A/N: A reaction to society's view on a controversial disorder. Written in the vain hope to educate and promote understanding.

Disclaimer: Story title is a lyric by the Manic Street Preachers. Everything else is mine.


Audrey Davies
11/9/06
Assignment #3

A) Admitting to having a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is the equivalent of saying, on a first date, that you're dying of AIDS and only interested in a sexual relationship. Surly, dramatic, hostile, and unreasonable, you would have to be even crazier than the borderline herself to get involved with a person whose sickness isn't even a "sickness," but their actual personality. Or at least, that's how the party line goes. What makes it even worse is the fact that, unlike most prejudices, the more knowledgeable somebody is on the disorder, the faster they will run.

Take, for example, my Intro to Psychology professor, who had this to say on the subject: "All borderlines are crazy. If you ever meet one, run like hell, because they're incurable and impossible to treat." I wish I could say that I am exaggerating or paraphrasing, but these were his exact words. So is it any wonder that, after hearing something like that, a person with the disorder might abruptly stand up, rush to the bathroom to find solace in a razor, crying because this is proof that no one will ever accept her, and then drop the class on the grounds that the professor is mean? A borderline myself, this is what I was tempted to do. But there were two things that stopped me. One: To do so would be to prove Dr. Johnson right, and the disgust that came with the thought of that was more than enough to quell the impulsive urge that would put me in the same category as the teenagers, younger versions of myself, that I saw every Thursday evening in group therapy. And, two: There was the possibility that if I gave into the temptation and stormed out of the classroom, everybody there would know exactly why I had left and what had offended me so much. So instead I frowned, assured myself that Dr. Johnson's statement was hypocritical because everyone I talked to thought that he was crazy and advised other students to stay away from him, and had a good laugh about it in therapy later that week. But I can't say it didn't hurt.

Borderlines experience this stigma even from so-called mental health "professionals," who take one look at their prospective patient's charts and psychiatric history, see the damning phrase Borderline Personality Disorder under Axis II, and decide then and there that the person is untreatable, dismissed as a lost cause not even worthy of the therapist's time. "Just drug them up and hope for the best," is the unofficial treatment plan for these individuals. To some extent, this happens all the time in the mental health field. I think that every person who has been in therapy for a significant amount of time can say that they have, at one point or another, felt like they were not being treated as a human being, but rather as a diagnosis. Like a mathematical formula where the problem is identified, a solution found, and Patient X is sent on his way wondering if the final note in his charts might read "solved," instead of "recovered."

It is unfortunate that there are some doctors out there who do treat their clients in this demeaning manner, scrawling notes with their faces buried in yellow legal pads and nodding in the perfect imitation of a bobble head dog, but in my opinion, those with personality disorders have it even worse because they are not even seen as a diagnosis, as Patient personified. Borderlines in particular have the special honor of being viewed as a label and a stereotype, the cringe-worthy vision of a young woman storming out of her therapist's office in a jealous rage, a tearful fit; alternately, she will cling to her psychologist, literally and figuratively, while she cries about another relationship gone wrong, or explains why, after weeks of seemingly-effective treatment, she simply can't continue with her therapy any longer. Completing the picture are the shallow, self-inflicted scars that will, of course, always be on display, because everyone knows that people with BPD only harm themselves for attention. Parasuicidality is their fad, don't you know. So, bearing all this in mind, is it any wonder that doctors are hesitant to treat a person with this disorder? Having worn the official label of Borderline Personality Disorder myself since I was fifteen, I can say with sadness, and not a little bitterness, that it comes as no great shock to me.


Coming up: A character introduction, some background, and the beginnings of an actual plot.