I originally set out for this blog to be about fitness and working out. However, I’ve felt the need to recently expand it as a way to journal or just bring awareness to some issues that don’t normally get brought up as often. I don’t even know how many people actually read this blog, but I guess if it even reaches one person and has a positive affect on them then I accomplished what I set out to do. For those just joining, I am a retired Coast Guard veteran. I was hurt almost 4 years ago and was medically retired. I have since been going to counseling through the VA for PTSD for about 9 months now. My therapist is amazing and has helped me realize more about myself than I expected. However, the VA also helped me realize some things about myself that some days I wish I didn’t know.
Recently I had an appointed to work on my disability claim for PTSD. My PTSD isn’t combat related, instead it’s for MST, or military sexual trauma. I’m not ready to come out with the details just yet, that’s later to come. What I will tell you is it happened in the short lived first marriage I had by my ex husband. The military didn’t recognize marital rape back then and honestly, I don’t think they recognize it now either, but that’s for another post. What happened two weeks ago at this appointment is that I was told that the Coast Guard diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder 7 years ago, and NEVER told me! It’s interesting how much a label can change your perspective on things. Until that day, I thought nothing of my behaviors, my past relationships with friends, family, my anger, my thoughts, my moods. Then I was labeled. My head was spinning. I have a Master’s degree in psychology, I know what Borderline Personality Disorder is and I know just how big of a diagnosis that is. Was this really me? Did they get this right? Psychologists just don’t go handing out this diagnosis all willy nilly to people. It takes some serious thought and testing. When I got home that day I pulled out my copy of the DSM-V, the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual version Five and had to see for myself. The National Institute of Mental Health defines Borderline Personality Disorder as:
“a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.”
To meet the criteria according to the DSM, one has to have 5 of the 9 traits:
- A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
- Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
- Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
- Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
- Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
- Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality
I have 8 of the 9…
My husband and I did the only thing we knew how to do and made jokes about this. Now, this isn’t to say we are making fun of people with BPD because that is the farthest thing from the truth. We are stroke and cancer survivors, we’ve had our share of unfortunate circumstances. We use humor to get through some of the most dark times in our lives, this being no different. I think he realized that this diagnosis could account for MUCH of my behavior and a lot of our arguments over the years. Now we both have a level of understanding.
My therapist told me that BPD starts because of things that happen in your childhood, or it can be genetic. Mine is from the first. Again, that is for a later post, as it is still difficult to talk about in therapy, let alone publish it for the world and Facebook to read.
What I can say if you’re still reading this, is that labels don’t define who you are. I’m still working on this. Labels are a hard thing to overcome and we tend to live up to our own labels in addition to the ones that society throws at us. Just remember that what happened to you in your past never defines who YOU are. YOU choose who you become. You decide what happens to you moving forward. That’s all I got for now. Hopefully I stick with this and it doesn’t become another borderline trait of drastic excitement followed by absolute boredom!