I Self-Diagnosed Myself With BPD to Excuse My Hostile Behavior

How BPD affects interpersonal relationships

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

It goes without saying that pretty much every teenager has their struggles. I just think some struggle more than others. In my case, it was one of the hardest times of my life. I used to cut myself, hook up with guys, and want to kill myself. I was a "hot mess" to put it mildly. I also had some really hectic stuff happen in my life, which pushed me even further to act out. 

I remember feeling useless, worthless, and completely like a waste of space on the planet. I genuinely believed that the world and everybody I knew would be much better off without me.

Through a court order, I ended up in a clinic which ran a program for "problematic adolescents" (I fell into this category). I was 16 at the time. At this particular clinic where we did workshops, the pamphlets read: "for the treatment of borderline personality disorder in teenagers.” I assumed that meant those of us at the clinic officially had borderline personality disorder (BPD)

This is how I got my "diagnosis." From this point onwards, every professional I saw whom I told I had BPD didn’t question it. I even had a therapist use dialectical behavioral therapy with me for the treatment of BPD. I studied for a degree in psychology and during my late teens and early 20s, I was convinced that this was a fitting diagnosis.

According to the DSM, one of the biggest components of BPD is that it is characterized by a "pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and affects, and marked impulsivity."

This was perfect for me, as it went on to give me an almost "get out of jail free” card to hook up with as many "hot guys" as my heart desired. 

I made it my mission to learn as much as possible about this particular personality type. I watched all the movies with characters who had BPD; my favorite one being “Girl Interrupted,” released in 1999. I had the poster on my bedroom wall as a teenager. I felt during my adolescence that I could strongly identify with the main protagonist, Suzanna (played by Winona Ryder), who had BPD.

I found really great stable guys to be completely boring, and they would go straight into the friend zone. I went for typical "bad boys,” except in my case, I would push the envelope. I came from a very decent upbringing and it was odd to people that I ended up dating guys with criminal records. I literally would choose not just typical “bad guys,” but dangerous guys. I ended up having the most volatile relationships, situationships, and more. In fact, my primary focus was always on a guy and everything else was simply background noise.

I ended up with people that had drug addictions, narcissists, criminals, and the list goes on. I was physically attracted to these guys, and thought that it was important for me to get the most life experience possible. My thinking was completely flawed, but I had nothing to counteract these thoughts. After all, if I had a borderline personality, it all made sense. 

I ended up getting myself into all sorts of situations and to be entirely honest, I am really lucky to be alive. I am almost extremely fortunate to not have had something terrible happen to me. It was often a close call at times with some of these characters, and somehow, I was okay. (To this day, I struggle with nightmares.) 

When therapists would point out to me that I was making poor decisions or choosing unscrupulous partners, I simply wouldn't even question my decisions. I genuinely believed that my choices were fully warranted because I had "BPD."

When therapists would point out to me that I was making poor decisions or choosing unscrupulous partners, I simply wouldn't even question my decisions. I genuinely believed that my choices were fully warranted because I had 'BPD.'

I thought that this was exactly the way I was supposed to act and feel. I used the diagnosis in the service of rationalizing my behaviors. In fact, I was meant to choose partners who were extreme. I was essentially living up to the label that I thought I had. A therapist pointed out to me one time that the particular partner I was with had all the signs of an anti-social personality type, and I didn't think twice about it ‘til years later when I discovered his troublesome record. 

In later years, I discovered that many teenagers get misdiagnosed or labeled with a borderline personality disorder. I also understood that there are many psychiatric personality types and disorders which overlap with BPD. Many teenagers start smoking at an early age, drinking, choosing the wrong partners, and fitting the criteria but they "grow out of it.” In fact, one needs to be careful in diagnosing a teenager with any personality disorder, let alone BPD, as it may not be permanent.

The question is, why did I make such poor choices? Only years later did everything make sense to me. I needed to experience much more of life, work on myself, and get a proper diagnosis to really understand things. I also finished my psychology degree, went to therapy, and transformed my entire life. It was not easy in any sense of the word, but it was certainly worth it.

I thought that this was exactly the way I was supposed to act and feel. In fact, I was meant to choose partners who were extreme. I was essentially living up to the label that I thought I had.

Fast forward to where I am now, things are completely different. I am not 16 anymore, that is for sure. I am nearly 40, and looking back at who I was and the choices I made, is quite horrifying.

Over the years, I have met many people who have been misdiagnosed with BPD. I have also met people who actually have BPD and it is very apparent to me that this is not something that I have. I have full respect and empathy for people who have this condition, and I know it is completely treatable. 

Today, I am in a healthy and happy relationship. I have been with my partner for nearly 13 years. I feel emotionally safe and secure with him, which is the best thing ever. 

It took me years to realize that the reason why I was going for these "bad guys” was that I felt I didn't deserve anything more. I felt that I truly deserved all the abuse and trauma. I also had a need to "feel protected" and I didn't realize that I could get this from a decent person as opposed to someone "dangerous.” 

If I could go back in a time machine, "Back-to-the-Future" style, I would probably not change much. Except I would have tried to be a bit kinder to myself, something that I still struggle to do. 

The truth is that there are times when I push my partner away and other times when I adore him. And while I sometimes think that I may exhibit traits of borderline personality disorder, I know that my chronic anxiety, OCD, ADD, and high levels of depression can cause all sorts of feelings and reactions I can’t begin to explain. 

If you think you may have BPD, seek a mental health professional. There are clinicians who are specially trained to diagnose, treat, and answer your questions regarding BPD. 

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  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5-TR. Washington, DC; 2022.