The MISDIAGNOSED Borderline
DISCLAIMER: This is a recount of my experiences when I was misdiagnosed. You may relate to these experiences, but it is recommended you talk to your psychiatrists and/or psychologist before taking any actions that could inhibit growth and insight.
This article is a sequel to ‘The Newly Diagnosed Borderline’ So if you want to know about how it was diagnosed, you will find it -here-.
I never really connected with the BPD diagnosis. After several months of finding the wrong material online that was full of stigma and bias, I finally found an article I identified with. For me it never told the whole story. It explained some of the things I was experiencing, but there were many things that it did not cover.
It did not cover the memory lapse, severe dissociation, and things I did that I do not remember doing. I just put those things down to poor memory and accepted the BPD diagnosis, we are supposed to trust the doctors, right? So, I said nothing more.
I learnt the hard way that sometimes the Dr’s themselves have stigma and bias against certain mental illnesses. That they can be ridged in their thinking and therapy/medication options.
When I completed Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), I did not have much of a change in my mental health. There was only a few of the things taught in the therapy I could integrate into my life. DBT did not work for me but that does not say that it will not work for you.
After doing DBT I found a few mental health workers and physicians told me that if DBT did not work, ‘that I had clearly not tried hard enough, because DBT is THE therapy for BPD’. This made me feel like a failure and that I was so messed up in the head that the therapy that I had to do for this specific illness I had did not work. I thought that, once again, I was put into the ‘too hard basket’. I was urged again and again to redo DBT, because ‘it might work the second time’. I personally would rather try other therapies to see how I go with those, and maybe down the track once iv exhausted other options I’ll try DBT again.
It was different in hospital as well. When I moved to the city, I went to the city hospitals where they have mental health wards/units. I found that, with a diagnosis of BPD, the clinicians look at you differently. I was not allowed to stay in hospital for any longer than a few days because according to my diagnosis, it was bad for me to stay in hospital for longer periods of time.
Thankfully, in most cases, BPD is classed as a trauma related illness. So, some of the one on one therapy I attended was closely linked to the trauma informed care that I needed. I branched out into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Schema Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Ego-State Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). I am currently receiving DID based therapy under the structured dissociation model. I will write about these more closely in future articles.
I finally did find out my correct diagnosis. Dissociative Identity Disorder(DID), which I write in great detail in an article that you can find -here-. Complex Post traumatic Stress Disorder (cPTSD), anxiety, Trauma Related Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (Trauma Related EDNOS), dysthymia, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
We now have a DID specific psychologist who we are making great progress with, and support workers to help us do general tasks that we find difficult. We also now have a psychiatrist and access to a private psychiatric hospital when things get tough. It was only with the correct diagnosis were we able to access the appropriate support, medications, therapy, hospital, dietician, and community supports.
To find the right treatment for you, you can follow these steps. (Australian mental health system).
1. If you have a suspicion that a particular diagnosis applies to you, you can search for counsellors, psychologists, or psychiatrists in your area. Do not self-diagnose.
- Counsellor: Has less training than a psychologist and is restricted to certain therapies as well. They
cannot diagnose or give medications. However, counsellors are very cost affective and you can even
find free ones if you look hard enough.
- Psychologist: Focuses on the therapy aspect, cannot dispense, or prescribe medications. Can diagnose if they are clinical psychologists or are specialised in your specific diagnosis. After some time
of working with you, they may be able to let you know that you definitely do not have what you think
- Psychiatrist: Went through medical school as well. Only a psychiatrist can dispense medications.
Some Psychiatrist can do the therapy aspect as well, but I have not found one that does therapy
along with medications.
2. Talk to your GP about your mental health concerns. Ask them if they can recommend anyone or, if you have done some research, mention the clinician that you want to go with.
3. Ask for a mental health care plan for the psychologist/counsellor so that you can get some money back from Medicare. If it is a psychiatrist you are seeing, you need a specific referral to see them.
4. Do not be afraid to shop around for a clinician, if the one you are with does not gel well with you or you have trouble building a rapport, you are always entitled to get another opinion, be it second, or third, or however many opinions you need to ease your mind and feel supported within your diagnosis.
Being misdiagnosed can be scary, as can being treated for something you do not have. It might feel like you are powerless to do anything, but you always have choice and input into your own recovery. You have a right to ask questions, to know where you are up to in therapy, to know how well you are doing, and for a second or third opinion.