Luca: Living with a borderline

Living with an individual who has borderline personality disorder is… unpredictable.

It’s a fine line between emotional and a mental health disorder I think, especially to the outside world. Identifying the patterns can be difficult but once you see them, they can’t be unseen. There is consistency in the inconsistency. The 2 key factors are:

Time: even if Faye’s mood changes significantly on an hourly basis, there is predictable behaviour on a approximately weekly cycle. There are even larger timescales of months and quarters but I won’t get into that.
Mood state: happy, sad, excitable, eager, inventive, optimistic, depressed, self conscious, daring. The list goes on. They all could happen in a single day but 1 or 2 tend to be what most people see.

Here’s an example: In a given week the creative juices may be flowing and Faye may be coming up with incredible ideas. Designing websites, making things, planning trips away. However during the course of the day she may encounter intense disgust with herself for body image, which can lead to a depressive episode which may lead to going to bed. 10 minutes later, those feelings are gone and now she’s texting me and forgotten about her incredibly intense, albeit short episode of depression.

In a completely different week the situation may be opposite where the depressive feelings take the drivers site and the creative juices last long enough to open Photoshop before they are gone completely.

Some may read this and think that we all feel this. But the intensity is what is different. It sounds dramatic but I can only explain as a lingering feeling that begins to eat you from the inside out and completely defines who you are in that moment. And then it’s gone. Or in a happier case the feeling you can fly.

Witnessing it everyday it can be very troubling. You worry about an extended week or month long depressive episode. You worry about self harm and even suicide. If you come home from work sometimes you can be ups sure of which very slight variation of that person you will be coming home too. And it’s not so much that the difference is the difficult part but perhaps the rapid change on a daily or hourly basis. My mood doesn’t change that fast so it can be very annoying!

I have learnt a very key lesson over the years.

“My problems are your problems”

A great philosophy in a marriage. And it certainly has a lot of weight. However adopting that philosophy 100% is dangerous and counter productive as there has to always be one person on top of things whilst the other is working through their issues. And doing this is only possible with mutual respect and understanding for each others feeling. Faye understands she doesn’t want to bring me down, whilst also understanding that I can help 80% of the time but the other 20% she needs to turn to someone else. It sounds harsh but it is the truth of the situation. And for those that disagree I leave you with one of these 2 messages. I’m sure you’ll know for yourself which one applies:

Massive congratulations – you’re stronger than me and a credit to your spouse and community. If you have a full time job and kids too then I equally hate you for being perfect
Slow down. Best way to protect your spouse is the give yourself the time to protect yourself.

This all sounds quite negative so far and I’m sure you’re asking why I do this and stay in the relationship. I love my wife, and I’ll do anything I can for her. She has had a hard life and deserves to be treated right and supported. None of this is her fault and the fun times far outweigh the tough. As I mentioned, before mutual respect and compromise makes it much easier too.

We’ve got an excellent middle ground which, it’s my understanding, is very difficult for borderlines to actually achieve. This dedication on Faye’s part to help me help her and ensure my wellbeing is so unbelievably key. I’ll have nights out with friends without Faye. Sometimes I get up a little earlier in the morning and watch my own TV shows knowing she’s safe and sound asleep. She will go to Facebook groups and forums to help with some of her issues when I’ve had an intense week of work or perhaps we have spoken about mental health a lot that week to ensure I don’t burn out.

When it comes down to it love, trust, understanding and compromise from both sides is key to ensuring a healthy relationship at home with a borderline. And to be honest, isn’t that what we should be doing anyway?

Much love, Faye
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