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TOPIC TITLE: My Brother has BPD
Created On 5/17/05 2:25 PM
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oh brother!
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5/17/05 2:25 PM
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Hi everyone. I am so glad to have found this forum. My brother has had several episodes of depression ever since he was a teenager. only in his 30's was he diagnosed with BPD. He is married to a wonderful woman, they have beautiful children, and he has a good job. He is on meds (I do not know which ones) and he has gone long periods without flair ups. Unfortunately, I think this has made him believe he doesn't need them and he has several times stopped taking them and you can well imagine the results. He's had several hospitalizations, it take him months to recuperate.....
In all honesty, I do not know all the details. Because when he does not feel well, he will talk about it, confide, share...but when he feels well the subject is taboo. I love him very much, he is a great guy, very warm, loving, talented, a favorite uncle....but I wish I could be more open with him. I think it would be helpful.
I am coming to you guys, hoping that you can give me a little guidance. What type of relationship would you like to have with your siblings...how can I communicate better with him, it's like there's an elephant in the room and no one is talking about it. His children are just now beginning to understand what is going on, and I just now am able to explain to my older childen what is going on. BUT I do not want to be patronizing. I want an honest, healthy relationship with him. IS THIS POSSIBLE?


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oh brother!
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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5/21/05 11:54 PM
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Brother,
First of all, you should know that he is fortunate to have a brother so sensitive and caring. In my opinion, dealing with mental illness is similar to medical illnesses (thought there are a few important differences). I think the most important thing is to remember that your brother is still your brother; not a statistic and not a disease. Please do not allow yourself, or the others around him to reduce him to simply being "a bipolar patient". He is a PERSON, who is struggling through certain challenges. I know this sounds obvious, but sometimes it is subtle. I think it is appropriate to sometimes talk about his illness and sometimes not, just like a cancer patient may want to sometimes, and at other times not. The difference that sometimes occurs is that with mental illness, judgment and self-awareness are often more impaired than with medical illnesses (though I have also seen some pretty heavy denial with medical illness as well). Welcome to the board!
a lynn
 
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Torsalicious613
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5/25/05 10:49 AM
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hi-- i'm actually bipolar myself. the moderator is right-- your brother is a PERSON. As long as you remember that. you'll be fine. It's hard. Just remember we're all in it together.

Sincerely,

torsalicious613 (a.s.)


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what the hecka is a signiature?
 
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oh brother!
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5/27/05 8:41 AM
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Did my post suggest that he is not a person?
To be more specific...when I ask him how he is doing, he answers, "fine." (alway the same answer and sounds to me like, "why are you asking?"
I usually take his lead and don't pry, but will tell you, and perhaps it could help you with your siblings, that it changes the relationship to a very superficial one, and always walking on eggshells. My brother and I have always been exceptionally close, and I have shared with him many a dillemma in my own life. But us siblings are PEOPLE TOO. and yes, he has an illness, but is that an excuse for cutting people who care, out? I am attempting to see this from the angle of a person with BPD. How to move a conversation from dishonesty to upfront. Take this monster out of the closet, if you can't share with your siblings, then whom can you share with? Do you really want to live a life in hiding? Look, I also live in the frum world, so I know we are not exactly shouting it from the rooftops, but there has to be a circle you can trust, let your hair down...in order to be able to heal.
I would really like to have your input.


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oh brother!
 
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ernie55B
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5/27/05 12:05 PM
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Hi Oh Brother!

Firstly, let me say it is really nice to see a sibling who wants to have such a good relationship.
Secondly, although I don't have a sib with BPD I think I can answer from the vantage point of one who has been experiencing severe depression for as long as I can remember.

When my sibs ask me how I am doing, I also say "fine". One reason I say that is because I am embarrassed to tell the truth about how I am really feeling. These are people who almost never take an aspirin B'H and I feel like they will see me as a 'whiner' being that I have other medical issues as well. Also, I don't think they could really understand what I am going through. I don't believe someone who has not experienced a deep depression can truly understand that someone would wish to be dead all the time.

Nonetheless, if one of them were to take the trouble and ask me to really explain how I felt, and made me feel OK about it, I would probably open up a little bit.

Did you explain to your brother how you feel and how much you care?
If you had a good relationship before, I am sure he is not using his illness as an excuse to cut you out of his life.

Also- I don't have a sib with BPD, but I do have a daughter with it. The words that resonated with me were that your relationship is superficial and like walking on eggshells. This is something my wife and I have every day with my daughter unfortunately.
I really worry about our future relationship, not to mention all the problems the young guys and gals on this site seem to have with shidduchim.

If your brother ever sees this post- I hope he will realize how lucky he is to have such a caring family member.

Have a good Shabbos,
Ernie
 
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Dr. Lynn, Psy.D.
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5/29/05 12:41 AM
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Brother,

First of all, I did not mean to imply that you believe that your brother is not a person- I was making a more general statement, since sometimes family members get wrapped up with the illness/diagnosis that they forget the person. It sounds like you are ready for an open, honest, mature relationship with your brother, which is great. However, your brother may not yet be as ready as you. As Ernie shared, many people with mental illness have a lot of ambivalence about their illnesses and diagnoses. Besides the stigma, there are often questions about meds- like, will I need meds all my life?, will it get worse?, will it go away?, will I pass it on to my kids?, all of which may make a person feel "less than". Again, I am making general comments, since I don't know you or your brother. Like Ernie suggested, you might want to express to your brother how you want to know what's going on not as a formality or out of obligation, but b/c you really care and want to know the truth; good, bad or ugly. Sometimes all you can do is state that you are "there for him", and when he's ready to engage, you'll be waiting for him. You may also want to refer him and his wife to this site for support. Best wishes,
A Lynn
 
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Torsalicious613
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8/18/05 1:41 PM
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bpd is hard. it stinks.

tors


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