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Hello everyone,

So it has been a while since I have posted on the forum, but I wanted to hear from others on this topic. What does identity instability look like for people with borderline personality disorder? I want to get feedback from people who actually deal with this problem. The reason is that I believe I deal with this problem (feeling like I don't know who I am, confusion about gender/sexuality, not knowing what I truly believe in, feeling like I lose myself in others, changing goals/career ideas, etc.) This is a longstanding issue.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder initially, and this was changed to Schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type. My original psychiatrist denied the possibility of BPD, but I feel like that is a more accurate dx than the other two. (In all honesty, I heard from other medical staff later on that this PDoc basically dx'd everyone as bipolar!) Also, I was diagnosed only after a reaction to a medication (which was possible due to the newly published DSM V),  and I feel that the majority of "psychotic" symptoms that I experienced (that led to the dx change) were caused by the many other med cocktails I was given over the years. I'm very sensitive to medications, and have tried many to no success.

I've read about real life experiences from people with all these disorders, and none of them have spoken so truly to me as borderline has. I started crying the other day because it made so much damn sense. I am not looking for a diagnoses from anyone. I just want to hear from others...I am going through a very bad stretch, and I just want to feel like I am not alone.

I want to avoid posts indicating that everyone goes through identity crisis. I know that. But this is something that has been with me for a looong time. So, to anyone who is willing to share a bit of their story with me: Thank you in advance. I really need to know I am not alone in this right now.






Edited by Poem
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Hi @Poem, you are definitely not alone. It seems like we have had similar diagnoses. I was diagnosed with depression, then bipolar NOS, then schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, and then after I was first hospitalized in 2013 doctors started throwing around the BPD diagnosis saying I had that instead of schizoaffective. My current therapist (a psychologist) thinks I have BPD and a paranoid disorder of some sort and my psych nurse practitioner says I am schizoaffective. So my diagnosis is up in the air.

My therapist said to me that BPD more accurately describes my mood symptoms as I can go up then down then back again within a day, and people with bipolar usually have a few days of an up mood or longer. If I look at the BPD criteria I can relate to a lot of it. I am very impulsive, and I constantly change my mind for my study and work goals, just to name a few things. Of course it is possible to have bipolar and BPD too, not sure if I do though.

Anyway, if you can get a second opinion, please do. Have you heard or read about DBT (dialectical behavior therapy)? That's considered the best therapy for borderline. 

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Thank you so much for sharing with me. It really means a lot more than you can imagine. Our diagnoses journey does seem similar (depression --> bipolar --> schizoaffective.) I'm just so tired of this "dx game." I've seen multiple psych people in the past, and recently started seeing a new Pdoc. Maybe they will be open to exploring this with me? *sigh* Everyone else just kind of piggybacked from the previous provider's chart and never questioned the bipolar part. Anyway...I just want to make progress. I've been on meds/therapy combo for 7 years and nothing has changed in my internal landscape.

Yes, I've heard of and done an insignificant amount of work with DBT. It was nothing really serious. I was simply introduced to some concepts during an hospitalization and via a few short group therapy sessions. I've been thinking about asking if there is someone qualified to do intensive DBT sessions in my area. Because, besides regular psychotherapy, I've been given nothing of value in the therapy department.

Thank you again for reaching out, and best of luck with your own diagnosis battle!


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  • 1 month later...

To answer your question, this is what having an instable identity felt/feels like to me (I am not nearly as bad now, though some of the issues still exist, I see it more as being pulled contrary to who I am/want to be). For me, I would essentially get pulled into the gravity of anyone around me. For example, whenever I am with an emotional significant other, everything I do or think becomes focused on them - how they might react, what they want, who they expect me to be.

My marriage was very difficult, for many reasons... He worked away, so he was only home on weekends and occasionally another day during the week.

When my husband came home, everything rotated around him - imagine me as a small moon orbiting a massive planet. I could do nothing without it being somehow focused around him, his needs, or avoiding somehow bothering him. When he left for the week, I was a shambles, having no idea how to ground myself, my goals, or my desires for at least 3 days. I would finally stabilize into someone who kinda felt like "me" for a day, then the whole cycle would start again. Mind you, I didn't think of him or "miss" him during this time - for me, when a person is gone it is as though someone shut off a light switch. When they return, the light is turned back on and everything is immediately back to how it was with that person.

When I interact with my parents, I become a different person. I know what they expect and desire from me. In their case, I feel secure in that they will never deny me. They love me, no matter how messed up that love can sometimes be. I am perhaps more "myself" with them than I am when with others.

When I played the computer games I used to be addicted to, I became another person again. I was strong, a leader and tactician. Everyone respected me and trusted me. Time and time again, I was elected as leader of whatever alliance or guild the game centered around. Everyone saw me as string, and I felt strong. (This is a large part of why I felt so addicted to these games.)

For a long time, I had no idea who I really was or should be. My thoughts and feelings about things would change drastically from one setting to another. I could describe myself in terms of my roles, but not really in terms of traits or beliefs or anything like that. Those things changed too much.

These days, I do have a sense of self. It is battered and bruised, and still very subservient to others' selves... but it exists. It will protest internally as I bend to the will of those around me, pretending to be the person they think I am. It makes me feel dirty at times... I am rarely true to myself... It doesn't seem possible - at least, now without doing significant harm to everyone around me. I am unimportant. My will comes second to those who are important in my life. But, when I am alone, I can be myself. I can make life decisions that match who I am. It comes slowly, but it is there. 

Anyway, hope that makes some sense. I have gotten better, but am still affected by the gravitational pull of others, particularly those closest to me. I find it next to impossible to stand up for myself, even when I know they want me to.

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