Trying on diagnoses is like trying on clothes.


Many of you know that for the past year, I’ve been obsessed with finding a new diagnostic label that actually fits me, but I’ve been very confused and probably confused my readers too.  Finding your “right” diagnosis is a lot like trying on clothes. Some fit better than others, but none feel or look quite right, and you just have to keep trying tings on until you find something that both fits and is “you.”

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that my real problem was like a dress I never even considered trying on. Maybe because it was hanging there right in my face the whole time, it was so obvious I couldn’t see it, so I just kept looking at the ill-fitting outfits in my peripheral field of vision instead.

Some people may find my need to have a label at all silly. But I’d prefer to have something to wear than no clothes at all, even if naked was the way I was born (in more ways than one).

What I’ve been diagnosed with or diagnosed myself with. 

Borderline Personality Disorder.

BPD fit me well once, just like that outfit that fit you better when you were 25 than when you’re 50. I used to act out a lot and be far more impulsive, but have not engaged in those behaviors since I went No Contact with my ex. Even before then, I was becoming less of a tripwire–thinking things through more and acting out less, which makes me wonder if I ever really had BPD at all. BPD isn’t really supposed to go away with age, unless there are hormonal factors involved for women who have it (which is possible).  Maybe I internalized my DBT skills so well that I virtually learned a “new non-BPD personality” and thereby cured myself of it. If that’s what happened, then the common belief that BPD is incurable is total bullshit.

My therapist has trouble believing I ever acted out in BPD ways, but I most certainly did, and I unwittingly hurt others in my doing so too. That outfit still hangs in my closet, and I’m reluctant to part with it, because it’s been so much a part of my life, but what good is it doing hanging there in tatters and covered with dust?  Still…it’s hard to part with.

Avoidant Personality Disorder.

AvPD fits like a shawl or hat would, but doesn’t cover me like a whole outfit would. It describes some of my behaviors well, but not others. Although it fits, it’s incomplete, like only part of an outfit.


Not too long ago I thought I had Aspergers, due to my social awkwardness and avoidant behavior. For over a decade I was sure this is what my real problem was. But this self-diagnosis is like that outfit that you think looks perfect on you, but actually doesn’t suit you at all and all your friends know it but won’t tell you. I had to discover that for myself by taking a good long look in the mirror and realizing Aspergers wasn’t at all “me.”

Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Depression.

Once again, it fits but doesn’t cover enough!

Covert NPD.

The craziest outfit I ever tried on, but interesting while I wore it.

It felt more like wearing a costume than every day clothing.

This self-diagnosis came very suddenly to me last summer, much like getting struck by lightning  It was like that outfit–or costume– you see suddenly that pops right out at you on the rack and SEEMS perfect for you, but once you try it on, it just doesn’t feel right. Oh, I was SO sure C-NPD was my real problem. But after awhile you realize that other people don’t think you look good in it because it emphasizes body defects that you don’t even possess, like a dress that makes you look fat even if you’re not.  Almost no one (outside of a forum I posted on) could believe I had NPD. The only people who ever accused me of being a narcissist were narcissists themselves, projecting their narcissism onto me, like that mud on their outfit they smear onto you so they can keep their own clothes clean.

That’s not to say I don’t have narcissistic traits, because I most certainly do (and no one would argue with that), but no, that’s just not the right outfit.

Complex PTSD seems like a keeper to me.


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