Motherhood and BPD:How I Saved Myself & My Family (Guest Post by Wil)




Please welcome Wil of Write Into The Light with her first guest post at Healing From BPD.

What it used to Be Like

I bee lined down the hall into the bathroom, and shut and locked the door behind me before falling to my knees.  Covering my face with my hands, I sobbed.  Outside, my two and six year old girls banged on the door.  “Moooommy!  Moooommmyyy!”   I thought, “Oh, my God!  Why can’t they just leave me alone?”

I dialed a friend’s number and when she answered I cried, “I can’t do this.  I can’t be a mom.  I don’t know what I am doing.  It’s too much.  I can’t do this!”  She calmly asked me what was wrong.  I babbled through snot and tears, “One won’t eat her dinner, the other one always needs her diaper changed, they are fighting over toys, the Disney channel is driving me insane, and of course my husband is working all night again!”  I was spiraling out of emotional control…over every day, typical motherhood stuff.

That was six years ago – four years before I would be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD.)  On many occasions, my husband would have to come home from work to calm me down during times like this.  Feelings of inadequacy, fear of harming my children or myself, anger, self-pity, gripping anxiety, immobilizing depression and loneliness were my constant companions.
The unpredictability of the children’s behaviors and moods, and my inability to set boundaries and provide structure in my own life, let alone theirs, only heightened my anxiety.  I was permanently in fight or flight mode – instincts gone haywire.  I was filled with self-doubt and self-hatred.  I felt like a caged animal ready to chew off its own foot to escape the chains shackling it to the cold and filthy floor.

Then I learned (in Dialectic Behavioral Therapy - DBT) that this chaotic environment, in which I felt like a prisoner, was imitative of my own childhood home.  Sure, I wasn’t walking around drunk all of the time like my parents, but the moodiness, anger, and self-absorption that consumed me were not much different than theirs.  Also like them, I had no real sense of how to be a parent.
Everyday interactions with my children baffled me and left me reeling in emotional binges filled with terror like when I was a child.  I felt as if I lived in a carnival fun house filled with mirrors that distorted my view of the entire world while everyone else had regular old mirrors to look at.  In hindsight, this was closer to the truth than I realized at the time.

The Turning Point

I was already being treated for alcoholism and bipolar and anxiety disorders when my psychiatrist suggested that I might have BPD as well.  My first response was, “Great, another fricking diagnosis!”  What I didn’t know, however, is that being diagnosed with BPD would be the best thing to ever happen to me and for my mental health recovery.  For if I was never diagnosed with BPD, I may have never sought out DBT, which did for me in one year what years and years of individual and group therapies based on other psychological theories could never begin to do.

What it is Like Now

In DBT I learned how to be mindful of and radically accept my limitations as a highly emotionally sensitive person and mother.  For example, this past spring I was beating myself up over not being emotionally balanced enough to take my children to church on Easter.  The old me would have ignored my high anxiety levels and begrudgingly gotten them ready while screaming at them to, “Hurry up. Do this. Don’t do that!”

Then I would have suffered through the service feeling like a martyr while becoming angrier by the minute.  Or I would have had a panic attack and then drove us all back home in a dangerous state of mind.  Then I would have spent the rest of the day in bed, completely abandoning the kids to the television and their own devices.  And let’s not forget the verbal hell my husband would have received for having to go to work, thereby leaving me to deal with the children alone, and on a holiday at that!

Instead I sat back and observed my thoughts and feelings as if I was watching another person go through them.  I acknowledged the guilt and anxiety rather than fighting them.  I also consciously did not make them who I was, but chose to view them as an experience of something separate within me.  I chose to believe that deep down all was ok – that I was ok – no matter what thoughts and feelings occurred in my mind.  I also made special care not to judge my thoughts and feelings as good or bad.  The just were there or they were not…period.

Later that morning, I found an Easter service streaming live online, and my girls and I worshiped along with them from the comforts of our family room.  It was a blessed day in which I owed no apologies at the end, neither to my kids or my husband, and most importantly, to myself.

What is it like for you as a mother with bpd?  Or if you are the child of a mother with bpd, what is that like?  What are some positive aspects of being a highly emotionally sensitive mother?


Wil is a mental health writer and mother with BPD.  She is also the founder and editor of Turtle Way, an online literary art journal for those with mental illness.  She blogs at Write into the Light.  Find her on Facebook and Twitter.  

If you'd like to learn more about Dialectical Behavior Therapy and the DBT skills that helped Wil changed her life, please visit DBT Path.

13 comments:

  1. When you're emotionally sensitive, you can feel guilty very easily. But you can enjoy things, just in a different way. It doesn't make it any less than the way others celebrate. Thank you for pointing this out to us!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very welcome. I am slowly accepting that we do enjoy things in a different way, and that is ok.

      Delete
  2. Since practising mindfulness I know much more of my children's life.Before I was often distracted,did housework whilst they were talking to me.They complained about that I wouldn't listen.Now I stop with whatever I am doing whilst they are talking and we are all a lot happier.I don't get annoyed anymore,instead I enjoy our conversations
    As a highly emotional mother I always encourage my children to talk about problems and worries they have.I don't want them to feel alone or emotional abandoned like I often felt as a child.I can be very childish when I joke around with them and I am always up for hugs :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. ...and thank you for your post Wil of write,it was very inspiring <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so welcoming. Thank you for your comments and for reading. Stay in touch.

      Delete
  4. I have been told that since I have a BPD diagnosis that I will be a horrible Mother. I know those people are wrong. Aside from the work I do on myself I have been working with children for the past 4 years and it's actually my career. My understanding of children gives me confidence in my abilities to parent.

    Thank you for writing this post! I needed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those people are definitely wrong. I believe with proper self-care and support any highly sensitive person can be a good parent.

      Delete
  5. Thank you for sharing your story. It means so much to hear the voices of other moms who've been helped by DBT. Mothers with BPD who chose to work on recovery are often invisible in discussions about parenting with borderline personality disorder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are welcome, Sara. I am so glad to be a voice of change for motherhood and BPD.

      Delete
  6. Being a Mom with BPD was all kinds of challenging before I was diagnosed. I had the same issues as you -- I would start feeling anxious, but then I would feel guilty, and I would push myself to do things that I was in no frame of mind to do. I would end up getting angry, and then it would just snowball out of control. While taking out on my daughter how I was feeling, I would feel guilty but I couldn't stop myself from screaming and yelling. Today I still have my challenges, but things are so much better than they were a few years ago. Being a sensitive Mom, my daughter always knows that I love her and that I am always here for her. I think I have a closer relationship with her than most parents have with their teenagers because of this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am hoping I have a closer relationship with mine as she becomes a teen as well. She is just as sensitive as I am so we'll see how it goes. Should be interesting - lol.

      Delete
  7. I experienced the same challenges! I had two boys two years apart, had a husband who as a soldier was constantly in the field, deployed, or just away, and I didn't handle it well at all to say the least. It took a diagnosis, a lot of missteps in treatment, and finally me taking my wellness into my own hands to get to where I am now. Now I get called 'the best mom in the world' and finally feel like although I'm not THE best, I can roll with that. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. As someone who grew up with a mother who has BPD and refused to get treated - ever- I have to applaud you all for seeking help. Today I'm 30, and I haven't spoken to, or seen, my mother in almost 3 years. And the last time I saw her I didn't actually meant to see her - I've been avoiding her for at least five years, and it took two years to achieve this level of separation. I am so much happier without her in my life. I don't want children - I don't want to run the risk of being like her, it's not worth it. I worry that she's in me somewhere, and one day she will come out. It took a long time to figure out what a healthy relationship looked like, that yelling and screaming wasn't love - trust me, if your children relate your tantrums to love, they will not be alarmed when a boyfriend or spouse does it, and then they transition from one abusive relationship (mother/child) to another (husband/wife, etc).
    Good for you, for trying to make it better. I wish my mother had been that brave.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...