Newbie Caring for Suspected BPD Partner

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Hi everyone,

I found this site whilst looking for somewhere that I could speak to people in similar situations.

I don't have many friends I can talk to, but my best friend is my partner of over 15 years and he is the person I care for! I use the word care loosely as he looks on the surface like a normally functioning person, with a job, we have a house etc.

I have suspected my partner is suffering with BPD, though he hasn't had a formal diagnosis. The walking on egg shells over the years and verbal/emotional abuse has taken it's toll on my mental health hence looking for somewhere I can find help and support. The angry outbursts and sincere appologies repeating over the years.

We have had to deal with a crisis recently, as my partner gets really down, in wave like patterns to the point when he blows and goes on a rage, even hurting himself in the process. He has never physically hurt me though. We contacted a crisis line and have been in touch with the GP and he is currently on a waiting list for councelling. He has been on antidepressants on and off over the past couple of years but the best this has done is just dampened things down unless he gets really stressed.

Things are on a positive trend now though, as it usually is after a crisis. The problem we have is continuing to get help when he feels a little better. We are talking more about things and he is doing really well to help keep calm when things get tough to discuss. Having him acknowledge there is a problem and being desperate to feel better himself is a big motivator at the moment.

I have noticed over the last 6 months that my mental health has been worsening and was hoping that talking here may help somewhat. I have been through depression myself about 8 years ago and don't want to go there again. I'm more of an anxious person now, though I think that this has developed with having to cope with such a volatile person over the years. I'm hoping things will get better as things have taken a more positive turn, but I know I need to take care of myself too.

I love my partner dearly, and even when I have been close to wanting to leave, I have stuck by him in the hope that he will improve.

Anyone else in a similar situation or have any helpful words?

Thanks for reading.
Hi, and welcome

Forum members have a wide variety of caring experience - many of us, like me, are carers for an elderly person, often a parent, all too often with dementia in the mix (my caree is my 93 MIL with advancing dementia, in a care home for three years...). Many members have young adults as their carees, often with MH or ASD challenges.

And then, too, there are members whose partners have MH, as your situation is.

I say this because sometimes members have a variety of experiences, or things that might come in useful from one area of caring, adaptable to another.

First off, I think you haven't mentioned children, have you, and that, I'm afraid, from a very personal perspective, is good. Good because growing up with a parent with any kind of MH is, let us say 'tricky' .It was for me, with a mum with MH 'of some kind' - not well diagnosed in my youth, but probably bipolar (huge mood swings) and paranoia (people were poisoning her, following her, writing to her in secret codes ,etc etc.. all that stuff).

When you said 'walking on eggshells' that really resonated. We walked on eggshelsl all the time around mum - 'anything and everything could 'set her off' it was like living on a volcano - could erupt any time. She could also 'brood for England'.....a malign atmosphere would hang like a pall over the house. We 'tiptoed' even more.

I'm going to be blunt, therefore, and VERY POSSIBLY 'irresponsible', so PLEASE take it with this caveat, BUT, from the point of view of someone who grew up 'walking on eggshells' my advice to you is simply DON'T.

There is NO point. Look, yes, you may, inadvertedly, if you start crunching down on those eggshells with 'normal gait', trigger and 'eruption' but, and this is the controversial bit! - so what? Does itreally matter that much? Odds are 'anything' could set him off - your non-eggshelling is only one of the myriad triggers, and if you don't trgger it, then something else will. So why go through the stress of eggshelling constantly?

You can see what that stress is doing to you! It's like you've been walking a tightrope for years, terrified of wobbling off....that isn't emotionally healthy for you!

My second point is this - from his point of view, does it 'matter' if he erupts? What happens? I mean, what happens 'in the end' - does he just 'come down eventually' and get on with things again?

I know this sounds brutal, but really, the only 'real harm' he can do is physical injury or suicide. Only the latter is 'dangerous' isn't it? Sorry if that sounds like I'm trivialising it, but I think what you have to take on board - again, controversial only my experience/feelings - is that when he erupts it is an act of 'control' - or rather, to be precise, the FEAR of him erupting is an act of control.

I'm not saying it's deliberate, not even conscious, but it acts to control you - and that is BAD BAD BAD. It puts you in a prison, the one you have to tip toe around him on.

It's dishonest in a relationship, and it's unhealthy.

So, I guess, all this boils down to is this -stop eggshelling and see what happens. Yes, he'll erupt more, yes it will be scary, but you wil lget increasingly used to it. In the end, my bro and I, and our poor dad, simply used to get out of Mum's way and let her lava flow where it wanted until it finally congealed. Then we finally emerged. After a while it didn't bother us that much.

Stop eggshelling. It will achieve nothing but the perpetualtion of the status quo. Don't be afraid of him, or for him.

Again, apols all round is that sounds trivial or even unsympathetic. But people get the behaviour they put up with.....
Hi Jenny,

Thank you for the welcome and your experiences. Hearing what other people go through really puts things in to persepctive and that I'm not alone.

With regards of the eggshells, I totally get where you are coming from. I have develped behaviours over the years that actually make the situation worse. I'm aware of this but old habits are hard to break. It's something I am working on. I find it particualrly hard at certain times of the month as my hormones effect my mood and way I react to things. My partner is aware of this too and can be sypathetic at times.

I know I can't change or help how my partner is but I can try and change how I react. I was considering counselling myself to help me change my reactions so I don't make things worse.

We don't have children, and I'm still unsure wether I want kids. My partner is more for children than I am, but as we are I don't want to expose children to what I live with.

Deliberately causing things that trigger him is something I have tried (when I defend myself in an arguement when he is being irrational and won't listen) and when I fight he is much much worse. I can't win either way, if I leave the room or go to bed he will carry on and the arguement will keep going around in circles. This is one of the reasons that fuels my suspicion of a broderline personailty disorder. The best way is for him to develop coping mechanisms through counselling so he doesn't get to such a high stressed state. He is on the waiting list for this so it's a move in the right direction.

I'm going to look for anyone else who suspects their loved one is suffering with BPD on the forum and see if I'm looking down the right path. I'm not a trained professional but having suffered depression myself and having learned to develop an insight into my own emotions and moods has helped me see what is normal and what isn't and even possible causes into how his issues have come to develop. That's why I'm involved with his recovery as much as he is.

Thanks again for the reply, it's great to see that people take the time and make the effort to respond. That in itself has helped me.