One of the main symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder listed on the NHS website is ‘intense but unstable relationships with others’, and a lot of other resources discuss the instability of relationships experienced by those with BPD, often saying that many of us struggle to hold down personal or romantic relationships at all. All symptoms and characteristics listed for BPD are specific to the person, and my consultant psychiatrist is always very keen to make sure I understand that BPD is sliding scale on which many of us sit, and that we do not fit neatly into categories. Which may explain why I buck this particular BPD ‘trend’. I am happily and stably married, to a man I’ve been with for nearly six years. In that time we have not broken up or even really had any serious relationship problems. But this is, in part, due to the kind of man my husband is.
Before I met Tom (that’s my husband) I had three long-term relationships, which were all definitely affected in different ways by some of my (what I now know be) BPD tendencies. I was too clingy, but I pushed them away when they got too close, and I could not cope with the intensity of my emotions at times. As much as I’d love to talk about each one here, it would not be fair to discuss details of these relationships. But I will say, I was not the only reason each of these relationships ended, none of them were really right to begin with and, to be perfectly honest, none of them were Tom.
My husband is the best person I know. Absolutely hands down. I could write pages and pages about all the ways I love him (although I could also write A LOT about his annoying habits and ways he drives me mad), but I think it’s easiest to do it as a list so I don’t get carried away. And so he can still get his head through the door. So, in no particular order, these are some of the reasons I think our relationship works:
- He has no idea about mental health stuff, but he takes time to understand MY mental health stuff.
- He never makes me feel like I’m going mad.
- He’s endlessly patient with my BPD meltdowns. Not so much with my normal demands.
- After three dates, I was unsure about whether I wanted to embark on a new relationship. My mum was undergoing a stem-cell transplant for a long-term illness and my previous relationship had left me desperate to hang on to my freedom and independence. I broke off our fledging romance. He was understanding and we continued to talk as friends. One day, while my mum was very ill in hospital, my ex-boyfriend contacted me asking to meet to ‘draw a line under things’, and Tom contacted me to ask how Mum was. The ex got told where to go. Tom got a sh*g. (Sorry, Mum. REALLY glad your transplant went well BTW.)
- He tells me when I’m being unreasonable/irrational and doesn’t take any of my sh*t.
- When there were mental health tremors in my life before the Big One last year, he gave me space to figure it out, and didn’t put any pressure on me to sort it. He has always just walked beside me, holding my hand when I needed it and backing off when I didn’t.
- Planning our wedding was really easy, because all either of us was really bothered about was marrying the other one. And it was an awesome day.
- When I was an in-patient on the psych ward he brought me things he knew would help – his T shirts for me to sleep in, my pillow and cookies. Mmm cookies.
- I have given him multiple opportunities to leave our marriage since I became ill, and no one would have blamed him if he had. He has never wavered. Never faltered. Never stopped loving me. Although I know that at times he has found it hard to like me very much, which is fair.
- He let me adopt a cat.
The point of this post isn’t to say ‘Oh look at me, I have BPD, but I have a nice marriage, yay.’ It’s to sing the praises of the man who has looked me up and down, clocked all my craziness (so far), taken a deep breath and still committed himself to our relationship, every day.
Neither of us has found the last year and a half easy, we have had to learn together, and we definitely still are learning. But I’m so glad I found someone who can see the Me that is separate to my BPD and understands that I want to be the best version of myself I can be, no matter what front I may be presenting to the outside world.
Thank you, Tom.
Love, Sarah x