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BPD traits?

G

Ginger Kitten

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I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 9 years ago, but a couple of years ago, my psychiatrist put it in my notes that I might have traits of bpd. I imagine this is because I struggle with frequent mood swings (in bipolar, usually people stay in one mood, up or down for a period of time; when triggered I'm up and down several times a day), have angry outbursts, a history of impulsive spending (though this is mild) and a history of unstable relationships with men (both my father and boyfriends). However, I don't have this problem with my mum or with my friends, as friendship doesn't trigger my neediness and my mum is a very easy person to get along with.

I don't know; I don't feel as if I have bpd (I don't meet most of the criteria) and I was very stable before my first incidence of bipolar in my late 20s. Wouldn't I have showed traits of bpd before this?

Sometimes I think psychiatrists shower diagnostic labels around like confetti - and I'm not sure how helpful this is to recipients.

Just wondering what other people think and what their experiences have been.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Best wishes to everyone, GK.
 
Ozymandias

Ozymandias

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My understanding is that there is a significant crossover of symptoms between BPD and bipolar disorder, enough that it's not uncommon for people to be given one diagnosis and have it subsequently changed to the other. That's actually what happened to me... before I got my BPD - EUPD, to be completely accurate - diagnosis, doctors had previously labelled me first with Cyclothymia, and then with BP2.

I read an article a few years ago - which I will try to find again and, if successful, will post later - which posited that there are two main distinctions between the bipolar spectrum disorders and BPD; symptoms that are common in BPD, and which manifest very strongly, but which either don't exist in BP1/2/3, or do but not to significant degrees.

The first of those is the deep, profound, and consistent sense of emptiness that's characteristic of BPD; the second is the fear of abandonment, with the desperate behaviour that can ensue when someone with BPD becomes worried that a person they care about is going to do this to them.

Even before I read the above, I rejected my bipolar diagnoses because they didn't cover what I considered to be my worst symptoms, which were the aforementioned fear of abandonment, and in addition to that the inability I have handling rejection (it makes me feel suicidal).

As to yourself... without knowing more - and, indeed, without being a professional - I can say that a 'history of unstable relationships' is a common symptom of BPD; in actual fact, I have a feeling that one of the diagnostic manuals says it in exactly those words. Also, my own experience with doctors (and, given what you've written as your location, it's possible that me and you might well have seen some of the same people) has told me that they very much emphasise any sign of 'impulsivity' when it comes to diagnosing BPD... however, it's also a common trait in bipolar disorder, so that's not really any help in terms of differentiating the two.

The same doctors also heavily emphasised self-harm when discussing BPD... indeed, I've had professionals argue that I can't have BPD because I'm not a prolific self-harmer, as though this behaviour is intrinsic to the diagnosis. It isn't... it's common in BPD, very much so, but you can have BPD without being a regular self-harmer.

Regarding the mood swings... both my own personal experience of BPD, and other people's accounts of it that I've heard/read, have shown a distinction between it and bipolar disorder in that while both conditions feature mood swings, those in BPD aren't random. The pattern I've seen is that the mood swings in BPD are often triggered by the way other people treat us (or how we perceive we've been treated)... that can affect anyone of course, but people with BPD are especially sensitive to others' reactions and responses, and so our moods are influenced more often, and to much greater degrees.
 
G

Ginger Kitten

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Thank you Ozymandias, for your very comprehensive and thoughtful reply. I think I will have another word with my pdoc about this because I'm really not clear about bpd. I know for sure I have bipolar disorder, because I have so many of the symptoms and have had them consistently for about 30 years now (although was only diagnosed 9 years ago). Thank you for sharing your experience. Best wishes, GK.
 
K

karl7

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when a pdoc says you have BPD traits, i think it means that they believe that you have certain characteristics of the disorder but do not tick all the necessary boxes for a diagnosis.....your pdoc seems not to be saying it straight as he seems uncertain about it......i know years ago a pdoc told my dad that he exhibited borderline traits, but he never gave him the full diagnosis as he didnt meet the full criteria but showed one or two of the symptoms, thus was told he has BPD traits.....looking back now i dont beleive my dad was borderline, the only reason the pdoc suggested it (after just one appointment) was because my dad displayed explosive anger when the psoc said something he perceived as disrespectful
 
G

Ginger Kitten

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Hmm... Sounds like the pdoc was jumping to conclusions where your dad was concerned, Kark 17 - anyone (myself included) might get angry if someone was being disrespectful. And it's such an unfair power balance as well - pdoc's can pronounce like that without even knowing people. I don't think they should be diagnosing on such a short acquaintance. With all good wishes, GK.
 
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