Q. Recently, I ran across on an insurance form a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder written by a psychiatrist I was seeing for suicidal depression some years ago. This diagnosis was never discussed with me, and the more I learn about the subject, the more confused I am. The symptoms, although most apply to some degree, seem extreme, and some are questionable and overlapping with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

Yes, I was mentally abused as a child by my diagnosed bipolar and ADD mother (who now admits it), and sexually molested by my father from probably six months to age 11 which was witnessed by my mother and there is physical proof. I am also the grandchild of cousins, and sick of all the jokes. I have had marriage counseling, sexual-abuse counseling and do extensive reading on those subjects. Taking the Jungian personality test said only 5% of the population tested as extrovertion, intuitive with feeling and perception, whatever that means.

A few years after the BPD diagnosis, ran across a newspaper article on ADHD without hyperactivity, found the analogies painfully accurate, and began research on ADD. The more current "talkative, impulsive, good girl" with hyperactivity hidden and recurring depression best describes me. I took the ADD test on your related website which indicated severe adult ADD, but don't find a similar test for BPD. In the past, my family Dr. would prescribe Ritalin, somewhat reluctantly. Other medications, Cylert, etc., were not as effective and Ritalin required a high dose and exacerbated the talkativeness, although it helped with the depression. Most antidepressants are either ineffective or become so after a short period of time.

How do I separate which are the defining symptoms? My dyslexia is not very apparent as I taught myself somehow to read and compensate at age 5 (so I could read my brothers' comics, according to my mother). How do I determine if my strong, impulsive ADD personality is chasing away people versus BPD, or both? (I have been married for 27 years!) Which disorder is causing the inability to easily visualize and transfer from short term to long term memory, and difficulty in retrieval? Which way or to whom do I go for help?

A. The label does not matter. You most likely have one disease with many symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to those making up ADD, BPD, and depression. You need to find the best treatment to address all the symptoms. Which is most right really does not matter much if you do not get well. Talk it over with your doctor, and see what he or she has to say.