I don’t even know anymore

It’s one of those days.

I keep replaying the last 10 years of my daughter’s life wondering where I could have done something differently. Why didn’t I realize something seriously was wrong before now? All the what if’s are on a continuous loop in my head.

She came home yesterday around noon time. Our security cameras alerted me to motion in the driveway. I sat at work watching the camera, watching her. I needed to see her face. I needed to make sure she was physically okay. Did she have bruises? Did she have cuts? I obviously couldn’t see all that from the camera. But she was home.

I returned home from work around 4:15. I figured she was in her room wrapped in her blankets sleeping or watching Netflix. I was right. She was asleep. I started dinner, doing the normal daily after work stuff. My son and daughter-in-law stopped over to eat with us (I was trying a new recipe). I went to my girls room to wake her up and see if she was going to eat with us. She did come downstairs. She was pale, looked exhausted and didn’t say much. This was the first time in 6 days that I saw her. She slowly opened up, not talking about the past 6 days, but just the normal banter that happens at dinner. After dinner I stepped out on the porch to get some air and sat down at the patio table. I apparently had dropped my head and was rubbing my eyes/temples when my girl walked out. She asked if I was okay. I was honest and told her no, I wasn’t okay. I seriously can’t even remember everything that was said. It was mostly me talking. Only talking, no yelling, screaming, etc. She told me that within 3 months she would be moving out to move in with the boy and his family. I told her all my honest fears and worries for her. I told her over and over and over again that she would always have a home with us and the door would always be open for her. The conversation was probably 35 or 45 minutes. It was long, it was repetitive, it was emotionally draining. I think it went as well as it could have. I was shocked when she told me she was leaving again that night to go to the boy.

It was a sleepless, restless night. But that is becoming the norm. I stood in the shower this morning and couldn’t remember what to do first. Holding the soap in my hands wondering what to do with it. Every action or motion I make today feels like it drains me just a little bit more. Driving to work I was on autopilot. I think I drove safely. I honestly don’t remember.

I want to be pissed off. I want the anger and rage to take over and push me to the next phase of whatever this is. Is it grief? Is it a sense of loss? What is it that I’m feeling? I want to tell her she owes me thousands of dollars for all the shit I tried for her. All the crystals that help anxiety, the essential oils that help anxiety and depression and the headaches and that help her sleep better, the money on the spiritual healer that she didn’t listen to, the pure sage stuff to cleanse the house and her spirit, the new mattresses and bed linens that had to be replaced because her cat pissed on them (because she doesn’t clean the litter boxes), the new clothes because she lost more weight than she should have and had nothing to wear. I could go on and on. Our savings is lower than ever and I have to pay my school taxes. That’s on me. I was trying to help my girl. All I did was help my girl walk out the door.

Living in the wake of mental illness

It has now been 6 days since my girl has been home. I have had limited contact with her. Each day I ask if she is come back to town, I don’t use the word home. Each day she tells me she will be back the next day. That hasn’t happened.

I honestly have no idea when I will see her. I basically know nothing about what she is doing or where she is at. I know a general area she is in, but that is it. My mind is filled with horrible scenarios, all ending in her leaving this world. I can’t understand that she doesn’t care enough to see her 1 year old niece, or the cat that we finally agreed to let her get. The cat was like her emotional support animal.

I know that her Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is in control of her mind. I have read and read and read about BPD and it’s manifestations. I am trying to understand. I am trying to wrap my brain around it. It’s hard.

There is another side to loving, caring and living with someone that has a mental illness. All the people that love and care about my daughter get caught in her wake. There are days where the lake is smooth and crystal clear and it’s a joy to be around her. There are days when the lake is a little rough and you are never sure what might trigger her. And then there are the days that are pure hell.

Another piece of the illness, at least in my daughters case, is how she chooses to keep her surroundings. I really can’t believe I am sharing this, but it’s part of it. I am sharing pictures of my daughter’s bedroom and the bathroom my daughter uses. I can only assume that the chaos she chooses to live in is similar to the chaos in her mind. Both my husband and myself have cleaned her room and bathroom numerous times – always with the promise that this time she will keep it clean. The pictures don’t show the shit that is stuffed behind the bed or under the bed. And I never know what I will find shoved in drawers.

Today, I am numb inside and out. I ugly cried for about an hour on Friday. I needed that. The tears come out of the blue. Sometimes it might be a song I sang in the car with my girl or a memory that comes up on Facebook. I’m sad, I’m pissed off, I’m hurt, I’m so fucking angry, I hate the boy, I hate the disorder. Most of all I hate not being able to save my girl.

Letting her go

I lost. He won.

She isn’t getting therapy, she’s getting a job where he lives and is moving in with his family. He is a basic hood rat. He is a drug dealer. He is a narcissist. He is controlling her. He won’t let her go til she is dead. He will beat her, physically and mentally. He has made me her enemy.

How long until the newness wears off and her disorder takes over? How long until she creates a whirlwind of a mess in her new place? How long until she quits the job because she isn’t ready for it? If she ever comes back home, how much worse will she be? How long until there are more cuts? How long until there are more attempts?

I extended an olive branch to him. He (figuratively) slapped my face and declared the conversation over. I spoke of my girl and what she needs and how we can help her. He spoke of his ego, never of her and her well-being.

So many what if’s, so many fears……………

Emotional Conflict

As a self proclaimed super mom, there are days/weeks/months/years that I feel like a complete and total failure. I am not looking for a pat on the back or a “but you’re doing great” comment. I’m being honest. I can’t imagine anyone that is a parent/guardian/caregiver/whatever hasn’t felt like a failure at some point. And it’s not so much an outward failure where my kid showed up at soccer practice with no cleats, shin guards, water bottle or ball; more of an inner failure. The struggles we feel daily. The times when we question our decisions and the answers we gave to important questions. The times when I say to myself – I have no fucking idea what I am doing.

As horrid and awful as it sounds, I am having a moral and inner fight about suicide. I feel an overwhelming sadness washed over me the last few years. I have a nagging voice in the back of my mind that keeps saying “what if”. What if I am wrong to try to convince my daughter to stay in this world? How can I tell her over and over again that things will get better, but they haven’t? How can I know what she feels? When she tells me she doesn’t feel connected to anything in this world or she finds it impossible to feel any amount of happiness. Who am I to tell her she has to stay and fight? Am I being selfish in keeping her in my world? Am I being selfish to allow her to continue to feel the daily pain of her life? This feels so wrong to put into words, but I question my decisions daily.

I sob when I have dreams that she is gone, that I can never see her smile or smell her hair when I hug her. But what about her? Is she holding on because she feels guilty? Have I made her feel guilty? She finally has an actual diagnosis of what she has been fighting, but I keep telling her the diagnosis doesn’t define her. I am begging her to get the therapy. I am asking her to give her life one more year to see the change the right therapy can make. But she has to want it, she has to accept it, she has to embrace it. Can she? Will she?

Diagnosis

Feels like an eternity since I actually sat down and put my thoughts and feelings into words. That’s not to say that I haven’t had some amazing ideas that I know my followers would love…….however, this is about my baby girl.

At some point over the last few months, seeing my girl continuing to struggle it was decided she should undergo testing to determine what is going on. We were fortunate that she agreed to the testing and fortunate to have a very experienced psychologist administer the tests. The tests were conducted over three days. They were a combination of IQ and cognitive tests, as well as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and personality tests.

On 9/30/19, we met with the doctor to find out what the testing showed. I’m honestly not sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect to be told my girl has Borderline Personality Disorder. As the doctor began to explain what BPD is and what the key factors in this disorder are; it was like she was explaining the lat 10 years of my daughters life. It’s not that only one or two factors sounded “right” – they all sounded “right”. As the doctor continued to explain the disorder, I could feel my girl silently sobbing beside me. I keep trying to imagine what she felt hearing the results.

The doctor recommended a very specific type of therapy called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). And explained the reason all the other therapy and medications my girl has tried over the lat 10 years hasn’t worked is because the therapies were not specific to the disorder. The medications did nothing at all. This is a biological disorder.

We left the office with the name of a very well respected psychologist who is skilled in DBT. The psychologist isn’t taking new patients, but gave the name of another psychologist who also does DBT, who also isn’t taking new patients. But from that psychologist we received the name of two other psychologists, neither of which treat BPD. Within a few days I had a list of doctors/groups that I called with no luck. Either new patients were not being accepted or they did not treat BPD patients. I reached out to the psychologist who did the testing. How can we have a 30 minute meeting advising our daughter of this diagnosis and be sent away with nothing to really help her? The testing doctor then provided the name of a group that treats BPD patients. It has to be to good to be true, right? Right. The group is a two hour drive, one way. I still called, explained the situation to the intake person. She took all the information and called me back with an appointment time the following week.

I drove my daughter to the appointment. Yes, she is 19. Yes, she is considered to be an adult. But I really don’t give a shit because the last 10 years has sucked and she will always know that I will be supportive of her. She met with the psychologist alone first and then toward the end of the appointment I was called in so I could hear the recommended treatment. I could tell as soon as I entered the room that my girl was comfortable with this therapist. She was asking questions, talking and seemed more at ease. Th treatment would be two days a week. One day is a two hour session that is basically like a classroom setting to learn new skills and coping mechanisms. The other day is a one hour private therapy session. Included with the treatment is phone check-ins with the therapist. The therapist was concerned because of the distance between our home and the facility. It is also a huge concern of mine. Yes, my daughter can drive. But after a two hour drive to get to the facility, a two hour session, and another two hour drive home – I just don’t feel good about it. She will be mentally exhausted after the therapy and I don’t think driving on highways and expressways would be a smart situation to put her in. I am still exploring a drive service and trying to figure out how that would be paid for……………

I asked the therapist if there were any other facilities closer to our home that have a similar type program for DBT. Nope. They are the only one in the state and actually have patients from nearby states due to the success of their treatment plan.

Seemed like things were finally falling into place. One little hurdle, my daughter has to agree to the treatment. She has to agree to go and commit to a year of intensive treatment. She hasn’t agreed to it. She is in denial. She is tired. She doesn’t know if she has anymore fight left in her. She doesn’t think her life is worth it. She doesn’t want to have to fight her brain every single day to try and live a normal life.

Borderline Personality Disorder is very hard to understand. I have been reading only things recommended by the therapists we have been dealing with. I feel the following is an extremely accurate explanation. I am probably going to be sued for using this – but you can’t get blood from a stone.

“Beneath the clinical nomenclature lies the anguish experienced by borderlines and their families and friends. For the borderline, much of life is a relentless emotional roller coaster with no apparent destination. For those living with, loving, or treating the borderline, the trip can seem just as wild, hopeless, and frustrating. Jennifer and millions of other borderlines are provoked to rage uncontrollably against the people they love most. They feel helpless and empty, with an identity splintered by severe emotional contradictions. Mood changes come swiftly, explosively, carrying the borderline from the heights of joy to the depths of depression. Filled with anger one hour, calm the next, he often has little inkling about why he was driven to such wrath. Afterward, the inability to understand the origins of the episode brings on more self-hate and depression. A borderline suffers a kind of “emotional hemophilia”; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling. Prick the delicate “skin” of a borderline and she will emotionally bleed to death. Sustained periods of contentment are foreign to the borderline. Chronic emptiness depletes him until he is forced to do anything to escape. In the grip of these lows, the borderline is prone to a myriad of impulsive, self-destructive acts—drug and alcohol binges, eating marathons, anorexic fasts, bulimic purges, gambling forays, shopping sprees, sexual promiscuity, and self-mutilation. He may attempt suicide, often not with the intent to die but to feel something, to confirm he is alive. “I hate the way I feel,” confesses one borderline. “When I think about suicide, it seems so tempting, so inviting. Sometimes it’s the only thing I relate to. It is difficult not to want to hurt myself. It’s like, if I hurt myself, the fear and pain will go away.” Central to the borderline syndrome is the lack of a core sense of identity. When describing themselves, borderlines typically paint a confused or contradictory self-portrait, in contrast to other patients who generally have a much clearer sense of who they are. To overcome their indistinct and mostly negative self-image, borderlines, like actors, are constantly searching for “good roles,” complete “characters” they can use to fill their identity void. So they often adapt like chameleons to the environment, situation, or companions of the moment, much like the title character in Woody Allen’s film Zelig, who literally assumes the personality, identity, and appearance of people around him. The lure of ecstatic experiences, whether attained through sex, drugs, or other means, is sometimes overwhelming for the borderline. In ecstasy, he can return to a primal world where the self and the external world merge—a form of second infancy. During periods of intense loneliness and emptiness, the borderline will go on drug binges, bouts with alcohol, or sexual escapades (with one or several partners), sometimes lasting days at a time. It is as if when the struggle to find identity becomes intolerable, the solution is either to lose identity altogether or to achieve a semblance of self through pain or numbness.”

Kreisman MD, Jerold J.. I Hate You–Don’t Leave Me (pp. 11-13). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.