I'm new to the group and glad to have found it. I'm just learning about BPD. I'm in my 40s, and my whole life I've had a complicated relationship with my mother. I'm trying to figure out a couple of things and I'm hoping someone can help point me to some resources, or share their experiences, good or bad.
One of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether my mother has BPD. I had heard of BPD but never really read the details before. When I read the lists of symptoms, I found she had almost all of them, but she doesn't display them all the time. I think she may have found ways to cope with BPD over her lifetime so can hide her symptoms as long as things are going smoothly. She also tends to really focus in on things that can distract her. When she was working, she obsessed with her work and left no time for any social life, and when she retired, she found new ways to stay constantly distracted. I see these types of things listed as ways for other people to cope with BPD relatives (e.g. if you feel emotions getting heightened, distract your loved one), so I think it's possible she figured out how to do this for herself.
The times where I see the BPD symptoms appear are when there is any kind of stress in her life. For example, if she's feeling depressed or lonely, there's usually some kind of contact that starts off with immediate guilt. There will usually be some kind of message or voicemail that doesn't leave you the option of ignoring her, sometimes over-dramatizing what is going on to the point where it will make me panic, or at the very least, make it clear that I'm a horrible child if I don't respond right away.
Besides the fact that she's done this so many times it's turned into crying wolf at this point, her method of asking for help "with a knife to my throat" also takes away any of the warm feeling that I might get from helping her. She send this message: not only is helping her my required duty, but she knows that I wouldn't be helping her if it wasn't (I'm too selfish, lazy, not moral enough - not sure which). After reading some of the papers about BPD, I now understand that this behavior comes from fear of abandonment (which makes sense, she was very neglected in her childhood).
She cannot be approached with any kind of criticism, ever - even the smallest critique, no matter how lighthearted or gently delivered, is received like a pistol is pointed at her. She's extremely judgemental of others - with a kind of martyr complex attached. The best way I can explain it is that she wears her emotional oversensitivity like a badge of honor - she just cares more, feels more, etc.; all the while, she wants to portray herself as tough as nails, and not really needing anyone else. People are either wonderful or evil, there's really no in between.
She has very few friends, and really no close friends. She has 5 siblings and only has sporadic contact with one (who I suspect may also have BPD), and their relationship has recently become stressed to the point where I'm not sure they will be in contact much longer. The other siblings she wrote off long ago. My father (who she is also no longer speaking to) has told me some stories about their relationship that sound like they're straight out of the BPD handbook. In their last conversation he made the mistake of suggesting that she try to connect with others socially (she was still leaning on him heavily after they had been divorced for 10 years) - and as you can imagine, that didn't go well.
However, my real wake-up call on this was a phone call we had recently. After she reached out to me about feeling depressed, I tried to get her to get out of the house and meet with me somewhere for lunch. She agreed but then texted to cancel (after the time when we were supposed to meet). So later that day, I tried to talk to her on the phone. After being sure to let her know that I was calling because I was worried about her, I gently suggested that her being pretty much constantly on social media (sometimes until 2 in the morning or later) might be contributing the depression. I had barely gotten the first words out of my mouth before she exploded into rage, tears, and hanging up on me. Thrown in there somewhere, was blaming me for her emotional state: in other words, I hadn't handled her correctly.
That was the moment that I had this realization - that this is not normal, that there is no one else in my life who acts like this, and most importantly, that definitely was not my fault. I know from experience that a reaction like that is not something that can be attributed to depression alone. I had remembered a friend saying that her mom had BPD and decided to look it up. I'm sure you all remember how this felt, this first realization that there was a name for this thing, and the feeling of shock as you read each symptom and were like "yes, yes, yes," and then the undeniable relief that it was not you, it was never you, this whole time.
Since that call, other things have continued to fit. For example, she doesn't seem to have any intention of apologizing to me or even acknowledging that we had an awkward conversation - even after I've ignored several texts and an email.
So, even though this feels right in every way, I don't want to trust myself and some google searches - I don't want to be an amatuer psychiatrist. I'm curious if anyone here can suggest a good way to get this diagnosis confirmed, and/or maybe how I can guide her towards getting help without saying the words "Borderline Personality Disorder." I'm pretty positive even that suggestion would be explosive.
I'd be interested to hear if this description jives with others who have borderline parents - though I'm sure there are different degrees of this disorder. Some of the stories on here make me think I have it easy. I'd also love to hear stories of anyone who has had any success with getting a parent to get help (even in small ways). Please even share your failures if it's not too painful - it might be a guide of "what not to do."
Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide - I'm glad to have found this group, and hope I can pass on help to others someday when I've learned more.