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Misdiagnosis to self-acceptance: Mel’s story of borderline personality disorder and learning to love herself

"You are lovable. You are worthy. You are brave."

Written story

What kind of stigma did you experience/observe?

What hurt the most was reading BPD book reviews that called people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) “cancer,” “malicious,” “unlovable,” “damaging to others,” and the worst one, someone to “rid from your life forever.” It devastated me to think that I was any one of these things to the people I loved.

Stigma story

I was misdiagnosed with depression at 14. For 10 years, I took anti-depressants to try and combat the depression. Nothing seemed to really help. Finally, I became so medicated that I could not feel anything at all. My whole life people have called me “overly sensitive,” “dramatic,” “irrational,” etc. I didn’t understand why other people did not feel these emotions as deeply as I did. What was wrong with me? I was lost, confused, and scared for my mental health.

I was finally diagnosed at age 24 with Borderline Personality Disorder; a very misunderstood and stigmatized condition. After many years of struggling to understand why I was in such emotional pain, I finally found out the reason for my struggles. I enrolled in a program at a local counseling clinic. I attend group therapy and individual therapy weekly. My boyfriend and I also attend couple’s therapy to help mend our relationship. There is a huge stigma behind needing to go to a “group” as well. People think that we just sit around crying about our problems. In reality, we learn skills to help us cope with our illness. It is more of a class than anything else.

My family and boyfriend still struggle to fully understand the extent of my condition. Although I have a mild-moderate case of BPD, it has controlled almost all elements of my life up until this point. However, through my therapy program, I am learning how to love myself, gain self respect, and engage in meaningful relationships with those I care about. I learned how to regulate my emotions, cope with distress, and become more mindful of my daily life. My mom just recently called me her “hero.” I was shocked. She said that I get up each day, face my struggles, and refuse to be defeated or labeled by it. To her, that is what a hero does.

I want to encourage everyone with Borderline Personality Disorder to not let your pride get in the way of your happiness. I was hesitant and stubborn to accept this diagnosis and treatment at first. When I finally embraced it, it became part of who I am. I no longer see it as a weakness, but more of strength. I am able to have a full time job, a long-term relationship, be connected to my family, find pleasure in my days, manage my stress, AND I have Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve learned that I am stronger than I could have ever imagined, and so are you!

There are days where it is so hard to keep fighting this illness, and I want to quit. I want to give up. However, as I go through therapy, those challenging days get to be fewer and fewer. I have had more successes than failures, done more right than wrong, and felt more love than hate. The journey has shown me that BPD is not who I am, but an illness I have. Please, if you or someone you know has Borderline, seek treatment.  I live more fully than I ever have before. You are not broken beyond repair, and you are not crazy. You are capable and deserving of a beautiful life. Don’t give up on the wonderful person you are! Borderline does not define you. You define how you will allow Borderline to affect you.

What could someone have said/done to make it OK?

When I spoke with my loved ones about this, they assured me that I was in fact very worthy of love. They told me that I am a gift in their life and never a burden. If I could give people one thing to say to someone with BPD it would be this: You are lovable. You are worthy. You are brave. I will not abandon you. The struggles you face are real and challenging. Each time you face them, you show your resilience. Never give up on your own happiness. The journey to recovery is worth it.