Autism Diagnosis

Misdiagnoses can have profound effects on individuals’ lives, as demonstrated by the remarkable journey of Bree Conklin. Initially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) at the age of 27, her life took an unexpected turn when a different doctor suggested, five years later, that she might actually have autism. This revelation not only transformed her understanding of herself but also heightened her empathy for individuals facing similar struggles.

The BPD Misdiagnosis

Conklin’s story begins with a diagnosis of BPD by a male doctor in Germany. He attributed her meltdowns, self-harming behavior, and suicidal ideation to this condition. Moreover, he labeled her as “seductive” and “manipulative” because she dated multiple men concurrently. Conklin, however, never intended to mislead anyone; she simply approached dating in a different way.

Years of living with the BPD diagnosis led her down a path of confusion. While she identified with some BPD symptoms like mood swings and relationship instability, others didn’t resonate with her. Some descriptions of the disorder included a lack of empathy and frequent lying, characteristics she did not relate to. Nevertheless, Conklin stuck with the diagnosis, sharing it with friends and partners and actively seeking treatment.

The Medication Nightmare

To address her symptoms, Conklin was prescribed Abilify, an antipsychotic medication commonly used in BPD and schizophrenia treatment. However, this medication came with frightening side effects, isolating her for three months due to paranoid thoughts about being poisoned if she ate anywhere outside. It was only when she discontinued the medication and began cognitive behavioral therapy that she experienced relief.

During this challenging period, her relationships also suffered, culminating in the end of a three-year relationship. Some individuals in her life distanced themselves, citing concerns about engaging with someone diagnosed with BPD.

The Autism Revelation

It was only five years after her initial diagnosis that Conklin’s life took a dramatic turn. During her second pregnancy, a therapist questioned her BPD diagnosis. Instead, the therapist attributed her struggles to sensory sensitivities, trauma, and PTSD. Intrigued by this new perspective, Conklin conducted her own research on autism.

As she delved deeper into autism, Conklin realized that it explained the experiences and behaviors that had baffled her under the BPD diagnosis. “A lot of the classic BPD symptoms actually make a lot of sense when you see them through an autistic lens,” says Dr. Megan Neff, a psychologist diagnosed with autism in her 30s. Both BPD and autism share characteristics like emotional dysregulation and mood swings.

Furthermore, Conklin finally had an explanation for behaviors such as self-soothing stimming, like rubbing her fingers together or making noises, as well as mood fluctuations linked to her menstrual cycle—common occurrences for autistic individuals.

The Path to Empathy

Conklin’s journey through misdiagnosis opened her eyes to the stigmas surrounding both autism and BPD. She recognized the challenges faced by misdiagnosed autistic individuals, often judged and unsupported, leading to higher rates of depression and self-harm.

On the other hand, BPD comes with its own set of stigmas, even within the mental health field. Conklin’s experience illuminated how differently people treated her based on her diagnosis. Her autism diagnosis led to more understanding and support, ultimately leading to her receiving disability benefits.

In closing, Bree Conklin’s remarkable journey from misdiagnosis to self-discovery underscores the importance of seeking second opinions and challenging preconceptions. Her newfound empathy for those with misdiagnoses serves as a testament to the power of understanding and support in overcoming life’s challenges.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *