First off, I’ve gotta ask: is there an extreme mode? Because it sure seems like someone changed the settings on our life and switched it from hard to extreme. Borderline personality disorder is nothing to be messed with. In a moment, our life went from complicated, to extreme challenge, not because anything was intrinsically different but because it was suddenly…real. The ups and downs of the last six years finally had a name, borderline.
What is a personality disorder?
Well, honestly, personality disorders come in a lot of different varieties. According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are three different clusters of personality disorders, clusters A, B, and C. Borderline falls in cluster B, dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior. It includes an unstable sense of self, irrational responses to stress, abandonment fears, and much more. In terms of what it means to a family, that’s a whole new ball game.
What does borderline mean for us?
Life before the diagnosis was challenging, sure, but we kept a balance. Unfortunately, a medication change brought reality crashing down. We didn’t notice it at first, but over the course of a year, Morgan’s emotions started slowly oscillating back and forth, getting more dramatic as time passed. Enter a horrendous series of events, and reality crashed for all of us. Morgan stopped functioning in any predictable way.
Each day held a new uncertainty. Some days she would wake up and go about as if nothing was wrong, but by the evening we would be in tears, and she was desperate to take whatever she could from the family account and run. Where to? I don’t think even she completely knew, but she knew she needed to leave. On other days, she would try desperately to convince me that we should kick her out, that staying meant we were just going to get hurt again. We were walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around conversations we feared would set her off, desperately praying that tomorrow morning would bring a “good day.”
Needless to say, it’s been a hard couple of months.
Enter a real diagnosis
We’re not doctors, for sure, but as soon as we realized something was wrong we started
looking for answers. God bless Google, because it became clear that Borderline might actually be the cause. So, she started therapy in earnest, determined to find answers. It was tense and excruciating, as her therapist understandably wanted to take things slow. An improper diagnosis could set recovery back, and in the case of borderline, that recovery takes years.
Unfortunately, things conspired to push that deadline forward. A few weeks ago, Morgan ended up in the ER and from there into a partial inpatient program. 45 minutes into admission and she had a tentative diagnosis. It was borderline personality disorder. Our worries had been confirmed and at the same time, we had a direction.
So, where are we now?
The journey is just beginning. Borderline personality disorder is incredibly hard for everyone, not just Morgan. While she will be the one going through therapy, we will all need to learn how to help, how to communicate, how to support, and how to live. This is not a disorder that can be medicated like bipolar, but it is something that can be essentially cured. She will need to be in therapy for years, specialized classes to learn coping techniques, and yes, medicated to help alleviate some of the symptoms.
It’s a long journey, at least two years to see noticeable change if we all work really hard it, and ten years to see significant change. But if we keep at it, all of us, it will be worth it in the end. Morgan will be able to have stable relationships, confidence, coping skills for the hard days, and most of all, the ability to trust herself and those she loves.
We have a long, hard road ahead of us. But most importantly, we have hope.