Monday, December 24, 2012

Profiles of Borderline Personality Disorder: David O'Garr

After hitting a writer block earlier this week, I spoke to a fellow counselor about my work with DBT and that I specialize and take an interest in Borderline Personality Disorder.  As is often the case, my fellow counselor was stunned that my specialty was the one diagnosis she avoided working with "at all costs."  Being I speak with those with BPD on Twitter daily, I thought a simple way to change the stigma of "Borderlines" would be to do interviews with people with BPD and put a face with the diagnosis.  I was surprised when I put the ABP out and got 6 responses in a few hours.  The interview also took longer than I expected, but I hope to have 2 profiles out a week for the next month or two.

Being Misdiagnosed

Without further ado, I present David O'Garr, male age 29 years old and from Canada.  David is very open and honest in his life, and writes a blog about his struggles with BPD.  David comes from a large blended family, that were invalidating, although he remains close with his mother. Before his BPD diagnosis he felt jerked around by the Mental Health community, "It got to the point that every time I talked to a doctor they just wanted to prescribe me something else, and I kept saying that this isn't working we need to do something else. But instead of referring me to someone, they just kept telling me that the waiting lists for psychiatrists was too long and it wouldn't' help me."  He was diagnosed in March 2011 with BPD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Dysthyia and ADHD Inattentive Type. after 17 years of being diagnosed with depression and on a variety of antidepressants, "I was on meds off and on from 11 - 28  none of them worked."  David found out he had Borderline Personality Disorder after knowing something was amiss for years last March, after waiting almost 2 hours to see a Psychiatrist , "he spent 20 minutes with me, told me I had BPD, referred me to a different Psychiatrist and sent me on my merry way.  So I left there, not knowing up from down, not knowing what BPD actually was, basically thought I was being told that I was not a real person pretty much.  That everything I thought was me was a lie...And to top it all off, I felt disrespected, not listened to, and treated like I didn't actually matter."   

The Hardest Part: Romantic Relationships

As David read about the diagnosis he felt unsettled, "Well the first things I were reading was that it was most often diagnosed in women and gay men.  Which made me feel that the diagnosis was actually wrong, that the treatment of it in the medical field was actually sexist and misogynist in nature (I'd say homophobic, but homophobia also has it's roots in misogyny.)  That we were basically being treated for 'hysteria'  I also came across a lot of blog posts by men stigmatizing women with BPD.  Which was a bit heart breaking to read as well."  David is one of only 3 men, I have meet with the Borderline Personality Diagnosis, "I've also been basically written off in discussion and debates, and told well he's a 'borderline' so not worth engaging with.  It's actually those things that have made me really scared of being in a relationship.  That I would be seen as being 'psychotic' 'crazy' and 'clingy' and I have seen how I've been in relationships and it scares me."  David states he struggles with romantic relationships the most, having BPD, "I find love to be the hardest and most difficult emotion to regulate...It's the intimate relationship thing.  I want nothing more then to find a partner, settle down, create a home and a family for myself.  Get a dog, maybe adopt kids.  It's funny I actually wrote a piece about this not too long ago, about dating with BPD after some pretty crappy experiences this summer.  I have actually been really upfront with guys about what I'm like or I try to be before I had my diagnosis I have said like 'I feel things larger then life, it it's difficult for me to dial it back.' After my diagnosis, I explain what my diagnosis is, and what it meant."  "That I have no interest in dating someone, but if you're perusing me you need to know this, because I can't handle someone who is just going to run the first time I get triggered  and fly off the handle about something.  I get a lot of, 'that's okay', 'I'm still interested' 'I like you for you', or we'll work through it.  But then the first time they're confronted with me being angry and pissed off they totally and utterly just cut me off..tell me I'm melodramatic and they don't have time for that."   

"I pretty much hold that Marilyn quote pretty near and dear to my heart after my experiences: “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”  Actually it's funny because I usually break it to them with that quote. It's like, do you know what this means? Do you know what this actually means? I think a lot of people use that quote because they think it applies to them, but I think that quote applies to people with BPD so much more.  We can totally be out of control and selfish and impatient, but we can also be so completely and utterly selfless and our ability for empathy and compassion I think is amazing too.  That we have bad things and good things, and our good ones really make it worth it.  If you can give us the time to prove that. 


"I have an awesome support system.  My roommate, which I wish I could love romantically because it would make my life simpler.  He's an amazing man, he has his faults too, but when I freak out he just lets me do it and either walks away or goes out, and then when I done I usually apologize to him for having to see that and he just shrugs and we watch TV or a movie, or play video games.  There's also my mother, who's a big PFLAG mom, she's also trying very hard to learn what BPD is all about and doesn't quite get it yet.  
And my best friend, who I am able to talk about pretty much anything and everything with.  She's been there for me through a lot of my life, and is really the strongest part of my support network."


David would most like to change people's opinion of the diagnosis, "I wish people would understand the part about how difficult it is for us to deal with just every day.  The ups and downs of our emotions are a roller coaster and a lot of times we can't deal and really just want to get off the ride...That being melodramatic isn't us being vindictive or malicious, but a result of us trying to cope and ride the wave of emotions without having the tools to do it in a way that meets the limitations of acceptable behavior or the 'status-quo' of our pretty backwards society.  That being clingy, is me trying to be connected, and all I need is reassurance that you respect that, that you still care and you do want me.  That once I'm reassured, you can do whatever you want, within limits of course."  Exactly, the funniest thing is that it's that first part of the relationship that's the hardest, because that's when I need the most reassurance once the trust is built, and I know you're not going to leave, is when I know I'm more relaxed, but I can never get to that stage."

Getting Better

David has mostly utilized CBT therapy, although he found DBT group more helpful, "Well did a lot of CBT which I found unhelpful because none of my therapists really seem to understand what I was going through.  And I've had a few.  But still the same methods were applied over and over again, and I got really good at talking around my therapists, to the point where I have finished treatment with multiple therapists with them saying I didn't need anymore treatment...I got so good at telling people what they want to hear, that I just said it because I felt frustrated with them.  Then I have taken a six week DBT crash course and I found that REALLY helpful, and I am now just waiting for the year long treatment."

When asked what David has learned about himself since this journey began for him at age 11, "I have learned a lot.  I have learned not to change myself for other people, because once learning about that as a symptom I started catching myself doing that.  I have found that medications can help if you start taking the right ones.  I have found that I don't always need to be right, and my need and want to be just stemmed from my need and want to be accepted."


  1. I love that Marilyn quote too. I don't think a lot of men have the balls to admit they have disorders. I'm 41, diagnosed a year ago, misdiagnosed as an addict for years. DBT has saved my life, but somedays I wish I didn't exist. I am female, and I appreciate people sharing because it's all about awareness.

    1. "If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best" is a very destructive mindset, especially for someone who has a mental illness like BPD. It's spelling out a very manipulative form of domestic abuse, where the abuser acts overly sweet and spoils you half the time, to guilt you into tolerating their violent outbursts the other half. Throwing around this (fake) Marilyn Monroe "quote" only encourages this extremely dangerous mindset in the last people who need it.