Separation and BPD
Last July my wife and I moved out and separated from each other. We'd been together for 10 years and have a 6 year old son. We decided to split the previous January and lived together until our lease ran out. We are amicable and care for each other very much and, obviously, the welfare of our son. I'll preface what I'm about to say by explaining my personality and issues. I'm 36 and have a the Myers-Briggs 'pigeonhole' of an INFJ (I've always been like this and have taken the test several times over the years). I feel things very deeply and my primary mode is internal, I'm known as a 'Protector and carer'. If you want to know more: http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/a/Infj.htm
In terms of my emotions they are very strong and I will often 'give' more than what I receive. This is ok but I do suffer from bouts of mild depression, probably 3 - 4 times a year. The bouts don't last long 3 - 5 days),however, I do withdraw from contact with family and friends (not completely), although I can put on a face if I need to, particularly at work. I've learnt to deal with this over the years and see it as my 'emotional downtime'. Some days I can't get out of bed.
I've been very practical (as my ex has too) about the separation and I have only really started to grieve about the loss in the past few months. As I see my ex regularly due to our son, I guess this makes it more difficult. I'm seeing my psychologist regularly who has been very helpful and also pointed out some painful truths while providing me with some cognitive exercises to help. To tell you the truth, I haven't been in this dark a place in my life before. I know I will cope and I know I will survive but the pain is real and at times unbearable.
My ex was finally referred to a psychologist a few months ago (something both her and I had talked about during the time we'd been together - I suspected all along that there was something not quite right) and has been diagnosed with BPD. She is very internally minded and has several symptoms of the disorder - self-harm, lack of self worth, black or white thinking, impulsiveness, anxiousness and paranoia about social interactions and relationships etc. At this point in time I'm the only one who knows this - she wants to deal with it herself, which is fine. She has opened up to me quite a bit in the last few weeks and has said that she 'loves me' and am 'the most important person apart from our son' in her world. This confuses me no end! She has said that she 'checked out' of our relationship a long time ago and that it was her decision to separate. She has never given any 'finality' to the break-up. The closest is 'We probably won't get back together'. This leaves me in a state of hope... which I need to stop to 'get on with it' so to speak. I also create my own hope through the sometimes 'normal' interactions we have - this is not her doing just my mind at work.
I can understand that she wants to go through this herself but I feel that I can support her in managing the situation. Is this being presumptuous on my part? I guess you can't support someone that doesn't want that support. Perhaps I am 1. too close to the situation and 2. need to deal with my own emotional state?
I guess I'd like some advice and support from any one out there who has been in a similar situation, is a BPD (or non), or anyone who is in a relationship that involves a BPD partner. How should I be around my ex to help myself and her and the situation? I understand that this is a question that may have several possible answers or outcomes but any advice is most welcome. I am not at all concerned with the safety of my son - she and I love him very much but I am concerned how she is coping and what best I can do to support her.
thanks in advance,
dear Dj, thanks for joining us.
What I can say is that although you may have bouts of mild depression then this is a catalyst which will build up for you to have depression, because they can't come and go without doing any damage, although it may feel as though you have resolved the issue, you actually haven't.
My ex also has black and white views there is never an in between, although she never self harms, she is impulsive and quick to make an opinion, however this isn't really far on her because she has no say.
In all honesty she can't cope with this by herself, but she has you and this is keeping the relationship sort of a live, but with BPD it's such a powerful illness that can change a person from being happy to being angry, with the possibility of being violent, not that I am saying she is, but this can happen.
So she needs to be on medication and have some counselling, and because you suffer from depression it will be too much for you to cope with, so there's a fine line between supporting her and then helping her.
To help her when she is having a bad day might coincide with the days that you feel lousy, so neither party wins, and it just aggravates the situation, and by doing this will put a wedge between the both of you, and that's exactly what you both don't want to happen because of your son.
So your wife will need an outside support symptom where she can contact these people, rather than relying on you to help her, because you're having a bad time at this stage.
You will also have to think of your son when she isn't feeling well, and this goes both ways, because you don't want the both of you to be suffering badly at the same time, especially when he wants something.
So in a nutshell be there to give her support, but rely on experienced people to handle her BPD. Geoff.
I'm sorry to read that you are suffering depression and that your wife is suffering BPD.
I have been suffering depression and BPD for the past 4 yrs. I am having counselling with my pysch weekly and working on my depression and BPD.
I agree with Geoff that she needs professional support, to help her with the self harming especially and the other BPD traits.
For me, when I am in my "bad state" I tend to want to be on my own, talk to no one and see no one. But when I have urges or thoughts to self harm I will always ring my pysch or GP who are on hand to help me. Though now I do have some coping strategies in place for when I get like this.
I feel for you because it is not just one person suffering here, it's both of you.
I hope you both receive the help you both need and especially for your son.
Pls let us know how you are going