Diagnosis: C-PTSD

your brain on CPTSD

My therapist finally spilled the beans (at my insistence) and thinks PTSD or complex PTSD is the closest fit for what I actually have.   BPD may have fit once, but he doesn’t think it does any longer, if it ever did.   He said a lot of those “borderline” symptoms may really have been C-PTSD.   He also doesn’t think I fit the criteria for any other personality disorder.    Also I would not be responding to therapy as well (or as quickly) if I had an actual personality disorder.

This is wonderful.   Complex PTSD is a non-stigmatizing label that acknowledges that damage was done to YOU,  and you are just reacting normally to the abnormal.   Personality disorders imply that the problem is in the person and BPD is one of the most stigmatizing labels of all.

I’ve grown quite attached to my BPD label though, and I’m not quite ready to give it up yet. I still could have it anyway; this is just one person’s opinion and I was diagnosed with it twice.  Maybe it was an erroneous diagnosis or maybe not,  but being a “borderline” has become very much a part of my identity.  I’m just overjoyed that my therapist does NOT think I have it and also that he’s aware of narcissistic abuse and the ways it can really f**k with your mind.

He says it’s fairly common for people with PTSD/C-PTSD to try to self-diagnose and it’s normal to be confused, as I have been very much so. Now I can focus on healing and less on useless self-diagnoses, which was getting me nowhere and just making me more confused.


22 thoughts on “Diagnosis: C-PTSD

        1. The thing is, you are just way too nice to have BPD.

          I have always wondered why you say you are “attached” to your old BPD label. I don’t mean this in a rude or condescending way, not at all, I am genuinely curious. It just seems to me like an odd thing to say, like saying you are attached to being called a liar, or attached to being called stupid. There must be something I am not getting. Or could it be like a Stockholm Syndrome kind of attachment?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. It’s hard to explain, it’s sort of become part of my identity, I guess. I don’t like it or dislike it, I’m just used to it. I never associated being BPD with being a mean person because I didn’t even know there was a stigma against BPD until I started reading all the online stuff about two years ago, so I never made that connection. Maybe if I’d known it was almost as “bad” to have BPD as it is to have NPD at the time I was given the label, I would have objected.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I just now saw this and read the part you added. Yes, your additional explanation makes perfect sense.

          I had heard of BPD, but until I started reading ACON blogs and forums about 5 years ago, I also had no idea about the stigma. Fifteen years ago, when I lived in Pennsylvania, a couple of my friends — both male — told me they were diagnosed with BPD. They were great friends, very caring, generous, compassionate, sensitive guys. I liked them both very much. One was young enough to be my son, so I was like a mother figure to him. The other one was my age and I might have fallen in love with him, if the timing had been different. But I was involved with a malignant narc at the time, and he was still in love with his ex. Sadly, I saw online a few years ago that he had died. 😦

          Really, the only “negatives” I ever saw in my two friends were things like insecurity, low self-esteem, a little needy sometimes, and a little overly sensitive at times. But I liked those traits and could relate to them. Overall, they were just really sweet, gentle, deep thinking guys.

          To me, it’s crazy to think that people with BPD are considered by so many as being almost as bad as malignant narcissists! It makes me wonder if a lot of narcissists or antisocial sociopaths or psychopaths were misdiagnosed as being Borderline, which then gave BPD a bad reputation.

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        4. It could be. I’m not even sure how BPD and NPD got to be so closely associated with ecah other, almost interchangeable in the narc-abuse community. I don’t recall it being that way in 1996 when I got my diagnosis, and I don’t remember ever being told I was hopeless or unredeemable or evil or anything like that. I was treated pretty much as any other psychiatric patient, and was given therapy and put on antidepressants. I was obliged to take a DBT class, which at the time I blew off. (DBT is like CBT but exclusive to Borderlines–and it does work!)

          But BPD was always classified as a Cluster B disorder (I don’t know for how long it’s been that way). All “Cluster B” means really is the person has a very weak or fragmented or nonexistent sense of self. Not being able to access their true self they are either cut off from or cannot regulate their emotions. One of the results of this is having a lack of empathy (but BPDs are the most empathetic of all the B’s, and some have normal levels of empathy). In NPD , a false self takes the place of the true one, which is a very dissociative symptom. In BPD, there’s not a strong false self like with NPD, but there is a weak and unstable one, and the person isn’t ALWAYS showing that false self. Some BPDs act quite a bit like over-emotional or unstable narcissists. Others act like covert narcissists or just act neurotic and unsure of themselves but otherwise nice people, like your friends. A few are antisocial. I’m not sure why BPD (and maybe NPD) isn’t classified as a dissociative disorders though, because essentially the person is cut off from their “self” in some form or another. I’m not sure what the mechanics are in ASPD (antisocial personality disorder).

          So the Cluster B’s, including BPD, were already around, but until the mid-1990s, no one thought of them as anything but mental illnesses or for ASPD, a kind of “adult conduct disorder.” They were psychiatric labels and nothing more. The narc abuse community started in 1995 or so, and Sam Vaknin was pretty much the first one online who wrote about it. Of course, he has NPD but even so, he first called attention to the “evil”-ness of NPD/narcissism (actually it was M. Scott Peck but at the time he wrote “People of the Lie” in 1983, the term “malignant narcissism” wasn’t in vogue yet and there was no connection of “evil people” to people with NPD. There was also no Internet to spread Peck’s concept like wildfire the way it could be in 1995 and later. But over time, M. Scott Peck’s book has become one of the most popular in the narc-abuse community) After Vaknin, more narc-abuse sites got established (many of them started by victims, who were understandably angry at narcissists) and soon “narcs are evil” became a sort of meme, and by association, so did all the Cluster B disorders earn a “evil” reputation. There are benefits to this, of course. Victims are being more heard than ever before. People are paying attention and avoiding narcissistic abusers. But some people who carry these labels are being hurt too, especially Borderlines (or people who were diagnosed with it). Some experts want to get rid of BPD and just re-label BPD as Complex PTSD (probably not a bad idea). There are MANY similarities. I agree with you that the vast majority of BPDs are not anything like malignant narcissists and are not sociopathic at all. Most just act extremely insecure, needy, and maybe “high maintenance.” They can be manipulative or act out to avoid rejection.

          Also, a number of high profile criminals and serial killers have labels of NPD or BPD– BUT they almost always also have a comorbid ASPD diagnosis. Media icons like Joan Crawford also had a BPD diagnosis.

          These are just some of my theories about where BPD stigma came from. I think I’m going to turn this into a post.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. I probably look like one of the Golden Girls when I sing and dance my I Told You So song. 🙂

          I came up with it because my husband used to have a t-shirt that said “It’s a Terrible Burden Always Being Right.” So when he was wrong about something and I was proven right, I made a literal production out of it.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I hope you can get to read Pete Walkers book on Complex PTSD Lucky as it is one of the best books I have read (and over my 20 years of recovery I have read a hell of a lot) in that he makes clear that it IS the damage done to us which is at fault. We develop a stress reaction of the four Fs which manifest is so called diagnosable personality disorders (For example Fight reaction relates to narcissism,)
    He talks a lot about the inner and outer critic and its place in complex PTSD, emotional flashbacks (which could lead to acting out and rage reactions to triggers).
    I’m so glad you have such a good therapist now. Why demonise someone who is already suffering and doing all they can to be honest, grow and heal?

    Liked by 1 person

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