Disorders and Treatment
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Guest post by Simone around Borderline Personality Disorder and Relationships.
I have grown up in a household with almost no communication, whereas he (my husband) has grown up with the only communication being very very loud. Therefore, with those extremes it’s difficult to try and understand how to communicate with each other, I will sulk and hope he notices and he will shout to be heard. It doesn’t work well. Any illness puts a strain on a relationship, one of the criteria for BPD is paranoid delusions, a constant voice saying things you don’t want to hear maybe you worry about everything, it causes a lot of stress but when I worry about things I always make sure I talk to him about it. It alleviates some of the paranoia and puts my mind at rest. I have never been taught to talk about my problems and if I feel I don’t know how, I will write him a letter and leave the room to allow him to go through it and then we will come together and talk about it. Even though we haven’t learnt communication well from our homes we still manage to find good ways of doing so. It shows how much we want this to work.
As we both have things to deal with, we often try and deal with them alone because we don’t want to burden the other person with more problems, yet when we do ask for help from each other we find it helps because we can try and work something out to help together instead of feeling stuck on ideas alone. No matter the problem, if you think sharing it with someone close to you will burden them, consider that they would rather help you then have you deal with it alone. If I feel too anxious to leave the house, I will ask if he will come with me so I can have some air. If he’s struggling with work, even if I don’t understand it, I can read through it to check for any obvious mistakes in wording. Just small things like this show trust and support.
Quality Time and Hobbies
With BPD there is often a constant fear of abandonment. It makes it hard to allow your partner to have time without you out of fear that they don’t want to be with you anymore. It’s good to find a balance where they can not feel trapped into spending 24/7 at your beck and call and where they can also feel relaxed that after spending time with you they can leave with you feeling that it was enough time for both parties. If you feel lonely, express it and then arrange a time when you can do something together. If you never arrange anything and just expect your partner to just suddenly stop what they’re doing to be with you then you won’t get very good results. If you plan a time of the day where you spend time together without any other distraction then they have shown they want to be with you and if you feel the time wasn’t enough you can always ask for a little bit longer. But then after that you must allow them to leave to do their own thing. If you continue to say “more” then you will never learn to be apart and feel comfortable with it. Finding something that distracts you is always good. I find that even if I’m doing something separate to be in the same room can help with still having the need to be with the person. Never stay with the person all the time because conflicts become more frequent. People need space. Go for a walk or to the shops for an hour. That simple hour will allow everyone to breathe and have much needed space. I usually go shopping on my own if I need space, I enjoy it and I don’t have him tagging along complaining about my choice of shops, there’s a freedom in it. This kind of space can be very difficult to keep up when you fear someone leaving you but the more space you give that person the more they will want to be with you because they don’t feel so pressured. Joining in with one their hobbies can also help you have some quality time together and allow your partner to enjoy their activity and spending time with you.
Make sure you have at least a couple of separate hobbies that you have on your own though because you need to keep your own separate identity. You are two people, whether in a relationship or not. Jordan has computing, gaming and playing music and I have blogging, painting, singing and reading. But we game together and read together so we have combined interests and separate ones.
People with BPD are very insecure of themselves, they may change their looks a lot and never seem to feel just right. Try to notice the small changes, the fact that you notice will make them feel good about themselves and make it seem more worthwhile. People who have BPD often had a lot of problems in their childhood which often go unnoticed and are used to not being noticed in times of distress, that is why they often act out and have very “extreme” looks. To notice something small about someone who often has gone unnoticed shows them how much you pay attention to them, it will feel strange at first but will make them feel good that someone cares. Men generally aren’t very good at noticing small changes in their woman, often not noticing something as different as haircut but maybe if you think every week or so, has he/she changed something this week and see if there’s anything you can compliment. Just to make him/her feel good about themselves on a weekly basis. It’s hard to make someone with BPD feel good and you can’t do it alone and aren’t expected to be complimenting every second but a random compliment or acknowledgement can stick. I know how hard it is to accept compliments but when it’s unexpected or after an appearance change it will always make me feel good and make me feel closer to my husband.
Psychiatrists and Self Harm
It may be hard to accept that your partner has to see a psychiatrist or therapist, nobody wants anyone they love to need emotional help but support is always welcome. Even just walking to the appointment, it shows they don’t have to face it all alone. I often felt best if Jordan met me after an appointment because I would be quite strong to walk there but after talking about everything I would be quite weak and often teary, having someone to just be there when I came out was a comfort and support. Medications can be tough to deal with too, some work, some don’t and you may be kept up all night but a very grumpy person when they don’t work so well. It can be stressful for both parties. Always remember that you need to look after you too. If you can see a medication isn’t working, suggest they go back to the doctors, there’s no need for either of you to suffer. It can be hard if your partner self harms or if they have had suicide attempts before. You may not know whether to let them keep medications. I let Jordan keep my stronger medication and have a small supply of my weaker meds in my bag if I need it. It may seem like your partner doesn’t trust you if they want to keep medications to give to you if you need them but then you have to remember that when in certain emotional states you can’t trust yourself and they only want you to be safe.
It is often unwise to allow someone with BPD to be alone when they are feeling emotional unstable or weak but then you can’t keep an eye on someone all the time. If you notice your partner is feeling particularly unwell, suggest they stay in the room with you so you at least know where they are. It won’t always work and It’s very easy to learn techniques on how to be secretive with self harm but remember that you cannot do everything. If someone is set on self harming, they will probably find a way. Just remember that it isn’t always a suicide attempt and that as long as you have tried to help and have given them the option to stay with you, it is NOT your fault if they still self harm. It is never your fault. If you’re reading this you will already know how complex things can be and probably recognise a lot of these behaviors but it they don’t have to be problems forever.
I hope some of what I have said has helped in some way for both sides of the line. It will be complicated, it will be hard but for both of you if you can find a balance and learn to communicate and recover together then it will be very much worth it.
So just try and remember to Communicate, Have a good balance of together and alone time, notice the small things, psychiatrists are there to help and self harm isn’t your fault and you cannot always prevent it.
Thank you, Simone for this great post.
You can follow, Simone on Twitter here
And also read more of her own blog here
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