Personality Disorders: Inside the March 2018 Issue

Personality DisordersBipolar, Borderline, Narcissist
Is She Being Difficult—or Is It a Mental Health Disorder?

Having operated in my profession for more than 20 years, I sometimes forget that the terms relative to diagnoses with which I am so familiar are not always used in ways that would meet with the approval of my former graduate school professors.

When my colleagues and I use certain clinical terms— like Bipolar, Borderline or Narcissist—we are referring to specific sets of diagnostic criteria.

We know that the sufferers of these disorders deserve sympathy and treatment; not the derisive, contemptuous snorts and labels which seem to have become fairly prevalent across social media and in common conversation.

In day-to-day life, I balance my roles of stepmother and therapist.

My stepmother self has had myriad run-ins with a difficult ex. I have used many a creative epithet to describe her various attributes, sometimes telling the best stories and using the best adjectives with the aid of a cocktail or two. My therapist self, though, feels compelled to caution people about throwing around diagnostic terms without knowing exactly what they mean.

True mental health problems continue to bear an unfortunate stigma. The callous use of related words undermines the severity of the conditions from which some people suffer. Imagine describing someone’s behavior by saying, “Oh, my gosh! Can you believe how diabetic she is?” Or, “Then things got really gross. She was in the bathroom all night. Her Crohn’s, y’know?”

A diagnosable mental health condition is really no different than any other physical ailment which, appropriately, engenders our compassion. Read on for a glimpse at the real-life experience of people who suffer from Bipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders and Narcissism.

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