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Are we providing help or hindrance?

What do you do as a parent, if your adult son is diagnosed with BPD and won't go to counseling, won't work and won't go to welfare?  He seems to be stuck and relies on my husband and me for financial support. We pay for a room for him, food, clothing. He is very smart but he can't seem to get on with his life. He demands things from us, some of which we can provide and some of which we cannot. His siblings all have normal lives, whereas without our help he has basically become a vagrant.  My own counselor says to let him go, but as a mother I cannot do this. Are we hindering his progress for independence? He lives in a train station when we stop the money, although we are close to retirement and are worried about what happens when we cannot provide for him any more. Are we not supposed to care? Just let him go? Any advice?
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Hi

It is only natural for you to care and to be concerned.

I can relate to some of what you write about your son.  I am an adult with bpd living at home.  I too also have siblings who function well.

Sometimes what others perceive as 'won't' is actually a 'can't'.
In bpd literature there is a term called apparent competence.  While others may perceive us to be competent, we can actually feel incredibly incompetent.

I would strongly suggest that you DO NOT follow the advice of your counselor.
Turning your back on your son would be counterproductive, and I expect, be extremely traumatic for him.

What I would suggest however is that you implement some very strong boundaries.
I wonder if you could not counter his demands with some of your own??

I personally would not force the work issues.  My parents do this to me and I find it incredibly invalidating.  My parents perceive my lack of employment as laziness while the reality is my anxiety is extremely debilitating.

I think it is reasonable that you would want your son on welfare.
Why won't he go?  What reason(s) does he give?  Is it possible for a support person to go with him?  Sometimes even doing the most basic thing seems overwhelming.  (Which is overwhelming in itself).

Therapy/ counseling can be a complex issue.  I think, for your son to make progress it is vital for him to be in therapy with a skilled therapist.

I think, that if you are too over-protective of your son, that that could be potentially limiting for him.  Doing everything for him will not allow him to gain a sense of mastery or achievement.

Would your son be receptive to posting here?
I understand that that could feel unsafe for both parties, but ... to me it just seems really, really important to engage with him.  I expect there are deeper underlying issues that could be affecting him.  Issues that he may not feel safe discussing with you.
I would be happy for him to e-mail me privately if you think talking to someone else who has the disorder may help.

I wish you all the best.

J
  

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Thanks so much for your reply.  I do appreciate it.  My son is "too proud," to go on welfare.  He grew up in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia.  My husband and I grew up poor, and we tried to give our kids everything we could. A lot of times if they needed something, we would charge it and pay it off (like graphing calculators when they were in high school for instance) and we also moved to that area for "the best location", "the best schools", etc.  Our son feels privileged.  He knows we had hard times, but he says he grew up "On the Main Line," so he won't go to welfare.  I go to therapy, and you are right in that I cannot follow the counselor's advice and cut our son off, the theory being he will go get help.  I still pay the rent and yet he won't give me the satisfaction of telling me exactly where he lives. It is frustrating to me. I will try to get him to write to you. Keep in mind though, he responds to my wishes with verbal abuse, says I am trying to control him.  I am not. I want for him what I want for each of my children: a chance at a normal life, the ability to be independent. I want him to support himself and be the best he can be.  He won't share much with me, and he seems angry all the time, doesn't seem to appreciate the rent money, clothes or anything else I provide. It breaks my heart really. So please keep in touch if you have any suggestions, and in the meantime I will offer your email to him.  Thanks again.
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Hi Sweetcheeks

I just lost my post but will try and recapture some of it.

Firstly, I questioned his pride.  How can he be too proud not to go on welfare, but be OK with living off your income/ life savings??

Your story sounds similar to mine.  My family was pretty deprived growing up, but my parents insisted on sending us away to boarding school to give us a quality education.
My experience of this was that it was not beneficial to either myself or my parents.
I feel indebted to them for the sacrifices they made, but ... I think school was quite damaging for me in many respects.

Does your son feel privileged or entitled?
I think he probably feels fortunate for everything you have done for him (and possibly even feels burdened by it), but what you write of his current behavior it sounds like he feels more 'entitled' to it.  Like it is his right.  It just sounds like there is a lack of respect or gratitude there.

I was just wondering how long your son has had the diagnosis for?
I think feeling proud and ashamed are particularly strong early on.  I think the proudness (for want of a better word) is a defense mechanism we use against other vulnerabilities.  I think it is something we use to try and control our environments with.  I would expect, underlying all that, he has very low self-esteem.  For me, the diagnosis and being on welfare, cut really deep.  It made me feel really inferior, inadequate, incompetent and just inherently bad and worthless.

There is a lot of stigma and discrimination attached to mental illness, but a similar amount for being dependent on others for financial assistance.

I think your son should take a risk and apply.  As much as it hurts at the present time, I think the vulnerability decreases over time.  If it is painful enough for him too, who knows, he may even apply for a job??

Your son may get help but my concern is that it may reinforce beliefs he already holds.
BPD is mainly about being abandoned and feeling misunderstood.  I think it would only hurt him more if you were to withdraw from his life.  I am not sure about his mental state, but doing that to someone with bpd could also make them suicidal.
I think there need to be boundaries though.  You have your own life to lead.

I think that if you are paying your son's rent, then you have a right to know where the money is going and where he lives.
Maybe he does just experience the family as being too controlling/ too intrusive??  It almost sounds like he is trying to set boundaries of his own and define his own life.  Maybe he does just need some space??
I feel my parents violate my space and I know how awful that feels.  Often it makes me feel as though they don't respect either me or my space.  And as much as I would like to have a strong relationship with them, I feel their behavior pushes me away.  I feel they are very insensitive towards my needs.

My therapist told me that my anger was the healthy part of me.  I think the anger represents the feelings that safeguard our sense of self.  Our sense of self is our true self.  Or if not safeguarding it, at least showing us areas in our lives that need work.
If your son does become angry, it probably wouldn't hurt to tell him how his anger makes you feel.  "When you do ... it makes me feel ...".
Use I statements though so that he doesn't feel like he is being attacked.
Don't expect miracles but hopefully he'll go away and be able to reflect on your words/ comments.  Insight and change can take time -be patient.

Personality disorders can take many years to resolve.  It is incredibly frustrating for us, the patient/ victim.   What I found useful with my last therapist was having strong boundaries (which could occasionally be negotiated) and consistency.
Boundaries made therapy feel safe for me and that enabled me to open up and talk about some of the issues in my life.

Good luck.
One more comment.  I don't know how appropriate it is here, but here goes.
bpd entails many emotions, most intense.  What therapy tries to do is help us regulate them so that they are more manageable.  A therapist must tolerate all the emotions we bring to therapy with us.  Maybe by tolerating your son's anger, etc he can see that it doesn't destroy you and he will be better able to regulate those emotions himself.
Don't minimize his emotions, just try and hear what it is he is trying to say.

In bpd there are splits.  We see things as black and white/ all good or all bad.  Sometimes in order to makes ourselves feel just a little bit OK, other things need to be all bad.
I don't know how it works for your son, but be patient (and don't make him out to be the 'all bad' one).  
bpd is an incredibly debilitating disorder to live with.  One of the worse I would say.

Sorry this is such a mess.  I hope some of it is useful.
J
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Your post is not a mess at all. I do want to thank you again for responding. I understand and agree with all you wrote. I have a younger son who is bipolar, and he is on meds for ten years. He is actually doing well now, is finishing college. We support him too, although he is almost 28. His older brother is 31, the one I wrote about in the post. I also have three other adult children who are self-sufficient.  Don't be ashamed ever if you were on welfare.  That is a viable option.  When my husband was laid off some years ago, we went on food stamps. At one point, a church gave us food.  Now I am a teacher, and I thank God every night that I have a good job.  There is a risk that my husband will lose his present job, and we are praying he will survive this recession. The economy is bad.
I agree with your observation that our middle adult child would rather bankrupt us than go on welfare. I also got each of the two sons ssi papers, and they had appointments, but they are of age and I cannot do it for them.  They both at each time refused to go for the appointments.  The one who is bipolar is on meds, so as long as he continues to do this I have faith he will do well. The one with the personality disorder is another story. I once put him in the hospital. He was living in a car, it stunk to high heaven and so did he. All his stuff was piled in there. He got over a thousand dollars in tickets for not showing his valid license or insurance card when stopped by a policeman. He never went to the station to show it, didn't show up in court and fees were adding up.  The address was still mine, and so the mail came to me but in his name. The car broke down and he called very angrily, saying I should leave cables and my running car for him to boost the one he was driving. That one was still in my husband's name and he had given it to him to use when we sold our house, and our son didn't want to move with us. Anyway, we got this message on the cell phone and went to the police, said our son never did drugs nor alcohol and we thought he was going to hurt himself or someone else in that car because one ticket was running a red light, but all the rest were for really silly things. The policeman went to the parking lot instead of us and took the car, gave it back to us. Then they told our son he had to appear in court.  The stipulation was to sign himself into the hospital, and he did. While in there, he took Trilafon which was prescribed for him. It makes sense, because it treats anxiety and he has a lot of it. He carries little scissors and cuts his pockets when he is anxious. We  took him in for nine months then, but he went off the meds immediately and refused to work. He wouldn't do much all day but go to the library and look for rooms to live in. He wasn't reasonable. So I gave him money to get a room in a house, said I would pay for a course for college. He only needs three courses to graduate, dropped out five years ago. He signed up but never went. Recently he talked to the college people and got the tuition bill eradicated. That was a nice thing to do, and I was surprised because usually he writes me mean emails and calls me names. He doesn't appreciate the rent money or anything else really. The only thing he thanked me for was paying his tickets. It was two weeks salary for me, and that hurt as is all the other money I shell out, but when we get tough he lives in the train station. So what is the next step? I just don't know any more.  He isn't a bad person, was a good son until his brother got sick.  The doctor said personality disorders show up at age 20 or so. This is right in his case, and his brother got sick same time. He is three years younger, so bipolar hit at age 17. That son is on meds and doing well. I wish my other son would take the prescribed medicine and go to counseling or one of the two, but he doesn't think there is anything wrong. He is in his own world about it. Do you think anything will ever change? I just came from therapy, and the guy said I have to get something back for all the money I shell out. How? Do you know how? What do I demand? The major thing would be counseling, but he can 't just go even if he does decide to go. He has to open up to the counselor so the counselor can help him.
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Hi again!

At the rate things are going I don't see that they'll change.

I'm a bit lost by your counselor's attitude.  Hasn't he ever heard of unconditional love?

How bad are things with/ for your son at the moment?
I think that unless he is in intensive therapy that he will remain stuck and not be able to progress.
I am not sure of the programs or the options available in your country, but ...
my feeling is almost to have him placed in an in-patient treatment facility.
A hospital, I expect, would help contain him.
I don't know, but it sounds like something needs to change.

I perhaps wouldn't force education at the moment.  I think your son needs to be stable before he makes that sort of commitment.  

My therapist said that certain milestones in life can trigger breakdowns or the onset of bpd symptoms.
The ages I think were 5, 15, 21.  I can't remember now but the ages represented major life changes.  For example, going to school, learning to drive, 21st birthday, that sort of stuff.

I too have high anxiety.  My T said that it is because of the make up of our personality.  She said that the anxiety is basically due to us being so fragmented.  This would be similar to trying to hold a broken glass full of water.
Our personality is a little like a bucket with holes in it.  You pour in water (skills, etc) and they flow straight out.  The goal of therapy is to plug some of those holes so we can retain things and develop our sense of self (and utilize some of our skills).  

I think you set boundaries and you learn to accept what you do get back.  I certainly wouldn't demand anything back as this is likely to alienate your son further.  Haven't said that, I wouldn't just give stuff away either.  He needs to learn to respect you, you boundaries and your limitations.

Maybe the stress from his brother's illness tipped him over the edge.  I think stress does that.  Especially to those of us who are vulnerable.
People with personality disorders don't often have insight into themselves or their behavior.

I think relating to a T/ counselor is something that takes time.  In some cases, a lot of time.

I'm not sure what I'd advise.  It's hard when you don't know the history, etc.  I think the best advice to give would be to trust yourself and to do what you feel is right -for everybody!

What does your husband think?
I would say to ask your counselor but from what you write I don't trust the feedback he would give.  Sorry!

Maybe others here would have some suggestions??

I sincerely hope things turn out OK for all of you involved.
J
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Which country do you live in? I live near Philadelphia. My son craves isolation. At present, he may even be working some place, but he never tells me until much later. He is very secretive. He never did drugs nor alcohol, and that is a blessing. However, he became reclusive, wanted to be alone and ceased talking to us unless he had to, when he was about twentyone.  He turned his days into nights, to avoid us.  I agree that unless he seeks therapy and possibly even takes the medicine, not much will change.
Do you have any idea how to get him to see this?  My counselor says to cut off the money in order to wake him up. Right now, I am working so I pay for him, don't want to see him out in the street. However, eventually the money will run out. My husband and I are not getting any younger. I wish you the very best. You are very nice to try to help.
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Hi

I live in New Zealand.

I like isolation too.  I have become very avoidant since being hospitalized a few years ago.  I think this is due to trauma and a severe lack of self-confidence.  I think withdrawal is a big warning sign for me that things are not good.

I don't converse very much with my parents either.  My parents tend to use things I say to attack me with.  At times it just feels easier to not talk and avoid getting defensive and being put down.  I wish I could work on this but until I feel safe in my own space I am not prepared to let down too many defenses.  I am hoping I can still do this, communicate better and form strong relationships with my parents, before they die.  It is not looking too promising at this time.

Most contact I have with my parents is extremely uncomfortable.  If things are really tense at home I will do almost anything to avoid it.

I am very anti-meds.  I always viewed this as me being a failure, or me not being in control.  Sounds crazy but it's how I felt/ feel.

I think people see things when they are ready too.  Sometimes when people force us to try and see things it actually takes us longer.

Cutting financial support may precipitate a crisis and cause him to seek support.  From what you have said it doesn't sound very likely though.  You could try it, but make sure there are supports in place.  And warn him.  It would be extremely unfair to terminate support without discussing it with him first.

On principle, you shouldn't have to work to provide for your son because he is too proud to seek out assistance.

Are you able to get a social worker, etc on board to help him out?  He may take direction from another person/ agency.  I expect your son knows what he wants, he just can't initiate it.  I find assertive people with strong boundaries the best to work with.  Plus they need to be just a little sensitive to our needs and issues.  A lot of the time it just requires someone with some common sense.

I think you may be helping me too.  Not to get out of my current situation, but to gain insight into how my parents may be feeling.  I think they care, they just have a different way of showing it.

I overheard my mum saying to my father one day that she didn't care if I were dead.  I don't think that that is a very healthy way to voice ones feelings.
Thank you for this, this has just given me a some insight into my own behavior.

Take care.
J

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First off, let me say that I am sure your mother didn't mean what she said. I have a friend whose daughter is bipolar. Her daughter was arrested for making a disturbance in public, and kept in jail for almost a year because apparently this happened before and she fled, was termed a flight risk by the judge." In addition one of her two brothers was just diagnosed bipolar with psychosis as well, so anyway the mother said if given the chance to live life over again, she "would have two abortions." I was horrified, and I will never be sorry I had my children. They opened my life tremendously, and I enjoyed their childhood as well. I also continue to learn, although the subjects of personality disorder and bipolar disorder were not something I ever thought I would have to know. I believe we are all on this earth for a reason, everyone!  I had miscarriages, and I feel if anyone was not meant to be here, then he or she would have been a miscarriage.  In any case, I do realize that the people who love you get frustrated.  When your mom said what she did, she was probably just venting and voicing frustration.  As for me, I feel my family did struggle all the years the five kids were growing up, and I never thought I would have two adult sons who won't work nor go to welfare.  The one in school hasn't worked in about nine years.  He insists he will work, when he graduates. I hope so, but I am also aware of the fact that in our country he could apply for more benefits and get his own check each month.  Even when he was underage, he was eligible and we could have applied but we didn't know he would choose to go off his meds a few times. We thought, Okay there is medicine and he will take it, and everything will be okay. Truthfully, we sold our house because we were in a lot of debt, and we hadn't paid our taxes on it the last year there. Thankfully we sold it and paid off all we owed, as the fear was it would be taken away from us by nonpayment of taxes.  So a lot of the frustration is about money. Here we live alone but we still support the sons.  I hope and pray the same thing doesn't happen here. If my husband is laid off, we will be trying to sell this too I guess. Anyway, back to you. There must be times your mom gets a bit frustrated, and she wants you to live your life at its best, wants you to fulfill all kinds of dreams. So she vents. Cut her a little slack and don't feel so bad. Parents have to learn to concentrate on the positive. I am sure she loves you, and that you have brought her a lot of happiness as well as a little bit of frustration. She needs to concentrate on the good things.  We are all only human with all our human flaws.  God bless you all.  By the way, I went to New Zealand when I was thirteen, on the way to Sydney Australia. My mom was from the latter.  Also a couple of weeks ago, I went to a wedding in New York City.  The guy was from New Zealand, and the wife was Korean-American. They got married traditionally with white gown, etc. and then the bride changed to a kimono type dress and they were married again in a Korean ceremony. It was very beautiful.  The groom's family were from New Zealand, but I forget where. I visited Auckland, and that was ages ago, but I have a picture of myself petting a kiwi bird.  Take care. --Rose
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PS--I forgot to add:    My friend is taking all three kids of hers back into her house, loves them dearly. The daughter just got out of jail. Anyway, she didn't mean her bad comment. That was my point. Parents get frustrated and it may not even be about the kids. It may be a total frustration, regarding how the day is going for them. My point is that my friend didn't mean her nasty comment. She loves her adult kids and is still doing things for them.
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Thanks for your kind words.

I don't believe my mother intended me to hear her comments, but I did, and I think on some level they still hurt.
My family seem to be typically invalidating of most things I try to accomplish (unless it benefits them).  I am sure this is where my bpd has originated.
My family do not understand my mental health issues, nor do they care too.
They contradict themselves badly too.  On one hand they will say, talk to us, then on the other, they will say they don't want to hear about mental health.
Yes, they are frustrated by my lack of change, as am I, but their behavior affects my recovery adversely.  It is difficult enough trying to deal with my own issues, let alone their issues and the additional issues their comments provoke.
I just wish they were more sensitive and empathetic and understanding.

I'm sure it is extremely challenging, and taxing, being the parent of someone with bpd.
I say parent and not care giver as some people perceive that because we have issues we don't have a brain and can't function.  It is very hurtful when we aren't as functional or as autonomous as we would like to be and people throw this in our faces.

The daughter should never have been in jail.  A hospital would have been more appropriate.  I view this as an abuse of that person and their rights.
What could be gained from locking her up when she needed medical assistance more than anything else?  Essentially they just robbed her of one year of her life.
Sorry!  That was a bit strong, but the sentence seemed inappropriate.
People don't understand mental illness very well.

To prevent whose pain?  Your friends or her children'?
I guess if she had to live her life over she would know better the next time.

Providing people with bipolar are compliant with their medication(s) the disorder is easily managed.  I hope I haven't simplified that too much!!

I believe everything happens for a reason or purpose too.  Sometimes it takes ages to understand just what that reason or purpose is, but inevitably it is there.

There are seven in our family too.  I have two brothers, two sisters, a mum and dad.

I understand how limiting lack of finances can be.  We are only just getting our house finished now (walls, doors, electricity, etc).  Finances are tight and my parents mention it most days.  I wish they would do a budget.
Having bpd I am all too familiar with debt, etc too.  Not working doesn't help as does engaging in impulsive behavior (which I can do when I'm not well or not contained).  I tend to binge eat when I'm stressed and that is extremely costly -and not just to my bank account either.  My health also suffers.
I would have given my parents power of attorney over my money but I don't trust them.  It is difficult getting help and getting unstuck when you don't trust people.

My parents are not very proactive -or weren't.  They don't really have goals and don't really have a life.
Living at home is like living in a rest home.

My mum has severe head injuries and that makes her vulnerable.  She gets tired easily and gets very moody (and bitchy).  At times it feels like I am walking around with her on my back.  It is very draining.  I wish there were more support for me to leave home.  My GP and previous T said they don't think I can really move forward until I leave.  It's hard when emotions get in the way of doing what is needed.

The wedding sounded adorable!

Maybe you need to talk to your son??  Sit down, explain the situation, and say no more money.  Maybe your counselor was right??
In some respects his behavior sounds extremely selfish, but I expect he is experiencing things very differently.  Never prejudge what he is thinking.
You need to talk to him though and also listen to his side of the story.  What makes these things so difficult for him?

J
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Thanks once again for your wisdom. It makes sense so very much to me, but yes I have talked to my son.  I told him to either get a job, take a course or go to counseling. I thought he could handle a course more than anything else. He refuses to go to the counseling, which eventually gets him the disability checks and free treatment. He refuses everything,but he did sign up for a course.  Where he is living now, with other students ten years younger than he is, he can walk to the college. He signed up so I could pay payments online directly, but he wrote me DO NOT PAY.  We emailed each other recently, and I said I owe two late fees already so please let me know what is going on. He un-registered, since he never attended. He talked to people at the college.  So he IS capable, but I am not sure I understand all this. I have a feeling too he is working at some kind of job, but he will never tell me. I think this because he asks me for money rarely during the month. You know, it is not just rent money but daily living expenses that is costly.  I don't want to know his business. I just want him to have a good life. This is all very hard on parents who care.  By the way, which child are you in your family? This son is my middle one, smack in the middle, a boy and a girl on either side of him. I tried to give him a partner so to speak, but I had two miscarriages. Then I had my last two kids. I read an article once about birth order and it attributed that to high or low achievers. It cited our U.S. Presidents or many of them who had younger siblings who did not succeed in life as well as their President siblings. I tend to think genetics plays a major factor, more than any other. I know environmental factors also play a part, but modern medicine does a lot. I belong to a mental health advocacy group, and we lobby the congress to pass major legislation about mental health issues. One bill passed recently with a major bail out bill to supposedly help the economy. It ensures equal treatment by insurance companies for mental health as is already for physical. I believe that all mental illnesses begin as physical ones really, chemicals in the brain. If a tiny strand of dna is missing, then this is physical. Studies were done with austism and aspergers and bipolar for instance, and better meds were developed as a result. There are defects in dna within families and this results in certain mental illnesses and behaviors. You can also google the human genome or "chromosome 22,"  "chromosome 16," etc. and you can find which diseases they have matched up already to genes and to chromosomes.  It is truly amazing. I also think that parents and other loved ones need education or support groups themselves, so they know more. There is a profound lack of understanding and knowledge about mental illnesses.  That's why I believe it will become stigma-free when people are educated about them.  The more info discovered as to the causes will and has already helped immensely. Everyone at my workplace has a relative who is mentally ill, and we support each other. Years ago, people hid things.

About my friend--I believe you are right. I told her at the time, the daughter did not belong in jail. She belonged in a hospital. The only good about it was the girl was eventually trained and helped to get a job, gets benefits like food stamps, etc. However, she went through a lot of Hell before that. They gave her the wrong meds, anti-depressants, and she was in restraints several times due to manic episodes.  I told my friend she could sue. Finally my friend got a lawyer and an outside psychiatrist. She was only then diagnosed correctly and put on one of the correct meds for bipolar. The girl got into fights also before the proper treatment was available to her. She dreamed about the fights and fell out of bed and broke two toes.  

I forget right now what else I wanted to respond to in your email. I hope I got it all. I will sign off for now, reread after my breakfast and write again. Thanks so much again. Rose
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PS       My son drifts.  That means, he will work and then quit after a month, be out of  work a year.  If someone says he is quiet and "Make a bit of noise," for example, he quits, insulted. He did write letters to them telling the people who "made fun of him" how hurt he was. In my experience with cruel people, sometimes confronting them helps and you can stay at a job. Sometimes it is not going to help, and one has to quit. He quit, lived in the car we gave him. My therapist saw him twice, because my son refused to go and he told him this is partially why counseling would help him. It would either get him to speed of working continuously or the therapist could determine if he is eligible for financial benefits and recommend him for benefits. My son wants to work, but it isn't easy for him, especially that he doesn't much think anything is wrong here. Anyway, he vents anger at me, calls me names in emails (capital letters) whenever I suggest the counseling and possibly meds. I hope this information helps you to help me. I love my son, and I mailed him winter clothing and other things. I mailed him a cell phone several times, but eventually he ditches them. He is very sensitive to noise and to odors.  He is worried about his brain being fried from a cell phone, buys phone cards. We gave him many tools to get on his feet, like that car, and it just doesn't work out. He blames us for his plight of virtual homelessness. If I stop paying rent, he will be living at the trains now. How does one make him go to counseling? The therapist said to cut off the money, but I already said that I can't do it. If my husband gets laid off we will have no choice, but now I cannot stop paying rent.  Our son can't live with us, said it is too debilitating for him. He was here nine months and did nothing really but go to the library daily. I guess for me i tis better than it was, because I know he has shelter some place.  Take care.
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I am the second eldest.  I have an older sister, then younger brother, sister, brother).

The good old nature/ nurture debate.  I believe a lot is environmental.
Behavior is a function of the person interacting with their environment.

I haven't given much thought to dna or mutations creating physical illness.
Human beings are extremely complex.

Yes, I think you're right.  When I was in hospital there was absolutely no support or information for my parents.  They did eventually contact a suicide hotline, only the person lived in the neighborhood, and they felt uncomfortable with that.

We have ads on tv talking about stigma and discrimination of people with mental health issues.
My brother says that that is an excuse for people to do nothing.  It makes me feel dirty and unacceptable when they can't or won't accept the obvious.
To be fair, if it weren't me in this situation experiencing all this stuff then I probably wouldn't be able to understand it either.

Others diseases/ disorders certainly have less stigma attached.  Some still do but less so with public campaigns and education.  HIV is a good example.

People with bpd can have difficulties maintaining employment, schooling, etc.

Perhaps you need to back off the need for treatment.  When my mother keeps on telling me I need to get a job I feel misunderstood, get pissed off, and get more frustrated and unwell.  That despite her best intentions.

I am very sensitive to noise too.

I have been rude to my mother too and called her a *****.  Having this disorder is devastating and frustrating.  I wish people would understand it and not make it worse.

I don't have answers to these problems.  I wish I did.  Maybe if I did I wouldn't be in this situation myself either.

Maybe cutting off the money is the best thing you could do??

I just don't know.  Every situation and individual is so very different.

Take care

J
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Thanks for the insight. Never feel dirty or bad in any way due to the diagnosis. Everyone has something wrong, we are only human beings.  Some people are nasty, and this to me is worse than anything. We have to live together on this earth.  The latest thing is that my son called and also emailed that his three roommates bring friends in who smoke pot. My son is extremely intolerant physically of perfumes, odors, smoke, etc. He is also abhorrent of any drugs or alcohol consumption. That latter is a good thing and I am proud of him for that. Anyway, before he moved in, one roommate asked him if he smoked marijuana and he said no. He said he wouldn't do it in my son's presence. That changed apparently, and my son talked to them about it. Again, no one was going to do it there, but they ended up doing it. So my son had a fan running and a window open in his room.  He couldn't stand it, the smoke wafted up to his room.  Under pressure, he talks to us, even to my husband against whom he has grudges over arguments involving his younger brother, real or perceived injustices.  My husband agreed with him that he has to move out. So yesterday he emailed me he needed some more money, and I transferred from my bank account into his. I believe him, that he can move to a smaller apt. in the same area.  So he is getting things done, and that is good.  This kind of thing gives me hope.  I will back off about counseling, job or course. I will heed your advice.
Thanks again. Feel free to write to me any time. I hope I can be of help to you if you need any advice or just to bounce ideas off of me for any reason. God bless you.  Rose
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Hi Rose

Thanks for the offer.

I still think there is some issue there between your two sons.  It could be that your older son resents or is jealous of his younger brother.  Perhaps he is even angry that he has borderline personality disorder and not bipolar disorder.
As much as a hate bpd, I would still not like to exchange it for bipolar.  Not that I think bipolar is any better or worse.
I think you may have over-looked a crucial part of the puzzle.  I think you may need to delve deeper into the relationship between your two sons and also how your husband has interacted with the older one.  Correcting what has happened there may help him feel more validated and acceptable.  Sometimes it can be something very minor.  Try to imagine how things feel from his perspective.

Here's something from my own life.  I live on a farm with my parents.  I have invested a lot of time and energy into the place.  My brother who lives in the city will come home and do stuff (which is great) but my parents appear to take on board everything he says.  His opinion matters and is respected while mine is not.
I feel worthless and devalued.  Not to mention angry, resentful and jealous.

I actually bought this up in conversation one time when my brother was here.  He was shocked by how I felt.  He can be a little insecure sometimes but this really helped his ego (not that it needed any helping).  It is amazing that while he got all the support and encouragement from mum and dad he still felt stink about ?himself.

I was talking about this a while back with my GP too.  This was the same as when mum broke her back and sustained some of her head injuries.
I did bed pans for six weeks while she was in hospital, not to mention the bathing and massages so she wouldn't get blood clots.  My sister does a bed pan once and that is all mum remembers.
Being around can be extremely thankless sometimes.

Your son does appear to be doing something and I guess that is encouraging.

I am extremely concerned that you take my advice.  I am not a trained professional and I don't have any expertise in the mental health field (other than having had depression and bpd and having survived the mh system here).
Nothing I say should replace the advice of a trained health professional.
I don't want to feel responsible for your sons situation.  Although I have been diagnosed with bpd, your son and I are two very different individuals.  He may not even experience bpd the same as I do.  Some don't.  Some people are happy to have the diagnosis, take medication and do dbt and live happily ever after.  I am not one of those people.  That hasn't worked for me.  My previous T said my issues are from a very young age and I'm not so able to utilize dbt skills, etc.
She said my personality was like a bucket with holes in it -everything in it leaks out.  She was trying to plug the holes so that I could utilize skills and develop a sense of self.

Is that an OK disclaimer?  I just want you to be extremely cautious.
I think your son would benefit from having a therapist of his own.  I'm not even sure your own counselor has enough information to be able to offer your son constructive advice.
I actually really hate that.  That is a bit like someone asking me how you are or you how I are.  I don't think anything should prevent that information being sought from the person them-self (unless there is some very good reason why they can't).

I think that must have hit a sore point for me.  There have been times when I have been in crisis when people have phoned and asked how I've been.  My parents will say I'm fine while in reality I've actually been really struggling.

I'm getting a bit stressed about my appointments later.  Hopefully they'll go OK.

Again, thanks for the offer of support.  I think your posts help a lot as it is.

J
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Thanks for the post, and don't worry about my taking advice. I just mean I have tried it all, and nothing seems to work. So maybe I just back off a bit and give my son space a bit as you seemed to suggest, no pressure any place.

Yes, there are issues between him and his brother. My middle son holds things dear, grudges I guess they may be, for years whereas others would move on and the things would recede in one's memory.  I am not minimizing them. We were all scared out of our wits ten years ago when my younger son was diagnosed bipolar. It was awful. However, the two boys fought with their fists, and my being an only child, never saw this before.
The neighbor who was a therapist laughed when I told him, and he said not to worry. All kinds of things happen, but for me it was terrifying.  Yet the older one helped the younger one with chemistry and did so much for all of his siblings. I thought it would just get better with time. Then he refused to move with us, when we sold the house, and my husband gave him the car and some money. He seems stuck in some ways. When we took the car, due to unpaid traffic tickets, we brought him in but he refused to work. I just hope he can make it on his own and I am resigned to paying rent for him as long as I can, because he became the dominant one here. We obliged him by eating in our room, because he wanted distance. Anyway, he lost our keys twice and there was so much that seemed like irresponsibility, but I know it wasn't that, more like confusion.
Take care, and I will keep you posted.  I think your problems of not being appreciated can happen to anyone in a family.  People take for granted the members who do the most.  When someone who doesn't do much for others does something, then it is made out to be a big deal. I would ask the therapist about that, because the other members should appreciate what you do for them.  Take care. Have a great day.  Rose
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Hi

I expect giving your son a car and money, while big materialistic things, did little to improve his perception of being misunderstood and of feeling loved and accepted.
Maybe he would have liked to have heard a please will you come or, we would like you to come with us.  Having said that he still probably would have said no.

I think you've done stuff wrong.  We all do and sometimes it is blatantly obvious in hindsight.
Maybe I've overlooked a lot of things??
I think you and your husband need to create a healthy environment for yourselves first.  If you do this this maybe your son will come home on his own accord??

You have given your son too much control over your lives.
You should not be eating in your room to give your son some space.

I expect the lack of structure and the pandering to him (which doesn't contain him/ help him) only makes him feel worse.

What I needed most from my parents (apart from acceptance) was having a stable environment.  Instead they provide this massively unstructured, chaotic mess.  I try and create structure/ boundaries in my own life and they don't appreciate them.  They expect me to adapt to their needs/ wants will no warning.  I can plan my day and then wonder why I even bothered because without a doubt they'll sabotage it (whether consciously or subconsciously).  This lack of structure causes havoc with my internal world and adversely affects my health.

It seems some of your sons problems may have been due to feeling overwhelmed.  This can affect our ability to concentrate, etc.
Things can get pretty hectic here and once I start rushing and multitasking I can start to overlook and forget some things.  Even basic things.

Backing off may not change anything.  Unless your son is actively doing stuff to move forward.

I don't know about your son and the money but I would strongly recommend you try and put some of your energy back into living your own life.  If you need to cut off or reduce the money or hours of work, do so.  Do it for yourself though.  It sounds like there is a system or safety net that can provide for your son.  Let him use it.

It's all a very big judgment call for you and one that needs to be constantly evaluated so that all family members are safe.

I'm going to stop offering input/ suggestions as it probably isn't the best thing to be doing.  I possibly should be investing the time and energy into my own health and life at the moment.

J

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Well when each adult child was ready to graduate from college, we put five hundred dollars down on a car, used or new, their selection. They graduated, got careers and paid their own cars off. With the fourth one, he didn't finish high school locally because he was hospitalized at age 17.  He tried to return, but the kids in his group wanted him to do the same things he did before he was sick. That means beer and so on. So we worked with the school, and he got a diploma where everyone else in the family did, but he finished at community college his senior year, and he was home instructed the rest of the school year the junior year, the prior year, when he got sick. My husband drove him to the community college and picked him up but his bosses said he would be fired if he continued to do so. So we got our fourth child a used car. The third child seemed overlooked, was next in line to graduate, so we got him a car like we did the others in feb. and he was going to graduate in june. He agreed to take over payments, etc. Well needless to say that was eight years ago.  So we ended up paying off those two cars.
I guess yes we are enablers but we didn't do anything so very different with the others.
Our middle or third son is angry with us, or so he acts.  He throws away our help, whereas the others did something with it. I think you are right that nothing will change till he goes to counseling.  We didn't buy things and give them to our kids to shut them up or to get them off our backs. We bought stuff to enable them to do better, like get jobs or finish school.  I am being defensive now, but I have been all through this in my mind so many times, blaming myself for things done or not done. Bottom line is we love him and we want him to succeed in life, be happy and be the best he can be. We should all be on the same page, but even when he lived here he refused to work and save money.  He just seems to rely on us to pay for everything. We have talked, and he seems irrational at times, like he said we were keeping him prisoner by having him in our home. I said tha tI gave him rent money to get a place and he spent it instead, and he also could have walked to a job here at a restaurant, saved his money for security elsewhere. He doesn't do much, and I asked why. He said, No head for it. Yet he won't go to counseling or do welfare. It is same old same old. I am getting frustrated, so I will sign off.  Take care, God bless you and I want you to know I wish you well. Write when you want, and I will later if anything...when I get home from work. I leave now.  Rose
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I couldn't write yesterday after school, too tired. Sorry. I went shopping after school for food. We belong to a big warehouse type club, where food is sold cheaply in bulk, and I went there to buy food my son who is bipolar wanted.  It is cheaper to bring cans of tuna and certain bulk items like that to my son in New York, where my husband works, rather than give him money to spend. He hasn't worked in about eight years but he is going to school now. When we gave him money, he used to spend it on one prepared meal whereas this lasts longer.  My husband brings it to him every two weeks or so.  Anyway, back to you and to my other son.  I wanted to ask you how often you go to counseling and if you are on any medicine. What is the treatment for BPD? Is it helping at all? The emails you sent me are giving me an insight to what is going on with my son. He also complains of chaotic environment. Growing up with five kids in the family, it did get pretty hectic and chaotic, although I was an only child and I am told we parent the way we were parented.  I tried to give each individual my time, would even keep my son home once in a while to take him to lunch and spend time with him when he was in elementary school.  Often, he would retreat to his room, eventually he moved to our attic where there was better solitude, and I wouldn't make him come down for dinner at times, let him have his privacy and quiet time, would bring his dinner up to him if he wanted it. Towards the adult years and throughout, he turned his days into nights to avoid us. The communication was difficult. I look back and think I should have made him come to the dinner table, to interact more.  He was usually quiet, and I felt it would get too chaotic for him.  Now is now, and here we are.  He hasn't even told me where he is living, yet I gave him money for rent and to move.  Is your day stuctured? Do you go to school or work at all? If you get time, feel free to write.  I am praying for all of us.  Take care. Rose
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Hi Rose

Don't stress.  We haven't made any commitment about posting.  We are not obligated to e-mail everyday or even at all.

I think the healthy approach is to always take care of our own needs and demands first.  If we wish to write on this list, then that is cool, but is it also our choice.

I didn't write either.  I was just diagnosed with breast cancer on Thursday.  My surgeon and GP are stunned and say it is very rare to get it this young.

Counseling?
Initially I was given one 50 minute session per week with a psychologist and one 50 minute skills training session with a nurse.
They were trying to implement a dbt approach.  DBT has been used to treat patients with bpd.

This approach did not work for me.  I was in crisis all the time and wasn't coping very well.  I asked for more input, but they said (I was by now down to one therapy session per week), that that was a luxury.
You tell someone that 50 minutes of contact a week is a luxury when you're struggling through each second and each minute of everyday.

There was a breakdown in my relationship with the service.  I was discharged (when I was in crisis).
Lots of other significant stuff happened here.

Anyway, after a significant period of time I was re-referred to the service.
Fortunately for me a new T had arrived.
We started out with two sessions per week, but after some time, this was increased to three per week.
Therapy was going really well and I was making progress until she decided to leave.

In the interim I have been seeing my GP once a week (although twice a week for the past three weeks).  And just recently, the Head of the Psychology Department for 50 minutes once a week for constructive psychotherapy (basically a chat).  The new T was to start at the end of November, but is now due the beginning of December.

There have been new developments with my treatment anyway.  My GP has been extremely concerned about how my mental health has deteriorated since my T left and he is making noises to get better treatment, which is not available at the out patient clinic I attend.
My ex T is also back on board as she is angry and concerned about how I've been treated.
I expect my treatment will commence again, with a different treatment provider, but with the previous three sessions per week.  My T thinks I need to see someone trained in psychoanalysis.

Did that answer that question?

The treatment for bpd?  I think it depends on the individual and where they're at in their recovery process.  What is most important in treating bpd however is the relationship.
What has and hasn't worked for me?
Intensive psychoanalysis has worked, dbt hasn't.  But the dbt skills are useful.

Am I on medication?
Yes and no.  No, generally but at the moment with my extreme stress and anxiety levels I have been given sleeping pills (7.5 mg of zopliclone) and lorazepam (1 mg) to take as required.
When stress affects my sleep and I get between 1-2 hours sleep a night for weeks and months it needs treating.  My threshold for this is less now and I would probably ask for something much sooner.  Sleep is a good warning sign for me that things are not well.
The lorazepam is for my anxiety.

I have been put on medication in the past.  That's a whole other story.  If you want to discuss that or have questions, just ask.

Structure isn't just about doing stuff it is about having a predictable structure/ routine to your day.
No, my day's aren't structured as much as I would like them to be.  It is difficult to structure anything at home when my parents constantly change plans, etc.  Often I need to throw my structure out in order to accommodate their needs and wants.  I need stronger boundaries, but having so also has negative consequences.  I do what I need to too survive as best I can.

Set predictable boundaries and overtime your son will come to trust and respect them (and you).

I don't go to school and I'm not currently employed.  I did begin a nursing degree, but ... things happened.  Everything is complicated.
I don't think I could cope with the stress of either at the moment.  Hospital really caused me to lose confidence in myself and my ability.  Not to mention, it making me sicker.

Thanks!  Everything does happen for a reason.  We just need to trust that process.

J
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I am so sorry about your latest diagnosis, and you are indeed in my prayers.  Truthfully, I am stunned, and I am at a loss for words. You are a caring person, and I am sorry this happened to you.  I am thinking of a book my daughter recommended to me many years ago, when she read it for a book report in eighth grade. It was about people who went into remission with various illnesses including cancer, because they got inspired and changed their lives by volunteering at shelters or hospitals, doing good deeds in some way.  Make the most of every day and enjoy what you do, easy to say I know.  In any case, you may try to find this book at the library, it may be somewhat inspiring.  I think it was called Twelve Miracles.  It was a long time ago, but I always think about it when I get down. Some had terminal illnesses, schizophrenia too, I forget what else.  They all beat the odds by changing their lives and helping others.  For what it is worth, you have already helped ME.  Anyway, I will sign off for now. Write whenever you feel like it, and just know you continue to be in my prayers.  The best of all good things to you, Rose
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Thanks Rose!

I think there are lessons to be learned from all challenges in life.  I was just saying to iamabutterfly I thought it may have been due to my vanity and self-consciousness.     I think I have many barriers still to overcome and I think this will help me towards becoming more accepting of myself.  In some respects, it is actually a gift.

I will see if the book is available at our local library.  

Thank you.  I think the support has been mutual.

I feel embarrassed saying this, but I'll put it out there anyway.  This is just a general observation I've made.  People seem to be way more sympathetic about a physical illness.  BPD has been life threatening for me on nearly a daily basis.  I'm actually quite stunned that my parents are upset because I could die (but it is unlikely) from cancer.  It just feels really strange having support for something which to me at the moment feels very minor.  I wish people were more supportive of mental illness.
Actually this is quite ironic too.  My GP has been fighting to get more support for me through the mhs.  He is now using the fact that I have cancer as a reason why I should have more support.  I feel support should be made available regardless of any other medical conditions I may have.  Having cancer does have benefits.

Thank you very much for everything.
J
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