Unfortunately, I’ve been like an innocent child, trusting the person at the helm of my mental health care for years. I believe most of us who live with mental illness do lean on our psychiatrist, especially when we live with low self-esteem. After all, we think, the doctor knows best.

I was at the mercy of my psychiatrist, who I found out, was lacking much knowledge, and wasn’t interested in learning anything new. My repeated efforts to help him see that my diagnosis of BPD could not have been correct fell on deaf ears.

Would he have listened if I did not have a mental illness? It has been my experience that people like me are seldom listened to in the way others are, especially in cases where it really matters. Don’t people realize that having a mental illness doesn’t mean we lack intelligence? Or is it simply that we are not respected enough to be given the voice we deserve?

I wrote earlier about the great amount of stigma attached to borderline personality disorder (BPD), so it was no wonder then how it contributed to my loss of reputation. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had not realized the dangers of letting others know. I told two or three leaders of my church, thinking it would be good for them to know what I was dealing with. But word got out, along with a lot of misunderstanding and an unkind view of me.

The stigma that occurred was almost as bad as the abuse itself. That and some other factors caused almost the entire church to ostracize me. It took years to rebuild my life—a life that had been torn asunder, both by the abuse and the loss of the stellar reputation I once had.

At my last appointment with the psychiatrist, I mentioned to him how great the stigma was. He refused to accept that well-known fact, saying outright that “there’s no stigma attached to BPD.” We argued back and forth, him refusing to back down. I could not believe the ignorance. At that point I started seeing another psychiatrist—one who eventually recognized that I suffered from complex PTSD.

And I wonder how many patients this doctor might have misdiagnosed with this dreaded condition. How many might have been suffering from emotional abuse, and be simply shrugged off as being overly sensitive? How many, like me, were suffering from emotional damage (and complex PTSD)? Surely, not every condition needs to have a clearly identifiable diagnosis.

And if a psychiatrist doesn’t have a label to give to a condition, why choose BPD, the most stigmatizing of all mental illnesses, as a catch-all for what is unknown? Are they aware of what they are doing to a person’s life?