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How to break the BPD abuse-reassurance cycle?

Hi everyone,


My mother has long-time Bipolar, undiagnosed BPD. I wrote about our situation in my post Mother with long-term Bipolar and BPD - help.


I am learning that the only way out of this is not to placate her mood swings with reassurance. But I would really like advice on how the best way to manage this.


After having a house warming on Saturday night with my partner celebrating our new house (a party my mother was invited to), she sent me a long text message on Sunday about how I have abandoned her and she is lonely. And me deciding not to live with her because of her mental health is actually worse because I abandoned her knowing how her mental health is.


I spent so long last night crying about this message. She has emotionally abused me my entire life, but these past 18 months she has literally been sucking all of my strength. I cannot handle these situations how I used to. Everyone new interaction like this just breaks me. Because I have tried so, so hard to help her.


I am now trying to not engage with this at all. I did not respond to the message. I know what is happening, she feels abandoned and works herself up and attacks me, hoping for some kind of response. She hates my partner now - she blames him for taking me away.


My question is, if I ignore these messages, how do I re-open lines of communication without acknowledging her behaviour and speaking about this. I was going to drop by her house for coffee today on my way home from work but I can't emotionally manage that (although now I feel guilty af for not doing it).


I also plan to talk to my psychologist about the lines of communication - but thought I would ask what other people have found worked.


Peace to you all 




Re: How to break the BPD abuse-reassurance cycle?

Hi @annafreud


I can really hear how truly exhausted you're feeling. You want to be there for your mother and at the same time you need to look after yourself too.


Supporting a family member long term can leave us feeling burnt out. Particuarly when we don't feel like our needs are being met within the relationship. When supporting a loved one with BPD, validation and consistency of response is really important. The reason for this is that it helps our loved ones feel understood while at the same time helping them to understand what they can expect from us. There's some useful info here that talks more about this approach.


If you're intersted in learning more about effective commuication strategies, you can check out these links too...

- Strategies for effective communication and healthy relationships

- Effective communication

- Helpful tips for challenging relaitonships


It's great to hear you have a psychologist on your side for support and talking with them to develop some strategies sounds like the best next step. 


Take care @annafreud and I hope that amongst everything, you got some time to enjoy your housewarming 🐰

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