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Author Topic: 9.02 | Grieving Mental Illness in a Loved One  (Read 7786 times)
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« on: March 04, 2015, 07:20:41 AM »

    PERSPECTIVES:  Grieving Mental Illness in a Loved One

    Do you have a child or a family member or a spouse with a mental illness?

    Are You Grieving? There is something going on within each of us and we may not be giving it the attention and recognition it deserves; we are grieving.

    We often think of grieving as a process reserved for those who have experienced the death of a loved one --  grieving is a healthy and natural process that occurs in response to any significant loss regardless of what that loss is.

    Grief Can Take a Toll on Us Early on in our journey of being a supporter or caretaker for someone who is mentally ill we felt initial relief to discover either through our own research or through a professional diagnoses that there is a name for our loved ones' struggle.  Most of us moved quickly into problem solving mode, looking for ways to help our loved one and paid little to no attention to what we are actually feeling.  As our journey continued and we learned more about this mental illness we begin to become exhausted, confused, frustrated, sad, angry, guilty, worried, lost, isolated, scared, ashamed, and many more emotions.  In short... .we are experiencing loss. When we feel loss, we are grieving.

    When we fail to do grief work, acknowledge our feelings and the losses we experience, it can really take a toll on us and keep us "stuck". Consciously grieving is a positive experience that can renew our hope  and lead us to make positive choices for ourselves. As we begin to consciously grieve we are giving ourselves the opportunity to recover from our experience with mental illness as a caregiver and even as a sufferer. The grieving process is highly individualized and there is no set rules to comply with.  Unhealthy grieving occurs when we stay in the same stage with no movement for "too" long.  How long is too long depends on the individual and their unique circumstances.

    Grief Recovery The upside is that the grief process has recognizable phases or stages, one of these stages is accepting or acceptance. As we become aware of the coping strategies we already have and begin to use them more effectively through consciously grieving we discover new skills, reduce our stress and boost our self esteem. We can find some peace and calm for ourselves and that is essential for each of us to be healthy.

    There are 4 phases or stages of grieving:

    Denial

    Anger

    Sadness

    Acceptance/Accepting

    Fear is usually present in the denial, anger and sadness stages of grieving.  Being afraid is a survival instinct.  Fears can be tamed by naming and claiming them as our own and allowing them to prompt us to make positive, necessary changes in our lives.

    The acceptance stage is often referred to as the accepting stage because we may have to revisit this stage many times in our grieving journey.  As situations evolve and new losses are experienced we will need to work towards accepting these losses.

    Workshop Objectives  The key discussion points around understanding the grieving process:

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


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


    • How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?


    • Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?


    • Are you grieving in a healthy way?


    • What do you do with your fear?


    • Will you ever finish grieving?


    [/list]


    * The focus of this thread is on self and our personal thoughts, feelings, and grief process. Please be mindful of this in your replies.  It is important work that we each need to do for ourselves.

    Thanks in advance for your participation and advice in this workshop.


    *Adapted from "Grieving Mental Illness" by Virginia Lafond


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    « Reply #1 on: March 04, 2015, 12:12:27 PM »

    Rapt Reader,

    Thanks for starting this topic. I often refer to my experience of understanding my husband as working through grief. Currently, and thankfully, I'm in the acceptance stage. I got stuck for a long time in the anger and since I couldn't express it at him, nearly every post I wrote here utilized the f word in some fashion. It took a lot of purging to get past the anger, most likely because I had been stuffing that emotion for so long. In comparison, I zoomed through the sadness phase rather quickly.

    I still feel some disappointment that our relationship falls far short of the romantic ideal I thought it would be, but I'm adjusting my expectations downward and noticing all the ways my life is wonderful.

    I'm very happy at the moment and part of that may very well be due to the absence of drama in my life this week since my husband is out of town at an art workshop.

    Lately I've realized that I've spent my entire life wrapped around someone else's anguish due to mental illness. First it was my BPD mother, then my first husband who also had BPD, then a boyfriend with PTSD and now another BPD husband, except he's more functional than all the others. I'm realizing that I'm totally done worrying about someone else's happiness the way I used to. It's their f-ing choice and if they want to be miserable, then fine. However, I'm not going to let them bring me down.

    So, to quote Pharrell Williams in "Happy"

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

    Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,

    Well, give me all you got, and don't hold it back, yeah,

    Well, I should probably warn you I'll be just fine, yeah,

    No offense to you, don't waste your time

    Here's why

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you know what happiness is to you

    Because I'm happy

    Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do

    Bring me down

    Can't nothing

    Bring me down

    My level's too high

    Bring me down

    Can't nothing

    Bring me down

    I said (let me tell you now)

    Bring me down

    Can't nothing

    Bring me down

    My level's too high

    Bring me down

    Can't nothing

    Bring me down

    I said

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    « Reply #2 on: March 04, 2015, 05:50:07 PM »

    I am hovering somewhere between sadness and acceptance. I have a lot of good things happening in my life right now, and I am taking time to be present and appreciate them. I owe a lot to everyone here and to my T for opening my eyes to the presence of mental illness in my life that I was unknowingly, poorly coping with. Still, I find it hard to fully accept that this is just the way my wife is, not intentional, not willfully so, but because she can be no other way. I still struggle to accept that I will never have an outlet in her for expressing my feelings, hopes and dreams. But, I am learning that it's up to me to find the outlets that I need, and I want to get on with being alive.

    Releasing the desire for her to change, every change that I need for my own happiness is possible. That's where I am at. Thanks for the good topic and reminder that grieving is part of what makes us human.
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    « Reply #3 on: March 04, 2015, 09:40:00 PM »

    According to our Workshop Radical Acceptance for family members,

    There are three parts to radical acceptance.

    ~~The first part is accepting that reality is what it is. 

    ~~The second part is accepting that the event or situation causing you pain has a cause. 

    ~~The third part is accepting life can be worth living even with painful events in it.



    Radical Acceptance that our loved ones with BPD are they way they are, and letting go of trying to change them, can be some of the most helpful "tools" learned on this site. Changing the way we interact with them can make the difference in everything: we can become better, less controlling people, and they can respond in ways that reinforce our desires to continue on that road... .

    According to Virginia Lafond, in the preface to her book referenced in the first post:

    From the onset it is essential to appreciate grieving as the healthy, normal, adaptive process it is. As you proceed through this book, you will see that grieving becomes effective when we give ourselves permission to become conscious of what is happening to us, and to both tune into and work with that process. As we move from unconscious grieving -- being unaware of how we are feeling - to engaging in the grieving process consciously, we enable and enhance our recovery from our mental illness experience.

    Consciously grieving mental illness can bring healing to many, even all, aspects of our lives. It can help us become aware of the coping skills we already have and how to use them better. It can also help us develop new ways of coping, reduce stress, and boost our self-esteem. For those who suffer mental illness first hand, the conscious grieving of mental illness could help you prepare, not only for a formal rehabilitation program but also for your ultimate success in such a program. For family members, friends, and other caregivers, having a better understanding of the links between loss, grieving, and mental illness can help you use your grief to come to peaceful terms with your experience with mental illness. Finding some peace in the midst of the mental illness maelstrom is absolutely essential!


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    « Reply #4 on: March 04, 2015, 09:48:28 PM »

    For a long time, I felt like I rotated through anger, sadness and acceptance. Some days I was ticked off that I had to deal with this nonsense, other days I was sad that there are some things he just doesn't have to give me. Other days, I accepted and enjoyed what I have.

    At this point, I think I have reached acceptance, although I think I regress into sadness occasionally. I'm not sure if I will ever stop grieving, because the loss of a SO who can empathize with me when I'm feeling down leaves a big hole in what I think a marriage should have. Knowing that when the going gets tough, my spouse goes away (mentally or physically) is a sad thought.
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    « Reply #5 on: March 04, 2015, 11:53:45 PM »

    Thank you for posting this.  It is timely for me.

    I first discovered BPD and was convinced my husband had it 4.5 years ago.  That was 4 years into the hell part of our relationship and it was such a relief to find a reason for the chaos in our home.  But then, he wasn't ready to deal with it so the chaos continued but I started the detaching process, and began taking care of myself instead of my focus being on him.  Even I didn't realize just how far I had detached until he finally got the point of wanting to get help this past year.  Realizing that his efforts, even though they are just beginning, are real efforts may just be "too little, too late" set off what I realized recently was grieving.  I've been cycling between anger and sadness, and I can see myself heading towards acceptance, but not sure if the acceptance is going to mean I accept being with him as he is or having to leave and accept that I can't be in a relationship with this much pain attached to it over so many years.  Time will tell.


    What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?

    As above, I am still cycling back and forth between anger and sadness, with the anger part become less intense and frequent.  I was holding back that anger for so long that when I finally let it out a few months ago, I had an almost BPD-like rage for a few days and it kind of scared me.  I've had much less anger since then and spent more time in sadness.

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

    My optimism.  My belief that if you do good things for people, they will do the same for you. Worst of all, the emotional safety of my home.

    How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?

    Several times over the years while things have been bad, I've taken myself to counseling.  This last time (I believe I'm near the end of this session and have come a long way) I really delved a lot into my own anger and talked about things like compassion and radical acceptance as well as forgiveness.  In just a few months, I've come a long way. 

    Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?

    Life experience.  Building my own strength.  Getting through difficult things and coming out the other end healthy and wiser can only make me a better person in the long run.

    Are you grieving in a healthy way?

    In some ways, yes.  In some ways, no.

    What do you do with your fear?

    My fears keep me from enjoying the potentially GOOD parts of the relationship as they are now.  It's keeping me distant and as detached as I can be without moving out.  I believe over time, with him truly working on his stuff and avoiding the constant "crisis to crisis" mode we've lived in for so long by using my own tools better and having boundaries, I will be able to heal this PTSD like feeling of fear.

    Will you ever finish grieving?

    I assume like all grieving, the stages will be worked through and I will be fine.
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    « Reply #6 on: March 05, 2015, 07:15:17 AM »

    What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?

    I am in the accepting stage.

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



    The loss of my ideals of what having a daughter to raise would be like... .closeness at the different stages of her development, watching her play sports, talking about her dreams, watching her make lifelong friendships, being part of her inner circle of valued and trusted people, and so much more... .



    •How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?


    I came here and learned I was not alone in my grief, I learned the skills to have a better relationship with my daughter, I allowed myself to be sad, angry, afraid and used those feelings to fuel my quest for affective care for my daughter and wholeness for myself.

    •Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?

    I share the success of my journey/ my daughter's success here at bpdfamily.com.  Once you  have suffered you have more compassion to offer to others, a greater ability to empathize, listen, and support.  The mental illness experience has made me a better person all around and I celebrate that.

    •Are you grieving in a healthy way?

    Initially I didn't.  Just like it is written in the first paragraph... .I was looking for ways to help my daughter... .not myself.  When members here would ask how I take care of myself I would think... ."me... .it's not me that needs help! If my daughter would get better I would be just fine!  That's all I need".  Honestly I can't really remember going through the "anger" phase that much.  Of course there were times that I became angry and they didn't last.  So perhaps I wasn't consciously grieving during that time.

     

    •What do you do with your fear?



    Because of my faith I can recognize it, validate myself for having it, see it from different perspectives, and confront it head on.  I do not allow it to dictate my decisions or responses.

    Will you ever finish grieving?

    Probably not.  As I wrote initially I am in the accepting stage.  I know that in life there will be disappointments and losses.  As these hard things happen I will have to work on accepting them individually and integrate them into my tapestry of life.

    lbj

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    « Reply #7 on: March 05, 2015, 12:29:47 PM »

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

    I am sort of in between accepting/sad. There are times I feel 'cheated' by not getting the husband I thought I was in the beginning.

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

    On top of my BPDh, I also have a paranoid schizophrenic brother. My brother had his psychotic breakdown about 6 months before meeting my now H, so I've been having to process that my brother as I knew him before is gone. I most likely will never be an aunt. He cannot take care of himself, and our father doesn't help so I am his caregiver. With my H, I mourn not having someone who can support me when I need it. I cannot rely on him to do the things he says.

    •How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?

    Right now I use this site as my sole support. I don't have anyone to talk to about it, but I am planning on starting counseling for myself as well.

    •Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?

    A lot of the communication skills I've learned to use with my dBPDh come in handy when I am at work dealing with difficult people. I also use what I know to hopefully help others who find themselves in similar situations.

    •Are you grieving in a healthy way?

    I think so... .but I'm learning that I need to work on me as well. I spent a lot of time putting all of my energy into other people, and I am realized I don't really have a clear picture of who I am. I have earned my self-worth through taking care of others.

    •What do you do with your fear?

    My only fear right now is if I get better with counseling... .will I even want to be in a r/s with my H? Right now I love him and cannot imagine it. But, I know I am unhealthy. If I get mentally healthy... .will I look at him as dead weight? I don't know.

    •Will you ever finish grieving?

    I think there will always be times you grieve. Just like when someone you love dies and a song plays that reminds you of them, you can't help but think about them.

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    « Reply #8 on: March 05, 2015, 03:05:49 PM »

    Thankyou for the post rapt,

    I think I am somewhere between anger and saddness.

    It's really sad that you can't ask your partner for emotional support and he is never there for problem solving weather it's about the relationship or other.

    I m at point in my relationship when he is dysregulated and I can't do anything about it besides being aware of the fact that he is this way and I can't do much about it besides taking care of myself.

    No Johnlove,you are not the only one.i feel the same since I have known about BPD every song seems to be about BPD love anthem .Smiling (click to insert in post)
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    « Reply #9 on: March 06, 2015, 10:23:48 AM »

    For a long time, I felt like I rotated through anger, sadness and acceptance. Some days I was ticked off that I had to deal with this nonsense, other days I was sad that there are some things he just doesn't have to give me. Other days, I accepted and enjoyed what I have.

    This best describes how I feel. Some days I can handle it with ease, other days I feel angry or sad, alternating between being angry at him or at myself, or feeling sorry for him, or myself. There is a very real loss caused by this disorder. I'm nowhere near fully accepting it. Part of my brain won't allow it. That silly optimist part. Baby steps... .

    At first, there's a great sense of relief in giving it a name. When I first discovered it, I had high hopes of making it work with him and living "happily ever after". I resolved to stop making things worse and thought that would be enough. It was, for awhile. We had a lot less conflict, the blaming and rages decreased. But those hopes were soon dashed. Because of his push-pull thing I got swept back and forth into the phases of grief... .Shock. Denial. Anger. Sadness... .Back to Anger. Sadness. Shock... .

    It's very difficult to grieve the loss of a loved one when they are still around. More like mourning someone in a coma. They're alive, but not available. We don't get to move thru the phases to acceptance, then eventually move on. Instead we become caretakers to people who are incapable of receiving/returning love or fulfilling our needs. Accepting this loss is one I'm not ready for yet... I know I want more than he can give. Most likely, once I've worn myself out in the phases circle, I'll finally accept it, move on, and ultimately abandon the one who fears it most.
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    « Reply #10 on: March 06, 2015, 11:19:43 AM »

    It's very difficult to grieve the loss of a loved one when they are still around. More like mourning someone in a coma. They're alive, but not available.


    This is called "disenfranchised" grief.  Not only do we have to deal with the stigma associated with mental illness and those who mean well and are invalidating, we also have to grieve when society for the most part doesn't recognize that we deserve to/should/or need to grieve.



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    « Reply #11 on: March 06, 2015, 11:48:08 AM »

    Hi Jessica.

    The tough part for me is not selling myself short. What I come to realize, over and over, is that living with a person suffering from mental illness is very difficult, no matter what the illness. There are the parts of our loved ones that have been ripped away from us, and there are the addition of new behaviors that are difficult to adjust to and cope with. NAMI describes that as the two edged sword. People in our situation often don't give ourselves the change to grieve the loss of what we had (or thought we had) because we are too slammed with coping with the present, added difficulties of what is. It is only in those moments of space, when we can pause, take a breath and take inventory that the loss and grief are felt. I really recommend the exercises in Stop Walking On Eggshells workbook. That was the first time I really allowed myself to start to feel the grief of losing the person I once thought I knew, and moreso, losing the dreams of a relationship that I once thought I could build. That kind of looking and resultant pain is excruciating, but it was so necessary for me to even make a beginning at letting go of those stubborn and desperately held dreams. I don't know where this all ends up - I only know that I want to be living as much as I can now, and holding back, waiting for things to get better that never were going to was a hell I do not wish to revisit.
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    « Reply #12 on: March 06, 2015, 01:15:21 PM »

    I'll try the workbook. Already read the book. I find it most difficult to get over the loss of "should". What he should do, what I should say, all to make the relationship be what it should be. It is difficult to get beyond that and accept it for what it is... .not enough.
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    « Reply #13 on: March 06, 2015, 01:35:19 PM »

    Jessica, I am so sorry for what you are going through. 

    I was on vacation last week with my family, and at some point, standing on a beach with my wife and kids, and looking at all the other couples, young, old and in between, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness as I looked at my wife. In a moment when all conditions were right to feel so good, I was awash in grief and feeling sorry for myself. I looked at my wife a second time, and felt the loss and loneliness that is her every waking moment, the tightness and anxiety around me and my oldest son, the inability to feel safe. I had to ground into the environment around me, notice the small things like a nice shell on the beach, the sound of a kid laughing, the sound of the waves or a seagull, the smile on my youngest son's face. I looked at my wife a third time and just appreciated that, despite the hardships, we made it to this nice spot at this moment, that we are both doing the best that we can, that some of both of our dreams are going to be unfulfilled and that we both have to bear that as best we may. I wish you as much peace and acceptance as possible. It's like the waves, coming in and out with the tides. 
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    « Reply #14 on: March 06, 2015, 02:53:46 PM »

    Jessica, I am so sorry for what you are going through. 

    I was on vacation last week with my family, and at some point, standing on a beach with my wife and kids, and looking at all the other couples, young, old and in between, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness as I looked at my wife. In a moment when all conditions were right to feel so good, I was awash in grief and feeling sorry for myself. I looked at my wife a second time, and felt the loss and loneliness that is her every waking moment, the tightness and anxiety around me and my oldest son, the inability to feel safe. I had to ground into the environment around me, notice the small things like a nice shell on the beach, the sound of a kid laughing, the sound of the waves or a seagull, the smile on my youngest son's face. I looked at my wife a third time and just appreciated that, despite the hardships, we made it to this nice spot at this moment, that we are both doing the best that we can, that some of both of our dreams are going to be unfulfilled and that we both have to bear that as best we may. I wish you as much peace and acceptance as possible. It's like the waves, coming in and out with the tides. 

    ... .thanks for the tears! Very beautiful and powerful post. The past 2 days I've been feeling a little overwhelmed with my H and his recycling conversations. Last night I wanted to hop in the car and disappear for a few hours... .and I should have. This has given me encouragement and thank you for that <3
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    « Reply #15 on: March 06, 2015, 03:40:55 PM »



    What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?  The last time i posted was my first on the Staying:  Improving a Relationship Board In that post I stated that i was different.  I am different because I finally accepted that I was the one who had to change in order for the relationship to change.  So I am in the Acceptance Stage.  A better stage than Denial, Anger or Bargaining!  I highly recommend acceptance!

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

    Self-Respect - I lost a lot of respect for myself because I "put up with" name calling, and just flat out rage.  I always felt that if he would realize what damage his rage was inflicting on me that he would change.  But, unfortunately, this is not the case.  

    Trust - Once I learned about BPD I understood why I had been second guessing myself.  This was a result of crazy making behavior I experienced for decades.  I have had to learn to trust myself again.  that i am able to discern correctly what is happening even when things are chaotic.

    Time - I have wasted so much time trying to explain, justify and defend myself.  Now I realize that this was a waste of precious time.  I have also wasted time trying to please my s/o when there was no way.


    How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?

    I am treating myself kindly.  I am a good person, not a perfect person and that is okay.  

    I try not to paticipate in heated conversations.

    I exercise.

    I spend time with people who like and respect me.

    Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?

    Now that I have accepted the situation, I am deciding what i want my life to be about.  I am making choices and taking action to have the kind of life I want.

    Also, an added bonus of learning to validate is that it is a positive tool in my other relationships.  I am a better listener.

    Are you grieving in a healthy way?

    Yes, I am making healthy choices.  I am allowing myself to be sad sometimes.  I pushed my sadness down for a long time.  

    What do you do with your fear?  

    This is a hard one.  I am fearful of situations getting out of control, but I try to practice those things that  will help me handle whatever comes up.  Acceptance has helped me acknowledge that my s/o will rage again.  I am no longer in denial.  I used to hope that it just wouldn't happen again, but now i know it is not if, but when.  This helps me to prepare my reaction when things become dysregulated.

    Will you ever finish grieving?

    I don't think so.  But, grief is a part of life.  There is always something to miss.  I plan to be grateful for what i have and to enjoy the life I have as much as possible.

    Whew!  That was a constructive inventory!
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    « Reply #16 on: March 06, 2015, 06:04:57 PM »

    Whew!  That was a constructive inventory!

    Well done!
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    « Reply #17 on: March 07, 2015, 04:40:19 AM »

    What comes next after Acceptance?

    To me Acceptance is acknowledging that you share the stage with this player called Mental Disorder. (Coexisting)

    There is then a need to go on and thrive, you may have to share the stage, but there is no reason you can't be lead player once again (Continuing self development).

    There is nothing to say that you are merely an understudy, there for security.
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    « Reply #18 on: March 07, 2015, 04:53:04 AM »

    What comes next after Acceptance?

    To me Acceptance is acknowledging that you share the stage with this player called Mental Disorder. (Coexisting)

    There is then a need to go on and thrive, you may have to share the stage, but there is no reason you can't be lead player once again (Continuing self development).

    There is nothing to say that you are merely an understudy, there for security.

    Amen to that!
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    « Reply #19 on: March 11, 2015, 01:00:17 PM »

    After Acceptance (and your definitions are good, waverider!), Coping should come into play.

    According to Lafond (in her book "Grieving Mental Illness"; Detailed Book Review here: https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=225328.msg12431976#msg12431976), there are

    Two Key Coping Questions:

    • "1. How can I help myself cope with …." (insert feeling of circumstance),


    • "2. Are there ways I can use this experience of … constructively?"


    If we are dealing with a feeling, we are working with the energy of that feeling. If we are dealing with a circumstance, we are looking at knowledge we have gained. Can we do something about our situation? If Yes, do it. If Not, practice letting go.

    It’s Okay to not feel Okay--our feelings will be uncomfortable at times. You may also have mixed feelings or not know how you are feeling.

    It's best to work with the two key coping questions in a safe and relaxing place, invite a friend if we can, be gentle with ourselves and not sabotage our efforts by thoughts such as: 'I shouldn’t be feeling this way,' or 'this is unimportant'.

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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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    « 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.



    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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    « 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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    « 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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    « 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  Smiling (click to insert in post)

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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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    « Reply #28 on: July 18, 2015, 11:18:00 PM »

    Just the topic I needed! I have been grieving today.

    What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?  Sadness, anger!

    What losses have you experienced in your life due to your mental illness experience.  The loss of my brothers, because they could or did not want to deal with my issues.  The loss and abandonment of my entire family, except my sister, because I got into recovery and they did not like what I was saying and doing in my therapy.  As far as our son, it has been very painful and hard getting to the acceptance.  I did not want him or any of our children having to suffer as I did.  I wanted to protect them and fix it and make certain they had normal, happy wonderful childhoods and adulthoods.  Surprise surprise I do not have that kind of power!  It has really affected me deeply and intensly and I have felt alot of guilt at times, excessive responsibility at times.  Watching some of our children struggle with mental health issues has been very hard on me and I have become very depressed at certain times.  My dreams hopes and aspirations for them being dashed and not fulfilled has been very hard to accept.

    Are there ways you use your experience contructively?

    Yes I led Recovery Int. for people with Mental Health issues for ten years.  I still participate in phone meetings.  It saved my life.  Also sharing with our children all the tools I have learned for myself with them.  Sharing my experience, strength and hope with others in 12-step programs and on this site.  I also belong to a mental health phone group I attend once a week and am planning to write my own story and publish, and get more involved in ridding our society of the stigma  toward people  with mental illness.

    Are you Grieving in a Healthy Way?

    Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  I have a hard time accepting my grief and intense feelings and crying.  This site and all the information I am reading is helping me do this much better.  When I fell like I am losing my mind in my grieving process and attach danger to it, I am not accepting my grief as a normal, healthy part of life.

    What Do You Do With Your Fear?

    Oh gosh I got into so much fear just the other day, when my swBPD, came in and starting talking about his DBT group and how he didn't feel he fit in and how he wasn't like any of those people.  How he doesn't have half the symptoms and behaviors they have and maybe he is not BPD afterall.  Oh I really got into fear, thinking here we go again he is going to run and not stay in his therapy and DBT group, etc,. etc.  How I deal is talk to healthy supportive people.  Pray, pray, pray, pray, meditate, meditate, read, read, call my own mental health group, call my therapist of 20 years who is my dear friend now.  Go to my 12-step meeting, sometimes attend extra meetings on the phone, whatever helps me get out of my frantic state at the time.  I do not like to be in emotional pain!

    Will You Ever Finish Grieving?

    No.  Realizing that I lost my own mother at four years old, my two sisters, baby brother, entire family abandoned me, my first husband died of cancer. I suffer from long-term depression and ptsd, so I feel I will always have periods where I will be grieving something!


    Thank you lbj for this subject I so needed it!  I needed the validation that it was normal and healthy too! Kelti

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