Suddenly, I've been diagnosed with borderline personality? "It's a disorder when it eats into your life," was the response.
by Jane D.
I told off the Indian Buddhaman today, who respects me as much as a dog respects the fire hydrant.
He's always late, he spends a ton of time interrogating me, and then he's always answering the phone during our sessions or checking his CrackBerry. I was finally like fuck this. It's been a year and I don't need to shell out a co-pay and feel like shit, and, at the same time, get nowhere.
“Did you cancel the last session?” I don't recall.
“How are things going?” The meds were working 20 to 30 percent.
Do you think we should up the amount? I asked. I wondered if he could sense how desperately I wanted things to change.
He turned to his manila file, and said, "That's what I said in the beginning, but I thought you didn't like meds." I felt like a witness on the stand being grilled by a lawyer. Did it matter? So what if I changed my mind? I asked him. I was here to get better; I was here because I was tired of status quo.
I did not trust the guy. I did not trust him at all. It wasn't the news he was delivering, but rather the way he was doing it. He was being harsh and abrasive. He scrawled down the new heightened dosage, and there was an angry silence. We were like two boxers in the ring that retreated for the interim.
I told him that maybe I was just in a period of my life where I wanted a female psych, maybe I needed to retire the "Y" chromosome for the meanwhile. The Buddhaman emerged from the silence again with a pen and Post-it in hand. He said he wanted me to read something, a book about borderline personality, which he suddenly diagnosed me with. A volcano erupted. After all, I thought that he had tested me for this when we first met and had ruled it out.
He said that this was a serious problem, That's why I was having all of these troubles with coworkers, the boss, with my scheduling, with men. I was a classic borderline. I stopped him there. I was angry, I said, at the way we were communicating. At the way he was shooting me down every time I asked a question. I was fuming and angry because I didn't feel heard.
I swallowed my anger for a split second. At what point does a human being feel like they have the right to tell someone else that they have a personality disorder? I asked him coldly.
”I’ve worked and dealt with people and their quirks. Some are loners, some are asexual, some had dinner the same time every day, should we trace back the roots of their ‘disorder’ and then medicate them? Why make everyone the same? It's a disorder when it eats into your life and affects your relationship with others," he said, matter of fact.
He said I was controlling, angry at men, that I was black and white. He was right. But I was aware of it—and what of all the milestones I'd achieved along the way? Two years ago, it was unthinkable that I would date, unthinkable that I'd try to work things out with those who I didn't see eye to eye with. I had a long way to go in terms of toning down outbursts and acting like a 32-year-old, rather than a three-year-old, but he was turning the messiness and elusiveness of life into medical terms and trying to medicate everything. He was not God, so why was I here?
I repeated that maybe I needed a lady shrink. He said I'd be running away from reality. He represented my father, my exes, all the men I was dating. I told him about the 35-year-old who had written me off as a "friend." (I didn’t tell him though about the temper tantrum I had on the drive back from Chesapeake.) The Buddhaman said, “Who cares, he was a virgin, socially retarded; work and swimming are his life, but there's more to life.”
I agree, I agree, I said, and then the air seemed to clear. The tones of our voices normalized.
I said to the Buddhaman that it was ever so clear lately that I need to eliminate things in my life, rather than add to it. This included men, writing, swimming, and rather than accept things, I needed to talk them out with people.
He showed me an essay from another patient of his who diagnosed herself with borderline personality. "See, she's impulsive, takes everything personally..." he started. "Cutting, alcohol, sex..."
I did none of the above, I joked.
"Yes, but you're in denial," he said. Maybe I am in denial, but I can't stand people who reduce things in life—feelings, relationships, emotions—to formulas and who label everything.
At the end, we did not reach a truce. He said to me once again that I couldn't run away from the men in my life. He represented my father... he started.
"But you're not," I said.
"Thank goodness for that," he said, that evil twinkle in his eye.