Self-Diagnosis

I must be getting old. I found out I was going to have about 30 minutes to kill at the library this afternoon while I waited for my oldest daughter to finish her summer reading program activity … and I was actually excited about that.

For someone who spent so much time studying fiction in school, I hardly ever read fiction anymore. I’m much more into biographies and educational books these days. And since my goal is still to return to college to study psychology, but I’m still trying to figure out the best way to pay for said goal, I often find myself perusing the various titles written on matters such as depression or addiction or any mental behavior that is otherwise out of the ordinary.

I know, I know. It’s not exactly light reading, is it? That’s just the track my brain is on at the moment. Of course, one of the dangers of reading so much about mental disorders is that there is a very high likelihood you’ll run across at least one you think you might have. I mean, if you dig deep enough, there are all kinds of maladies we could ascribe to ourselves. For instance, one time after spending all afternoon trying to straighten one bookshelf, I was convinced I had Attention Deficit Disorder. Turns out I didn’t, but … wait, what was I talking about again? (Just kidding…)

brandon marshallSo today, as I browsed the 600 section of the library, I came across a book titled “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me,” by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus. The tagline for the book is “Understanding the Borderline Personality.” My only real knowledge of Borderline Personality Disorder was that NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall was diagnosed with it a few years ago, so I was curious what the authors had to say on the subject.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to start ticking off the traits I identified with: Mood swings, impulsive actions, lacking identity, etc., etc. And then there was the kicker: The most common type of depression associated with BPD is Dysthymia, known now as Chronic Depressive Disorder … which I was diagnosed with. “Holy crap,” I thought to myself, “it’s worse than I thought!” I got through as much of the book as I could before my daughter was finished, and then I put it back on the shelf because if I took it home I would just obsess over the concept even more.

Now, do I actually have BPD? I don’t know. Self-diagnosis is a dangerous road to travel, and it’s not one I particularly want to go down. You almost become a sort of psychological hypochondriac, jumping at every shadow. Does it hurt to ask, though? Should we stop exploring, stop seeking out new information? How many diagnoses are too many? How many are not enough?

These are just some questions I’ve pondering since this afternoon. BPD is a subject I am definitely not qualified to tackle here, although I would love to hear some testimonies regarding it. Or you just could tell me if I should get a school loan or not. Maybe if I got back in school I’d feel younger and stop wandering around the library so much.

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2 thoughts on “Self-Diagnosis

  1. Great article Eddie. Having known you and worked with you, I think I can assure you that you are probably not Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m not a psychologist, but my ex-wife has BPD and her actions as far as mood swings, impulsive behavior, and lacking identity have been much, much more extreme than anything I have witnessed, or could imagine witnessing, in you. I never imagined it from anybody, actually.

    Here is my testimony of some of the extreme behavior a person with BPD exhibits. With mood swings, for example, they go from moments of loving kindness to becoming violent (usually with those closest to them) in a matter of seconds. One morning when our daughter was about six months old, she started crying as she did every morning about that time. My wife (at the time) said, “Can you please get up and get her bottle? Pretty please?” and was being just as sweet as could be and even hinted at a possible reward later. A few minutes later, I said that I was going to take the baby to see my parents who lived about three miles away. She started screaming and said that she was going to take her to see her parents that afternoon. I told her that I would be back in an hour or so, which was plenty of time to be back before she was ready to leave in four hours. That’s when she started punching me in the head and face.

    And impulsive, destructive behavior is more along the lines of dragging your child around in the middle of the night trying to find a party or sleeping with your husband’s “friends” because she assumed you were cheating on her because your job required overtime nearly every week.

    As far as lacking identity, as her BPD progressed (es), she went from being a nurse and owning a nice home to living with her mother and being able to put everything she owns in a laundry basket. She no longer works because her imaginary fiance’, Charles, is going to take very good care of her.

    I guess the hardest thing in dealing with someone with BPD is that they think those whom have done the most for them and have tried to help them are out to ruin their life, and no matter how illogical their fears, nothing can convince them they are wrong. I think the fact that you are asking yourself if you have this disorder is probably pretty good proof that you don’t.

    Anyway, that is my testimony about Borderline Personality Disorder. I have many more examples but most of them are even more personal than the ones I shared.

    If you really want to scare yourself good, I do have a copy of the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” that you can borrow. It covers everything from “Abuse of substances” to “Written Expression, disorder of.” I’m not suggesting you have either of those; they were the first and last entries in the index.

  2. Pingback: Four Aces | Lights In The Darkness

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