My borderline personality disorder (BPD) diagnosis has psychiatrists asking if I could be autistic. Here are my thoughts.
I must apologise for being a bit lax on here as of late. Lots of stuff has been going on that I’ve been trying to get my head around.
To BPD or not to BPD…
One such thing is my mental health diagnosis. For the past four years, I’ve been getting used to having BPD, the stigma surrounding it and trying to understand a bit more about it.
However, like so many of you guys, I was struggling quite a lot in 2020 because of the pandemic. I don’t like change and having to work from home, not see family and friends and not being able to go to the gym took its toll.
Also, not being able to get married to my Mr was pretty crappy too. Like you, we made the best out of a strange situation.
The 2020 mental health struggle was real
In April last year, I was struggling so much with low mood, no motivation, wanting to sleep all the time and binge eating, that I rang my GP and asked for help.
My GP surgery are amazing, I have to say. They’ve been so crucial in helping me to get the right support and help for my BPD. My doctor referred me to the local community mental health team (CMHT) to see if they could help.
Someone rang and did an assessment over the phone. I felt quite hopeful. However, three weeks later when I’d heard nothing, I decided to give them a call.
But the struggle wasn’t ‘life-threatening’ enough
The person who answered the phone was really rude and when I asked if anything had been decided/done etc, she replied ‘Oh yeah, they decided that your issue wasn’t life threatening and that you don’t need help.’I came off the phone and cried. The uncontrollable ugly crying where you’re struggling to breathe. It wasn’t pretty, let me tell you! Mr Square Peg was really cross and suggested that we lodge a complaint.
However, I decided to go back to the GP and tell them what had happened. I spoke to the doctor who said their response was unacceptable and referred me back to them.
A few weeks later, a nice lady called Nicola rang from the CMHT and asked me to talk her through what was happening. I mentioned the rude person I’d spoken to and she apologised profusely.
She also referred me to one of their counsellors for six sessions over the phone.
Sarah, the counsellor, was amazing. She really understood me and how my mind worked. She did keep asking me to ‘connect to myself’ to understand how I was feeling but I couldn’t fathom how to do that. It’s hard knowing how I feel sometimes.
When she questioned my diagnosis, she originally thought I had bipolar disorder. She persevered and got me a psychiatrist appointment. It took a lot of effort but she really had my back which was so reassuring.
The all important video call…
A few months later, I had my video assessment with the psychiatrist. She was really nice and listened to what I had to say. She immediately discarded the bipolar theory and went on to ask me some really interesting questions.
She asked me if I knew how I was feeling, did I understand my emotions, how was I with change and were there ever any periods of intense activity. I cried because she seemed to get what was wrong.
Living somewhere between BPD and Autism
However, the response wasn’t what I was expecting. She said ‘I’m 90% sure that you’re autistic. Has anyone ever mentioned that to you before?’
Now, my counsellor that I’ve been seeing for 10 years thought I had been misdiagnosed with BPD. She’s always thought I was autistic.
The psychiatrist said she didn’t have the power to diagnose but that if I submitted a self-assessment to the Integrated Autism Service (IAS), that they would decide whether to assess me or not.
The daft thing was, she wouldn’t do a referral for me. She said it would be quicker for me to do it.
She ended our chat by saying ‘You’re going to get there in the end. Thank you for being so persistent and I’m sorry that none of us spotted this sooner.’
That call left me so confused and in shock. I went online and requested the form. It was so many pages long.
But, that didn’t deter me. After six hours of writing, I’d completed the 24 page self-assessment form and submitted it.
Getting some much needed advice
I spoke with some people from IAS and asked them some questions about the process and what happens now. They said that they see misdiagnosis in women quite frequently.
They’ve seen many women who present as having BPD but are actually autistic. They said this was because the assessment criteria for autism is heavily weighted towards young boys, rather than girls.
Now to play the waiting game…
The current situation is that I’m on the waiting list for an assessment, which looks to be between 12-18 months at present.
I feel so unsettled and so unsure of who I am. This might sound quite dramatic but I’ve spent my whole life not fitting in and being ‘weird’ and ‘quirky’ and I thought BPD was the answer.
Instead, it looks like BPD was gifted to me by stubborn psychiatrists, many of whom did not appreciate me questioning their verdict/authority.
Don’t be afraid to question your diagnosis
This might upset the people who gave you the diagnosis, but you are entitled to know what’s really going on. It doesn’t mean you have to settle if you don’t think it’s right.
There is always the theory that health professionals know best and most of the time, they absolutely do. However sometimes, you know yourself way better than they do. You have to live in your body, your head, all the time.
Don’t be afraid to question something if it doesn’t sit right. Trust your gut because nine times out of ten, it will always have your best interests at heart.
Stay safe and thank you for reading