Living with Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder: A Personal Account


This is an account submitted by one of our visitors to use on the website. The names in this story have been omitted for obvious privacy reasons.

Note: This is a self-diagnosis based on suggestions, readings and six years of knowing this person. I am not a psychology professional, and until she accepts treatment, I won’t know for sure. 

I’ve never really known anyone who’s suffered from any type of severe mental illness before and my previous image of “crazy” was never this complicated… or as confusing.

The Meeting

I knew my parent’s marriage was falling apart long before anything happened so by the time they told my brothers and me, I was more relieved than anything.  But in the same sentence, my father couldn’t help but tell us that he had a new girlfriend that he wanted us to meet.  This seemed strange as my father wasn’t a social person and I never knew him to have any friends.  My parents filed their divorce papers and as my mother exited the courtroom  “she” was walking in. They explained to us that they got married so quickly because she had a disability and needed to get on his insurance. So there it was, my parents got divorced, and dad remarried on the same day. That was weird, but I was away in college and didn’t have to live with it and dealt with it on my own…

That is until she decided she wanted to meet us. I had always blamed my parent’s divorce with my mother because she was the one who was bored with their relationship in the first place and wanted to live on her own.  She drove him away, and he couldn’t take it so he latched on to the first person that would have him. An old girlfriend from high school. Divorced, kids and disabled.  I agreed to meet her validating it with the fact that my parents hadn’t been in love for a long time.  So I met her, and she was thrilled. She seemed to have a sense of humor and her, and my dad was much more relaxed than he had ever been with my mom. I didn’t see this as the worst thing ever, so I kinda just went with it.

The Stories

So, she has a disability because of an “accident” that she had years ago. Supposedly she was about to receive a large sum of money because the accident happened at work and she had been unable to work since. I believe this was the first in a series of seemingly unending lies that this woman has told to lure us in.  When they finally went to court, they were denied any sort of award as the case had been closed previously and she ended up getting hurt again and reopening it.  The thing is, it’s one thing after another with this woman, if she’s not slipping and falling down the stairs, she is falling in holes in the ground, passing out, having anxiety attacks, getting in car accidents, getting robbed, getting shoved, getting “raped” etc.… I have never known another person alive to have as many issues as this woman has had.  In, the fact it would probably take a culmination dozens of sick people to equal out the number of problems this woman has had. I believed her for a long time and always gave her the benefit of the doubt when she’d slip little details; after all, she was on medication.  It also made sense that someone with a broken back would fall all the time. I now believe they’re all lies or at least semi-truths, in an attempt to get more drugs from doctors and come across more potential lawsuits.  Those little detail slips aren’t the result of drugs (well maybe they are) but more a result of a lifetime of juggling different lies with different people and the inability to keep up. Furthermore, many of these accidents take place while my father is at work, so he is not there to witness the truth and just automatically believes her every time.

The Tipping Point (for me)

Recently she overdosed on a nice cocktail of drugs leaving her in a coma for several days. I thought to myself, “this has got to be a turning point, my father has got to see that this is all for attention by now. He can’t truly believe her now that she has tried to kill herself.” But the sad thing is, he does. After she returned home from the hospital, my father asked that I talk to her (because she needs someone to talk to). She explained to me how she was dropped in the hospital and how they scabbed her forehead. She then proceeded to tell me how their house had been broken into a few months prior, and she had been raped in the process. She went into clear detail about the types of guns the men had and the specific actions they took. They slammed her head against the table 37 times (because she “counted”).  Thirty-seven head slams are enough to kill someone and if not it would have at least left a giant scar on her head, bruising, black eyes, etc.… Many of the details in this particular account overlapped with another B&E story that took place a couple of years back, also while my father was at work. Both times the intruders picked up their small dog, stuck a gun to its head and said “Bang!” I finally got to a point where I’ve had it.  She is causing my father to miss work consistently, and I fear that he will lose his job over her constant attempts for attention. So I made a post on Reddit describing much of her behavior simply stating that I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation.

It was then when a Reddit user suggested that she may have Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder that carries a heavy stigma. Unlike many mental health disorders, there is no pill for BPD. The only way to treat it is for the patient to admit that they have a problem and actively seek help themselves, which is part of what makes this disorder so sinister.  People with BPD seem to have answers for all of their problems and believe that it is the other people around them that have real problems. When approached about it they will often backlash resulting in it taking years for them ever to get help, if they do at all.

So I was recommended a few books, read many accounts online about it and  came across the 9 Traits of BPD, these traits describe the woman to the T:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment
  2. A pattern of Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
  3. Identity disturbance
  4. Impulsivity in at least 2 or more self-damaging activities
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior and self-mutilation
  6. Affect instability due to a marked reactivity of mood
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger with difficulty controlling it. Frequent displays of temper.
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms (effects don’t match the emotional tone)

I could go ahead and put several check marks next to each one. Many of these symptoms align with PTSD which it has been suggested that she has and she has received treatment.

Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment

She has often had these so-called “accidents” as soon as my father leaves for work causing him to turn around to tend to her aid. This results in him missing work a lot.

A Pattern of Unstable and Intense Interpersonal Relationships

This woman was quick to try and become my friend early on in their marriage, and when I did agree to talk to her, she decided that we were close. This was only months after my parents had gotten divorced mind you, so my brothers didn’t want to meet her at all. She called them from my father’s cell phone (so they’d pick up) and yelled at them for hurting him (because they wouldn’t meet her). This was the first time either of them had spoken with her.

As far as unstable relationships that seem to define all of her relationships. She doesn’t talk to her daughter, her brother, my grandmother or even her mother because they don’t want her to contact them anymore.  They no longer wish to hear her lies.

Identity disturbance

I’m still not sure which stories that she tells me are rooted in reality and which aren’t. Some of them are just so absurd that they can’t be true.  Meanwhile, this lady only talks about her injuries, her problems, her dog, her life. She never shows interest in other peoples lives and pretty much never lets anyone else talk. She talks in circles. Her injuries are her identity.

Impulsivity in at least two or more self-damaging activities

I chose two off of a larger list.  She shows frequent signs of drug-seeking behavior and has been put on a drug watch list. She has also had a restraining order against her from one of the hospitals because of an incident where she threw a huge fit after being asked to run some tests before being given drugs.

The other activity is spending. They are dirt poor right now, but she likes to buy stuff and for them to go on vacations that they can’t afford – lavish ones.

Recurrent suicidal behavior and self-mutilation

Like I said earlier she recently digested a large cocktail of drugs and put herself in a coma. I saw her in the hospital, and it was not a pretty sight. I believe many of her “falls” are intentional as they always happen and the most opportune moments and they always go to the hospital as a result. These injuries add to her desired sympathy and ability to obtain more drugs. One time she called my dad at work and made him rush home because she had her pills “all lined up and ready to go.”

That was the first time she ever threatened suicide.

Affect instability due to a marked reactivity of mood

They have had multiple public incidents where she would have anxiety attacks and fear that my dad was going to leave her. One time at the hospital, she decided that the police were after her, so she ran away. There were no police.

Chronic feelings of emptiness

Her behavior suggests this, and she has expressed this to me over the phone.

Inappropriate, intense anger with difficulty controlling it and frequent displays of temper

One time we showed up 10 minutes to Thanksgiving dinner, and she threw a huge fit and stormed off to her room just like a toddler. I’ve never witnessed such behavior from an adult before.

Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms (effects don’t match the emotional tone)

She has had many panic attack in public settings, is now afraid to check the mail, believed the police were after her and ran from the hospital.

As I read more about this disease, I felt pity for the woman and conflicted at the same time. She appears to be on the edge of hopelessness, and I don’t want my father to get pulled down any more than he already has. I want this to end. She is in a state of perpetual suffering beyond any control while causing those around her to suffer and question themselves. No one can stand to be around her, yet her biggest fear is abandonment. It is tragic. The effects it’s having on my dad is sad too. I want him to be happy and can’t imagine him being happy in his current situation.

I know that, contrary to the stigma, people with BPD can be treated, I just wish I knew how to approach my her and my father and encourage him to get help.


Recommended Reading

Stop Walking on Eggshells: taking your life back when someone you care about has borderline personality disorder by Paul T. Mason, MS and Randi Kreger

Mason and Kreger help you wrap your head around how this mental illness works and what it looks like.

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