Sharon is 52 years old, lives in NSW and identifies as a family member of a person living with BPD.
What is your relationship with someone with BPD?
My child has BPD.
What could clinicians and mental health professionals have done better to help you?
The diagnosis gave me the opportunity to research the illness and to try to understand the pain my daughter was in. For me there was a sense of relief but I don't think my daughter has fully accepted the diagnosis.
What could have made the experience of receiving a diagnosis better?
Using more basic, straightforward language.
What would you like carers who are struggling to accept the diagnosis of BPD to know?
That with research, understanding the condition and encouraging their loved ones to seek help, a better relationship is possible. I’ve felt like walking away on many occasions but I’ve just learnt my own coping strategies.
What would you like carers who are struggling to support someone with BPD and feeling overwhelmed to know?
I keep a tight circle of friends who understand our family challenges and don’t judge. I try very hard to keep up my own hobbies, friends and interests. It has often overwhelmed me and I never thought I would be able to find space, but it’s essential.
What did clinicians and mental health professionals do well to support you?
Offering me counselling and looking for carer support groups.
Are you receiving support in your caring role? What support did you receive/ access?
I went to a course run by family connections. It ran for twelve weeks and I met lots of other carers. I realised so much from having a safe place to discuss our challenges and realising that others were experiencing the same difficulties. I also see my own counsellor.
What can clinicians and mental health professionals offer to better support you?
More carer support groups.
What self-care strategies work for you?
I use word games to gain space. I spend time alone and watch something on Netflix.
With the wisdom of hindsight what ‘words of wisdom’ would you offer carers struggling to support someone with BPD?
Learn as much as you can about the condition. Know when to walk away, back off and take a break. Make sure you find your own support, keep up with your own interests.