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Jaxta
Casual Contributor

Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

I am new to this forum and searching for a place to offload and share the complexity of responsibilibilites, especially those that come from being a mother of an adult child with dysregulated emotions. I am often overwhelmed and feel very vulnerable by trying to cope with their depths of despair, or fear or sadness or scary anger. I do see a therapist and so do they, but this is a day to day, sometime hour to hour burden which is difficult to carry. I want to help them but I often don't feel capable, I will respond in a way to a crisis that will inflame rather than de-escalate the situation. As they are now an adult and 'independent' of me, I feel my opinions and knowledge remain invisible to their current health care team, yet I am the one dealing with the everyday. I guess I feel sad and tired, guilty in my failure, proud of my successes, scared they will harm themselves or make other spur of the moment negative decisions. 

Interested in talking to anyone who can relate

8 REPLIES 8

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Hi @Jaxta ,

 

Welcome to the forums Smiley Happy I'm not a carer myself but I just want to jump in and acknowledge how exhausted and overwhelmed you're feeling. It can be really challenging managing fear, sadness and guilt everyday. Heart

 

Your opinions and perspective are valuable and matter, and you deserve support. I hope that others who share your experiences will find their way here soon. Here with you.

 

Heart from cloudcore

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Hello @Jaxta 

Welcome to the forum.  I am a carer in lots of ways, I have 2 adult step daughters who live with BPD, a 17 yo son who lives with schizophrenia and OCD, a 15 yo with a chronic fatigue illness arising from alllergy desensitiation treatment gone wrong, and a husband who has miraculously recovered from a brain hemmorhage 2 years ago.  

 

I can really relate to how exhausting and distressing it can be to communicate with warmth and closeness with your adult child with dysregulated emotion.  There are times when the connection is easier, and times when no attempt is the right thing to say.  It is heartbreaking.

 

I can hear that you are very devoted to your child and have so much concern and worry for them.  It's great to hear your child has a health care team, and yes, your knowledge and experience would be of so much value to share.  Sometimes as parents/carers we are dismissed as being 'over involved' if we try to share what we have ovserved or learnt with health professionals - I know I've been dismissed by a know it all GP for being neurotic.  I find this attitude from health professionals very problematic, as I am the constant in my child's life, and they are likely to only be involved for a very short time in my child's care.  Sometimes, we've have one appointment with a psychiatrist and they've said, 'this is my last day'.  I can't tell you how frustrating that can be.  I understand that privacy laws may prevent your child's health team from talking to you about your child's care, but it doesn't prevent you from tallking to them about your observations, learnings and concerns.  

 

Regarding learning how to respond and communicate in a way that doesn't inflame a situation, I have found 'Tuning into kids/teens' training a really great way to learn and practice emotional attunement. (it works for adults too!!) That is the ability to tune into what our child is feeling/experiencing, without jumping to offering solutions or problem solving.  For our youngest daughter with BPD, this approach has helped to reduce angry or aggressive responses from her, as she feels heard.  If we ask questions to clarify or offer any ideas for solutions it is like putting petrol on a fire, she feels invalidated and not heard, and becomes instantly abusive or yells.  By tuning in, 'it sounds like you've had a really hard time with .......', it's what she needs.  In that way, we have been able to sustain a mostly positive connection.  But that involves holding our tongues, not giving opinions, or trying to solve problems with or for her.  So it is really important to have someone or somewhere to vent and say exactly what we think!!!  Blaaaah!  :-) 

 

I hope this has been helpful to you.  I look forward to seeing you around the forum.  One of the ways to get involved is to jump in and welcome other new members, you will soon find yourself sharing experience and learnings, and gain support from other people in similar situations. 

 

Take care

Tinker

 

 

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Thanks Cloudcore. I am also hoping to share experiences with others so I don't feel so alone

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Thanks Tinker, Yes I have also done a course for family support where they taught us to respond in a reflective non-judgemental way, exactly as you have mentioned. I guess I don't always feel successful at adopting this technique as my own anxiety often becomes triggered by my loved ones anger and violence.

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

That is understandable.  Anger and violence are very confronting/frightening.  Have you been able to speak with your counsellor about setting boundaries around what behaviour you will/won't accept, so that you can remain safe?  We have had to do this to protect ourselves.  Often, that has meant only meeting on neutral space, not our home, not our daughter's home, so that we can leave if needed and remain safe.  Sometimes it has meant no communication at all for a period of time if we are the target of verbal attacks or violence. 

 

It must be very hard for you @Jaxta 

 

Best regards

Tinker

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Hi Tinker,

Yes I have discussed setting boundaries with my loved one, but during the lockdown periods this was not always possible. Thank goodness with their age has come a bit of maturity so I am no longer physically threatened, but still feel unsafe from encounters with a crisis that includes anger. They may throw objects around the room- not at me anymore- but still frightening for me to witness. 

 

They no longer live at home which has helped me gain some distance, but I am contacted every single day if not several times of day via phone, often trying to madly understand what has set them off and whether they are safe.

 

It is with some trepidation that I answer the daily phone calls, I never know what to expect, I still feel like I am walking on eggshells around them, and it really triggers my own anxiety if I can hear anger in their voice or they start off by swearing and yelling at me. I tend to be blamed for all sorts of things that I can not possibly be responsible for but I seem to get sucked up by  my guilt anyway, even though I know logically I shouldn't feel guilt- I still do.

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Hello @Jaxta 

 

Our oldest daughter used to call me/drop her children off up to 3 times a day when she lived nearby - sometimes she was calm, but often there was some urgent event or crisis brewing that she wouldn't tell us about and we were expected to jump in and help with the children.  It was exhausting for me, but at the time I did it because I always wanted the little grand kids to be able to be safe at our house at any time and to have stability. 

 

Since then she moved interstate, and contact with her has been sporadic.  Over the years, my husband in particular has copped a lot of verbal abuse and accusations for things that , like you say, he couldn't possibly have done or be responsible for.  For a lot of years he turned himself inside out to help his girls (who both have BPD) because he felt guilty, that he had contributed to or caused their ongoing ill health.  Eventually, through counslling, he grew to realise that even if he was in any way responsible for all their issues (which he isn't) he'd spent 15 years since they turned 20 emotionally  helping, financially bailing them out, copping abuse from them while not responding - he'd well and truly given back to try make amends and had no responsibility for their behaviour and choices as 30 something adults.  He decided to let go of feeling guilty.  It hasn't been easy, but he protects himself from abuse these days, and won't allow himself to be mistreated by them.  If they want to communicate it can't involve abuse, name calling, swearing at him, or accusing him.  If they can't do that, then there's no communication. 

 

Some might call it 'tough love'.  I would call it self protection.  My husband suffered a brain hemmorhage over 2 years ago and he just can't deal with stress/conflict any more.  

 

I hope things improve for you @Jaxta  

Re: Mother of Adult Child diagnosed with BPD amongst other mental health issues.

Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with me. Yes so hard to find the right balance of distance-support for a child with BPD. It is an ongoing struggle. I am trying to access a DBT course for them atm but hard to get them to commit to it.
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