Being labeled with a psychiatric disorder: what’s not to like?

I believe that it’s helpful to have a label. After years of fighting it and feeling some shame I now have come to find it incredibly useful:

  1. It helps me to understand my story and experience
  2. It helps me to find solutions
  3. It helps me to recognise that I’m not alone with a myriad of confusing issues. I’m not alone with
  • Overwhelming emotions and difficulty coping with stress
  • Constant urges to self harm and impulsivity
  • Chronic and intense feelings of isolation and emptiness.

And finally: this is not a zero sum game! What I’ve just described is by no means all of me. I am also warm, funny, generous, intelligent, creative…. and happen to have BPD.

Oh yes: also, I challenge you to find one human being on earth who is not also broken!

Do have a listen and let’s discuss:

Do you have a personality disorder? Is the label helpful or demeaning for you?

If you don’t have a personality disorder—what comes to mind when you hear about it. Is there fear? embarrassment?


See also this post which perhaps reflects “conventional wisdom”. But then, those two words are rarely uttered together with my own name. It is certainly worth a read nonetheless! A psychgrad’s take on personality disorder


8 Comments Add yours

  1. I think a diagnosis is only useful to the extent that it helps make sense of a cluster of experiences/symptoms and perhaps points the way to the best way to manage things. A diagnosis can be a handy shorthand when you need to explain things – most people will understand that ‘depression’ would explain your withdrawal and difficulty keeping up at work, or that ‘anxiety’ would explain why you are can’t face the idea of an overseas holiday, or that ‘PTSD’ would explain why it is reasonable to request a female doctor, even if none of these quite encompasses the totality of your condition.

    Once a diagnosis becomes about defining everything you experience within a certain framework and narrows your treatment options it is actively harmful. For my own part my diagnosis has changed over time and there is disagreement between different people involved in my care as to want exactly my diagnosis is. For a long time I thought it was simply depression, and then I thought I had some features of BPD, but wondered why this was not a life-long pattern for me but only emerged after a traumatic relationship experience at the age of 38 and has gone steadily downhill as I’ve experienced additional trauma and older traumas have come to light – currently, complex PTSD seems the best fit for both my symptoms and for planning treatment – but I am open to this changing as new things become apparent.


    1. Thank you for contributing and sharing your experience. A common theme seems to be emerging: Changed diagnosis. I guess as well it’s inevitable that we present when we’re in distress.. So it’s at that time that a diagnosis is made. I’ve noticed a big rise in diagnosis of cptsd over the years as well. I’m sorry that things have been going downhill for you at the moment. Take care and thanks again.


  2. Thanks for the shout out for my post! 🙂 I love this – it’s so fab to see somebody for whom the label has been a help not a hinderance. I think what particularly gets me about this post is the following section:

    ‘And finally: this is not a zero sum game! What I’ve just described is by no means all of me. I am also warm, funny, generous, intelligent, creative…. and happen to have BPD.’

    This is such a wonderful uplifting look at how you conceptualise yourself, with your great traits at the forefront 🙂


  3. Laura Black says:

    My experience is that the doctors seem to change their minds about my diagnosis. So I end up not having a great deal of faith in the professionals. But then again, I see my diagnosis as a label for a cluster of symptoms. It’s not me being labelled, it’s the various aspects of my illness. I wrote a post about it a while ago when a new doctor changed my diagnosis from PTSD / Depression to EUPD. It’s here if you’re interested Laura


  4. My problem with diagnosis’s are when many who think they are qualified but are not, make them, then the client believes it and gets pocketed into certain ways of thinking and believing about themselves that holds them back rather than helps them grow. Where it can help some to understand what is going on with themselves it can equally hurt another.
    I hated to have words like that describe me because it made me feel even worse about myself that I already felt. It no longer troubles me to say that anxiety, depression, disassociation and PTS are issues that I’m left to deal permanently due to childhood sexual abuse.
    Words can be very powerful and need to be used with discretion and only by those who are truly capable, experienced and educated enough to make them. Even then, they are only words. I’m not favorable of labels, as you mentioned, a word cannot encompass all that a person is.
    Fascinating post as always… : )


    1. Thank you for the balance. Youve helped me reflect. When i was little and kids called me names because i was black, my mother used to say “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I internalized that message. But oh, how she was wrong wasn’t she!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. Words do hurt sometimes…


  5. bethanyk says:

    Me too!!!! I have found the label to be incredibly validating and helps me to find solutions as well


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