It’s not easy living with any person who suffers from emotional instability but it is particularly difficult when you are a child in that situation. In fact, even when you are an adult, it can still be difficult to cope with such a parent. This is particularly the case with Borderline Personality Disorder.
In Borderline Personality Disorder: Diagnostic Criteria , we looked at the characteristic requirements necessary to be diagnosed with this confronting disorder.
Today we look at what it is like to grow up with a parent suffering from this condition.
Anna’s mother Claire had shown signs of emotional instability when she was a teenager. Expelled from two schools and possessing a break-and enter charge by the time she was 17, Claire was a difficult child. But then, her parents did not provide Claire with an emotionally stable background either. They divorced when Claire was 16 after years of alcohol abuse and emotional neglect of their child.
Claire alternated from her father’s residence to her mother’s, neither parent really wanting her. She began drinking heavily and sought love in numerous one night stands. Eventually she had a complete mental collapse and was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Claire was placed on a regime of antidepressant and antipsychotic medication. This allowed her to attend college and after a period of years, complete a certificate in childcare. But her life was profoundly unstable, punctuated by extreme mood swings, erratic spending, self-harming behavior and irresponsible sexual behavior. The latter led to the birth of Anna, when Claire was 21. Anna is now 21 herself and has struggled to cope with her mother’s erratic behavior all her life.
Fortunately for Anna, she learned from an early age that her mother was “different”. This helped Anna to avoid the same behavioral patterns as her mother as it was obvious that something “just wasn’t right.” Yet she could never rely on her mother and as she grew older, found that she became responsible for picking up the pieces of her mother’s life.
As an only child to a single mother, Anna was running the household by the time she was 12 years old. The paying of bills was Anna’s responsibility as her mother could not be relied upon to remember or even have the money to hand when the due date arrived. Anna had become what is known as a “parentified child”.
Next article in this series: more about Anna.
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