In 2015 I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). My psychiatrist told me I had only about three features, “not the whole thing.” And yet, my file—for all medical personnel to see—showed that my diagnosis was borderline, the whole thing.

In their book Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder, John G. Gunderson MD and Perry D. Hoffman PhD, explain:

“Seldom does an illness, medical or psychiatric, carry such intense stigma and deep shame that its name is whispered, or a euphemism coined, and its sufferers despised and even feared. Perhaps leprosy or syphilis or AIDS fits this category.”

After a lot of research, I learned that the traumatic memories of emotional abuse I suffered, leading to suicidal depression, was far more likely to be complex PTSD – a disorder that is not yet listed in the DSM diagnostic manual used in North America. It is listed in the ID11 used in Europe, recognized by the World Health Organization.

I tried to describe my findings to my psychiatrist and how my symptoms of anger and over-emotionality were not only symptoms of BPD, but CPTSD as well. He had not heard of it. Nor did he want to hear.  He did not listen to me. I was treated as a nonperson, with no brains of her own.

Why is it that psychiatrists have so much power, able to give a diagnosis with no questions asked? Can you see the danger in that to their patients?

Repeatedly I tried to have the diagnosis changed. And repeatedly he refused. Because of this misdiagnosis I was severely stigmatized, and partly because of that, lost a good reputation and many of my friends.

It was impossible for my condition to have been BPD. The answer is clear:

  • BPD is a lifelong illness, starting in adolescence or early adulthood. I was first diagnosed at age 69, when I was undergoing year-long emotional abuse. The emotionality I went through (and still do at times) started after the abuse.
  •  A person needs to have five of the nine symptoms to be considered BPD. I was told that I had only three. (three that also happen to be symptoms of complex PTSD)
  • The flashbacks and traumatic memories that haunted me for years after, causing suicidal depression were the worst part. Such memories are not symptoms of BPD but are chief features of CPTSD.

I had an appointment with this psychiatrist in November, but it was cancelled. The only reason given was that they didn’t have enough resources. I didn’t qualify to be a patient anymore. My file was closed and I was told that my general practitioner would take charge of my mental health care, a doctor who knows nothing about mental health care and has never shown an interest in it.

For the first time since my ten months at Riverview Hospital in 1965 at age 19, I don’t have a psychiatrist. Today I am 76 years old, feeling abandoned.

But there’s hope yet. Yesterday I was interviewed for the second time to see if I qualified to have a psychiatrist. I hope I will get someone who is open to discussing things with me, someone who will treat me like a real person.