B.P.D.

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I wrote a post a couple years ago about suicide and also bits about my sister’s mental illness.

It will never be about us

I describe a situation where she had harmed herself and was put in a suicidal lock-down ward of a local hospital. I took to her a gift of a little Beanie Baby bear from my own collection. I had two or three of the little stuffed bears that were my favorite. I told her the one I gifted her was from my boys, who were small at the time (but BIG on collecting Beanie Babies). They actually had no idea she was in the hospital. She was extremely mean to me that day and I didn’t speak to her for some time after that visit. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Fast forward to yesterday. Last week we moved my sister and her long term male friend out of our parent’s rental house and into a nice little apartment. The apartment is cute and bright and I hope she is happy there. She’s doing quite well, medications all squared away and everything. She called yesterday because she was missing a bag from the move. “A very important bag,” she said. I told her I didn’t have anything in my car from that day. She was a bit frantic. I asked her what was in the bag that was of such importance. She said “mostly some old bills, but that Beanie Baby bear you gave me is in there and I don’t want to lose it.” I asked her if she was talking about the one the boys gave her all those years ago when she was in the hospital. She started to cry and said, “NO, the one you gave me when I was in lock-down.” I tried to comfort her and told her I’m sure it would turn up eventually. She tends to lose track of things easily.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

So she knew all along that I had given her the bear. I know she knows how much I love her and I want her to be happy and healthy. Mental illness is so unfair. No one deserves what she has been through in her life. Like my friend, Nina, also suffering from mental illness, my sister slept with married men. Her promiscuity, mostly before she was diagnosed, was unhealthy, but she never wanted to marry the men. Quite the opposite. She used them to medicate, much like Blue Eyes did, and the women he slept with used him. The psychologists that have treated Blue Eyes believe that his long term acting out partner also has BPD. My sister chose unavailable men on purpose. My sister was and is physically beautiful (unlike my husband’s other woman), but her self esteem was rock bottom. She also used over the counter drugs, alcohol, self harm, and prescription drugs to help her cope with life. She had a lot of unhealthy and destructive behaviors. She was sexually abused three times before the age of 11. I could never even pretend to understand what she has been through. We all have a story. We all make mistakes. We all do the best we can. I always wished I could take her pain away. Life just doesn’t work that way.

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I know my sister identifies with every single one of the above statements. She was diagnosed 20 years ago with BPD and bi-polar tendencies. People with mental illness will find ways to medicate the pain. What they don’t often do, is get to the root of the pain and thus continues the cycle of broken people seeking out other broken people, and hurt people hurting people. It’s time to up our game in conquering the mental health epidemic.

14 thoughts on “B.P.D.

  1. Very important words and I agree. Being kind to these seems to be the words that most people use. Also, I often see posts on FB telling those people in need to reach out when the need is there. Unfortunately, it’s just not what they do. I wish we as humans knew how “to do better” in this category 💛

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    • What I have noticed, having numerous people in my life with both addiction and mental illness, is they are often tied together and the internal feelings are very often shame driven and people don’t believe there is anyone who thinks or behaves the way they do. They feel isolated and alone. They don’t often recognize that there are reasons they think and act the way they do. They just think they are bad people, and nothing can be done, but they keep trying and failing and causing a shame cycle. At least that is what happened with my husband, my husband’s brother, and my sister, and others I know. I do believe we are getting better as a society at recognizing a very wide spectrum of people and behaviors. A big part of the issue for me is that once people do seek help, the “help” is very inconsistent and often hurtful. I discovered that when I went on my own healing journey. I feel lucky that there were a couple positive experiences because I think it helped me get back on track more quickly than if I had been alone with no trauma therapy. However, there were some really poor therapists in the mix. Also, this concept in general society that people with mental health problems can’t function in “normal” society. We need to find a better way to help them function instead of contributing to the idea that “there is something wrong with them.” It begins with compassion and it seems a lot of people function in a gang mentality by which they don’t step out of the pack and remember the golden rule. I know I can do better too. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • I read this post the day after a 10th grader jumped off our local bridge. He sustained serious injuries, but is expected to heal, physically. Someone on social media suggested to apply structure to block jumping attempts and another suggested putting signs along the bridge with the suicide hotline number. I know there are better preemptive interventions and I feel we need better resources. The kid was well liked and jovial at school. Fellow students that responded to seeing him on the bridge, tried to talk him out of jumping. The impact of them watching that unfold should trigger an intervention, but has probably been lost in addressing the fear of the copycat suicide. As always, I enjoy and respect your perspective.

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        • That is so sad, A. I hope he’s able to get help for what drove him to that jump! 😢 We actually have a bridge here in Portland nicknamed Suicide Bridge. It’s a beautiful bridge, but they did end up attaching safety measures and signs. We can do that preemptively, but if we don’t treat the root, there are many ways to kill oneself. I don’t think most of us, as parents, are equipped to know when our children are suffering if they don’t want us to know. Mental illness is not a personal failing of the one suffering, or the parents. I know our Sammy was in college by the time we realized he was struggling with anxiety and depression, and I have experience with it! It’s a societal problem that is not getting the attention it deserves. I have always believed there are two critical subjects kids are missing out on in school… mandatory typing classes, and therapy. People laugh when I say it, but I’m dead serious. I don’t know how to fix this problem, but just like we talk to our kids about sexual abuse, we need to provide an open door for feelings as well. Kids are under so much pressure to succeed based on other people’s standards. I was so proud of our older son when he chose his college… he came to me and said, “I feel a lot of pressure to choose the BEST college I got into, best off someone else’s list or ranking, but I’m choosing the best one for me, based upon my own ranking.” And he did. I’ve learned a lot from my kids. xo

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  2. Watching a loved one TRYING to cope with mental illness leaves us feeling so extremely helpless; it’s mentally and physically exhausting. I’ve tried to keep my Mother alive for the last 30 years from hoarding, spending sprees (and then returns what she bought for DAYS on end due to the guilt), sex addiction (how ironic), drug and alcohol abuse and suicide attempts. I’ve become unhealthy myself in a co-dependent way because the roles have been reversed. Everyone else in her life, including her siblings, has disowned her.

    We’ve always felt she has BPD, but she never had a chance to be formally diagnosed with any mental illness. Shortly after she finally agreed to get mental health help 10 years ago to deal with the sexual abuse she suffered in her childhood, she had a stroke and lost her ability to speak. Sadly, the end is near for my Mother now, and despite me trying to keep her alive and diagnosed with whatever it is that is killing her, her mental illness is still in the way and she is alone and dying in her bed and refuses to go to the hospital. I’m beyond devastated. I can’t even describe the suffering she is enduring, and I’m helplessly watching her slip away.

    I’m thankful Mr. Perfect is keeping a close eye on my health and making me create and enforce some much needed boundaries. I’ve purposely lost 20 lbs. that I definitely couldn’t afford to lose, I suppose as my way of making it so she is not suffering alone. Thankfully, I’m on the road to physical health now. We ALL need someone to lean on, I’m so glad your sister has you.

    Please, especially now, take care of yourself Kat xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry you have this in your life too. Parenting the parent is so difficult and stressful. Thankfully I learned to put up boundaries with my sister years ago. But it did take three separate psychologists to convince me there was really nothing I could do for her. I had attempted to take care of her since I was 6 years old. I’m around for her when she needs me. I care deeply about her health and happiness, but now realize it is completely out of my hands. It was a bit easier for me to set these boundaries with my husband because of my sister. She taught me well. Big difference though as I NEVER expected my sister to be my rock. I did with my husband. I am a bit mentally strung out now, back to working and cleaning up messes, not exercising enough, my weight creeps up when I am stressed. Menopause is still kicking my ass and my hormones are all over the place, BUT, I have a lot to be thankful for, and I know it. I’m sorry you have to watch your mother die never really having had help for her illness. I hope you can separate yourself from her suffering. I never did read the book, but for BE the book Facing Codependence by Pia Mellody was life changing. I think it is actually what propelled him out of his fog of rationalizing that what he was doing was okay because of what he had endured from his mom. This is a little blurb from Amazon:
      “Central to Mellody’s approach is the concept that the codependent adult’s injured inner child needs healing. Recovery from codependence, therefore, involves clearing up the toxic emotions left over from these painful childhood experiences.”

      It might be a good read for you? Anyway, likewise please take care of yourself. I’m glad you have Mr. Perfect to help you through. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m 110% with you on upping our game with mental health. I hope your sister finds the bear, too, and I’m happy she is stable on her meds and in a good place in her life.

    This blog post resonated with me. My husband became so mentally ill, and even though it crept in for a long time, his crisis came on like a Tsunami. Truly terrifying. I believe he “intellectually understands” the roots of his pain, and overall, he is healing. I do hope, for him, that some day, he can deeply emotionally process his pain and truly heal himself. He may very well be on that path right now.

    p.s. I “should” stop commenting on your blog and write mine. lol I enjoy what you write, Kat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, please do write on yours. I’m sure everyone would like an update on your health & progress. I enjoy writing and now that I am working from our new offices, I take part of every work day for my blog. I hope your husband is on an emotional healing path while you are on your physical healing journey. Big hugs! ❤

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