Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Maze Inside a Minefield: Relationships and BPD

Since I first started reading Sandy's blog I have not been able to bring myself away. She has a way with words, a way with sharing the nitty gritty of life and a way of describing disability. I took this posting from her blog because it is just a fantastic introduction to dealing with a relationship with yourself as well as another. For our partners it is a huge task for them to be both a carer and a partner, and it is hard for them to manage both roles in a way that meets our needs, and their own! Her post 'A Maze Inside a Minefield: Relationships and BPD' is a beautiful view into her life as trying to work her relationship in with a mental illness that seems to run everything and make everything more difficult.


Being in a committed relationship can be challenging all on its own. When you throw a mental illness into the mix, overcoming these challenges can seem impossible. Mental illness magnifies the weak points, stretches boundaries, intensifies emotions, and leaves both of us wondering just what the hell went wrong. (My husband calls it a maze inside a minefield.)

I am trying to earn back my husband’s trust after my last suicide attempt. Since then, everything has been different. I often feel like I’m being treated like a mental patient instead of a partner, and my husband thinks he’s just being supportive and trying to give me breaks. I think he may have gotten used to the caretaker role when I was at my sickest, and now neither one of us knows how to get back to that place before it happened.

Neither one of us now knows how to just be with each other anymore. And that’s a problem.

It’s hard for me to separate what is my mental illness and what is not. How do I know when I’m overreacting because of my BPD, or whether my feelings are valid given the situation? What boundaries are appropriate between us? I feel bad that he doesn’t always know what will help me, and sometimes when he tries it backfires. He is supportive and knows a lot about mental illness, but it doesn’t always make things any easier for us.

And just because I have BPD and all that that entails (black and white thinking, intense emotions, fear of attachment) does not mean I cannot have my own expectations when it comes to my relationship. Everything does not have to be blamed on my mental illness, right?

This doesn’t mean I get a free pass to go crazy, either. My husband gets to have expectations of his own, which means I get to keep working hard in recovery and keep my symptoms in check.

Because that’s what you do when you love someone, you strive to be better.

I don’t have all the answers. All we can do is keep working toward having a better relationship. While the challenges won’t go away, it is good to remember that challenges are a normal part of every relationship, whether or not someone has a mental illness. What matters is how you choose to deal with them.

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