Coming to Terms with Borderline Personality Disorder

February 15, 2015 Mary Hofert Flaherty

A look at how I found out about my borderline personality disorder and my coming to terms with it.

I asked my Facebook friends what they wanted to know about borderline personality disorder (BPD). Someone asked:

"I'd like to know how does one discover or come to terms with being BPD? It took me years to learn of my depression, and I would assume one doesn't always know they have BPD - so how do they find out? And once they find out, then what?"

Recognizing and Coming to Terms with Borderline

For some, the discovery of BPD is a welcome relief: an explanation for their difficulties. For others, receiving the diagnosis is a grave loss to be met with resistance. Most people probably experience some combination of these feelings when coming to terms with borderline personality disorder.

My Discovery and Coming to Terms with Borderline


For insight, below is a journal entry from a couple years ago when I was trying to come to terms with having BPD. While I had been in professional care for years, my psychiatrists had diagnosed me with and treated me for bipolar disorder, so it wasn't until I started dating a doctor (who was able to observe me for longer than 50-minute intervals) that my BPD was recognized.

After this doctor-boyfriend mentioned that I probably have BPD, he refused to see me again until I sought treatment--specifically, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). It took me a year to finally reach out to a DBT-trained therapist due to an initial period of denial. Therapy needed to be on my own terms, not my ex's.

Here is my article on coming to terms with borderline personality disorder:

My Quality of Being A Person

I used to be tremendously idealistic. And then life happened. I’m not sure whether idealism is part of my disease or if it is the real core part of me that is exempt from being pathologized. I think doctors diagnose us to feel useful even when it’s not helpful.

Personality disorders are the hardest to accept because a personality is so fundamental to one’s being. To say that the total sum of an individual--their quality of being a person--is what’s wrong with them is very hurtful.

I had trouble accepting that I have borderline personality disorder for several reasons. One, I had been told by countless doctors throughout my life that I am bipolar. Bipolar is okay to be because famous people and creative geniuses are bipolar. The first doctor that told me I am borderline wasn’t my doctor. He was my lover.

Apparently when you are a doctor and sleeping with someone you can diagnose them with disorders. I would diagnose him with narcissistic personality disorder but I am not a doctor. He may have been trying to be useful but the power play wasn’t helpful. Equality is very important to me. He always said that things don’t need to be equal; they just need to be fair.

People with borderline have emotional disregulation. This means they obsess when things aren’t equal or fair. One of my teachers who likes me called it being “justice-oriented.” I like to think of myself as an activist. Some people who are close to me would call me a fighter. My mom called me a little fighter when I was born because I overcame adversity unlike my dead twin. But I don’t think that’s what my ex-boyfriend means.

The period between my "discovery" of my BPD and my seeking out BPD-specific treatment probably contained something akin to the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. That is how I came to terms with being borderline.

Please share your "Coming to Terms with BPD" stories.

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APA Reference
Hofert, M. (2015, February 15). Coming to Terms with Borderline Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Mary Hofert Flaherty

February, 17 2015 at 10:11 am

Hi, Mary. Along the way to my discovery that I have BPD, I, too, was told I had bipolar disorder. I think this was because they wanted me to fit into their box of treatments. They did not know as much about BPD as they did bipolar disorder. At this point, we agreed I should be referred to someone else with more experience in treating BPD. This wasn't a singular event but became a game of who would take on the borderline patient. When I discovered through my own efforts I have BPD I was deeply crushed. I felt the grief and pain in the pit of my stomach and realized my doctors couldn't just snap their fingers and make me feel better. I tried suicide several times due to the impulsiveness I feel when emotionally turned upside down. As I thought about my life, the diagnosis explained many decisions I had made in my life, why I feel so sensitive about so much, why I lost more than one job due to my quick anger and why I still don't want my loved ones to venture too far away from me. Now I am on disability, grappling with my self-esteem and financial position.
Like you, I am very "justice-oriented". It angers me that many things in life are not fair and I feel a strong desire to change things.
I grieve for animals and children in abusive environments, wildlife being killed for profit, the human way of destroying everything beautiful in our environment, etc.
I applaud your perseverance and insight.
Thank you for an intelligent view of our affliction.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Mary Hofert
February, 17 2015 at 1:13 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Far too many BPD individuals are misdiagnosed for a variety of reasons, which I'll discuss in a subsequent article. I'm glad you survived the difficult times you describe, and I applaud you for seeking to understand your condition and behaviors so thoroughly. Knowledge lends to self-acceptance, and I wish you the best for your continuing recovery. <3

June, 19 2015 at 2:50 pm

the first time i had a licensed psychiatrist mention the term borderline personality disorder was last year. before that, anytime i would seek help the quick response was, sounds like bi-polar lets talk meds. which always upset me for multiple reasons, one being how can you just know by a few quick questions without truly knowing who i am? and secondly, the pills. i don't believe in taking meds because to me it masks the problem without facing it head on, which i know is necessary for me in order to cope and to survive. that's how every day feels with this, like i'm choosing to be here instead of just living. i can't tell you how many times i wished i could just take things on the chin and not let life affect me, but some days just knock me on my ass and i need days, sometimes weeks to recover. it feels like you're constantly hiding this dirty little secret about who you are, always afraid it's going to slip out. it makes relationships next to impossible for me, and keeping a steady job a struggle. but i'm working on it, and i know it's possible to get better with proper counseling and determination. my biggest obstacle thus far was re-enrolling back into school, the anxiety and fear of failing nearly killed me but i passed. and feel so confident for the next quarter and so on. my advice would be to stay on a schedule, write down your feelings, drink less and exercise more, and if you need to cry it out then do it. it will get better. <3

June, 23 2015 at 5:40 pm

Your words "justice orientated" moved mountains for me. It's like I can understand what I'm feeling and have been feeling since being diagnosed a few years ago.
My own personal reaction was to read what I could find on BPD to better understand what effects it had been having on my life and how the best way to go about managing it would be. The more I read the more I cried, breaking down and feeling so ashamed. I didn't cry for myself as I have lived inside this head with split second emotional changes forever it seemed like. But I cried for my mother, the one who had to live through all that not understanding what was going on, how I would so suddenly change into a monster and why I can never seem to say I'm sorry. I try to encourage her to read about it, not to excuse my behavior but to help her not take things so personally sometimes. I'm learning to say I'm sorry more and I try to make her understand I have to be able to walk away.
I was/am bipolar, was manic for 3 years in my mid 20's. I've been in such a deep depression now for 4 years, I've experienced my first suisidal thoughts, first serious thoughts of sf harm and considered self medication or over medicating. I never thought at 40 I would still have 1st's like that?
But your words inspire me, thank you.

December, 19 2015 at 12:10 pm

I was diagnosed a few months ago. I am still struggling with coming to terms with BPD. I am daily riddled with self doubt. If I am not productive I beat myself up and I struggle to leave the house. Then few hours later I feel the need to escape and run. I have always believed myself to be highly sensitive and cannot take criticism of any sort. I now know I can be highly insensitive of others feelings getting far to wrapped up with dealing with my own emotions. Understanding the pain I have put the people closest to me feels like the most difficult thing to deal with. I act impulsively and feel I have to tell people immediately if I feel I have been wronged in any way. Instead of just thinking things through I have to let it all out immediately. Reading through other pages wrote by other BPd's is hard. I found this one a little more understanding. When people but Narcisstic personality and BPd in the same bracket it makes me feel sick. I have been in several NPD relationships and hope that I am not like that. I have children and my daily struggle with my suicidal thoughts is hard. I am still waiting on DBT and I am finding the system very difficult. I tried doing a counselling course myself but found it far too difficult to deal with. I was raped by a family member recently when I was so drunk I don't remember all of it. Apparently I wanted it too happen...This has made me look at my alcohol issues and want to get control back. I just wish I could find it. I daily wonder that the world would be better without me but the idea of my children thinking that this is their fault keeps me here.

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