I'm in my mid twenties and help care for my older sister who has BPD, also long-time depression and bipolar disorder. We were very close growing up together and even still as we became adults and found partners, jobs, moved out of home.There were always these angry flashes that scared me - rage blackouts from her - and now that I know more about BPD I can see patterns of splitting, devaluation/idealization, spur-of-the-moment decisions linked to other past behaviours of self-harm. A few years ago, there was a signficiant suicide attempt that resulted in the BPD diagnosis and we all hoped that with the diagnosis and DBT, it would mean some help.
We - the family, her best friend, her husband - have all done our best to educate ourselves on mental health and BPD in particular. We helped her when she accepted it but stood back when she didn't want it, and stayed our distance accepting that her husband was now the main caregiver. Unfortunately in the past two years, everything has spiralled downwards. Efforts she had made - stopping drinking, seeing her psychiatrist, DBT, regular hobbies - have all stopped, and now... I don't know who she is anymore.
I feel like I've lost her to BPD. She aggressively manipulates my family, trying to turn everyone against each other. She seems to actually be her happiest when someone is feeling emotionally destroyed by her doing, but stays because they love her. She is drinking, cutting, quit her job, cheating, lies, manipulates, makes drastic statements and then lets you worry all day by not answering the phone. I don't recognise her anymore, I kept trying to help her and I went from being on the pedestal to mud on the bottom of her shoe. She's now accused me of 'leaving her', because I put in boundaries that I wouldn't partake in saying awful things. As a result, our dad now feels he can't speak to me because she needs support and talking to me wouldn't be supportive of her.
It is exhausting and I don't know who she is anymore.
Our family is at breaking point. I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore.
If I'm going to be honest, I can't guarantee "better", but that doesn't mean there's no hope of it either. We've got a daughter in her mid-20s who has been slowly getting worse for about a decade (not BPD but some issues in common), and only recently she's really started coming around to seeing that her self harm and suicide attempts are something she needs to fight back against. Because she's felt our of control of herself for so long, it'll be a long haul back, but she's now looking for support to do so instead of thinking she can handle it. We're hoping she can get there, but for the present, the future is still a very uncertain place for us. Her MI (Mental Illness) started to show in high school, and it's been so long that it's hard to imagine what she might have been like as an adult minus the MI. It's something we've only really caught little glimpses of. It does really wear everyone down. Our whole family has been affected to one degree or another, myself and my husband to the point where we have been unable to keep working. So yeah, we can relate to the "exhausting". I've found this forum really supportive. It makes a big difference being able to unload with other people who "get it" and don't think you're overstating the situation, and who know enough about MI that you can have a conversation without it turning into a "psychology for beginners" session. It's also good some days just to chat and laugh online, or if it's a bad day, to be able to say as much or as little as you want to. "Real life" support is also essential. See if you (and other family members) can get a referral to a psychologist from your GP? Look into local carer support groups, and specifically if there's any particularly for MI carers. While you meet nice enough people in general carers' groups, the issues involved with aged care or caring for a person with a physical or intellectual disability are often different to MI issues.
No-one can tell you for certain that it will get better; we can tell you for sure that you don't need to go it alone.
Thank you for your reply. I guess hoping for "better" is naive in a way, something I've yearned for but not really knowing what it would look like after having felt like this for so long.
It is comforting to hear that your daughter is now looking for support with her MI. I really connect with what you're saying - sometimes you really just need to let some of the stress and anxiety out and, fortunately for some people, they haven't experience MI in their families so can't really understand or relate. So often I get the response "you can't keep holding back your life for her" or "she's just got to get over things", but none of those people have been in intensive care after she's hurt herself and you're waiting to hear whether her liver and kidneys will recover from this latest attempt. The consequences of not "being there" are just so huge.
I have taken some steps for support for myself now and while there aren't any local community carer groups around me, I did find these forums at the suggestion of my psychologist. I'm very glad I did and decided to post.
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