Would You Use a Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis to Get Out of Legal Trouble?

Can mental health problems be a mitigating factor in the prosecution of non-violent crime, misdemeanors, or traffic violations? Would you ever cite your Borderline Personality as a handicap that disrupted your better judgment?

Let me be clear: I’m talking about non-violent crime. If you seriously hurt or kill someone in a BPD rage, you get what you deserve: prison time or permanent commitment to a mental health facility.

My question revolves around white collar, financial, tax, misdemeanors, traffic violations, etc. that don’t necessarily cause harm to anyone else, but do warrant an investigation because you are in violation of the law.

For example, let’s say you owe $50,000 in back taxes over a 3 year period. During that time, your BPD was out of control and you had more pressing issues than paying your tax bill accurately. You might have been involuntarily committed, suicidal, or otherwise acting out. Alternatively, the loss of an important relationship or death in the family sent you into a tailspin.

Now, the IRS has sent you a letter requesting an explanation for the discrepancies they’ve observed on your returns. You’re asked to visit a local office. You’ve got a few bucks available so you hire a tax attorney to help represent you. (Never make deals with the government without legal advice unless you absolutely know what you’re doing).

Naturally, the government wants the past-due money. The question is how much, and should you be prosecuted for your transgressions?

In most cases, if you’re a first time offender, you’ll get a break on the bill but might have a portion of your salary garnished. Your credit score will go into the tank. You might have to sell your home and downsize to an apartment to pay all the bills. If you don’t mess up again, you’ll wright the ship in 10 years and your financial situation will be back to normal.

In other cases, however, the IRS might not be so nice. They want their money plus punitive damages, jail time, and/or might take you to civil court (Tax crimes are subject to both Civil and Criminal legal action). Your case goes before the area district attorney and charges are pressed. What now?

First things first, realize that most cases never go to trial because deals can be brokered long before you face a judge, unless you adamantly plead your innocence. A good lawyer can cut a deal for you. Sure, it might cost you $500 an hour to hire adequate legal help, but that’s better than going to prison. The government doesn’t prefer going to trial because it is an expensive process for both sides. That said, the government knows your financial resources are limited and will use that knowledge to pressure you into making some sort of plea bargain. You can only fight as long as you have money to pay for an attorney.

Naturally your attorney will want to know some background information about your case, including any reasonable explanation for screwing up your tax returns. Maybe a family member needed emergency medical treatment, and you were the only person who could help out. Maybe you made a bad investment and lost a large portion of your savings.

Or, maybe your Borderline Personality made life so intolerable that paying taxes was at the bottom of a long to-do list. Filing taxes is stressful and arduous: the USA tax code is so convoluted and backward that people with impulsive tendencies and short fuses (Borderline Personality Disorder Folks 🙂 ) could care less about doing it the right way. Who cares about checking the right exemption boxes and filling out sub-forms when you feel like sh*t and your world is crumbling around you?

Part of me wouldn’t want to use BPD as an excuse unless it was the difference between going to prison or living free with steep fines. Sometimes my pride gets in the way of my own best interests. People with legitimate mental or physical handicaps spend so much of their time minimizing their problems and trying to be “normal” that it almost feels like a cheap, hypocritical excuse to use when things aren’t going your way.

If there are any lawyers out there or people who have faced legal trouble living with a BPD diagnosis, is it possible to use documented mental health problems to mitigate substantial financial or criminal penalties? Is having Borderline Personality a reasonable excuse in the eyes of the law?

True disabilities are conditions that affect the way you live. Obviously BPD wouldn’t excuse you from murder, stalking, or serious theft. However, it might be worth mentioning if you’re facing potential prosecution for financial crimes that didn’t produce any victim other than the government itself.

Living with Borderline Personality Disorder is hell on Earth. If your finances are out of control, try to find someone to help you before you get into trouble. Assign power of attorney to a trusted family member, or hire someone to manage your assets. It will save you a ton of potential grief later on.

If You Have Borderline Personality Disorder, Sometimes You Have to Back Off Customer Service Staff

Borderline Personality complicates many things in life, particularly resolving conflict with customer service staff. When a large amount of money is involved, matters quickly go from bad to worse unless you know when to back off.

Everyone likes to collect money but not pay it. Your stingy boss at work denies your requests for a raise. The internet book seller that promised you a speedy refund after a botched order takes 2-3 weeks to “process the money”, when in reality money can be returned to credit cards in 48 hours or less. Other times, you’re waiting for a transfer from a bank, and it seems to be taking much longer than normal: frequent calls to your business partner and banking rep produce nothing but misinformation and confusion.

Here’s how my behavior pattern progresses (well, regresses 🙂 ) in these situations:

  1. Firm, yet polite requests. If necessary, I might even do the company’s job and research my credit card company’s policies or current banking laws. This helps them along and doesn’t allow them to use ignorance as an excuse.
  2. Persistent customer service queries EVERY day, for days on end, until I’m satisfied. I reach this point when it’s clear the other party is in the wrong and not doing anything about it. I’ll call at any hour and rattle them until someone gives me answers.
  3. Angry calls and emails – nothing profane or insulting – just pissed off. I try not to make it a personal matter. I let them know I will not tolerate being treated like a doormat. If they respond angrily, then I reply with an even angrier retort. Important:I only get this way when I know I’m right. If I’m in a grey area or out of line, getting mad just makes me look like an a$$hole opposed to a victim.
  4. Manipulation. People with BPD are great manipulators, so why not put it to good use? I’ll start with emotional pleas like “My rent is due and I need the money” or “I can’t buy my medicine without my credit card”, trying to play on their sensibilities. If that is unproductive, I’ll concoct manipulative schemes. Usually those involve calling a manager and asking for an explanation, while simultaneously emailing a support representative for their response. If the replies are inconsistent, I’ll reply to BOTH the manager and support rep with their mixed up stories, copy/pasting chat sessions, recording phone calls, etc. This tactic embarrasses most businesses internally, although they won’t admit it to you.
  5. When tricking them into admitting incompetence fails, I start playing Good Cop/Bad Cop, unpredictably changing from quiet and understanding to loud and (legally) threatening. The point is to let them know they’re dealing with a whackjob 🙂 . Getting me out of their hair as fast as possible means holding up their end of the deal. This usually works after a couple months of frustration.

Important: Avoid at all costs personal insults, bigoted remarks, or any kind of threat other than legal action. Once you cross that line, now you’re in the wrong, and could be prosecuted. Alternatively, the company might have their lawyers send YOU a cease and desist letter for harassment.

I’m truly a victim, the company isn’t doing anything about it, and months have passed by

Most of the time, companies will settle disputes amicably, even if it takes them several weeks. In other cases, they will refuse to budge, and begin to grow tired of hearing from you. These types of operations are truly crooked or horribly mismanaged and inefficient.

If the company is outside the United States, also realize that there might be cultural conflicts at work behind the scenes. Some cultures believe following the company’s distinct set of rules and regulations for resolving conflict takes precedence over their own blatantly criminal actions. Not everyone does business like the local general store or family owned restaurant. Americans usually expect prompt redress – financial or otherwise – when it is clear they have been scammed. Other cultures will only award the customer compensation once their own internal procedures – usually complicated and utterly nonsensical – have been exhausted.

Before having a BPD tantrum about it, back off for a couple days and look at all the facts. Ask yourself if the amount of money is still worth your time. A $20 cookbook that got lost in the mail is worth chasing for 2-3 months. After that, your persistence and anger will only produce diminishing returns.

It’s about the principle: $5 or $50,000, I need my refund!!!

Yes it is, but realize after you’ve tried everything and want to take legal action, most lawyers will not bother with any case involving less than $10,000 fraud or breach of contract. The other party is wrong for scamming, stealing, or not honoring their contract, but anything less than $10,000 is better settled in small claims court. This requires another time commitment on your behalf.

Calling a lawyer over a $100 damaged collectible plate would not be productive, especially if the offending party is out of state. Small claims might work if you can travel. Otherwise, your best recourse is to use every LEGAL method possible to ruin their reputation. Visit consumer reporting websites or the Better Business Bureau and lodge complaints. Bad press will steer other potential customers away from their crappy company, ultimately costing them money. This might seem petty, but it might help turn your anger into something more productive.

You can also back off and return to polite, well documented communication

This tactic works when you’re ultimately at the mercy of the other party, particularly if they are located outside the USA or forced you to sign a predatory contract.

A business in Argentina that owes you money is fairly immune to any sort of USA legal action. You can file the paperwork, but it would be up to Argentinian authorities to prosecute the offending party. Most countries are NOT known for playing ball with the United States legal system, particularly for trivial matters involving less than $100,000. Obviously a $25,000 debt isn’t trivial to most people, but it’s not worth the other country’s time to pursue.

Accept that you might never get your money. Prepare yourself to take a loss and dip into your savings for bill paying. If you have no savings, begin spending your emotional and physical time on something that WILL reliably pay the bills. Take a part time job. You can be a victim of criminals but you can also be a victim of your own self pity. At some point, you need a positive cash flow. Don’t wait for the crooks to realize the error of their ways or have a “Come to Jesus Moment”. It won’t happen.

Therefore, if you think there is a slight chance you *might* get paid, back off on the constant customer service queries, turn down your emotions, refocus your energy on something productive, and resign yourself to sending the offending business weekly emails or calls reminding them about their debt.

The squeaky wheel usually gets the grease, even after the squeak turned into an annoying squawk and decided to quiet down. Don’t let them forget you’re there. Otherwise, they will never pay up because they think you’ve called it quits.

If some legal authority eventually catches up to them – foreign or domestic – they will no doubt see your slew of complaints inside the company’s database and will most certainly give your grievances a higher priority compared to others that went quietly.

Use your BPD to vocalize your outrage IF JUSTIFIED, then, use your brain to move forward with your life constructively.

New Medtronic Revel Insulin Pump and Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring System

Last week I was finally able to see my new endocrinologist in Florida. We decided that it was time to upgrade my insulin pump to the latest model and start using a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM). My old endocrinologist wanted me to upgrade a couple years ago, but I was hesitant to do so because I was living in Costa Rica, and would have had to rely on my family to relay supplies through the mail. Most packages that leave the USA are subject to search and delays due to local customs policies. Therefore, I wanted to minimize my reliance on the mail as much as possible.

Now I’m in Florida and can personally arrange all my medical shipments and prescriptions. The mail is more reliable 🙂 . More importantly, each company – Medtronic Diabetes and Dexcom – will honor all their warranties and offer emergency shipments when necessary since I’m inside the continental United States. These companies could not make such promises while I was living in Costa Rica. In fact, neither of them would ship directly to Costa Rica since the insulin pump and CGM market there is non-existant. Most people with Type 1 Diabetes in Costa Rica are still on shots, something I stopped nearly 10 years ago. I actually hope these companies start marketing their products in other countries, because they do make a difference in the quality and consistency of one’s treatment.

The Medtronic Revel Insulin Pump is part of the “Paradigm” product line introduced about 10 years ago. My last upgrade was about 4-5 years ago, from the Minimed 508 to the Paradigm 712. The 508 was going the way of the dinosaur. Medtronic was slowly phasing out 508 supplies and almost exclusively offering Paradigm products only. I was forced to upgrade even though I didn’t want to, 😉 but it was for the best. The Paradigm pump offered enhanced features, a better motor, and convenient AAA battery power.

Like any other business, Medtronic needs to make money, and one way of doing that is upgrading people to the “latest” systems. If you have good health insurance, it makes sense to get the best technology available to treat your Type 1 Diabetes. Unfortunately, healthcare – like most things in life – is not free: each time I changed to a new pump model or infusion set supplies, I inevitably had to throw old items out and put new purchases on my credit card. Some of the outdated pump supplies were not fit for medical use and better sent to the dump, but probably had a retail value in excess of $2,000. Meanwhile, I was getting bills from MasterCard for $800 in new pump supplies. The waste and excess of the USA healthcare system is outrageous. Everyone – including those with limited financial resources – would be better served with a secondary market for older insulin pump models sold “as is” or factory refurbished.

The most dramatic change to my treatment regimen is the Dexcom G4 Platinum Continuous Glucose Monitoring system. I haven’t lived in the USA for 9 years, and even though I was aware of the rapidly changing glucose monitoring technologies, the thought of actually adding it into my treatment plan was daunting. My Florida doctor started talking about the Dexcom system as if I was knowledgeable about the topic, but after a few minutes I had to admit my ignorance and we started back at square one. I appreciated his patience and advised him that I tend to have OCD tendencies about my Type 1 treatment, and never really educated myself about continuous glucose monitoring because the thought of change was more terrifying than the potential benefit of using newer technology.

Medtronic DOES offer a continuous glucose monitoring system for its Revel pumps, but it’s accuracy after 6-7 days of use is not as reliable as the Dexcom system. Medtronic has a better system in the works, but is currently waiting for FDA approval before bringing it to market. If Medtronic’s new system is better than Dexcom’s, no doubt I’ll be switching over as fast as they can bill my health insurance. For now, it makes sense to use the more robust and accurate Dexcom CGM. We’ll see how it goes.

Psychologically, here’s where I’m at:

The Good News: My diabetes is under control, my A1C is nearly that of a non-diabetic, my weight is down, and my blood work showed no problems with cholesterol, kidney functions, or proteins (Ketones). My body is healthy and I’m not facing a health crisis.

The Bad News: CHANGE. All this new technology and tweaks to my insulin regimen will throw off my numbers for a few weeks until I get used to everything. During my appointment, I almost asked the doctor, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, but that’s a cop-out that stubborn people like me use all the time. I’m settled in my new apartment and have some time to try new things. Why not get the best treatment alternatives available?

In the end, I’m afraid my numbers will suffer and my current positive outlook on my physical health will change to dismay and “What was I thinking?” self doubt interrogatives.

I need to put fear aside for a moment and take a risk that might yield a happier, more flexible lifestyle. Continuous glucose monitoring delivers sugar readings every 5 minutes, a huge improvement over my “old system” of sticking my arm 4-5 times a day. It just makes sense to upgrade my treatment and outlook.

Good luck to anyone else making changes in their healthcare. It’s scary but usually works out for the best! (Now, what to do about my BPD??? 🙂 ) – that’s for another post.