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Author Topic: Grieving Mental Illness in a Loved One  (Read 1204 times)
MammaMia
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2015, 02:51:13 PM »

I have to agree with those who wax and wane.  I have accepted my BPDs' mental illness.  Yet there are days when I still wonder "why".  Not for me ... for him.  Then it is time to rationalize the culprit is the disorder, not the person, and he struggles every day, just like I do.  In fact, it must be infinitely harder for him. This invokes compassion and the realization that things can always be worse.  My son is alive, and that is a huge gift because with life comes the opportunity for hope. Not for a cure, when there is none, but for the good days and loving memories that are so deeply cherished.

I love Pharrell Williams' song.  I made it "mine" from the first time I heard it.  When I become sad and overwhelmed, it is a reminder that life is what we make it.  I choose to be happy and trust that God has a reason and a plan for all of us.

Thanks for bringing this up.
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« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2015, 06:40:18 AM »

I am mostly angry.  There are days I wish I could chop down a tree to get my anger out.  I feel really gypped.  I grew up with eight brothers, three of which were very cruel to me.  I grew up with constant criticism from my parents and it wasn't until recently that I "grew up" and realized I didn't have to deal with that pain anymore. I'm almost 60!  Now after all the pain of. watching my BPD daughter burn a trail of destruction, financing her instability to the tune of about 45k dollars, and frequent quarrels with my husband, she has chosen to stop talking to me.  I feel like "the nerve of her"!  How ungrateful!  I grew up not knowing the healthy ways to grieve or be angry.  My mother screamed, cursed and my father hit things.  I was raised with "You shouldn't feel that way... suck it up..etc."  Now here I am trying to learn about how to handle this.  Right now... I am choosing to grieve.  I feel myself getting profoundly sad, but then anger takes over.  I am SO thankful for this website.  I think I will find the answers I am seeking as well as the tools I need to repair my relationship with my daughter.  I just get so scared that I won't be able to change myself in order to help her. 
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lbjnltx
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« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2015, 08:20:59 AM »

Dear purplezinnia,

You  have experienced much loss in life. You have much to grieve the loss of.
 Empathy


I just get so scared that I won't be able to change myself in order to help her. 

Love is the greatest motivator of all, you can do this.  We will help.

lbj
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BPDd-13 Residential Treatment - keep believing in miracles
MammaMia
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« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2015, 12:30:40 PM »

Purplezinnia

Welcome to BPDF.  We are so happy you have joined us.  This site is a place of comfort and knowledge in a sea of chaos that is BPD.

Anger does not solve problems, especially when dealing with mental illness.  We have all been where you are, but it is time to move past this point in your life.  PwBPD cannot control their emotions and/or reactions.  We need to accept this as fact.  Then, we need to establish boundaries to help contain their outbursts and protect ourselves and learn communication skills to try to avoid conflict. 

You have had a difficult life.  You need to focus on the fact that you are a good, loving person and surround yourself with kind, supportive people.  This can be through group therapy, NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), church groups, etc.  If NAMI has a local chapter, I would highly recommend their Family to Family Program which is a 12 week program devoted to helping people who have a family member with mental illness.  It is free.  NAMI also offers a program dedicated to BPD.  They have an on-line program and offer group participation in selected cities.  You are certainly not alone... the number of people struggling with BPD, both diagnosed and undiagnosed is staggering.
Family members are victims of this cruel disorder, as well as the person afflicted with it.

I do not know how much you have learned about BPD, but knowledge of the disorder is crucial to dealing with it.  There are great resources here, and I hope you will take advantage of them.  They will help provide the answers to your unanswered questions.

Thank you for seeking help with BPD, this is a huge step toward making your life better.  We look forward to hearing from you.
 
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2015, 07:33:48 PM »

I am mostly angry.  There are days I wish I could chop down a tree to get my anger out.  I feel really gypped.  I grew up with eight brothers, three of which were very cruel to me.  I grew up with constant criticism from my parents and it wasn't until recently that I "grew up" and realized I didn't have to deal with that pain anymore. I'm almost 60!  Now after all the pain of. watching my BPD daughter burn a trail of destruction, financing her instability to the tune of about 45k dollars, and frequent quarrels with my husband, she has chosen to stop talking to me.  I feel like "the nerve of her"!  How ungrateful!  I grew up not knowing the healthy ways to grieve or be angry.  My mother screamed, cursed and my father hit things.  I was raised with "You shouldn't feel that way... suck it up..etc."  Now here I am trying to learn about how to handle this.  Right now... I am choosing to grieve.  I feel myself getting profoundly sad, but then anger takes over.  I am SO thankful for this website.  I think I will find the answers I am seeking as well as the tools I need to repair my relationship with my daughter.  I just get so scared that I won't be able to change myself in order to help her.  

Thanks for being so honest... It sounds like you are starting to do the things that you need to in order to understand your anger and to learn from it, purplezinnia. Please make sure to check out the links to the right-hand side of this page; The Lessons and the Tools will give you the answers you are looking for in order to repair the relationship you have with your daughter.

According to Virginia LaFond, in order to get a handle on our anger and move on from it, we need to learn that being angry is okay, and that we need to learn ways to express and use our anger constructively--we can learn how to handle our anger. We need to be able to find and affirm our own reasons for being angry, and to work actively to discover what our own particular angering situations and issues are. She suggests:

Use our anger positively: It has a legitimate place and function in our lives.

Anger is an unacceptable excuse for destructive behavior.

Anger requires us to make choices about its use.

Whatever form our loss takes, our anger is normal and healthy.

When we are consciously grieving our experience with mental illness, making use of our anger is an unavoidable part of the journey to recovery.


She suggests that we deal with anger step by step:

1. Name and claim your angry feelings; you are feeling angry for a reason. The list, short or long, contains realities that have meant crushing hardship.

2. Look for the cause of your anger. Looking for what's underlying the feelings of anger can have many benefits, including some unexpected and welcome ones.

3. See in anger its signal for decision-making: The key to learning how to employ anger constructively is to recognize its presence as early as possible, and to see this as a signal to start making decisions. Recognizing anger can be the start of a fact-finding mission to determine how others have handled the same situations that you are in, and the availability of resources in your community, and to find out what you can realistically expect.

4. Find a safe place--a place to give ourselves a chance to simmer down, sort out our issues, rank them, and then make choices. She suggests that safe places can be bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, studies, streets, park--any place that provides a calm, supportive atmosphere. And we should consider inviting someone we trust to be with us when we are attempting to put the energy of our anger to a useful purpose--this not only makes a safe place more safe, but also can be of real value in helping us make constructive decisions.

5. Choose a constructive route for our anger.

There is more information in the book "Grieving Mental Illness" (linked to in the first post on this thread).

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pessim-optimist
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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2015, 11:19:36 PM »

  • What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?
After having been in the acceptance phase for a while, through practicing and improving my coping skills I have gained more insights (defined as the opposite of denial), which has brought on another, deeper cycle of grieving. Currently, I am in the stage of profound sadness.  

  • How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?
Building on awareness of the grieving process, and knowing that this is normal, letting myself experience the feelings of sadness and being kind to myself in the meantime.
At the same time, I know it is just a phase that will pass, and I also need to nurture myself through it and encourage myself to shift focus when I can, and concentrate on activities that are uplifting and will in the end help me feel better: physical exercise; listening to music; doing something productive for others that will bring everyone joy; and very important for me - concentrate on the Lord and His goodness - there are so many aspects of my life I can be thankful for and find peace in that will help me overcome (not deny) the hardships.

  • Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?
Actively working through the sadness and knowing it will pass, rather than helplessly wallowing in it (which I used to do) gives me a sense of purpose and hope. I do not berate myself and do not try to talk myself out of my feelings. I work with them and through them.
Knowing that after sadness I will likely experience anger, I can be ready and on the lookout for signs of seemingly irrational irritation and start processing it and dealing with it from the beginning. Making the conscious connection between my anger and the grief process, I will be better able to uncover the real reasons for my anger rather than being sidetracked, and I will use the energy of the anger (energy that I lack in the present stage of sadness) to find productive solutions and changes that are necessary.

  • Are you grieving in a healthy way?
For a long time I didn't. I was not aware that I was actually grieving, plus I was not in touch with my feelings.
Learning about the grieving process and what is healthy/not healthy AND learning to know my feelings and use them in positive ways rather than stuffing them, denying them, and pushing them out of the way has been a very rewarding learning process.

  • What do you do with your fear?
I used to see fear as a stop sign. And sometimes it is just that when it warns us of grave danger. Often though, it is an uncomfortable feeling that accompanies uncertainty, new experiences, or is a reminder of past unpleasant experiences.
I now look at fear critically - is it a warning, or is it something I need to work through? If it is a warning, I heed it and/or make a safety plan. If it is something I need to overcome, I take it apart and take it on little by little.

  • Will you ever finish grieving?
I think I have finished grieving the fact of my step-daughter's mental illness and most of the past. There continue to be and will continue to be new situations and reasons to grieve as long as she is ill...
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uBPD step-daughter (adult, married w/3 kids), uBPDm, NPD-traits dad


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« Reply #26 on: March 31, 2015, 07:23:43 PM »

  • What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?

I'd have to say that I am in the acceptance stage... For all of my BPD loved ones (diagnosed adult son, Husband with BPD traits, undiagnosed BPD M-I-L, and D-I-L with BPD traits). Finding this site and learning the Lessons and reading the books I've read have helped me get to this point. Learning the communication techniques in dealing with each of them has made things better, also.

  • What losses have you experienced in your life due to your mental illness experience?

I've lost the dream of my son accomplishing all of his goals when he was a child; the BPD that started kicking in during his pre-teen years derailed his being able to make the best use of his education, and he is now just treading water when it comes to being able to support himself. He is in recovery for the BPD, and doing well in that way, but his maturity and accomplishments have been stunted.

I've lost the dream of having a great relationship with a D-I-L; I somehow always thought that my D-I-L would be like a daughter to me. Since I have 2 sons (the non-BPD one is the one who is married), I'd always dreamed of having a daughter or daughters, once they'd marry. Not in the cards for me... She and I have a carefully respectful--and sometimes even warm--relationship, now that I've learned how to help that along by using the correct communication tools.

But we are not really close, and nothing like a real Mother/Daughter-type relationship like I'd hoped. It's too bad, too... I love her like a daughter, and have always wanted a great relationship, but she is not interested in anything more than just friendly chitchat when we see each other, every few months or so. Which also affects my dream of how being a Grandmother would be; their only child is almost 2 years old, and I've only seen him maybe 9 different times? Maybe less.

  • How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?

I read books about BPD and relationships. I read other members' stories on this site. I ruminate with my Husband about our situation (especially with D-I-L), and vent to him so I can be in wise mind and centered when dealing with my BPD son and D-I-L (other son's wife). I remember that I need to Radically Accept my relationships, and be thankful for what I do have... I could be unknowledgeable about BPD and how it works (like in the past), and things would be so much worse. I know that for a fact; things were so much worse in the past.

  • Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?

I am more compassionate, empathetic, understanding and loving to everyone in my life now; what I've learned to make life better with my BPD loved ones has made me a better human being all around. I use my experiences to help others in the same shoes I was wearing in the past; I listen and give insights when I can.

  • Are you grieving in a healthy way?

I am. I'm taking care of myself; I give myself some slack and love when things get frustrating or painful enough to make me sad. I have my support system of sisters and friends (and the members here) to comfort me and give me advice when I need it. And then I move on; I try not to dwell on negative things.

  • What do you do with your fear?

I don't really have fears anymore; now that my BPD son is in recovery (from not only BPD but also a multi-year Heroin addiction, that landed him in the Dual Diagnosis Program that gave him the BPD diagnosis 2 years ago) and my D-I-L doesn't "do" No Contact with us anymore, I don't fear too much... After worrying that your son will die of an overdose, worrying about him finding a "good job" is not much of a traumatic event. After worrying that you will never see your first grandchild because of No Contact, when that isn't happening anymore and you see him every now and then, you are thankful for that blessing.

  • Will you ever finish grieving?

Probably not. But I think that the pain of it gets less and less with time, and easier to overcome. My new approach to my situation is helpful and calming for me... I'm happier than I've been in years  smiley
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MammaMia
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« Reply #27 on: March 31, 2015, 11:18:28 PM »

There are situations in life that require radical acceptance.  Bpd is one of them.  The fact is we cannot change or remove this cruel disorder from our lives or the lives of our loved-ones, nor can we avoid the  chaos it creates, but we can control our own emotional flexibility.   

With acceptance we acknowledge our limitations.  We will always have a deep feeling of loss for what might have been.  The "what ifs" and the "whys".  But, we need to let our expectations go and appreciate the "what is".

Consider the fact that things can always be worse, and be grateful for the moment. 

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