A diagnosis does not always answer the question “Why?”.- by Nick Groom

 

 

A diagnosis does not always answer the question “Why?”. 

by Nick Groome, See Change Ambassador

A diagnosis does not always answer the question “Why?”. 

 

I dont believe, and this is my own personal belief and experience, I dont believe that EUPD is a mental illness. What I have come to understand through psychotherapy was that these behaviours and emotional responses came from my childhood and early adolescence. Here was my “Why?” Childhood trauma and a fairly dysfunctional upbringing. 

If one searches Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) or as it is sometimes referred to Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), there are many worrying accounts of people with EUPD.  From being manipulative”, cruel”, abusive, or capable of physically attacking, as one article put it, towards non borderlines. There are many sensationalist accounts and articles on the subject which must be terrifying to someone labelled with this diagnosis or more so for those whose loved one may have been diagnosed as such.  

Reading these accounts when I got a diagnosis of EUPD  was very uncomfortable for me and I questioned what sort of monster I was. On the one hand it was comforting; I had a name that explained what for years I took as me being inherently evil, an evil that I felt the need to protect people from. But then on the other hand, I could give it a name and that at the time meant so much to me. 

After several years I managed to get on a programme called Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT), designed by an American Psychologist. The psychologist herself had been diagnosed with EUPD. The programme looks at the behaviours usually attributed to EUPD and provides tools and skills that allow the individual to better regulate and control the behaviours. Some of these skills are very good and applicable to not just those with a diagnosis of EUPD but, I believe the vast majority of people would benefit. There was still that nagging feeling though that whilst all this made sense of my behaviour and thoughts, there was still something that was still unanswered namely Why? 

A   UK based Mental Health Charity defines EUPD as: 

  • Feeling very worried about people abandoning you, and like you’d try very hard to stop that happening 
  • Having intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly (such as feeling very happy and confident to suddenly feeling low and sad) 
  • Feeling insecure about who you are, with your sense of self changing significantly depending on who you’re with 
  • Finding it really hard to make and keep stable relationships, and often viewing relationships as completely perfect or completely bad 
  • Feeling empty a lot of the time 
  • Acting impulsively and doing things that could harm you, such as binge eating, using drugs and alcohol, or driving dangerously 

Yes I certainly ticked all the boxes but what I was finding it difficult to do was tick the box that said “Why?” . I couldn’t just accept that I had EUPD and that was it. I then by pure chance engaged with a psychotherapist who helped me see that these behaviours were not an illness rather behaviours and emotional responses that were learned from caregivers in childhood; and/or behaviours and responses that I had developed as a coping mechanism to protect me emotionally (and physically) through the sexual abuse I was subjected to as a child. This suggestion by my therapist that it was not an illness without foundation, but rather a reaction or response to an emotionally unstable upbringing and sexual abuse was the key to controlling these behaviours and moving forward. Through a non medical approach to the diagnosis I was able to understand for example that my fear of abandonment came from my childhood and was able to point to very specific times that were not conducive to developing a secure attachment. Being  smothered with overwhelming “love”can be just as damaging to a Childs development as can be a childhood devoid of affection.  

I dont believe, and this is my own personal belief and experience, I dont believe that EUPD is a mental illness. What I have come to understand through psychotherapy was that these behaviours and emotional responses came from my childhood and early adolescence. Here was my “Why?” Childhood trauma and a fairly dysfunctional upbringing. 

Feelings of intense anger I discovered stemmed from all the times I was told not to “betray’ the adult abusing me as a child. I was unheard as a child and so as an adolescent and then in early adulthood this unheard child would explode in rage. 

Experiencing dissociation as a child was my subconscious way of escaping the horror of abuse. It served me well as a child but certainly has not served me well as an adult. Still I find it difficult  but not impossible to stay grounded in situations where I have a sense of being emotionally attacked.  

I know that there may be many of you reading this and getting angry because this may feel like an attack on you personally. For someone to almost deny EUPD is akin to an attack on the person going through these horrific behavioural and emotional challenges. I wrote something similar for an online forum and was trolled with the most vile abuse for daring to challenge the notion that EUPD is an everlasting Mental Illness. I have to say I get anger as I felt the same at times. All I can do is talk in terms of my journey and what helped me. I have also suggested these thoughts about EUPD and greeted with “Yeah, me too”. After all we are all different, there is no one size fits all. 

So where am I now in relation to the diagnosis of EUPD? Yes EUPD catalogues behaviours, emotional intensity and thought patterns that I have experienced, but it not does explain them. I am one of those people who has to understand the “why?” as well as the “what”. I am very much a work in progress. I still attend therapy and when the need arises I use the skills I learned in DBT. For now however, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (cPTSD) better describes how I am as it provides both the “Why?” as well as the “What”. 

 

 

 


If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following

Shine: phil@shine.ie

Samaritans: 116123

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