I didn’t notice when my psychiatrist told me that I had a personality disorder. I took a mental note to “look it up later” after she said that I had “obsessive-compulsive personality traits,” but then forgot about it for several hours. But that night, a Friday night at the end of June, I won’t forget. I sat in our dark brown corduroy recliner with my iPad, and I typed her comments into Safari. I read and reread the DSM-V definition of Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and checked off all symptoms but one (hoarding). I remembered what I was told about personality disorders in nursing school. “Those are the hopeless ones,” my instructor had said, “they don’t get better.” I wasn’t just worthless. Now I was hopeless. “Personality disorders are a diagnosis psychiatrists use for patients they don’t like,” I read in an article. Seeing my psychologist didn’t help. “I don’t recommend telling anyone,” he told me, after he said that he agreed with the diagnosis. “There is so much stigma with personality disorders that many psychologists refuse to treat them.” Great.

Now, seven months later, I’m no longer ashamed of my diagnosis. What was said and done to me when I was younger is not my fault. I take responsibility for it now, but the abuse was not my fault. I developed a personality disorder in order to protect myself, and now that I no longer need protection, I can learn other ways of coping. And having a more complicated mental illness means that I have a psychiatrist that I see regularly which is a bonus in our super-long-wait-list health care system. There are lots of days when I wish my brain was different, but today I’ll take it just as it is.

6 thoughts on “Diagnosis

  1. My heart sunk when I got my first diagnosis (depression). After that, my second and third diagnosis (anxiety and ADHD) were easier to take because it just meant that I had struggles, not that I was broken beyond repair.

    I’m sorry that you felt shame for your condition. I felt that way too.

    Personality disorders aren’t hopeless. Just like my diagnoses, you can learn ways to cope and manage…they’ll never go away, but you can help yourself. I took a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course for my anxiety many years ago and they had groups specifically for Obsessive Compulsive groups as well.

    Many years ago I used to have many compulsions that were hard for me to let go after I had children. I used to triple check the doors to make sure they were locked at night, I couldn’t leave the house if there was dirty dishes in the sink, I had to always check at least twice to make sure the coffee pot was unplugged and the oven was off…and I’m a hoarder (it was lovingly referred to as “an organized mess” by a friend because I knew where everything was in my mess).

    My advice, should you want it, is find a good psychiatrist. They aren’t all equal. I’ve had one ask me how I didn’t know something was wrong with me when I was younger and I walked out in the middle of our session. Don’t tolerate judgement from anyone, especially those that are getting paid to help you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Your response is awesome and much appreciated. I was the same when I got diagnosed with depression. I wrongly thought that depression was beatable by just having an active lifestyle and when I got the diagnosis I was ashamed. Now I understand that it’s so much more. I used to do the exact same thing with the dishes in the sink! Last week I left the kitchen in a mess and went out for the first time – it felt good afterwards! I love what you said about having struggles and not being broken being repair 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I nearly always have dishes in the sink now. I’m not happy about it, but there’s 6 people in this household now and I have to pick my battles to keep from becoming too overwhelmed. Plus, it’s my oldest son’s job to do the dishes now. I have to walk away from that one.

        Liked by 1 person

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