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Husband diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

(57 Posts)
dreamingofblueskies Wed 29-Oct-14 16:22:26

I posted back in August when I found out that my husband had been exchanging sexually explicit messages on facebook with an old school friend.
I decided to give us a go and started going to marriage counselling.

At the end of September it then turned out that he had done it (messages on fb) with 2 other women previously, which totally shook my world, as I had been starting to process the initial shock and had seen a very small light at the end of the tunnel. It had apparently progressed over a year from increased use of porn to live web cams to the fb messaging and his therapist says that it was sex addiction.

Anyway, I have stayed with him and we are still trying, and now he has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. This diagnosis fits him to a tee, with the exception of the abuse to other people, he has never been emotionally or physically abusive to me or anyone else, in fact he's the complete opposite, he's too nice.

He says that he thinks about killing himself regularly but would never do it, the thought of me and the dc stop him apparently. He started cutting himself but told me the next day when I asked him what his coping mechanism was and has now stopped, as far as I know.

The problem I have is this - I am still incredibly hurt, angry and confused by what he did, and can't find it in myself to be as understanding as I feel he needs me to be. I feel like my feelings have to take a back seat in order for him to deal with this diagnosis and I just don't find it fair, which I know is selfish, but I can't help it.

I still love him and if it was someone else then I could of course see why he did what he did just from looking at websites about BPD, but as it's my husband who's done this I can't help feeling that if he wanted to he could have stopped himself from doing the fb messaging.

I suppose what I'm asking is, does anyone have experience of a BPD dp/dh, and if so, can it get better?

Sorry for the long message.

Jan45 Wed 29-Oct-14 16:25:44

Sorry I don't have experience of this kind of thing but yes I agree, he choose to do it, he wasn't being operated like a puppet.

Personally that would be reason enough for me to leave the relationship, despite his `issues`. You are not selfish at all, you are having to deal with lots of crap which none of it you caused, you are perfectly entitled to say, you've had enough and no longer want to continue.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 29-Oct-14 16:27:47

I think you have to separate things a little. Regarding the diagnosis, the best people to advise on the lkely outcome are his doctor and other health professionals. Regarding the relationship, that's an entirely personal decision on your part. Just because someone can point to an official psychological disorder, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to stay together

quietlysuggests Wed 29-Oct-14 16:32:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jan45 Wed 29-Oct-14 16:35:17

Quietly has put it perfectly.

Yarp Wed 29-Oct-14 16:36:33

I would echo what Cogito and the others have said.

I have a very little bit of experience with someone with BPD. I think your children's protection is a massive factor here too.

Meerka Wed 29-Oct-14 17:16:34

BPD is one of the very few personality disorders that have a good prognosis. It improves over the years ... Generally.

One proviso: the person has to want to get better. They need to face up to the fact that the way they behave isn't healthy and they have to want to do something about it. That can only come from them.

uptodate Wed 29-Oct-14 19:26:52

I have BPD, if you want to PM me then feel free. I'm happy to answer any questions.

Couldntthinkofausername Wed 29-Oct-14 19:59:14

I'm new to this but having read your post I joined to offer you my experience. (I'm also not good with all the acronyms so apologies if I get that a bit wrong!)

My stbxh has problems which I learned of when I was pregnant. He has self diagnosed with bpd, thinking that the symptoms are a good description of how he is. He also has a sex addiction, all of which he has hid for years.

He revealed to me that he has an addiction to porn and has been seeing prostitutes for years, including all the time he has been with me. When everything came out he was suicidal and promised that it would all stop.

I stayed with him, thinking he could change but he never stepped up to be the husband I wanted or deserved. His behaviour is deep rooted and he doesn't want to face the causes of it because for him it is too painful. This led me to end the relationship which was a hard decision and has left me as a single mum to a young baby. But it was the right thing to do.

Since doing that I am so much happier. I have had counselling to help me understand things and realise that none of it was my fault. What I have learned is that unless he is willing to face up and deal with his issues, whatever they may be, he will not change and move forward.

I am by no means an expert and it is different for each person but my understanding and experience is that Bpd is a very complex thing and lends itself to 'black and white' thinking. This allows for a detachment from whatever behaviour they do and an ability to justify it because it is 'not them.' But it is them, they do have control of themselves and they are able to make choices.

My H was/is an incredible liar, he hid things with ease, which I think can be a trait of bpd in some people. I say this for you to be aware and don't take everything he tells you on face value. I hate to say it but please be mindful that the messages and webcam stuff may only be the tip of the iceberg. I had no idea what my H was up to and even now I know there is still stuff he has hidden from me.

For me it didn't get better. His promises only lasted a short while.

I'm sorry that this is happening to you, I know only too well how you must feel. Do not think that you have to fix him, he must do it on his own. You do not have to let your feelings take a back seat, you need support too, have you got a friend or family member who you can talk to? You must call for openness and honesty and if you decide to stay then this is how it has to be. If you decide to go, it will be hard but you will be ok. I hate cliches but I now believe that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.

26Point2Miles Wed 29-Oct-14 20:04:28

What led to him getting this diagnosis?

mamadoc Wed 29-Oct-14 20:14:06

He has a MH diagnosis but you are right in thinking that it does not absolve him of his responsibility for his infidelity

PD is a sort of grey area of mental health. It is not like psychotic mental illness where in some cases a person might indeed not be responsible for their actions whilst unwell and they will need medication to treat chemical imbalances

It is a spectrum disorder where there exist a range of personality traits and he is at the extreme end of those. He can change but it takes years of hard work in long term therapy to change ingrained patterns of behaviour set in childhood.

I would say that despite the diagnosis he is responsible for his cheating. He still needs to admit it was wrong, make it up to you and change his ways. It is fine to be angry with him that is normal.

If you know that you are not able to forgive this then that will still be true whatever the reasons might be on his part

You are not obliged to stay just because he has this diagnosis. It would be equally as valid to leave and let him work this out on his own

candyce83 Wed 29-Oct-14 20:16:45

I dated a bpd woman with narcissistic traits for 2 and a half years. I ended up having a nervous breakdown in hospital. It was the worst two years of my life. My only advice to you is run. This is deeply engrained in their personalities. Most do not seek out help. Hoovering, projection, black and white, push, pull, triangulation…its no relationship is it?

Check out

This woman writes amazing articles on bpd relationships. It felt like having my life read back to me.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Wed 29-Oct-14 20:26:16

The trouble with BPD plus any concurrent mental health disorders such as depression or hypomania or even disthymic moods is that even the most experienced clinicians cannot be totally sure what 'bit' they are treating at a given moment.

You need expert help and guidance here. The best clinicians will need regular management and clinical supervision to help them best treat and work with these clients so you will not be able to manage without it.

Thing is, saying these behaviours are totally his 'choice' and under his control doesn't allow for the fact that when the dysfunctional schemas of a PD form in early childhood, they go on to limit free choice by their very nature.

It is like asking somebody with no opposable thumb to display fine motor control before they have been taught how to.

Your husband will need very specific therapy to help him manage this condition and his behaviours and sadly this is not always easily obtainable on the NHS. It requires the utmost commitment by him in order to succeed.

Please ask for help for yourself so you can make any decisions with your interests (and those of your family) at heart. These interests may not concur with what your husband wants.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Wed 29-Oct-14 20:34:19

Posted too soon.

Basically with BPD,. the person learns very early on that the world is not a safe or dependable place and their place within it is not safe. For whatever reason, they cannot ask for their needs to be met in the manner by which others do. They do not trust the reliability of these methods, they might have experienced being ignored or developed unreliable attachments as young infants- there are so many things that can trigger BPD. Either way, people with BPD tend to use dysfunctional methods to seek help, attention or getting their needs recognised and met.

That might be 'acting out', passive aggressiveness, substance misuse or eating problems, issues with self esteem, anger, trust and self reliance. They may put the kibosh on something that is going well in a dysfunctional attempt to re-exert control. The fear of it all going wrong or letting them down is so great, they'd rather protect themselves against the unpredictability of this by bringing it all to an end themselves. They may react to love and trust and friendship by testing it because they feel it is not safe or holds threat or will go awry sooner or later.

They have learned sadly, that they will not be listened to when they ask 'properly' and so develop defence mechanisms designed to protect themselves from being let down once more.

dreamingofblueskies Wed 29-Oct-14 21:39:44

He got his diagnosis from a consultant psychiatrist, he's in the military so this has helped massively to speed up the counselling.

I do want to stay with him, but I can't help feeling that it's me that deserves the help, not him, and I know that this is not the way I can look at it, in order for him to help me he needs to get the help he needs first.

I just want to scream sometimes, life is so unfair, I literally did nothing to deserve this but my life has been totally smashed apart anyway and I have to try and put it together again while keeping the kids happy. Trying to keep my husband from despair is like having yet another kid.

LilAnnieAmphetamine Wed 29-Oct-14 21:44:32

You cannot keep him from despair. You do also deserve help from the point of view of (1) helping you manage your relationship with him. I would encourage you to read up on BPD, particularly from the perspective of family and friends and seek out some support IRL too.

The help you need is in securing your own boundaries because sometimes people with BPD can manipulate in order to have their needs met- it is all part of the dysfunctional mind set and you need to be strong in managing your own response to this.

What is key? Consistency, firm boundaries, openness and personal responsibility. But these will come from his therapy first and foremost and you must gain support too. Otherwise the push me pull me undermines any attempts by you to support and help him.

Riverland Wed 29-Oct-14 21:45:49

Does anybody idea Know what % of the population would be 'diagnosed' as BPD if they were tested?

Obviously there's a sliding scale here, some are more BPD than others, but I remember reading somewhere it was about 35% of people could be classified as BPD?

Meerka Wed 29-Oct-14 21:49:40

You do deserve help.

People don't always get what they deserve though sadly. But it's not a reflection on their worthiness, if you see what I mean.

It's possible that actually, you might have to let your husband get to grips with his despair. Come face to face with it, and face it down.

Can your husband's psychiatrist meet with you once to give you some pointers on the best way to handle him? you absolutely will need support yoruself too, or you'll burn out.

PotsAndCambert Wed 29-Oct-14 21:49:43

The point is that you both need help!!
I think it's perfectly normal to feel hurt in these circumstances.
I also think that the last thing you should so us to listen to people on the internet, that might it might not have real understanding of that specific illness, that he could gave chosen not to cheat.
You need support for yourself to deal with your feelings and understand what is going on.
He needs support to deal with his MH issue.
You need support to decide what are your boundaries and see if you want to stay or not.

dreamingofblueskies Wed 29-Oct-14 21:52:29

I hadn't even heard of BPD before he got diagnosed, but I must admit that at first glance I thought a lot of the mild symptoms could be classified as pessimism.

Obviously I see that this is over simplifying things, it's very confusing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 30-Oct-14 06:58:39

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you have the energy and will to remain with this person while they address their problems or whether that ship has sailed and they have to deal with it outside the family. Could be that you have to delay the decision, set a reasonable time limit to see progress and see how you feel if/when he shows improvement.

dreamingofblueskies Thu 30-Oct-14 07:10:17

That is exactly the problem, I don't think I do have the energy, and I don't know how to deal with it. The last time I got angry and shouted at him was when he started to self harm, so I have to try not to get angry with him for worry of what he might do to himself.

I am just totally exhausted by it all, I can't find comfort or pleasure in anything anymore. I would love to be the one who said 'fuck it all' and just stopped trying, instead I have to keep going for the kids.

Hollerback Thu 30-Oct-14 07:11:30

I was in a relationship with someone with BPD for a year, the last 2 months of which we lived together. I was prepared to support him to seek any help he needed but he just wouldn't, insisting he had done research on the Internet and could handle it himself. He couldn't.

During this year I was treated apallingly, but I always used to justify it by saying 'it's the illness'. Until my friend who suffers with similar said "yes, he's ill, but thst doesn't give him the right to be an utter cunt to you". It made sense and I left. It was the best thing I ever did.

Breaking up with someone who has BPD is difficult. It's likely to be horrific and dramatic. I had to get the police involved after he wouldn't give me my stuff back, threatened to end my career and have me arrested for assault (I'd never laid a finger on him). But I'm do glad I ended it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 30-Oct-14 07:18:10

If your husband is self-harming he needs a doctor or an ambulance. No lay person is equipped mentally or emotionally to deal with mental illness. If you are exhausted, stressed and depressed by the stress, you need to prioritise yourself, get support and let the medical profession deal with his problems. If you think he should be admitted to hospital, shoot for that. The DCs will really struggle if they have two mentally ill parents.

Meerka Thu 30-Oct-14 07:45:50

dreaming you need outside help to learn how to deal with someone with BPD.

The shorthand version is to "detach a little bit with love". It's intensely distressing to live with someone who is self-harming, but with BPD you could be pouring your love into him until you are empty and beyond and it won't make things better. It needs a bit of a step back and to learn a slightly different way of interacting with him. I do think you'll need outside help for that.

Question: does he fundamentally want to get better, and is he prepared to work at it and at your relationship? BPD or no BPD, that's the most important thing.

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