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Topic: Mother with long-term Bipolar and BPD - tips on breaking the abuse-reassurance cycle?

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. annafreud
    annafreud avatar
    2 posts
    23 July 2018

    Hi everyone,

    My mother has long-term diagnosed bipolar disorder, undiagnosed borderline personality disorder. I am learning I need to break the she-abuses-me/I-reassure-her-I-love-her cycle.

    Earlier this year, I was living with my mother and my partner and decided I could not live with my mother's mental health and stay sane in the process. My partner and I bought a house, and I am now paying her rent. After having a house warming on Saturday night with my partner celebrating our new house (a party my mother was invited to), she sent me a long text message yesterday about how I have abandoned her and she is lonely. And me deciding not to live with her because of her mental health is actually worse because I abandoned her knowing how her mental health is.

    I spent so long last night crying about this message. She has emotionally abused me my entire life, but these past 18 months she has literally been sucking all of my strength. I cannot handle these situations how I used to. Everyone new interaction like this just breaks me. Because I have tried so, so hard to help her. I am tired, and my own mental health is really suffering.

    I am now trying to not engage with this behaviour at all. I did not respond to the message. I know what is happening, she feels abandoned and works herself up and attacks me, hoping for some kind of response. She hates my partner now - she blames him for taking me away.

    My question is, if I ignore these messages, how do I re-open lines of communication without acknowledging her behaviour and speaking about this. I was going to drop by her house for coffee today on my way home from work but I can't emotionally manage that (although now I feel guilty af for not doing it).

    I also plan to talk to my psychologist about the lines of communication - but thought I would ask what other people have found worked.

    Peace to you all

    AFx

  2. Doolhof
    Valued Contributor
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    Doolhof avatar
    8099 posts
    23 July 2018 in reply to annafreud

    Hi annafreud,

    Welcome tot he community here. It does sound like you are in a tough situation, one I can understand to a point. I'm very sure my Mum has BPD and has depression. I also have the same so our relationship has been very "interesting" over the decades.

    If you don't mind me asking, is your Mum receiving any assistance with her mental health issues? Is it possible for her to see a psychologist or psychiatrist if she isn't? Would it be possible for you to take her to see a Dr to discuss her issues?

    I know it can be very difficult to be there for someone else and look after yourself at the same time! I have bit my tongue so many times I am surprised I have any tongue left at all! If I had said something that upset Mum, she quite often ended up in hospital. I know it was not my fault, it is her mental health that is an issue, but it doesn't always make me feel better to tell myself that.

    If you are waiting to see your psychologist, you might benefit from phoning the beyondblue support team on 1300 22 4636 and have a chat with someone there.

    If you are up to it, see your Mum for that coffee. Let her know though that you are not there for an argument. Let her know you only have a certain amount of time, that you need to look after your own emotional health right now.

    Let her know that if she is not coping there are support people who can help her. Have a look and se what is available to her in your area. Is your Mum active in any social activities? Could she do some volunteering somewhere to give her a different interest.

    I volunteer in an OP shop and one of the ladies who helps is 90 years old!

    You need to look after yourself and your partner in all of this as well.

    All the best, from Dools

    1 person found this helpful
  3. annafreud
    annafreud avatar
    2 posts
    23 July 2018 in reply to Doolhof

    Hi Dools,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post.

    My field of work is psychology related and I have encouraged my mother for many, many years to seek help. She has only now found a psychiatrist she likes. She has seen many doctors over the years with only a few 'working out'. She is extremely picky with the health professionals she sees. For example, if the psychologist is overweight, she won't continue seeing them because she believes they obviously cannot help themselves, so how can they help her.

    I have been encouraging her since she moved interstate to be closer to me to get active in the community. Bringing her pamphlets of community houses, talking about volunteering. She never follows this through. The only contact she really has is her online dating - read into that what you will.

    A few months ago when she was suicidal I involved a local social worker, but Mum has never followed this contact up.

    She has no friends in the area, but that is also because she is new. However she has been here for over a year and made no effort at forming bonds. Not that she had many friends where she was. She has a habit of burning many bridges, and struggles to maintain intimate relationships.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that, I have tried all of this. I have tried to get her additional support, but it seems unless I carry her to and fro she will not do this on her own. I even paid for her private health for months in case she wanted to go into hospital, but she decided against this. The saddest thing is now upon reflection and more understanding of BPD, I realise I have been perpetuating this unhealthy cycle by responding so quickly to her cries of distress and attempting to 'fix' the situation.

    I will consider stopping by her place for coffee, but I might consider calling to talk first and then reassess how I feel. I just feel that I have no strength left for this anymore.

    AFx

  4. plant lover
    plant lover avatar
    1 posts
    28 August 2018 in reply to annafreud

    Hi annafreud,

    I can very much relate to what you have said and how you are feeling. My mum also suffers from BPD, anxiety and major depression. At times I am at a complete loss as to how to support her when there are times where she doesn't want help. I have also received similar abusive messages and phone calls. My mum also treated me similarly to you when I moved out of home and moved to a different city. It took a while for mum to adjust however it still left me feeling really guilty.

    It's been explained to me before that people who have BPD often have "push, pull" r/ships with loved ones. Which can be verrrry confusing and really emotionally draining. The advice I've been given in the past has been to acknowledge that although you are there for support and love her very much that the abuse won't be tolerated and to end the conversation there. And that sort of singles out the actual behaviour as being inappropriate and is supposed to avoid her from feeling completely rejected as a person. I've found it is reallllly hard to put these boundaries in place as I was very used to running straight to her to "fix" everything and would often feel guilty afterwards. But over time she seems to be learning to respect those boundaries.

    And like Dools said, try to look after yourself and be kind to yourself.

    Take care xx.

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