leave me.

Four years down the line and he hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s stuck by me and encouraged me to talk to him. I started seeing the GP again and became a Time to Change Wales champion, talking about my mental health to different people and organisations.

But in 2017, while getting into my car to go to work, I had a meltdown. I cried hysterically, thinking of ways I could end it right there and then. It took a lot for me to get out of the car and talk to my partner, but I did. We got an emergency appointment with the GP and then the psychiatrist where I was told I had borderline personality disorder (BPD) or emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD). I wasn’t sure what to make of it but at the same time I felt relieved that a diagnosis finally fit me. I was prescribed anti-psychotic medication and monitored.

When I got home, I started reading into BPD/EUPD. I realised that my diagnosis was seen as controversial. It was labelled as a “dustbin diagnosis” – if psychiatrists weren’t sure what was wrong with you, they’d give you this label. Because of this apparent controversy, there didn’t seem to be that much reliable information about it. Everyone had an opinion on it and many of them were extreme.

I started to realise that people weren’t talking about it because they didn’t know what to make of it. Many psychiatrists don’t agree with the way that it’s diagnosed and the system by which a diagnosis is given. If health professionals are sceptical, what does that mean for everyone else? There’s a lot of misunderstanding around disorders, and representations in the media differ greatly, from Criminal Minds to My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Characters are portrayed in different ways.

Ultimately, I’m a real person and relieved that I agree with the diagnosis I’ve been given. People have said I’m a victim and that I should fight against being called “borderline”. However, for me, it signals a triumph after 15 years of struggling.

No matter what anyone says, BPD/EUPD is the most fitting diagnosis for me. I might never feel like I fit in. I might always feel like a square peg. But I’m OK with that.

Beth Rees is a Time to Change Wales champion. Time to Change Wales is a campaign run by Mind Cymru and Hafal, and aims to increase awareness of mental health problems.

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