What ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ gets right about mental illness and borderline personality disorder

After a lifetime of depression, anxiety, a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder and suicidal ideation, Rebecca Bunch — the titular character on the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, played by co-creator Rachel Bloom — at long last received a proper mental health diagnosis in the show’s third season, which aired its midseason finale Friday. And for this fan, it was equal parts cathartic and heartbreaking.

Why’s that? Because I, like Rebecca, have borderline personality disorder.

In a nutshell, people with BPD have “enormous difficulty regulating their emotions,” according to licensed clinical psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Aram. “They may describe feelings of emptiness and struggle with a pervasive pattern of instability in their mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior patterns,” Aram wrote in an email. “Many individuals with BPD experience intense anger, periods of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm, eating issues and substance abuse.”

While horrified by her diagnosis at first, mostly due to an ill-advised Google search — “I read two-and-a-half sentences about [BPD] and they were the worst sentences ever,” Rebecca says — we later see her flashing back to various events in her life as her primary therapist, Dr. Akopian (played by Michael Hyatt), reads off the diagnostic criteria for BPD. Realizing she has all nine BPD symptoms (only five are required for a BPD diagnosis) helps her come to terms with the news, even if it doesn’t make her any less afraid of what comes next.

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