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Do I Have BiPolar Disorder or
Do I Have Border Line Personality Disorder?
Yes, You are Irritated, Sad, AND Confused about your Identity,
But so is Everyone Else — at one time or another

Hi Dr Matt, 

I'm a single, 25 year old male currently living with my parents in the Netherlands. I will keep this story short because I can only imagine that your a busy person. 

About 3 months ago I found a blog post about a girl diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, after reading it I realized a lot of her stories resembled things I have gone through myself. So I decided to dig up the Wikipedia article about bipolar disorder and was quite shocked that the whole description and all of the symptoms matched me perfectly. I have manic and depressed episodes. 

Manic Episodes: I come up with a lot of ideas and explanations for things, everything feels so much greater and it feels like I'm on top of the world. I start spending money like crazy or become philosophic in giving advice to others, and I speak in great detail. I become very social and start talking to everybody and my talking seems sped up. I have no attention span and its almost impossible to concentrate while on things like homework or reading a page of a book, while other things become easier then ever. I also have very unreasonable thinking at times. The ideas I come up with sound great and amazing. I write up my amazing ideas, only to throw them away later.

Depressed Episodes: I feel like crap. Its like my the world crashing down on me. I feel lonely as hell and I feel like I will be lonely for the rest of my life. Things that once gave me a purpose in life feel useless, I kind of shelter myself out from the world and don't like to talk to anybody. I get very annoyed at the slightest sound, and whenever somebody asks me to do something I really can't be bothered, even if its the smallest thing possible.

There are a couple of more things I might have left out. Now I know that I might am Bipolar judging by those symptoms, but yesterday I found a article about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), and started to doubt if i was Bipolar at all. Here is why. 

My episodes don't last days or week they come and go daily and last a few hours and then fade away. Also, here are things I didn't see listed as symptoms for Bipolar disorder, but I recognized them in the BPD symptoms

I've dropped out of college at least 5 times for no apparent reason. One day I set a goal for myself and the next day, I set a completely different goal. I never really get "into" something and get bored quickly. Right now I feel like I have exhausted all options to keep myself busy and have been bored for the last six months. I feel empty too. I have no goal or no cause to live for. I haven't cried or had "real" emotions for the last 6 years. I not only feel misunderstood but I feel like I do not have place in this world, since I simply don't fit into any style, scene, or group of people — but I'm not suicidal. Mostly I just try to copy people in my surroundings or on TV. 

I find friends and get into a very strong relationships with them, and then randomly lose contact with them because I just don't care. Sometimes I talk to a girl and feel like she is going to be my next girlfriend for life and that we will have a future, even though I've only meet her. Close friends seem very nice and suddenly it feels like they are betraying me, and they don't care about me at all.

Sometimes I have strange thoughts pop into my head and I feel to say things that don't make sense, things that feel pretty awkward or insulting. I blurt out these feelings before I know how they will impact me or another person. 

I could probably sum up a lot more, but those are my main reason to suspect I have BPD instead of being Bipolar. I just moved back from German to the Netherlands and just applied for healthcare here, will be about another 3 weeks before I can go see a psychiatrist or a doctor so I hope you could help me out here if possible, it would be greatly appreciated. 


Related Articles: Ontological Assumptions: Why Do I Exist? What is the Purpose of Life?
Diagnosis vs. Description: When Labeling & Pigeon-Holing isn't Helpful
Diagnosis and Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
The Disorder behind Creepy Stalking Behavior

The Myth of Mental Illness

Dear Vincent:

Coincidentally within the last few weeks, I have answered many questions that apply to your situation. Here's one that I just posted today: It's about Diagnosing OCD. Another article that will be helpful to your situation is about the Difference between Diagnosis and Description — both are listed in the Related Article above.

Ultimately, it is NOT important that you discover a diagnosis between two categories: Borderline Personality Disorder and BiPolar Disorder. The assumed importance goes to the difference in HOW a traditional therapist might treat BPD, as opposed to HOW he/she might treat BiPolar Disorder. Putting you in one diagnostic pigeon hole or another, will NOT help you overcome problems.

In my helping approach, the CURE is the same for both.

People behave in habitual patterns, and many dysfunctional patterns have been accurately described and published in what is called the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I have to laugh when I read the esoteric language used to describe common, ordinary human occurrences:

Under the Heading of "Manic" the DSM lists this symptom:
"A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood"

Translation: "I feel irritated a lot!"

Feeling irritated is a weakness common to all. People who feel irritated a lot, they don't HAVE a Manic Disorder, instead, they are Doing a Manic Dis-order. Life is about overcoming such weaknesses. The process of overcoming human weaknesses is addressed in Changing Your Stripes. Most people do not need a PILL to cure their supposed Mental Disorders; instead, they need to Apply True Principles.

What do you think people were doing for their dysfunctions for the first five thousand years of human history? Job of the Old Testament didn't have "prosac" to make it through his challenges. Neither did Jesus Christ take "valium" before his ordeal in Gethsemane, and His painful crucifixion.

Under the Heading of "Border Line Personality" the DSM lists this symptom:
"A marked and persistent identity disturbance is almost invariably present. This is often pervasive, and is manifested by uncertainty about several life issues, such as self image, long term goals, types of friends or lovers to have, or which values to adopt."

Translation: "I feel worthless, I have no friends, I don't know where to find answers."

Again, every human being passes through low moments like these — everyone. And those who have MORE of these low moments, compared to others, do not HAVE BPD; rather they are people who continue to DO their Dis-Ordered thoughts, feelings, and behaviors because they've yet to discover how to CHOOSE out of them.

When people eventually discover how to CHOOSE out of their Dis-Ordered thoughts, feelings, and behaviors . . . they do NOT suddenly arrive at problem-free living. Truth is, continually making correct CHOICES that lead to healthy and happy living is the continual challenge of Human Life.

Far better than being pigeonholed into a Disorder Category and then prescribed a Pill, is to pay attention to the specific descriptions of your own thoughts, feelings, and behavior — especially those that are unproductive and unhappy! Then observe correlations as to a CAUSE — it won't be hard. In fact, you may already have an intuitive sense of WHAT you are doing, that brings about the unhappy consequences you are feeling.

As you learn what to look for, you can discover the root CAUSES in a very short time. Again, scrutinize the thoughts and behaviors you have chosen, that are soon followed by the negative feelings and behaviors you describe.

In the end, neither BiPolar Disorder nor BPD are CAUSING you to feel as you do. You do NOT have either one of these Disorders; instead, you are making certain choices and doing certain deeds that bring connected consequences of feeling manic and feeling depressed. Truth is, every human being on this earth has manic and depressive episodes — everyone!

What you describe are patterns common to the human condition: Human Life involves many ups and downs — many challenges to overcome, and many problems to solve. Here's one reason why you experiences feelings that cycle up and down.

Again, it is YOU who is causing the symptoms you describe. As you explain your situation and symptoms to psychiatrists and medical doctors, they will likely take issue with the ideas I express here. My oldest brother and my father are both Doctors. I learned what I know about CAUSES and CURES of various Dis-Ordered Life patterns from my father — who passed away more than 12 years ago.

Also, what Hungarian Psychiatrist, Thomas Szasz, has written in his book, "The Myth of Mental Illness" confirms much of what my father taught me. Also the ideas of psychiatrist William Glasser support my approach to CAUSES and CURES.

My knowledge is not merely a matter of tradition, because my father taught me; it is most importantly a sure knowledge based upon empirical evidence and experience, over and over — consistent correlations over many decades.

When you hear conflicting accounts about the nature of BiPolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, there is a way to Discern the Truth . . . and Discover WHAT is Real versus what is Rhetoric.

Dr Matt

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

* * * * * * *

The Journey

For this is the Journey that men make:
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whatever else they may achieve: Money, Fame, Revenge.
When they end the Journey, they can put them all into
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But if one has found that he has within him
a divine soul, if he has discovered the principles
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