Newbie coping with partner with Borderline

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.
Hello everyone,
I've been with my fiancée for 9 years and has been struggling with mental health problems since he was very young. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder a few years back and although a diagnosis was helpful it didn't and doesn't make it any easier. I have a lovely family (no kids of our own yet) my mum is great and I hang with her and talk to her about a lot of things, we have a great bond but even she doesn't know about my partners diagnosis. Only one of my friends know but don't see her too much and have felt so alone as I do not talk to anyone about the extent of the problems I have to deal with, like the outbursts, daily up and down emotional rolacostas and the emotional abuse. So I was so happy to hear of this forum and am hoping to talk to anyone about your experiences. I just want to know I'm not alone. Sophie xx
Sophie, welcome to the forum, and I hope you find it helpful.

Living with someone with MH is very ,very 'challenging', and whilst love can conquer many problems, it can't solve all of them, including, perhaps, living with a partner with MH!

That said, you've been in the relationship for a good long spell, so presumably have the measure of your fiancé's vulnerability to the ill effects of his condition. Do you think he's deterioriated in that time, or improved, or not changed at all?

I would say it's a question of boundaries, and that EVEN IF he blames his outbursts etc etc on his condition, you need to make it clear it is NOT acceptable, and that 'afterwards' he must, at the very least apologise! Even if there's a kind of 'Jekyll and Hyde' aspect to it. Does he ever refer to his 'bad behaviour' afterwards, or does it all just 'disappear under the carpet'.

I take it your partner has met your family, including your mum, and you are all on social terms together. With that in mind, do you not think your mum has an inkling of everything not being 'perfect' with your partner's mental state? I suspect she does......

May I also ask why you haven't told her? I think I may know the answer - because, as a mother myself, I suspect my own first reaction would be to urge you to walk away from the relationship! (I think that's certainly what I'd say if you'd just embarked on it......). Forgive me if I'm quite wrong on that.

To be honest, I would urge you to talk to your mum, and your family. Problems don't disappear because no one mentions them! I think, personally, they are much better aired and openly acknowledged. There is nothing 'shameful' in MH - and 'pretending' it doesn't exist surely can't help anyone. Like I say, it's challenging, at the very least, and needs to be carefully and skilfully and rigourously 'managed' by everyone, including your partner to the best of his ability, so the negative impact is minimised.

Finally, you don't have children, but do you plan to have them? This will be a HUGE challenge, and needs tobe very, very carefully thought through before embarked on. Not only do you need to consider the possibility of 'heritability' of MH (no idea if it is, but you need to know that from experts, one way or the other!), but, far more immediately, the early years of parenthood are VERY stressful (sleepless nights is just the start of it!), and adding that level of stress to your partner may have very negative results, with resulting extra burden on you. You may find you need high levels of support from your family - and his (you don't mention them!) (or are they part of the problem...often the case with MH alas,......)


Wishing you all the best - I don't mean to be totally negative - I always come from a 'let's check out the worst, then enjoy the best' point of view, so we can make the most of any situation, yet strive to 'minimise' the impact of the downside.

Kind regards, Jenny
Hello Sopie and welcome to the forum :)

Have you checked out the MIND and Rethink websites ? Both have sections/forums devoted to supporting family members of those suffering with mental health problems and I think you might find them a useful resource.

We have many members here who are caring for a family member with mental health problems and I hope that some of them will be along later to welcome you and share their experiences.
Hello Jenny,
Thank you so much for your reply. I'm crying as I write because although my partner has had lots of counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy to help him with coping strategies I have had no help, suggestions or counselling and I can't believe someone has finally not only listened but also realised what I didn't say. Thank you so very much.

Thank you for suggesting that he should take responsibility and apologise this is completely acceptable. However he does apologise profusely after intense episodes. We've been together a long time and only have achieved this through so much effort to constantly address what is going wrong/right and alternatives and trying to communicate to the best of our abilities. I think as a whole he has got better but regularly goes up and down something several times a day at its worst to couple times every couple weeks at best.

As for my family, like I said they are lovely and I'm so lucky to have them (a sister and. 2 brothers mum and dad). However please don't take this the wrong way but my dad and brother are not the brightest crayons in the box and I honestly don't think they could really understand. My mum I think does have the capacity to understand but there is no way I could tell her things like the emotional abuse and I wouldn't want to lie. My mum loves him to pieces and I am so happy and still so in love with him that she wouldn't even try the "you need to break up with him" card haha. The only time his condition really affects my family is when he doesn't come round because we've been arguing, he's too intense or volatile and I have to lie and make an excuse and it's gets exhausting lieing when you just want to take the mask off and tell them the truth and how I feel because I love them. I'm just not sure what to do about family situation.
As you pointed out I don't mention his family, siblings are OK but parents are shit. They were emotionally abusive in a very intense way like attacking his weaknesses and being really spiteful. They were sometimes physically abusive also in a very spiteful way, like locking him in a small dark place because they knew he hated spiders and holding a rag with deodorant spray on it over his face until he passed out all because he sprayed his deo in a shared area and his dad was in a mood because dad and mum had been arguing! The mum is just pure evil.

Yes I do know more than a lot of people that children are a handful as I am a teacher haha I love children, I always have. When I was in my early teens I thought I wanted to have a baby as soon as possible, however I met my fiancée when I was 17 just before college through a friend then I fell for him. We thought we wanted children but then both agreed that we wanted to concentrate on our careers first. I've just finished uni and started to work but the bills are still a struggle. The thought of giving birth petrifies me and can't even get past that to even think about organising to get pregnant in the first place. Also I love travelling and want to see as much of it as possible and know it won't happen if I have a baby. I've been dead set against having children for years and my fiancée also warns me he'll probably never want children. but recently I have been doubting myself because I think I'm getting broody and am thinking about my later life and how lonely I will be. Also worrying that I don't want them because I know Ill probably never have them with the love of my life and would never be with anyone else. Also if he leaves me I really do not think I'd cope and worry too much that my child/children would turn out shit or they would struggle as much as my partner does, I don't think I'd ever forgive myself. Do you have children?
Sophie xx
Hi Sophie
I'm the Mum of a 22 year-old with moderate mental health issues, have another 20s relative with more severe mh illness and was the carer of a (finally) 65 year old with alcohol induced severe mental health issues who died after a 10 year long suicide of refusing help and treatment. I wouldn't encourage any one to take any of them on in a relationship.

To anyone young and not tied by blood or marriage , I would say have a long long hard look at what a lifetime of treading on eggshells and constantly being abused ( whether intentionally or not) would actually be like and be aware that, painful though it maybe, walking away is an option.

Ask yourself if the love you feel for your fiance is in fact the pity and the need to look after someone most of us feel.
Ask yourself too what your life would be like if you have children and one day have to remove them from the family home for their safety, and what their life would be like living with someone on an emotional roller coaster who would emotionally abuse them as he does you. How would you split yourself between your children and your husband?

Unfortunately a lot of mental illness tends to be long term, if not life long, and while some can be controlled with medication, it does tend to lurk in the background and reoccur.

Carers of people with mh get less recognition, support and respite than those caring for physical or age related. It is really really tough and you already mention feeling isolated from friends.

Imagine what your life could be like with someone who loves, supports and cares for you, who you can have fun and friends with.

I know you probably didn't want to hear this, but the fact you haven't mentioned his diagnosis speaks volumes about how you feel on the inside.
I know ending the relationship would be difficult, ending any 9 year relationship is, but there are many out there who have left relationships after that time for reasons other then mental illness. It is possible. Painful yes, sad, yes but do- able.

If you do decide to stay, your first priority must be you as you ready yourself for the long haul. You need a tough Teflon skin, immeasurable patience, assertiveness to constantly fight for help, including persuading your partner to seek help when they don't believe they need any, the list is endless
You need to keep yourself physically and mentally fit, protected, supported, informed, financially secure....

I think I've probably said enough for now. Don't respond publically to this. It's really for your own thoughts.

My heart goes out to you
MrsA
Sophie _1701 wrote:
Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:41 pm
Hello everyone,
I've been with my fiancée for 9 years and has been struggling with mental health problems since he was very young. He was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder a few years back and although a diagnosis was helpful it didn't and doesn't make it any easier. I have a lovely family (no kids of our own yet) my mum is great and I hang with her and talk to her about a lot of things, we have a great bond but even she doesn't know about my partners diagnosis. Only one of my friends know but don't see her too much and have felt so alone as I do not talk to anyone about the extent of the problems I have to deal with, like the outbursts, daily up and down emotional rolacostas and the emotional abuse. So I was so happy to hear of this forum and am hoping to talk to anyone about your experiences. I just want to know I'm not alone. Sophie xx
Hi Sophie,

Most of what you describe is very similar to what me and my partner are going through. I've been with my fiancée since I was 17, met through a friend. Been together for 15 years so far. He hasn't been diagnosed with BPD but we both agree that most of his symptoms match more than any other mental illness. When he is in a place when he can talk about it, it makes me feel like we have hope. He is currently on a waiting list to have one on one therapy and is on antidepressants. The only reason the doctor didn't think it was BPD when we first went to see him months ago was because he wasn't physically or sexually abused as a child. He did witness violent arguments as a child between his parents that involved alcohol and his dad worked away a lot. Was also bullied at school. I think the doctor is being a little strict in how he looked at this, but it was one ten minute appointment... not long enough for a diagnosis!

Having someone to talk to is important, as I am finding. Also setting bounderies. This part I am struggling with as my partner can be quite needy and is very good at arguing and twisting my words. There is still a lot we are both woking on to help our communication. It takes a crisis to move us forward as when he is feeling okay, he kind of ignores there is a problem and gradually like a pressure cooker his stresses and problems come to the surface and explode out, usually at me and this is when I get the worst of his verbal and emotional abuse.

All I can say is, you aren't on your own and try to look after youself. I'm still working on this. Following in my mums footsteps, I'm a helper and always put other people first.