(Originally posted 7-Apr-2018)
The diagnosis I finally received due to counseling in the months after separation was borderline personality disorder.
At that time, BPD was still associated with heightened stigma. Many professionals were hesitant to diagnose it. People with BPD were assumed to be toxic, manipulative, and untreatable — even by some mental health professionals. A diagnosis meant your patient may feel hopeless and discontinue treatment — not something the counselor of a patient with pervasive suicidal ideation wants as their outcome.
I managed in that first year of my new life to find a partner willing to put up with my split-second mood swings, who loved my highs and endured my lows. I filed away my BPD diagnosis and didn’t think much about it again for years.
After my ex took his own life, however, I began my mental health research in earnest again. In grief counseling, parents learned that children who have lost a parent to suicide are more likely to attempt it. Pain, anger, hopelessness and helplessness once again took over my emotions.
I had to learn everything I could — I had to know the earliest signs. I could NOT lose a child.
But then I did — but not to death. I lost my son to the memory of his father. A memory of a man that was foreign to me, but real to our son. We had ups and downs — he was the middle child of three teens in a blended home. We had struggles, and challenges, but nothing I would consider fights.
What he remembers differs from what the younger and older girls remember. I can’t explain or make any sense of it. But he has been gone, parted from me, for over five years now.
His leaving, and his words to me after, mimicking his late father’s words to me, triggered a diagnosis of PTSD. This confused me — we weren’t at war. I do not compare myself to one who has endured the ravages of combat. But as I searched for answers, I returned to my neglected BPD diagnosis and found that attitudes toward treatment of BPD had changed in the years that passed.