Lately I have been quite surprised by the number of clients who come in and ask whether I think they have a specific personality disorder. In general, male clients frequently inquire whether I believe they are narcissistic; females on the other hand, seem to want to know if they have Borderline personality disorder. Just the inquiry itself feels encouraging to me. It indicates, in my mind, that more and more individuals are becoming aware of personality disorders specifically and mental illness in general. It gives me hope that this awareness prompts individuals to reach out and seek help. This is encouraging. Reaching out for help requires courage and courage is beautiful.
But as a therapist, my inclination is to understand what is prompting individuals to ask in the first place. Lately, I have found a common thread behind the inquiry. The fear that, if they do have a personality disorder, that they may never get better. After all, the concept of “personality” itself means that it is something that is part of a us. It is who we are. “How do I change who I am?” To many if seems impossible, unrealistic, and foolish to even consider that one can stop being ourselves.
My thoughts are, “are you the same person you were 10 years ago, 1 years ago, or even a month ago?” Chances are you have changed as a person. It is only natural that we continue to evolve as beings as we encounter and experience different events in life. We, as humans, are molded by experiences. Unfortunately, individuals with personality disorders have often experienced deep trauma as children and this trauma has manifested into behaviors that meet certain criteria of personality disorders. But keep in mind that as children, we have limited control of our world. It is important to realize that as adults we have more control. We have control of the experiences we put ourselves in. Let these new experiences mold you into something healthy and well. That, together with a new understanding of self, are key players into wellness and happiness.