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Isolation & BPD, wondering what to do - Carers UK Forum

Isolation & BPD, wondering what to do

For issues specific to caring for someone with mental ill health.

I (31, female) look after my partner (32, male) who has BPD and chronic, severe depression. We have a good relationship, aside from unmanaged and increasingly severe triggered episodes that he is struggling badly with.

He is awaiting an assessment and hopefully more BPD-appropriate (the diagnosis is new) therapy and general treatment approach, after decades of unsuccessful stuff but I'm extremely aware it's not going to be a straightforward process or any kind of quick fix.

We've had a really rough week this week (I wrote a little bit about it in terms of lack of proper mental healthcare here - with the caveat it is not especially cheerful) and it has left him more isolated than he already was - as someone whose crisis moments result in harshly pushing people away from him any way he can. (As, I know, lots of people with BPD do)

I am away a lot for work - there is a trip coming up next week - and he tends to have episodes when I leave because of course he's then more isolated.

I don't think there's anything I can do about next week; he's starting a new job so I'm going to have to trust that's going to be enough. But I'd like to find a way to make him new friends. He has a lot of fairly social hobbies but even in a very large city, I am concerned his episodic reputation may actually precede him and potentially preclude him from many groups.

Does anyone have any experience with this or with, especially after a major (and extremely offensive) outburst, experience of someone making amends? I am finding it hard to have enough energy to think about this, on top of working and trying to avoid any backslide into crisis mode currently.
I presume the offensive commernts were directed at you? Not acceptable, make that clear, walk away, he has no right to use you as a verbal punchball for his feelings.

Although he does occasionally say offensive things to me when he's trying to provoke a reaction, in crisis mode, I am quite happy to make my own assessment about that and this was a different, more generally political/trauma-based thing.

(WARNING: episodic view - He had got it into his head, as he does sometimes, that bringing children into the world is cruel because they may either turn out to have mental illness which will cause terrible suffering to them or be traumatised by their parents - although this is a dreadful view and he was really horrible in saying it to people, it is unfortunately definitely one of the elements of his illness that this occasionally spills out as part of wishing he had not been born/being angry at or confused by his own parents)

No one has to put up with him saying that, obviously so I am not at all surprised if he is cut off from friends groups. I am just wondering if anyone has experience of trying to find a social life or ways of accessing sociability beyond something like this - he can't take it back and I don't blame anyone who doesn't want to forgive him or give him another chance.

Just looking for some practical advice, if anyone had specific experience for this. :)
Is that how he regards his own childhood? I would strongly recommend that YOU have some good counselling. Although you can't change him, you can change the way you react to him. However, I do think that between you there need to be some boundaries, especially about what it totally "out of order" to say at any time.

I possibly should have been clearer in my first post: I am not asking for help for me. I can handle the element of mine and his relationship that is affected by this, including the social effects of the outbursts.

Like many people with BPD he does have childhood-related trauma. I am hoping that as he gets more appropriate support we can move to a place where that is managed and reduce the risk of triggered hyperarousal. I understand what's going on during these moments, I have had uncontrolled PTSD myself where the triggered hyperarousal states are similar - I don't think he handles them well but also hasn't until recently, when we've been working on it, had support to do so.

So, again: I don't need help for me, I am just wondering if anyone has experience of helping someone to re-socialise after an episode of this type or a prolonged period of uncontrolled mental illness symptoms/acting out/bad management.

We have an already-established boundary system that is well-managed. I am clearly not explaining myself very well but I just want to know how someone can go about potentially making new friends or friend circles during the process of moving towards effective treatment and a managed situation or if anyone can say whether friends might come back once he's got his situation better managed (this would be a motivating factor for him but also a potentially aggravating factor for episodic behaviour, unfortunately) or what I can hope for with this as we move towards better treatment.

Especially with someone who's become longish-term isolated, it would just be interesting to hear from other people who have dealt with this and what is good/bad/to be avoided/etc.

Sorry if I sound a little testy, I find the suggestion I might not know my own mind in this really frustrating, although I appreciate you are trying to help.
As a group of carers of all ages, with carees of all ages, we can only advise from the point of view of our own experience. I've had 10 carees in total, from new born to 87, but none of my carees have had the same problem as yours. On the other hand, many carers of all ages experience similar issues, of loneliness, isolation, frustration, to name just a few.
In Hampshire, where I live, I know that there is a coffee morning type meeting where carers of those with mental health issues can share experiences. Every area is different, and finding out what is available is not always easy.
Have you contacted Social Services and asked for a "Carers Assessment"? It is primarily aimed at finding out what specific help or support you would like, and them finding out if it is available. In my area, services are not advertised but a social worker will be able to make a referral for you if there is a group near you which might be suitable.
I suspect you're really going to need a forum where the members are all those who are partners of folk with the kind of MH issues your partner has - we are probably far too general alas for you.

You clearly have a good understanding of his issues, and all the professional terminology etc that goes with them.

Do bear in mind, however, that on this forum, the one thing we do tend to have is experience of newcomers presenting with one 'problem' that actually is masking a much deeper one that is the 'real' problem. It's very common on this forum!

And, of course, you won't need me to tell you that we can all use the 'terminology' and 'psych-maps' to give us a 'sense' of control in a situation that is way beyond our control, and which is causing us 'distress' in some way, though we don't want to admit it. Not saying that IS your situation, as you have, apparently, chosen the way of life you have, and accept the 'deal' that is your relationship with your partner/caree. (I only say 'apparently' as it is well known that sometimes we prefer to think we have 'chosen' a life that actually we feel has been 'imposed' upon us, including imposed-through-guilt, etc etc) (In Careland, the 'guilt monster' is never far away, and it lurks and lours over our lives, warring with 'resentment' against the needy caree - 'love' is sometimes not enough to keep the carer-caree bond sustainable....)

Also, the reason for the answers you've received so far is that the function of this forum is to help CARERS, not the CAREES they care for! That is our focus - to make OUR difficult-because-we-are-carers lives that bit more bearable. Our focus is not on the needs of the carees really, or, only in so far as sorting THEIR needs can make OUR lives that bit less difficult!!! (Providing, of course, their needs are not sorted by our even-greater sacrifice to them!)

I'm glad you feel the relationship you have with your partner/caree is worthwhile for you - mental health is SO much more difficult to deal with than physical health!

Wishing you all the best, but, alas, I doubt this forum is going to give you the answers you seek, simply because the 'pool' of carers in your particular situation is going to be very small.
Hi Hazel, I am a carer for my husband who is bi-polar, he was diagnosed over 20 years ago. During this time he has had several manic and severe depressive episodes as well as hospitalisations. Sadly during this time he has slowly lost all of his friends, he has made new friendships through support groups but this again was short lived as these people also had their own mental illness to deal with and were perhaps not the best influence. Occasionally, we do see old friends but they tend to give my husband a wide berth and do not treat him the same as before his diagnosis. He is treated as a person who is retarded or bonkers rather than a person who has a mental illness and that in between episodes it quite 'normal'. Understanding mental illness has come a long way but still people do not understand, are frightened of it or even embarrassed by it so I think making and then maintaining new friendships is incredibly hard. So on the whole our experience of making friends and creating a new social circle has been almost impossible. My husband is isolated apart from myself, our children and some close members of family. Perhaps a starting point for your partner would be support groups in your area? Good luck.