Borderline Personality Disorder: Tell a Teen or Not?

Its Better Than A Sharp Stick in the Eye

When I finally figured out what was up with my teenage daughter, I knew I was in trouble because a colleague from work's wife was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  The clinician who was helping him deal with the situation told him that it was regarded as a bad diagnosis as medication does not work.   I don't know that it is preferrable to have Bipolar disorder or Schizophrenia, where medication does work, but I do know that Borderline Personality Disorder is regarded as hard to treat.  

After eight years and hundreds of appointments, treatment indeed does not work.  A friend commented that "You know how many people would want their kids to have something that only requires cognitive therapy?"  Her meaning was that there are worse things -- much worse.  

The One With Borderline Has to Do the Work

If cognitive therapy is to work, the patients themselves have to do the work on finding solid ground.  Therapists are loath to tell patients that they have Borderline Personality Disorder since they do not want to "label people".  One therapist told me that she did not want to tell a patient since if they had that diagnosis, "that is all they would treat them for if they went to the emergency room."  I don't even know what that means but I think it demonstrates a lack of common sense.

From my experience, all the negative impulses or emotional instability turn out to be no big deal if dealt with quickly.  That sounds flippant but it is not meant to be.  My daughter can have an angry session one night, the likes of which will take the paint off a brand new Chevy, and get up the next morning as if nothing happened.   And the abuses of spending, eating, substances can be bopped down more easily than expected if dealt with quickly -- just don't go to the addiction stage.  

Top Ten List: Tell 'Em What They've Got

For all these reasons, I'm giving you the Top Ten Reasons to tell your teen that they have Borderline Personality Disorder:

1.  There is no shame in having Borderline Personality Disorder.

2.  Its very common.

3.  Its not going away.

4.  Borderline Personality Disorder is not treatable with medication.

5.  One can learn to manage emotions with practice.

6.  Not addressing risky impulses can be dangerous to the teen and to others in their path and such impulses only get worse if not remedied quickly.

7.  The deep seated feeling of abandonment feels like an external lack of love when it is really an internal hole that can be filled from the inside.

8.  Relationships will suffer if the teen is not aware of the consequences of actions.

9.  Precious lifetime joys are wasted waiting another ten years for the frontal lobe to develop to solve this thing.

10.  Everyone is accountable for their own actions and every teen deserves the feedback to help understand what is appropriate and what is not, regardless.

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