I have way too much to say about this topic, so much that I don’t know where to begin.
Let’s start with what I’ve been diagnosed with then: depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
I’ve been told that I “probably” have a personality disorder, but the psychiatrist wouldn’t go beyond that. This is because I take things “way too personally, more personally than they were meant.”(I don’t think my behavior during the incident when he told me that was too unreasonable. I have a hard time opening up and knowing how to start talking. At one appointment, he asked me to start describing things, and I couldn’t and just sat there awkwardly. Basically he reprimanded me, acting all, well, I made extra time for you [which he had] and you’re late and blah blah blah and you won’t even tell me anything. Well, I hadn’t been late, and I objected most vehemently. He was disbelieving and called the front desk to ask them about it, and they said they couldn’t remember when I’d arrived. Ugh. I felt like he was personally attacking me. And this is probably “me taking things too personally. ” I have done it in other settings, too, but more on that later.)
Sometimes, I suspect that I could have borderline personality disorder. There are some aspects of it that resonate with me. I think my psychiatrist might be rather old school. When I brought up this idea, his reply was essentially, “But people with borderline personality disorder manipulate people. You don’t do that.”
Let’s go through some of the criteria, shall we?
1) Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.–Yes, I would say that I can even go so far as self-sabotage in this regard.
2) A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.–I can go to feeling very affectionate about someone to feeling betrayed very quickly.
3) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.–I don’t know what this means. If it means that I don’t know who I am (like some angsty teenager, heh), then yes.
4) Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving). Note: Do not include suicidal or self-injuring behavior covered in Criterion 5–Binge eating might fit, as my entry Food as Comfort shows. Occasionally, when I’m most self-loathing, I will drive recklessly.
5) Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, threats or self-injuring behavior such as cutting, interfering with the healing of scars (excoriation) or picking at oneself.–Yes, although it is rather occasional and can even be seldom.
6) Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days).–Sort of. I find that these moods stay with me until I act on them.
7) Chronic feelings of emptiness–Indeed.
8 ) Inappropriate anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights).–I rarely get angry, but when I do, I can’t control it, and I’m told my anger is disproportionate to the situation. Usually when I get angry, I’ll cry, too.
Another thing that struck me about borderline personality disorder involves transitional objects. I get attached to stuffed animals, and they make me feel better when I’m sad.
However, I do not display any of these behaviors in an extreme way, and I usually have some degree of self-control. In other words, I work hard to contain the crazy when I’m around others.
I think bipolar disorder has been mostly ruled out because I don’t have manic episodes. However, I do experience something akin to a mixed episode. I’ll have racing thoughts and intense depression at the same time. I’ll feel euphoric earlier in the day and then, two hours later, incredibly depressed. Both times I’ll have racing thoughts . . . I’ll think I’m having a lot of wonderful ideas during the euphoric stage, but then during the depressed stage my thoughts will involve self-hatred, self-punishment, suicide, etc. Usually I’ll reprimand myself for thinking I was having genius thoughts earlier.
As I’ve been told, my issues do stem from a combination of circumstances and genetics. I’ve always been prone to more anxiety than most people, and I still feel that social anxiety is at the root of my problems. But I think the way I experienced life combined with that social anxiety may’ve caused me to develop these other issues I have. Plus, when I was a kid, I was way more serious than everyone else.
Now I’ll say a few more words about anger. This is how my thought process works: I get irritated easily. I can usually ignore it and say, well, we’ve all got quirks. If I feel constantly hurt by someone’s words, I’ll laugh it off and pretend as if it were a joke. Then, there’ll be a tipping point when I explode and I get fiercely angry. This happened when I was on a vacation with a friend once. She kept mentioning how slow I was being, and yes, it was New York and I should’ve been quicker, but I can’t help being slow. I’d go along, and then when we were at the bus station, I suddenly exploded and got angry about all of the remarks, running away and crying. I’d been suppressing my feelings because I knew that this person didn’t feel comfortable with emotions, and then it all came out. I was afraid she would abandon me as a friend after that, but she didn’t. Ironic, huh? The people who I do think will stick with me abandon me, but she didn’t.
I don’t make friends easily, mostly because I’m awkward and socially anxious. Any time someone seems to want to spend time with me, I get excited that I finally have a “friend.” I try to cater to this friend’s wishes, always doing what they want and not objecting when they don’t like my ideas. After all, usually this is the only “friend” I have, and I don’t want to lose them. I’ll start to get irritated by their faults, but I accept them because I know no one’s perfect. I begin to think about all I’m sacrificing for this person, always doing what they want and making time for them. Usually the other person blows me off sometimes, but I’ll be just fine with it. I understand they’re busy. So one day, with the buildup of all of this, I get angry. It can be extreme, and it scares the other person away. I’m not sure whether I’m intentionally sabotaging a friendship because this sometimes happens when we’re finally getting a bit closer. Or I might be “testing” the person to see if they’ll stick around. I do “test” people (usually they fail), and when I was in psychology in high school, avoidant personality disorder struck a cord because of the “testing” aspect.
I think my social anxiety led to social isolation. Social isolation led to people disliking me, making fun of me, or being indifferent toward me. When I was in middle school, I hated the world for this reason. Then one day I just hated myself. I’m always afraid people are laughing at me behind my back or wishing I would just disappear. My isolation made me depressed. (I actually like most people even though I’m a loner and get nervous around people.)
The only thing that gave me any confidence was success in school. Then when I was in graduate school, my grades became subpar for me. I don’t know if the depression triggered it or if the grades triggered the depression. I suddenly felt this mental block, and I knew I could do better, but it was like I couldn’t access the part of my brain I needed. Or maybe I just didn’t have what it takes to succeed and I like to blame the mental block.
One more thing I think is significant: When I was a kid, I wanted to know why the rules were the rules. If I were being punished, I would want to know the purpose of the rule I’d broken. I refused to obey a rule unless I could see the logic behind it. When I asked for the logic behind it, I genuinely wanted to know. But my parents thought I was being a smart-aleck and yelled at me. According to what I’ve been told by professionals, apparently this is not a normal thing for children to do. So they say that my parents had this smart child they didn’t know how to treat appropriately.
A smart and sensitive child. I am way too sensitive. I was repeatedly reminded of this fact as I was growing up.
And for some reason I always felt guilty when I was a kid, and I always do still. I keep being afraid that I’ll get in trouble any minute now.
So, this post is a mess, and I’ve already babbled enough. Did I even say anything about diagnoses? Hmm.
Basically, the thing is that I apparently have prominent symptoms of multiple disorders, yet I don’t have enough symptoms of any one disorder to be categorized as having that disorder. Sometimes, I’m afraid this means I don’t have a real problem and am being melodramatic . . . but the professionals do tend to agree that I have issues; they just aren’t categorizable.
My therapist once told me that diagnoses were nonsense. (Though she used a different word, ha.) They’re just tools to try to help the professionals know how to deal with people. No one really fits neatly into any of the categories.
At any rate, I certainly don’t.