Thoughts about autism and BPD

Hi everyone,

I came across a thread on here talking about autism (particularly female autism) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). I noticed a few posters felt very indignant that they had once been diagnosed with BPD and felt that, once they got their diagnosis of autism, this eclipsed their BPD diagnosis and made it defunct. They didn't seem to think that one could have both at the same time. They think I've got BPD; the diagnosis was confirmed after a crisis where I had to spend the night in A&E, but it had been talked about for a while prior to this. I have a theory about it; I'm not a psychologist or any sort of MH professional so I don't know if I'm right, but this is what I have come to think about my own life.

A lot of people think that BPD is caused by trauma in the early part of childhood. I would never say that I suffered wouldn't be fair to those who actually have. But I feel I've been damaged by my Asperger's. It caused the adults around me to try and sweep my issues under the carpet (my mum reckoned she knew since that I had autism since the age of 18 months, and yet did nothing to try and help, even though she supposedly loves me. I was just allowed to go around suffering, with no one doing anything to support me). At school, other children constantly abused me, pretty much from the day I started school. I was rejected, isolated and excluded. I was physically hit, kicked, pushed etc on many occasions throughout my school career, but there were. When I was very young, I was at a birthday party (I used to spend birthday parties crying because I felt so frightened and alone, and like my parents had abandoned me there; I also felt abandoned every day when I was dropped at school from my first day at playgroup when I was 3) and a little girl from my class got frustrated with me, agressively snatched off the sticky label I was wearing with my name on it, and tore it up and threw it on the floor in front of me. When I told my mum about this, she said, "It's because (this little girl) wants to be your friend, and you don't play with her when she wants to play with you." I took this to mean: "It's your fault she went for you." There were quite a few other incidents like that. This is how I know that I've deserved the abuse I've had over the years.

When I got to secondary school, I was very overweight and ugly as well as a defective freak. To mock me, boys would make crude comments, shove me against walls or collect around me in big gangs. They would touch me when I didn't want to be touched, sometimes hit or kick me, I was once spat on, I was once hounded into a room and had food repeatedly thrown at me, and, on all of these occasions, I would scream and cry for them to stop. It feels like this happened all the time throughout my secondary school career, however, I never once school refused because for me, that was not an option. Sometimes when I close my eyes at night I still think about school and how hated I was for being less than what other children wanted. Even the kinder children were sharp and cold with me, When I try to talk to people about it, I get told to "move on." I feel invalidated, which apparently makes BPD symptoms worse. I ended up with an eating disorder, but because I was overweight when the restrictive eating started, my mum's friends would say things to me like, "You look amazing; a touch of anorexia never hurt anyone." They'd think they were joking or being complimentary but, as you can imagine, that sort of thing made the problem worse. Then my actual diagnosis happened which was a total nightmare and it was the "straw that broke the camel's back" - I knew I would hate myself forever and ever. Nobody ever acknowledged how much it hurt me.

I can't even begin to write everything that happened, and I'm too tired to try; I'm also kind of physically unwell today with this cold that's been going round. I know I deserved everything I got at school, but still, being different is painful. What I don't understand is why nobody agrees that it's potentially damaging. A friend of our family who is an autism specialist has told me that "growing up with autism is difficult, but it doesn't count as a proper trauma" - a) I never said it was and b) her saying that just felt like more invalidation. I've always struggled with my mental health but over the last year it has deteriorated significantly. I now can't get through a day without becoming very upset, or harming myself in some way. I lose control and have to resort to anti-psychotic medication to calm me down. Obviously being Aspie I find it hard to make relationships anyway, but the ones I have feel insecure and chaotic. I do not know what or who I am, apart from that it's bad. I have been told, and from what I have read believe, that I meet criteria for BPD. The actual term is problematic for some people, but I don't find it so: I found being labelled Asperger's far more humiliating. If Asperger's was a person, I'd love to hurt it. I am broken. I think it has caused my "BPD symptoms".

Does anyone else think this could be true? Not just for me, but for them?

  • Speaking as someone who also used to worry that I had both ASD & BPD, the overlap is actually with ADHD not BPD.

    I am currently on a waiting list for an ADHD assessment to complement my ASD diagnosis a few years ago. A few months ago I joined a support group for adults with ADHD or those awaiting diagnosis. When I mentioned at the first meeting I attended that I had at one point worried I might have BPD, several people laughed & said "Not Another One", since it seems to be quite common for people with Adult ADHD to incorrectly diagnose themselves with BPD after reading things online, which was certainly what I had done.

    The main reason for the confusion is a core feature of Adult ADHD called "Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria" which can mimic many of the symptoms of BPD, especially the fear of being alone, but for entirely different reasons. I was also horrifically bullied at school for many years which made me extremely susceptible to RSD to the point where I would try to change my personality in different social contexts in order to avoid rejection. This also mimics the chameleon features of BPD & once again for entirely different reasons. Once I understood more about the subject, I could see why so many people with Adult ADHD get confused & worry about BPD.

    Obviously I can't comment on your personal circumstance, especially since I wasn't diagnosed with ASD until age 55, but at least some aspects of what you have related do seem quite similar to my own experience.

    It might be worthwhile for you to look into Adult ADHD & in particular "Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria". I didnt know much about it either until I was referred for an assessment last year by a mental health professional who said that my descriptions of mental health issues were highly characterisic of ADHD.

    I found this website & particular document extremely helpful

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