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please help me understand personality disorder(6 Posts)
Nearly all of the women in our family suffer with mental illness in the form of depression so I understand everywhere aspect of this But my cousin has been diagnosed with a personality disorder and I really want to understand the condition more and would love some real insight please, I hard to write but it's mainly so I don't shake my cousin through anger of her manipulation/ lies and pretending to be someone else.
2 years ago I ended up on a mental health ward and stayed for 4 weeks, last week my cousin had her boyfriend take her there because she said she felt like killing herself... This turns out to be false, the doctors there came to my aunties house and pulled her aside and said that it was all an act but it's her personality disorder that causes her to lie and pretend.
The reason this infuriates me is because 1) I was really worried about her because of being there myself and 2) I sick of her taking all the heartache I've had in my life and pretending it has happened to her!
I've had a rough upbringing through my parents and my auntie (mums sister) has given her a life that every child would dream of ( I desperately wanted my aunti to adopt me when I was young) BUT she takes the things that have happened to me and tells everyone that they have happened to her!
My question is, Is lying, manipulation and pretending wanting people to feel sorry for her all the time normal?
On the other hand she makes out that she has this 'gift' with training animals, she has one dog that my auntie has to look after all the time but when I'm around her and the dog she makes out that the dog has some kind of military training! I have 5 dogs and have trained for years in dog behaviour, I've never told my cousin or my auntie how I see this type of thing very often because my auntie has her head in the sand and refuses to see any of this behaviour
Phew I've calmed down slightly now and I just wanted to say that when she is being the girl I knew when we were growing up together, sweet, kind so caring, she always looked up to me being the older cousin and with us being the only girls born BUT since being a teen and into 20's it's become something else.
This is just my take on it, I am not an expert in this area but I have some personal experience of it and have done some research/training.
The person with the personality disorder (hate that word I would use would be 'a person with an emotion processing difficulty') doesn't think they are lying or manipulating anyone.
They are at the mercy of their moods swings, and they fully believe their thoughts at those times. So they end up 'behaviourising' their feelings. Because they are not processing and communicating their emotions effectively in response to a situation, there can be what is seen from the outside as moodiness, huffing, withdrawal, and/or a bitter resentment at particular people or a set of people.
The person experiences anger or another negative emotion, then interprets this as something that other people are causing to them. They start sending a flurry of texts to people hinting that they are uncaring people or they 'don't care' enough.
They feel people don't understand them, they kind of expect others to know how they are feeling even if the person doesn't tell others how they are feeling. They can have a real difficulty with having empathy or recognising that other's can feel like they have done. They feel they are the only one who is like this, everyone else is fine and has a great life, and then they can even start resenting others for having great lives. They might find it harder than someone else might, to shake these thoughts off. And of course we all have shit lives SOME of the time, just in different dosages.
So an example, they lie on their bed for days completely absorbed in how everyone else's life is great and they are the one to be pitied for all the awful stuff that happened to them. And most importantly, the more they buy into that idea the harder it is to unbelieve it. Then more similar ideas come and soon the person is actually behaving in a way that is influenced by those thoughts, and not noticing they are doing that. They are in a full blown mood swing, and then their behaviour swings into action because their mind tries to 'fix' it for them.
Another example, because they can't effectively process their feelings when they feel isolated and unloved (even if they aren't), they 'behaviourally' respond - they create strategies and situations that mean others come and see them, or attend to them. They crave connection with others but can't ask for it, so their clever brain comes up with other ways.
So just like you think your cousin has had an 'ideal' life, your cousin might really look up to you and think you have an 'ideal' life and she is the one who is to be pitied. Maybe she thinks if she is more like you, her life will get more 'ideal'. And her behaviour that you see as copying you, she may not be aware she is doing that. It's not a plan she has, it is something that she finds happening to her. And yes I can see how that would bug you hugely, it'd bug me too. If you pointed it out to her, my guess is she'd be completely taken aback and surprised at what you are saying. I would think that you are a very important person in her life and she probably literally can't tell you how much you mean to her.
These issues with personality and processing emotions only emerge in late teens or young adulthood as the emotional system matures, so there are subtle changes that only become apparent as the increased demands of adulthood are unmet.
The other thing about mood swings is that they are just that - they do come and go and make fools of us all. What seemed very 'real' yesterday is not so troubling today. Moods also come with a sense of permanence that makes them difficult to see as just moods that come and go like weather systems.
The best approach in this situation is to park the issues with your cousin, and come back to yourself and say 'what sort of person am I, and how do I want to treat people'. And if your cousin isn't really doing you any harm then maybe it might be possible to apply some compassion towards her. If she has had mental health difficulties then her life hasn't been 'ideal' at all has it.
Sadie, thank you for giving me some perspective from her point of view, sometimes it's hard when you emotional connected to that person, I still don't understand how she can keep it going this far just to 'fit in' have something in common with me, she's now claiming she can't be on the mental health ward i was on (she did one night) she would like to go private which means my auntie needs to remortgage her house to pay for this because my auntie has spent all her money on decorating my cousins flat and also every few months my cousin would like a new ccareer , so auntie pays out for college courses and then cousin drops out!
She's changes jobs and friends like her pants, and what is strange is every new job brings on new friends, she 'adapts' with this friends, starts talking like them, dressing like them etc.
When I'm around her she seems so 'normal' hate saying that because what is normal but everything that my aunties tell me about what's she's been up to is just hard to believe because she's just seems fine to me, my family tells me it's because she can't 'pull the wool over my eyes' and I'll just tell her what no one else will, but I never have to, she's so funny she literally makes me what to wet myself so when I here all this it confuses the hell out of me! I mean why would anyone take someone else's stories of abuse and tell people it happened to them?
How can she be wanting to have something in common with us if she's telling the abuse stories to others? Her mum has no idea this 'different side' to her because it's all lies to the outside world never the family, we here it from everyone else.
Thank you again for helping me understand
My daughter has BPD. I can assure you, you could meet her and she would seem perfectly fine - polite, well spoken, nicely addressed, witty...and then I could tell you what she has got up to in the last 2 years! You would find it very hard to believe!
Sadie9, that was a fab post, thank you for putting it on mumsnet
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