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Borderline Personality Disorder

ChessicleChessicle Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
edited March 2013 in Parent Cafe
If this disease affects 2% of the population and far more women than men, then 3% of young women (and their parents) are dealing with it. Probably a lot of families do not know they are dealing with it - but I am hoping to find families who do know and who have had experience with reconciling their dreams for their children with the realities of this heartbreaking disorder.

I have an exquisitely sensitive, much loved daughter, high school class of 2010. She exhibited symptoms (depression, suicidality, cutting, worthlessness, rage, fear of abandonment) early and often. There is some question about whether she has her own BPD or was simply mimicking her father's. I am divorced from him for 8 years. He has always absolutely refused treatment. She has embraced treatment and is doing much better (no recent depression with help of SSRI, stable relationships with everyone but father, no recent self-injury, decent self-esteem and identity).

I could not possible tell you how much work this has been for me and my new husband (her step-dad). I am so grateful we have had the resources for loving private schools, excellent therapists and for me to take 5 years off to work on our bond after the divorce.

I have joined some BPD groups online but I feel so sad that kids who didn't get enough early help are identified with being trouble (the criminal and crazy type).

I saw some older posts on this site that I could relate to. Parents who aren't blaming their children for having a terrible disease they never asked for.

I have already grieved for my former (and now I think unimportant) expectations for my daughter. Truly, I don't think she ever had as much hope for her future as she has now.

My questions are -

Has anyone else with early aggressive treatment seen continued improvement or is this always worse over time?

What have parents tried in terms of college near home, living at home, college away? (My daughter's instinct is to move out but be within 2-3 hours drive of home)

Do meds continue to work over time?

Has anyone had DBT training? It sounds great but I am a little worried that the people she will meet in "group" will frighten her - this happened when she was in a group for children of divorce - she had nightmares for months when she heard about the things some of the other children lived through and it made her worry that these things would happen to her.

Any other ideas for getting the most out of life when you struggle for every minute of "feeling okay"?

Would love to hear other's experiences.

Post edited by Chessicle on

Replies to: Borderline Personality Disorder

  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    chessicle - It's hard to respond to such a complex situation. Could you indentify your most important question so we can start with that? (Yes, I realize your post has just four question marks in it, but many of your statements imply a question.)
  • dbwesdbwes Registered User Posts: 1,660 Senior Member
    Can someone fill me in on BPD? How is this different from manic-depression, for example?
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    I have experience with this disorder -- not one of my children. Not to say they don't have problems, just not this one.

    From my observation (trained social worker and college professor) I think the best solution for college is a college close by but dorming. One young woman actually dormed only four miles from her family. This worked out well. She did develop some self-esteem and learned to live on her own. She did well academically in college and did manage to make a network of friends.

    Prognoses are so difficult because people and their motivations are so different, and don't forget, breakthroughs are happening all the time.

    Hang in there; have hope; support your daughter exactly where she is, as you are, and encourage her to pursue her dreams and choose things that really ring her bell. Help her to avoid "shoulds and musts".

    Good luck. She's lucky to have you in her corner.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    The college years are when mood disorders and other mental/emotional/ social issues can come to a head. Sometimes, good counseling can help the kids through this very rough time and to a stable mental state along with adulthood. These are the difficult years indeed.
  • armchrtravlrarmchrtravlr Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    I diagnosed a relative with BPD, and now I think a second relative has it, too.

    It must be that esp the younger one has a more mild form.

    The older relative never heard 'no' from her husband. She did as she pleased, and truly anyone who knew her really disliked her.

    The second relative is younger, didn't graduate from college despite several years of 'attending' (skipped class a lot after the third year). She is now living with her boyfriend, who accedes to some of her requests, but when she starts complaining about some situation that displeases her now, he says, "Ah, Halley" and hugs her. She melts. She is still mad, but the fire is gone. She quiets down. This is in sharp contrast to the way she blows up with her mother, and the 2 of them really fight, with in the past the mother usually going in the bedroom and shutting the door as a result, and now just hanging up on the daughter. (the mother is not the older relative with BPD, it was HER MOTHER who had the BPD, and now her own daughter--so she has been caught in the middle!)

    Maybe the younger relative doesn't really have BPD. She was in daycare really young, and the daycare director said she 'gave the best hugs'. I think it stressed her to be going to the daycare so young, which can lead to BPD according to some psychiatrists.
  • ShrinkrapShrinkrap Registered User Posts: 11,788 Senior Member
    "Can someone fill me in on BPD? How is this different from manic-depression, for example?"

    (Among other debatable things), the "manic depression" label provides better mental health coverage. Good for you Chassicle; No answers, but I think your on the right track.
  • ChessicleChessicle Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Thank you for responding! You make a good point - my post was sort of pent up and packed.

    I guess my big question is the one about living away from home or not. She wants to, I have trouble seeing it right now. Her first sleepaway camp experience was a nightmare for everyone involved (it was a very well run UCLA Performing Arts Camp). After a summer off, she asked to go to church camp this summer and I agreed after a long discussion. She was very happy the first day and called the next begging for me to come get her - even worse the camp was willing to have me pick her up although that's against their usual policy.

    When I heard what had happened I believed it was a misunderstanding that could be resolved. In the end she worked on resolving it and stayed which was a nice mini victory - but these camps were 1 week and not nearly as stressful as I think college can be.

    Her psychologist - who is very talented - has warned me that my success in bonding with her and helping her has turned into me keeping her from growing up. For instance I was barging into her room (even when she was upset and going in to calm down) a lot because there were suicide attempts in the past. We compromised that I would leave her alone for 15 minutes when she was cooling down (according to her doctor this is not enough time to really hurt yourself unless you have firearms).

    We have used this system the past year and it has helped and I basically do not barge into her room anymore even when she is upset, unless she wants me to come in and comfort her.

    Of course I want her to grow up and be independent. Still... it's very scary to me.
  • pensive123pensive123 Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    Read the book " I hate you, don't leave me"
    for a good description of BPD.

    These folks see things in black and white. You are either the enemy or friend, no in-between. they love to stir up trouble, excitement. Born drama queens, but they go all the way when they are out to get an 'enemy'. No half-measures. But things aren't stable, they don't keep up a vendetta, so much, they forget but if the other person stays in character and has a stable reaction (bad) to them, they will attack again.

    Very hard to treat, but can be cured. My own experience with borderlines is that they usually manifest many or all of the affective disorders in the DSM-4, like histrionic, etc.
  • ChessicleChessicle Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    armchair -

    It definitely hangs out in families. My sister has been in and out of hospitals her whole adult life. She is the reason I knew the term and when they first mentioned it in connection with my daughter I was devastated.

    I think I have some characteristics that led to triggering this in my daughter.
    When she needed validation most, I was a workaholic. I was supporting our family and left her home with her father who manifests severe symtoms from many personality disorders including this one, narcisism and antisocial.

    Mostly he rages, is unbelievably insecure (despite being highly successful) and living with him is truly a walk on eggshells. She saw him for 2 hours last night (first time all summer) and came home crying her heart out. She was nearly inconsolable and I ended up tucking her in at 2am after promising to try and get him help (and I will try again).

    Most people who know him casually would never guess. This kind of thing in families is a very private, but very intense hell.

    I hope your relatives get help and get better. I have such a hard time believing people can't recover.


  • fireandrainfireandrain Registered User Posts: 4,715 Senior Member
    "Stop walking on eggshells" is another great book. BPD Central - borderline personality disorder - books, cds, info, support, resources, links has great resources.

    Chessicle: Someone I know, although not my child, is borderline. It's a horrible disorder. It is triggered by abandonment, so I understand your concerns about her going away to college (yes, she's abandoning you, but it still has major potential for pushing her buttons). I have no answers for you, but I wish you lots of luck. And I certainly hope your daughter is one of the ones who is cured.

    Edited to add after reading your post: I've often wondered how many tragedies we read about in the newspaper are triggered by BPD, since it is a private tragedy. It is a very intense hell, I agree.
  • ChessicleChessicle Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    Pensive 123

    I'll check it out, thanks. I did read a book by Blaise Aguirre "Borderline Personality Disorder in Adolescents" and he says something interesting. He says they don't actually set out to stir up trouble or manipulate - but rather are so chemically compromised and so unable to get what they need socially through normal means that they develop maladaptive tools. To us it feels like they are spoiled manipulators - but maybe they are just doing something in anger and desperation that worked once before.


  • pensive123pensive123 Registered User Posts: 144 Junior Member
    The good news is that it may be preventable.

    Just make sure that your D's children (I'm looking down the road) are NEVER in daycare, have a stable and typical homelife, and hold your breath! But the chances are great that it can be prevented. the thinking is that it starts in early childhood for vulnerable kids. Not all kids are vulnerable, despite a bad start in life.
  • ChessicleChessicle Registered User Posts: 9 New Member

    Thank you very much. That website looks great.

  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
    My understanding of "group therapy" in DBT is that such sessions are more like classes, they teach skills. It is in individual therapy that one decides and learns which skills to apply to one's own life.

    A web resource about DBT is

    Home Page | Behavioral Tech, LLC
  • timelytimely Registered User Posts: 1,613 Senior Member
    My D (age 23) has been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, though for a time the dr. thought she had bipolar disorder. She's my child that I never talk about here on cc. I'm not trying to hide her, but she didn't go to college, so there's not so much to say in that regard.

    We adopted her as an infant (9 days old) and she has always been extremely difficult and mostly unhappy. I wouldn't think an adoption at such a young age would cause abandonment issues, but it is something I have wondered about. Birthmom breastfed her for the first 8 days, and I wonder if that may have triggered a feeling of abandonment when she was just gone after that.

    We home schooled our children starting when she was in the 3rd grade, and her "issues" were one of the main reasons we did that. We could see where this behavior stuff was heading and knew that we needed to spend lots of time with her, loving her and helping her to learn to control her wild emotions. It was hard. When I read above about the "walking on eggshells", it got my attention. That just exactly describes what it was like with her.
    These folks see things in black and white. You are either the enemy or friend, no in-between. they love to stir up trouble, excitement. Born drama queens, but they go all the way when they are out to get an 'enemy'. No half-measures. But things aren't stable, they don't keep up a vendetta, so much, they forget but if the other person stays in character and has a stable reaction (bad) to them, they will attack again.
    Oh, I see that you've met my D, pensive123. :)
    She is now living with her boyfriend, who accedes to some of her requests, but when she starts complaining about some situation that displeases her now, he says, "Ah, Halley" and hugs her. She melts. She is still mad, but the fire is gone. She quiets down.
    A good man (or a good woman) can make a big difference. My D got married just over a year ago to a guy who is so perfect for her. He seems to "get" how to respond to her to put out the fire.

    She met him on MySpace (which is just where every parent wants their child to meet someone), and they chatted there and on the phone for 6 months before they actually met, but when they did it was a whirlwind romance and they were married 6 months later. They lived 800 miles apart during the 6 months leading up to the wedding and had spent a grand total of 21 days actually in one another's presence when they were married. We were naturally very concerned, because we knew that D's new H did not have a clue what he was getting into.

    But, miracle of miracles, he is a great guy and he seems to have a sense of how to deal with her. They've had a couple of knock-down drag out arguments, but only a couple. One time she told me kind of half-way giggling on the phone that her H told her that she is a bully. She was giggling because she and I both know that she is a bully. Mostly, I am so pleasantly surprised when we talk, because I can hear that she is actually stable and happy, and I never thought I'd see that. After the time she tried to stab a friend in the face with scissors when she was 9, I thought she'd be in prison one day.

    She is on an anti-depressant for her anxiety disorder and takes Klonopin when she needs it to settle her down, and that seems to be working well for her. I don't mean it to sound like this problem is completely gone, though. When I am around her, I still tend to walk on eggshells. She still has some relationship problems, but the funny thing is that they are mostly with people in an online forum she has been frequenting heavily for several years. I know that no one here can relate to that. ;) So, I kind of think that's good. I feel sorry for the people in the forum (I think she's known as the wicked witch of the west there), but I think it gives her an outlet for some of her more anti-social behavior with no real harm done.

    I say all that, Chessicle, to reassure you that your D can get better. In fact, it sounds like she is doing so much better already. She still has 2 years before time to go to college and will grow up a lot between now and then. Also, when she still has times of being hysterical, remember that most teenaged girls do that. When she does it, it might not be anything to do with her disorder, but rather that she's just being a teenager. So don't get discouraged when that happens.

    Going to the therapy to learn skills sounds like a great idea. You have nothing to lose by trying it. We did a lot of this informally with D. I read a lot and we just spent a lot of time working through things. "What were you feeling when you did that?" "Do you understand it was wrong?" "Why was it wrong?" "What could you do differently if that happened again?" Stuff like that. A book I remember that helped me was called "You always have choices" (or it might have been "We always have choices"). It may have been directed to parents of younger kids, I don't remember, but I remember it gave us some good scenario kinds of things to work through with our D.

    Best wishes for your D!
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