BPD is often characterized by mood swings, unpredictable behavior and difficulty with relationships. Family members may feel a wide range of emotions in response from resentment to anger to shame and more.
At times we can be so focused on the symptoms of the disorder we’re unable to focus on our own lives.
You may feel like you don’t know what to do or say. You may experience a sense of prevailing sadness.
When a parent is unable to reason with their BPD child, the parent often blames themselves and feels confused, stressed, and overwhelmed.
Siblings are likely to feel that they have a hard time getting their parents attention.
Making things worse, stigma around BPD is alive and well.
Hearing any mental health diagnosis may make a family member feel ashamed as if BPD is a personal failing. It is not, it is a form of illness. As a result of stigma, people who need help often are afraid to look for it.
Helping, however, is different than “fixing.” When our sights become set on fixing someone or solving their problems, despite our best intentions, the results for both ourselves and those we love include sending a message that says, “you’re broken, there’s something wrong with you.” Trying to change our loved one’s or the natural consequences of their actions creates a blame equation of It’s either their fault, because they can’t follow through and maintain improvements or it’s your fault because you didn’t know or do enough.
We’ve all been there. As a mother I almost always turned toward self-blame and observed an intense urge to solve the problem for my loved ones vs allowing them to learn to take care of themselves. Ugh, not helpful! I also realized that all of that emotional intensity was really functioning to protect myself from feeling shame that did not fit the facts as well as fear and sadness that did fit but not at the intensity I was experiencing it.
There are plenty of folks out there who pathologize the trait of being sensitive to emotions. Yet, emotional sensitivity is a gift that inspires great passion, creativity, and commitment.
For those who experience their emotions in a manner different from their friends and family or from the culture, being highly sensitive comes at a high cost to self-esteem, attachment, and safety.
You may know someone or even be that person yourself who experiences the same set of emotions in a given situation as everyone else, but at a higher intensity.
If so, you may notice that the way they behave in that moment appears over the top or doesn’t make sense. Know this, it makes perfect sense to them because they are experiencing the emotion exactly as their brain is signaling them. While it may appear to be extreme to the observer the experience is real for the more sensitive individual. Their wiring is more sensitive than the norm.
This is neither a disorder nor is it an illness or disability. It does not come from bad parenting, although it may come with such stigma attached. It’s simply a different way of being than that of the larger population.