Today's guest post is by Angela (she/her). In this post, Angela describes her experience of having BPD and being part of the LGBTQ community.
'Hi I’m Angela, I was diagnosed with BPD in my early thirties, but have struggled with symptoms since childhood. I am passionate about mental health awareness and challenging the stigma associated with BPD. I love yoga, meditation and spending time with my loved ones.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had emotional problems-- I have a diagnosis of EUPD [emotionally unstable personality disorder, another name for BPD]. I’m aware lots of people dislike having a diagnosis, but for me it gives me a sense of understanding of who I am. I also remember always finding women beautiful and interesting and not having much interest in men. For this reason I identify as lesbian and I’ve come to terms with that.
I have struggled with all the big symptoms of EUPD at different stages of my life-- one example is the identity disturbance. To this day I still struggle to describe myself as a person. At the moment, I’d say I’m a bit of a “hippy chick” I’m into yoga, mediation and I love my crystals. I’ve had this identity before and it suits me best. I have had many different identities in my life: goth, artsy, hippy, scientist, girly swot, Barbie (whether I looked this way or not it’s how I saw myself) as my hair has been literally every colour under the sun!
I find it stressful when I bump into people from previous phases of my life. I feel like I’m not authentic because I think of how I was at a certain time. I think this is why I spend so long questioning my sexuality. The LGBTQ community in 2021 is rich and diverse, but in the nineties it differed. Lesbians looked a certain way and because I was girly etc I never fit in which led me to question my sexuality so much.
I went though a terrible time in my late teens where I wasn’t sure who I was. I would analyse every thought and emotion that I felt. I was always questioning “does this mean this?” and I didn’t know who I was. If someone said I seemed straight I would literally obsess over it for hours. I was the only person I knew who struggled with this. I was also obsessed with how I looked, what I wore and how I came across. I can see now it was my BPD causing me stress, but I was undiagnosed back then and nobody ever spoke about mental health.
I read somewhere that confusion over sexuality can be a symptom of BPD. I am aware this angers people. On paper it can seem “if you’re gay then you have an illness”. I don’t interpret it like that. It’s not about being attracted to and loving people of the same sex, it’s the clinging to the identity part and the distress it can cause.
I wish I could tell all this to the me of 20 years ago!
I want to say that this is just my experience. I can’t speak for any other members of the LGBTQ community and I can’t speak for anyone else with BPD.'
Thank you so much Angela for sharing some of your experiences here. I am so glad you now have an understanding of yourself and it is interested that diagnosis has been a part of that. Like you say, you can't speak for anyone else who is LGBTQ+, however I imagine that parts of your experience will resonate with aspects of others' experiences. I also feel that what you have expressed demonstrates the importance of never judging a person based on their appearance.
Something else that came to mind whilst listening to your experiences is the horrifying fact that 'homosexuality' was only removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, book of mental illnesses) in 1973. I am sad and angry that today, in 2021, many LGBTQ+ people continue to face widespread discrimination across a number of settings and situations.
I just want to say to any blog readers who are LGBTQ+, you are welcome here and I want you to feel safe here. Hate or disrespect of any kind is never okay and if I see it on my social media I will call it out as soon as I can.
Thank you again Angela and take care!
Switchboard provides a one-stop listening service for LGBT+ people on the phone, by email and through Instant Messaging. UK.
0300 330 0630 https://switchboard.lgbt
References and further reading:
Drescher, J., North, C. and Suris, A. (2015) ‘Out of DSM: Depathologizing homosexuality.’ Behavioral Sciences 5, 4, 565–575.
Latest edition of the DSM: APA (American Psychiatric Association) (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) (5th edn). Washington, DC: APA.
Bachmann, C. and Gooch, B. (2018) LGBT in Britain – Health. Stonewall. Available at www.stonewall.org.uk/lgbt-britain-health