When Someone You Love Has Borderline Personality Disorder

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As someone living with borderline personality disorder (BPD), here are some things I want people in my life to know about how to support me and our relationship. Everyone’s different, but if you know someone living with BPD, these tips might help.

First of all…

1. Take care of yourself. 

You can’t save them; you can’t rescue them from themselves. Only the person with BPD can do that. So it’s really important to remember to take care of yourself. Make sure you stay in touch with friends and family outside the relationship and manage your own stress. If you ever need to leave an escalating situation, do it.

2. Put strict boundaries into place, and stick to them.

You need to be straight about your boundaries with a person living with BPD. Don’t lie to them about how you’re feeling. If calling you at 3 a.m. is inappropriate, tell them. Lying about your boundaries will only make things worse.

3. Don’t take their behavior personally.

I can imagine this is hard, but it’s important to remember our behavior isn’t always under our control. And if it seems like I’m playing favorites, know that’s just the nature of my disorder.

4. Seperate the person from their behavior.

When you have to address an issue with someone with BPD, make sure it’s clear you’re upset about his or her behavior, not who they are. Reinforcing this regularly will make them a little more secure.

5. Pay attention to timing. 

It’ll be helpful to learn when it’s an appropriate time to raise heated issues within your relationship. For example, if I’m feeling particularly vulnerable, insecure and rejected, it might be better to bring up an emotionally loaded conversation another time.

6. If a conversation is escalating, delay and distract. 

One thing you can say is, “Why don’t we take some time to think and talk about this later?” Stay calm and speak in a way that affirms but doesn’t feed into them. Something like: “I’m feeling upset. But your feelings are important to me and I need some time to process them.”

Or, suggest a distraction — shopping, watching a movie, anything to pull attention away from the discussion.

7. Don’t invalidate.

I grew up believing my emotions were “wrong.” I felt like I had to get emotional value from other people. Hearing things like, “There’s nothing to cry about” made me feel like I had to push my feelings aside, which would only lead to an explosion of emotions. Telling a person with BPD that, “You’ve got nothing to be sad about” and “Other people have it worse than you,” simply invalidates them more, feeding their negative cycles and making them believe their feelings are “wrong.”

Pay attention to what you learn from your time with someone with BPD. You’ll learn about their behavior, their triggers and what you can do to make it better or worse. It’s a steep learning curve, but if you can get it right together, you’ll find a fiercely loyal, caring and loving individual who wants to have a happy relationship.

 

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To the Parents Still Waiting for a Diagnosis for Their Child

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Dear Parents of Undiagnosed Children,

I feel like a fraud writing this now because we are hopefully on the cusp of my daughter being diagnosed. But for the last 34 months, we have been you.

As I look back on our journey, a few things stick out more than others. They’re usually the moments that could have broken me but somehow didn’t.

Unless your child has an obvious illness or disability, you’re going to be doubted. I won’t lie, it’s hard. There were so many moments I was screaming in my head at those who doubted us, but outwardly I was assuring them that, yes, our daughter was not healthy.

You will walk into the doors of countless doctors’ offices feeling like it’s a game of hot potato. When egos and hospital politics are added into the mix, your fight can become that much harder. There may be no worse feeling than a doctor telling you they know something is wrong with your child, but they can’t help you because they can’t step on toes.

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You will sit in the cold, solid chairs with your heart in your throat, going over the same concerns about your child you have explained so many times before. When the doctors say they aren’t sure, you will smile, nod and hold back the tears. You will drive home and ask yourself if you can keep going. Hours later, your child will exhibit a symptom. You’ll somehow be happy and upset at the same that the symptoms are still there, but there’s no one else around to see it.

You will get what I refer to as a mini-diagnosis. They’ll give this to your child mostly for insurance coding purposes or during the hopeful moments they think they’ve figured the puzzle out. You will feel silly updating those close to you about your child’s health, only to backtrack weeks later when another doctor changes the diagnosis — again. You’ll eventually stop giving updates all together.

You’re going to cry — a lot. I was edgy with those around me. Little things would set me off, and I would have to step back to gain control of the true issue at hand. I have been upset with the situation, but I have never ever wondered why me, why her, why us? I don’t know if that will come later.

You’ll want to talk about your family’s journey all the time, but you will make small talk to avoid it or not to burden others.

You’ll sit in waiting rooms feeling isolated. You’ll notice every child coming in and will try to assess why they’re there. You’ll wonder if you should even be there and consider walking out because surely the other children are so obviously “worse off” than yours. During those times, you’ll start to feel like you don’t even deserve the doctors’ time and care.

The first time a valet guy or nurse from a clinic you’re visiting recognizes you will throw your world off its axis. In that one single, “Hi, welcome back,” you will realize your child is medically needy. It’s a weird balance. You’re grateful they said hello, but, at the same time, it means you’ve been to the clinic a lot.

When your child steps right up on the scale or holds out their arm for the blood pressure cuff without prompting from you, you’ll be oh so proud but oh so sad. As time passes, you will see your family’s journey in others as they walk in for their first appointment.

Medical terminology will undoubtedly become your second language. You will learn terms, treatments and medications from the doctors, the literature they hand you and, let’s be real, Google. When you start using medical jargon at another appointment or ER visit, it will let them know this isn’t your first rodeo. 

You’re going to have to find your voice. Even after nearly three years, I am still working on mine. Taking no for an answer isn’t an option. Questions are a must. I’ll be happy when I finally have the confidence to speak to a doctor and it doesn’t feel like I’m in the principal’s office.

You’re going to run into doctors who doubt you, but hopefully you will run into one who will advocate for you and your child. Hold on to those who want to help. Understand that even if the unknown puzzle piques the interest of just one of them, that’s OK.

But the single most important thing I can say to a parent of an undiagnosed child is do not give up. Fight. Continue to tell and retell the story. Feel every emotion, go to bed, wake up and start over. Rally yourself with those who will offer unwavering support.

There may never be an answer, but at a minimum, the symptoms can be treated. And remember, there are so many of us out here. You are never alone.

Editor’s note: This story represents one person’s experience and opinions.

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Grocery Store Gives Special Cart to Girl With Cerebral Palsy

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You may not think twice about bringing your kids to the grocery store, but for Melody Leach it can be a challenge.

Her 2-year-old daughter Beatrice has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. She can’t fit in typical grocery carts and strenuous activity sometimes triggers seizures, KUSA-TV reported. She’s outgrown her stroller so to go shopping, her mom pushes her in her wheelchair while holding a basket for groceries.

But when Mike Myers, an assistant store manager at King Soopers in Loveland, Colorado, heard all this, he did more than empathize.

Myers emailed corporate, and the grocery store then provided Beatrice with her very own special cart, one she can comfortably fit in.

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In the video below, the King Soopers staff reveal the cart to Melody and Beatrice. It’s a small act of kindness with a big impact.

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To the Child Who’s Bullied Because He’s Different

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Dear Self of the Past,

It’s me, your future. I see the pain you are in right now. I see your fears of what the next day at school is going to be like. You’re wondering how much worse it’s going to get. I can understand how you might feel like the whole world is against you, and that the weight of the world is sitting on you. I see the happiness you once shared with everyone slowly being replaced by sadness and tears. I hear your thoughts of “please just let me invisible.” I even see your deepest fear of not being good enough, not being worth it.

I’m sorry you’re living this. I’m sorry you’re experiencing the worst people have to offer. I want you to know you don’t have to worry about taking the risk to meet new people; not everyone will be mean. You can take a chance and come out of your shell. There are some awesome people out there you will meet, and you’ll start to see that kindness overpowers bullying every single time. Even when you feel like no one is in your corner, there are complete strangers out there who care and are sending you nothing but the best of wishes.

You don’t have to stay silent. You’ve been told you have nothing of value to say, but I can tell you that your words matter. They will matter a lot in the future. Your bullies have tried to squash your voice like a steamroller. It’s not because you’re “stupid,” or “a moron” or any other names they want to call you. It’s because they just can’t understand your fantastic ideas.

It takes power to use your voice, and I know you have that power in you. You will go on to use your voice for great things. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it comes from the most unexpected places.

I want you to know you’re worth it. You’re someone who matters; we all matter. You’re worth someone taking the time to get to know. Soon you’re going to help so many people with your experiences, both of bullying and living with a severe chronic disease. I know right now you feel absolutely powerless to the point of tears, but it’s not always going to be that way.

You’re going to take your ugly experiences and make something beautiful from them. You feel the pain of bullying, and you’ll know this is the exact type of person you don’t want to be, and you’ll take action to do the exact opposite. You’re going to learn that our days here on earth can be short, so you will take action to change the world for the better. You will practice kindness because you know life could end at any time, and you want to make a difference before that happens.

I want you know it’s OK to be different. You don’t have to be ashamed of being gifted, of finding schoolwork so easy, you’re looking at university lectures online. You’re going to see there are other kids like you, and you’re going to meet a lot of university kids volunteering at the hospital you can share your ideas with. Different is good. If no one “thought outside the box,” we wouldn’t come up with solutions to problems.

It’s also OK to look different. Your medical problems will make you appear different. You’ll have tubes taped to your face from time to time, and you’ll wear a colostomy bag for life. You’ll need to go on and off steroids, which will cause serious weight gain, as will some of the side effects of the medications. At first the kids will be mean because they don’t understand what you’re going through, but one day the majority of them will cheer for you along your journey. You will go on to inspire them. You just need to get through some rough patches.

Most of all, I want you to follow your dreams and never believe anyone who says you can’t. Make every day about proving you can. Even the greatest of challenges can be overcome. Remember that every small step counts, and that even a single person has the power to make a big difference.

Smile and breathe. It’s going to be all right.

Follow this journey on Jacob’s Healing Rooms.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to anyone you wish had a better understanding of your experience with disability and/or disease. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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A Blind Mom’s 6 Imaginary Friends

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As a blind mother of a toddler and infant, I’ll be the first to admit — it’s not easy to make friends. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say, I actually don’t have any. Friends, especially fellow mommies, are hard to come by. Without eyesight, I can’t physically get to the local Gymboree class or meet up for toddler dance sessions. My children are too young to travel by car service because they still require car seats. My double stroller is too cumbersome for public transportation. I am resigned to stay in the vicinity of my own neighborhood, which thankfully has a small zoo I can navigate without the use of my white cane. 

My 2-year-old daughter often brings stuffed animals with her when we take our zoo walks. She has just started mastering the art of imaginative play, and the conversations between her dinosaurs and princess dolls is beyond entertaining. She also has her fair share of imaginary friends who assist in collaborating with her theatrics. Then it came to me — if my 2-year-old can do it, why can’t I? So I came up with my own list of imaginary mommy friends who (in my mind) are my besties. Each has a quality I want in a lifetime gal pal. When I’m having a crappy day or meltdown moment and I need a fellow mother to turn to, I think to myself, “What would ___________ say if she were here?”

1. Pioneer Woman (Domestic Goddess): Ree Drummond is my biggest girl crush, seriously. How could you not love a woman who blogs, photographs, cooks, raises four kids and is married to man who looks that good in a pair of Wranglers (shout out to her husband, Marlboro Man)? Ree seems caring and genuine about what’s most important in life: family. She’d happily lend me a cup of sugar, coach me on what to cook for a church potluck and be that experienced voice to listen to when my daughters drive me crazy with their shenanigans. I’d love to know a fellow mom who’s been around the block in the parenting world. 

2. Rosie Pope (The Guru): Rosie’s built her empire by understanding what women need before, during and after pregnancy. She gives parents a road map for deciphering their kids. Teething problems? I’d call Rosie. Gotta look hot for date night? I’d email her for easy, mom-friendly fashion tips. She would get me through the tough times of parenting with her extensive knowledge as a parenting professional and mother of four. I’d like a mommy friend whose personal experience proves she’s got her act together. 

3. Tina Fey (Comic Relief): Hysterically funny, beautiful and successful describes this one-of-a-kind mommy. I could easily confide to her all the comedic escapades of life with my husband and two children. I’d love to meet another mommy to laugh with about the things that go on daily in our households. Lord knows, we mommies have lots of material. 

4. Dr. Jennifer Arnold (Kindred Spirit): As a pediatrician and mother of two, Jenn of TLC’s “The Little Couple” would be the person I could call if one of my kids were running a fever. I know she’d give me great medical advice without judgment. As a little person, Jenn knows what it’s like to be an outwardly unconventional mother. It would be great to meet another mother with a disability, who loves her kids like I do and is just trying to raise them as best she can. It would be nice to know I’m not alone.  

5. Daphne Oz (My Idol): Daphne is a young, working mom trying to balance career, family and parenthood. She integrates aspects of healthy living into every facet of her over-scheduled existence. Daphne is the mom I think of when I’m feeling overwhelmed by my kids, need to meet a deadline for work and still have to make dinner. She’s the little voice inside my head telling me, don’t order a pizza, make one with your girls.

6. The Lady at the Zoo: I don’t know you’re name, but you have a little girl who’s about the age of my eldest daughter. I tried to talk to you once. You commented on how you “had never seen the type of glasses I was wearing before.” I took them off to show you and told you I was blind. I could hear the nervous tension in your voice as you said, “That must be hard” and then you hurried your child to the next exhibit.  

We pass each other at the zoo every day, but you always leave quickly as my daughters and I approach. In fact, you can’t seem to get away fast enough. I know you don’t want anything to do with me, but in the confines of my imagination, we’re friends, and our children laugh and play together as they look at the animals.  

I’d like to have another mom to go to the zoo with. I’d like my daughters to see I have meaningful friendships with women and fellow mothers who are loving, professional, creative and fun. I’d like to be able to show my kids there are good people in this world, who aren’t afraid of their mommy because she is different… because she is blind. Someday I know I will make a great friend and fellow mom, and then I can stop pretending. Until then, I still have Ree, Rosie, Tina, Jenn and Daphne to help me through my day — they just don’t know it.

Holly and her two daughters standing in a park
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When My Grandson Explained Why He Doesn’t Get Mad at His Bullies

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This is a thank you to a young man, Jesse, who was never expected to survive infancy. But Jesse has an inner strength that is amazing, and he’s made it past that big 30th birthday. If we had more people with his gentle attitude, perhaps we’d have world peace.

Thank you, Jesse, for all the times you came to me when I was in distress. Those times when you were just a child and I was suffering from depression with a mind tearing around in chaotic confusion. Or when the pain of migraines shattered my brain. Somehow you knew when I was hurting. And you just sat beside me. You didn’t say anything. Didn’t try to solve my problems. You were just a quiet presence. A loving, calming anchor. I didn’t physically grasp onto you, but I held you in the space we shared, and my mind slowed down, my heartbeat leveled out and I could breathe again. It was as though you absorbed some of my pain.

Thank you for all the laughter you’ve brought me over the years. And for those moments that were deeper than the laughter — moments that were filled with your caring, that were more than a response to a joke or a funny moment shared. They were a sharing of your heart. A sharing of you.

Thank you for always being Jesse. For not trying to make yourself someone you’re not. Thank you for not being angry with people who hurt you. I remember once when you were young, we sat at a table in a public place. Some young kids were sitting at a table next to the one we chose, and when we sat down, they stared at you, then got up and moved to another table. They kept looking over at you, whispering and laughing. You glanced at them a few times, always smiling. I felt pain for you because I knew you were aware they’d moved away because you were different.

Later when we were alone, I asked how you felt when other kids avoided you or bullied you. You looked at me and shrugged. You told me you didn’t get mad or upset because you knew they simply didn’t understand. You knew you made kids and grown-ups uncomfortable because you were different and they didn’t know how to react. “It’s OK, Grandma. I understand.” You patted my arm, comforting me! You were so benevolent. So forgiving. You still are.

I wondered where all that wisdom came from at your young age, and then I realized you were a stronger person as a child than I was as an adult. I’ve forgotten the exact details of that incident, but I’ve never forgotten the pride I felt for you. Still feel for you.

Thank you for being my grandson. You have shown me lessons in patience, in sharing, in accepting, in loving, in goodness. I’m not the best student of your lessons, but I hold you in my heart with pride. And deep love.

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