I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder at the age of 27 following a suicide attempt in Toronto.
I did not learn about the diagnosis until I was about 30 and I was sitting in my doctor’s office and started looking through my chart. There was it, three little words that would change my life forever.
I did not understand what the diagnosis meant so later in the week I dropped the kids off with the babysitter and headed to my local library. To say the least, I wash shocked and stunned beyond belief when I started reading the DSM-III. The prognosis was very grim: incurable, intractable. This literally took my breath away and I started on a downward spiral into a chronic depression that lasted for decades.
For the next twenty years I lived with unbelievable rage and despair and anguish because I felt trapped by my diagnosis, trapped in an unhappy marriage with a man I did not love but on whom I was financially dependent. I felt trapped by my children because I felt my husband’s desire to have a family had forced me into having more children than I truly wanted or was capable of raising well. I felt like a chameleon and a phony because every time I went out into the public sphere I plastered a big smile on my face and became the life of the party as a way to disguise the inner turmoil I was really feeling on an almost constant basis.
After another very serious suicide attempt, I was finally able to get treatment in a psychiatric hospital in the United States where I entered as a voluntary patient. There I met my nemesis, my therapist who completely turned my life upside down and ultimately changed it forever. I spent a year there receiving in-patient treatment which I railed against, fought against and raged against for months despite having signed in on my own.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
While I was there my therapy consisted of dialectical behavioral therapy, a treatment pioneered by Dr. Marsha Linehan in 1967. Her treatment has helped thousands of patients over the years. The ironic thing about her transformative DBT therapy is that she later came out as having BPD herself. This revelation shocked the psychiatric and patient communities around the world. If you ask a hundred people suffering with BPD if DBT really works they will almost all say absolutely, hands down. DBT changed my life, too.