new here, seeking advice on adult daughter with probable personality disorder

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by PTSDmama, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. PTSDmama

    PTSDmama New Member

    so my 25 y/o difficult child daughter and i are not speaking, again. i'm just... devastated and empty and so completely at a loss for what to do. i don't have a good female role model. there are things a good mother should do and say here but i don't know what they are. i have tried to tell her i love her, and that as long as she is willing to keep working on having a good relationship with me, i am willing too. today she said she's done. and for reasons that just don't make any sense to me.

    a little background... even before her major mental health issues at 16, my daughter often seemed to live in her own world. we called her "world o' fantasy," and it was basically constructed of her ideals and expectations. but no one could ever live up to them, least of all me. when she broke mentally, she broke hard, for two years. i wouldn't wish what we went through on my worst enemy. that didn't ease until her nearly successful suicide attempt. then she finally allowed me to get her twice-weekly psychologist visits, with medication and once-monthly psychiatrist visits. she did well for a while, and eventually opted to wean herself off the medications and therapy.

    today she has moments of real maturity and lucidity, mixed with sheer world o' fantasy moments. she hits me with descriptions of her childhood that change with each telling. things that i know for a fact are wildly incorrect, outright made up or just plain wrong. but she works herself into believing it all, hurts from it, and gathers support from others in the process. she demonizes me in her descriptions, and after a lifetime of uncalled-for abuse from my parents and brother, it's hard for me to handle this.

    she's been through three mental hospitals, all when she was under 18. we got six different diagnoses for her, at least three of which fell in the group of personality disorders. but being under 18, a firm diagnosis could not be made. from what i have read, she seems to most closely fit borderline. certainly "walking on eggshells" is how many describe feeling when they're around her. i myself have higher than normal cortisol levels from perpetually high levels of adrenaline. in other words, i expect to be stressed, i expect attacks to come out of nowhere. i live life walking on eggshells. i have never doubted that a good many of her issues stem from me.

    sometimes good intentions just aren't enough.

    i hate that she's so miserable. i hate the role i've played in that. i fear for her future, though right now things are pretty decent for her. she married a wonderful man, from a good family, and they have two kids. she's a good mother, if a bit obsessive. what scares me is that a few times her husband has contacted me privately to ask why she's so... irrational. and what in the world can i say? as far as i know she hasn't told him about her mental health history. my family prefers to pretend none of it ever happened. i certainly can't be the one to tell him - i won't interfere in her life like that. but i know she doesn't have the best grip on reality and really needs to be back in therapy. i'm scared her husband is going to get tired of walking on eggshells around her and dealing with her irrationality. i'm scared he is going to give up on her and take the kids. she has alienated virtually everyone in our family - if he leaves she'll have no one but me, and that scares me too.

    i want to have a relationship with her. i want to see her stay in her marriage. i want to see her go back in therapy because i think it's the best chance she has at finding some inner peace. does anyone have any advice, or a comparable situation? how do parents of difficult adult children maintain relationships? is it too late to provide help that will encourage them to be better, stronger, healthier adults?
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Welcome to the CD board. There are many parents here who have walked in similar shoes and they will be along. I just wanted to say hi and let you know you were heard. I am truly sorry for the pain you have suffered and I wish it could be different. No child should have to suffer mental illness. I wish it was a priority for the medical community to treat with better methods.

    Stick around, I hope you find as I have that people here really are caring and helpful. Big welcome hug.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board. :)

    Those with Borderline can get better with proper treatment. IF they can acknowledge they have issues with the perception of reality/relationships and they truly want to get better. My daughter Nichole has been stable for several years now and is doing quite well with no signs of her borderline behaviors surfacing. She worked very hard to get there.

    The one thing I did find that worked was that with Nichole I refused to walk on egg shells. If she got mad, too bad. I flat out refused to play into the borderline behaviors, regardless of what she did to attempt to get me to do so. There were times when I ignored behavior because I knew it was related to her disorder, in other words.......she just couldn't get a rise out of me. Once she was calm, then we'd talk. Attempting to do so otherwise did no good, it usually just blew it up into a much worse situation.

    I don't know if schizophrenia was considered or not. Your description sort of reminds me of my mom who is schizo. While Nichole's reality was sometimes skewed a bit, my mom's didn't match events at all. While you could sit down and untangle Nichole's view of a certain event, you cant do that with my mom because hers is not even remotely close to what actually happened. So I bring it up not to scare you but to suggest you might want to read up on it and see if it fits or not. Having an accurate diagnosis means a more successful treatment.

    You've landed in a great place for support.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there.

    When you say she lives in her fantasy world does she just tell tall tales or does she honestly distort reality and think it happened? Either way, she is an adult and there is nothing you can do if she doesn't want to get help. I think sh e is probably asking for trouble by not being up front with her husband. He will find out. You can not make a mentally ill person become rational. She has to want and seek out treatment and try very hard to get better. It's a process, whether she has a personality disorder or a thought disorder.

    I recommend trying to detach from her. That doesn't mean not love her, but she is too old for you to help. Legally she can do what she wants to do and if she is hard to be around, it may be best for you if you are not so involved in her life. She will crash again and need help and she has her husband now. You need to enjoy your own life, your loved ones who can appreciate you and treat your kindly, and maybe get your own therapist who can help walk you through the process. If she is borderline and does not want help, she will be very difficult to deal with. I believe I had many traits of that when I was younger but I didn't want to be that way and worked liked all crapola to change, with lots of help (I still get help and I'm almost sixty). It is extremely difficult work, but very gratifying to the person when things improve. You may tell her about dialectal behavioral therapy...justg throw it out there. That way she at least knows what to look for if she wants help.

    Now if she actually gets psychotic, this can happen with borderline, but I never had this and I assume she will need medication.

    In the meantime, this is not your fault and you need to try hard to help yourself and treat yourself well and get on with your life. You will not be able to change her or to make her have a "normal" relationship with you or anyone else. The help she needs is beyond what you can give her and it's up to her. Nagging her, by the way, won't help either. Step back.

    Gentle hugs!!!!
  5. PTSDmama

    PTSDmama New Member

    thank you for the responses and welcomes. knowing there are others who understand this and have lived this is both calming and humbling. i'm sorry others have gone through this sort of thing, whether as parent or child or both, but i am so, so, so glad you're here.

    dialectal behavioral therapy - i am definitely interested in learning more about this. for the way my child's mind works, suggesting something specific like that goes over better than a vague, "go get therapy."

    @MidwestMom - my exhusband used to joke, "there's any easy way to tell your daughter is lying: her lips are moving." and sadly, there was and is a lot of truth to that statement. my daughter is a manipulator, laser-focused on getting what she wants and doesn't have any real internal barometer regarding ethics. she lies without batting an eyelash, and if it's a good lie, if she gets good (for her) responses, that lie becomes an unmoving, unquestioned truth in her world.

    the fantasy land part is her construct of ideals and expectations. it's not simply about her seeing the world through rose-colored glasses and being disappointed. her fantasy world contains fantasy characters who do her bidding, behave to her specifications, focus on her and nothing but her. a mother behaves like THIS; a father behaves like THIS; a husband behaves like THIS, etc. anyone who does not live up to her fantasy world construct is subject to a great deal of unpleasantness - insults, screaming, accusations, threats. a common response from family and her husband is, "i've done everything she wanted me to do - what more does she want?" and the only answer, really, is MORE. she is never, ever satisfied no matter how much is done for her. and that started when she was really young - that desire to be the center of attention and to always want more no matter how much is given has been in her since birth. she was literally "born that way."

    i do detach. i have to. she is mentally and emotionally vampiric. i don't want her gone from my life. i love her and and my grandsons with all my heart. but i can't deny feeling some relief that we're not talking right now. it's a respite from the demands and insults and drama and upheaval. it's a chance to try and heal a little. i'm tired. so tired. and so sad. i didn't win the biofamily lottery, and i'd really hoped for a better relationship with my only child. but it's not to be without some big changes. thank god for my non-blood family - they are my sanity.

    @Hound dog - i do think schizophrenia, or something akin to it, was one of the six diagnoses we got when she was a teenager. that was such a confusing time - no one knew what to do with her and no two "professionals" could really agree on what was wrong. i lean toward the personality disorders because it was the most common diagnosis and they do address a lot of her behaviors, but i certainly don't know anything for sure. and of course, as long as she avoids going to get help we won't know at all.

    and while i completely agree with you about refusing to walk on eggshells, it's often hard for me to avoid it. my daughter gives me no margin of error. i have abuse PTSD courtesy of my parents and brother, and from my daughter i get a mental and emotional minefield. could a situation be more ridiculous? but i wind up trying to tread lightly and be careful around her. it doesn't work for the long haul, of course. i stepped on a landmine a few weeks ago and she blew up and refuses to talk to me. i wind up using that "down time" to cry and shake and try to force bad thoughts and memories away.

    i would avoid her altogether - only child or not, mother of my grandsons or not - except that the only thing worse than having her in my life is not having her in my life. and i know she feels the same way. as long as there's any hope of a relationship i won't give up. what i wish is that she'll get help on her own and will eventually remove the eggshells and landmines herself.

    thank you again for the responses. just this little bit of posting and interaction makes things feel a little less hopeless. thank you so much for that. <3
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    PTSD, welcome. I'm glad you found us. I'm so sorry for the ordeal you are enduring with your daughter. I understand what it's like to live with mental illness, my brother is schizophrenic, my sister is bi-polar, my parents both had mental issues and so does my daughter, I get what it's like walking on eggshells. As others have pointed out, your daughter is an adult so there is not much you can do to change anything. As the saying goes, you didn't cause it, you can't control it and you can't change it.

    My first response is that I hear some guilt, perhaps that your daughter inherited the mental issues or that because of your own PTSD, she is the way she is. Although I understand that guilt and have myself gone through my own experience with it, it serves no purpose, it makes a lot of sense to unload that guilt and really understand that it is no one's fault, no one is to blame, it simply is what it is. If you can accept that it will make any further decisions you make to detach so much easier. We tend to hold on when we feel guilty thinking we SHOULD do something to fix it. You can't fix it. It's not your fault. Do whatever you can to throw that guilt overboard.

    My second response is that your choices with your daughter are very limited because she is an adult. So, the next step is for YOU to get support. One place you can begin is to contact NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can find a chapter near you online. They have excellent resources for parents, parent groups and support groups that will help you immensely and give you tools to help YOU and offer the kind of expert advice and support you need. It would also help, if you don't already have one, to find a therapist for YOU. Being surrounded by mental illness is depleting, draining, painful and filled with all kinds of mixed and confusing feelings, it would be very helpful for you to get as much support as you can. Make that your priority.

    Thirdly, as others have mentioned, detaching is the step we are all involved in to some degree. There is an article at the bottom of my post which is very informative on what detachment is. I can tell you from my personal experience that this is a very difficult road, but you can get through it, you can get to a point where you feel peace of mind. The single most important step to take is to put the focus on YOU, make sure you are supported, you get YOUR needs met, begin the process of self healing, you have power there, you have none in your daughter's life, only how you respond to her. Once you put the focus onto yourself and begin to detach, things will begin to shift for you and ultimately the best possible place to land will be acceptance, the understanding that you did all you could do, you love your daughter, however, this is what the truth is, it is what it is. I know from my own journey that that is not an easy place to get to, but if you make that your goal, concentrate on YOU, get support, detach from your daughter, you will get there.

    What you want for your daughter, for her to go to therapy, for her to stay in her marriage, for you and she to have a relationship, are all things I understand and have felt as well, but the truth is that you are not the master of her fate, she is. You have no power to make her do any of those things, only she does. All you can do is learn how to respond in a healthy and self loving way. And, for many of us, that means to learn how to detach from the drama of her life.

    I wish you solace, peace and clarity. Keep posting it really helps. Many gentle hugs coming your way..............
  7. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Hi and welcome from a fellow newbie who is also at her wits' end... too bad that name is already taken!

    One thing that you said in your initial post was so familiar to me, the statement that your difficult child makes all kinds of allegations or claims about what happened to her in her childhood, and it's really hard to figure out whether she honestly believes them or it's just another ploy. Wow! been there done that! Our difficult child is a huge rewriter of history... just as a small and kind of silly example, he was absolutely HEINOUS about getting up for school in the morning to catch the bus. It was just this constant screaming match, each and every day, to get him out the door by 6:35 to catch the bus. I mean every day was a pitched battle, every day started out with snarling and rudeness and slammed doors and for what. Finally, after more than two years of bailing him out by driving him the approximately 40% of times he missed the bus, I forced him to walk. Not many times, maybe five in all. Consequences, you know? (It's about a 4 mile walk.)

    John has since told many, many people that I "forced" him to walk to school "every day." He has talked, over and over, about all his vivid memories of showing up to school soaking wet, with cold and tired feet, carrying big and heavy bags... and of course, he was sick during all this, which makes me into a double monster.

    I have no idea whether he actually believes this but I sort of think he does. I think that what our difficult children do, sometimes, is mentally cast about for all the different reasons their horrid behavior is justified. They actually do have some moral sense, deep inside, that they're senselessly and cruelly hurting the people who love them, but they have to feel that there is a "moral to the story." That in some way they are getting recompense, or getting back what they're "owed," for having been treated, in their minds, so poorly. Does this have the ring of truth to you at all?
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. I can't be of much help but want to let you know that I read your post and I am sorry that you are in such pain. Hugs DDD
  9. scent of cedar

    scent of cedar New Member

    Welcome, PTSD. You will find incredible support, here. I am so glad you found us.

  10. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    I'm going through the same with my son. I am certain he has undiagnosed mental issues and he will not seek help . He is in a relationship where she is worse then he is! My daughter has never met her and she started harrassing her through emails and phone messages.

    girlfriend acussed my daughter of burning difficult child with ciagarettes when he was little (she is 8 years older). No one in the house smoked and I am positive some one at the school would have noticed, or he would have told someone. My daughter cried for days about this.

    girlfriend was upset with me because I would not send money and she is trying to turn difficult child against his family, the ones left that have anything to do with him. She has already cut off all of his friends. I have told him my opinion of her when they were apart. He lies, but I know they are back together. At least the harrassment has stopped after I called the police, but that only made difficult child mad at me.

    I understand the guilt, I had the same for many years. Let it go, find a way to detatch, the guilt only makes it worse. At least the hubby sounds like he is trying to support her. The hardest thing in the world, for me anyway, was to step back and take care of yourself. There is absolutely nothing else you can do!
  11. PrimaGatto

    PrimaGatto New Member

    I came here by way of Googling some help for me - a very tired, beaten up Mom of a 29 yr old difficult child daughter with undiagnosed,untreated, in denial full blown Borderline (BPD). Classic functioning, she blew up with it around 20 yrs old. I saw your post and after reading just 2 lines knew I was reading the post of a kindred Mom. I'm new here too. It's so hard isn't it? When they aren't on the "cutting" end of the Borderline (BPD) spectrum, it doesn't mean they don't do something violent to get the release. Many of them get the release through the violent, verbal assaults on us. Us - the ones who won't walk away and never come back. Because we are attached to them like nobody else. They are our flesh and blood. I am at work, got "the call", carefully tried to defuse things a little to calm her down or "help", there is just no way. It always ends the same. The high pitched, violent, raging, what I call "red zone" verbal violence. Yes, with all the lies, and "crazy" accusations. I have gotten good at separating myself from it - I understand what's happening so don't take it personally. But it's still just so sad - and you feel so wiped out, low and exhausted after it's over. I just needed to find somebody that shared this same fate - and I'm glad I found this forum. I need it. My difficult child also has a child. The most precious 4 year old boy ever. She is a single mom. Sometimes I wake up at night with my stomach just sick over what he must have to go through at times. Anyways, I think it's good for both of us to be here. Nobody but "us" understands what this is like. Humans are not very tolerant of other humans with mental health issues. We need to support each other. Another hug for you.
  12. PTSDmama

    PTSDmama New Member

    @PrimaGatto - *HUGS YOU BACK* if yours is anything like mine you need lots of hugs, a sympathetic ear that won't run away screaming and a really big drink. my difficult child just devastates me. and in a world where everyone on the planet blames the parent(s) for a kid's problems, and where your kid blames you for everything - REAL OR IMAGINED - it's hard not to perpetually feel attacked, hated and defensive. it makes meeting a kindred that much more of a relief. at least ONE person knows what this is like and can empathize instead of judge.

    i'm glad you found your way here. i'm glad i did too. so far every interaction i've had here has been kind, warm and supportive. i spend my time on this site in tears, but they're tears of empathy for others and relief to have found this.

    my daughter was never a cutter either. she would go to extremes to keep her weight down, including abusing diet pills, and she had suicidal ideology that led to one nearly successful attempt. but overall i wouldn't describe her as a self-harmer. she HAS expressed self-loathing, but it's more typical for her to take the violence of her emotions out on everyone else. she can issue streams of written or verbal ugliness that just leave me breathless. she'll also get obsessive/stalker-ish about it. like, she will go hours, weeks, days, MONTHS with unrelenting written and verbal assaults. i will get a cruel, insulting text every half hour for several days, then it will taper off to just several times a day, but it will go on for weeks or months. in addition there will be abusive e-mails, voice mails, etc. "red zone" for sure.

    it's hard for me to mentally/emotionally separate, though i work at it and have gotten better at it. my parents and brother were/are abusive toward me, and my daughter and i lived with them for the first 11 years of her life. i wonder how much of her abusive behavior is learned from them. but mental illness also runs in the family. so the whole "nature vs. nurture" question runs through my head all the time.

    have you read "walking on eggshells" or any of the other Borderline (BPD) books? i read through that, plus a couple others whose names i forget. but i had to stop reading after a while because the prognoses, even with effective mental health care, seemed so frustratingly bleak.

    @MidwestMom suggested dialectal behavioral therapy. that was one of the more hopeful suggestions. i need to look into it more, and then see if it's something i can slip into either my daughter's or my son-in-law's mind.

    anyway, thank you for replying. i'm sorry you have to go through this too, but i'm glad you're here. sometimes the only sanity we can try to save is our own. *hugs you tight*
  13. PTSDmama

    PTSDmama New Member

    *hugs and love* to everyone who has replied here. just... thank you. <3
  14. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi and welcome! I have a daughter about your daughter's age that is borderline. She also has substance abuse issues so I usually post on the Substance Abuse forum. I am currently in 12-week NAMI program specifically for families of loved ones with borderline. It has been very enlightening. I have started several threads about what I have learned in those classes in the SA forum. I also posted a thread with some videos on borderline there.

    Your daughter sounds very much like my daughter.

  15. Highpockets

    Highpockets New Member

    I have a 25 year old who has struggled with depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since adolescence. It often seems like a step forward, two back. Right now, she's having a difficult time. It's a really hard issue to cope with and I've found navigating the mental health care system very frustrating. There are some good docs out there, but I've found too many just write prescriptions without trying to get to the real problem. Good luck.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Highpockets, although you are right about certain dotors, even the most gifted doctor on earth can not help any patient who is unwilling to comply with medication AND put her heart and soul into her recovery. It is usually not the doctor's fault with our difficult children. It's that the difficult children don't want to listen, are disinterested in changing, getr offended, won't take the medications, substance abuse to neutralize the effects of the prescription medication and simply have no desire to change.

    I have had and pretty much beaten mental illness by spending most of my life working like crazy to learn about my disorder, to hone coping skills, and I never skip my medications, which were lifesavers for me...but not enough. It is the only way to get better from any illness. It is up to the patient as much as the doctor, if not more.

    If a talented doctor had a cancer patient who refused chemotherapy because he knew better how to treat his cancer, would you blame the doctor? It's really the same thing.