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Borderline Personality Disorder Community
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897400 tn?1303332748

BPD and PTSD Diagnosis Confirmed

I just saw a new Therapist a couple of weeks ago and he was certain that I have BPD. I had a Pdoc tell me that I have Borderline tendencies a couple of years ago, but neither he nor my Therapist at the time thought that I truly had BPD. I've been reading every book I can get my hands on about it, and I see a few of the symptoms in myself, but not enough to meet the criteria for a conclusive diagnosis. I have been coping with the negative feelings and thinking that go along with BPD for most of my adult life. ( I'm 51 years old. ) By being highly motivated to improve myself and reading, I have already been applying the principles I'm learning that DBT teaches. There is a DBT group that I think I would benefit by joining. My previous Therapist was using CBT to try and help me, but her focus on trying to get me to change was extremely invalidating for me, and frustrating for her, to the point where she resorted to sarcasm. The second time she lashed out at me with sarcasm I quit therapy and asked for another Psych consult. That got me nowhere. I was released from treatment because I insisted that depression was not my primary problem.

I have suffered severe physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect as a child, and every serious relationship I've had with the opposite sex has been abusive. I've been married twice, for 12 years the first time and 9 years before separating the second time. I wanted out of the first marriage, and was relieved when that was over, but the second one was an extremely traumatic break-up with a man who was living a double life. I had just begun treatment with opiates for pain management before that marriage ended, and that complicated the whole process for me. I just didn't want to let go of the man even tho' he treated me badly, tormenting me emotionally just because he could, like it was a game.

I finally put physical distance between him and myself, and I won't even make eye contact when I can't avoid being in his presence. But I am still extremely angry even 5 years later, and I have frequent bouts of anxiety and violent nightmares. I went through a year and a half of pure misery after deciding to quit using the opiates for pain, suffering protracted withdrawl. I was also having a hard time with peri-menopausal symptoms during that time and trying to cope with a very rebellious teenager. I moved 5 times in 3 years and I honestly don't know how I survived it all. I lost my job with that Divorce, because we owned a business together. I gave up my shares in the corporation I helped build in exchange for 3 years of alimony ( which he only pays when I get the court to enforce twice a year). All the marital and business debt was in my name only, and although I got a favorable judgement in the divorce, enforcing it has been a nightmare. He had exclusive occupancy of our home, with the stipulation that it be immediately listed for sale, and he refused to cooperate, eventually stopped making payments, and the home went into foreclosure. Selling that property was the only hope I had of paying off the debt. Now my credit is ruined by debt and foreclosure. I have been refused housing because of it. I now live with a friend who's drama is really stressing me out. I go to the library or retreat to my room to read to get away from  her, but she doesn't respect my boundaries all the time. I feel trapped and afraid that if I confront her she will become even more difficult. That has been my experience in the past over trivial things. She's a very dear friend that I don't want to loose, and I need the help she is giving me, but she is passive-aggressive and that annoys me terribly.

I guess my point in bringing out these details is that I withstand a tremendous amount of stressful situations, and still maintain a relatively balanced view of people and events. That is not consistent with what I'm reading about with people who suffer with BPD. My knee jerk reaction to people who **** me off is often polarized to the negative, but I quickly accept, evaluate and adjust my thinking. However, I do tend to remain suspicious of them once they cross me.  I am able to very successfully delay gratification when motivated, but it takes a lot to motivate me. I'm not happy crammed into a little bedroom and sharing a kitchen with someone who has radically different cleanliness standards, but not enough to get out and at least try and find a job that I can handle physically. ( I still have chronic pain issues ). I suppose my new therapist thinks I'm being extreme in labeling my ex a sociopath, but from what I've read on the subject he fits the profile to a T.

Probably the most profound ways I fit the BPD profile is manifested in my anger issues and a tendency when under unrelenting stress to become out of touch with my feelings. I reach a point where I stop feeling anxious anymore and think I'm doing fine, and then suddenly a very minor irritation will set me off and I explode. Usually a short sharp burst of anger, but also usually totally out of proportion to the situation. I get so depressed that I wish I would just die in my sleep, but don't want to kill myself, ( that would require motivation...lol.)  and I lack motivation. I frequently want to retreat from society, but I force myself to engage people and regularly socialize even tho' I'd rather be doing anything but. I volunteer and have frequent interactions with strangers, some of whom are rather unpleasant to deal with, but I feel it's important to maintain human connection.

According to what I'm reading about BPD, 5 criteria must be met for a diagnosis, and I only meet 3 of them. My therapist says that there is really no such thing as "Borderline Tendency"  though. He states that if a person has these tendencies, they ARE BPDisordered. He may be right. Any thoughts on this? Whether I really have BPD or not, I have to go through  DBT in order to have my PTSD treated, so I am going to apply myself as well as I can. I am reluctant to discuss this diagnosis with most people because of the extremely pejorative connotations such a diagnosis evokes. But I really need input to calm my fears about it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Each disorder is made up of a number of diagnostic criteria.  Each of these criteria can be considered traits.  It would probably be more appropriate to say that you have bpd traits versus bpd tendencies but they are essentially the same thing.

Everyone will have traits from various personality disorders, etc.  It is only when people meet other criteria that people are diagnosed.

I would think that it would depend on the degree of the tendency.  I don't think that they can be taken in isolation.  For example, anger.  If you were only angry all the time that wouldn't necessarily point towrads bpd.  I guess they say tendencies as in plural so maybe your T is right on some level.  The dsm-iv  seems very black and white but interpretation but T's and doctors can be subjective.

I would think that you would find dbt as invalidating as cbt, unless you were extremely motivated, etc to learn dbt.

Based on the nightmares, etc I would suggest ptsd but you history could also be indicative of bpd.  Complex-ptsd is another diagnosis often thrown around with bpd and ptsd.  Based on what your psychiatrist told you I too would be inclined to think that you may also have bpd.  I also think that some of our behaviours can fit the dsm-iv but that we don't know enough to know that, or we can be in denial.
897400 tn?1303332748
Thank you for your comments, Jaquta.

I just finished reading Borderline Personality Disorder for Dummies, and am almost halfway through "Lost in the Mirror" by Richard Moskovitz. So far in the latter, I see a very strong representation of my personality and the cumulative events that formed it. I think I began presenting symptoms of BPD at a very young age and the consequences I suffered were so profoundly unpleasant that I learned to modify my behavior to make my life easier in some respects. But I have been suppressing the negative feelings by dissociating and splitting instead of finding a healthy way to deal. As I am reading, I am constantly having to take measures to self-regulate because of the anxiety I feel welling up inside. I hadn't realized just how much I am still being affected.

I'm hoping that some kind of therapy will be helpful, but I am really uncomfortable with the idea of group therapy. It has become more, rather than less difficult to talk about the traumatic events of my childhood as I get older. I am embarrassed and ashamed of what has happened, even though I know that most of the events were beyond my control. This, along with my distrust of other people may become a barrier to effective therapy.

And I think you really hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that we can be in denial. I've always liked to think of how strong I am to have "overcome" the lifetime of abuse. But in reality, I am a product of it.

Gins
Avatar universal
When dbt is used appropriately is has both individual and group therapy sessions.  The group sessions are for skills training.  Group training can perhaps be both supportive and undermining.  I think the success of the group can come back to the strengths of the leader.  The individual therapy sessions give you space to work on your own issues.

I think as we get older we tend to put more barriers up around us.  I think that shame can be at the core of many our difficulties.
With a skilled and experienced T you should be able to work through trust issues, etc.

You have survived it and that can be as effective as overcoming it.  I'm not sure you ever really get over past experiences but I think that acceptance is key to moving on.
Maybe with sustained good therapy you do work through your issues.  I hope that is the case and I expect it probably could be.

I think that labelling yourself or your life as a product of abuse gives it too much power.  I think that all experiences, both positive and negative, help to shape us as a person.  I think that adversity does give us an inner strength that we may not have appreciated otherwise.

There is an online dbt class.  If you're interested in that it can be found at the yahoo health groups.  There are also other support groups for bpd that can be accessed on the net.
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