August 4, 2021

Early in my exploration of autism in women and girls, I learned that it often gets misdiagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.

I never looked into what that meant, because I hadn’t personally been misdiagnosed – before autism, I hadn’t been diagnosed at all.

But recently, I’ve been binge-watching songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical TV series about a woman with BPD. Although it’s fiction, many commenters with BPD seem to appreciate it as a sensitive and nuanced portrayal.

Although the main character is very different from me, I can see how autism might cause similar behavior. Without any of the sensory or social traits of autism, she acts a bit like an autistic person in crisis.

Her reaction to abandonment – which autistics may also face after misunderstanding social norms – is as intense as an autistic person’s reaction to sensory or cognitive overload. But the cause is different.

Sure, autistics experience both social rejection and meltdowns. But I think that meltdowns, along with other seemingly impulsive or erratic behavior, are rarely driven by the fear of abandonment. More often, it’s because our processing power gets stretched to the bursting point.

If you were misdiagnosed with BPD before autism, or if you have both at the same time, I’d love to hear your take on the similarities and differences – as well as your opinion of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, if you’ve seen it.

(Please note: I’ve only been watching the songs, and I haven’t seen all of them, so please don’t consider this an endorsement of the show as a whole. If you decide to watch it, note that it contains some sensitive content without warning, including a suicide attempt.)

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.