Is there really an epidemic of BPD among BioMoms?

24 May

It wasn’t until I became involved with the stepmom community that I heard about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  The first book I encountered was “Stop Walking on Eggshells:  Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder” (by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger).  The book asks:

Do you feel manipulated, controlled, or lied to? Are you the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages? Do you feel you are ‘walking on eggshells’ to avoid the next confrontation?

 I can hear the pastor of The Church of Stepmom saying, “Can I get an amen???”

If you’re reading the posts on stepmom support sites, BPD symptoms describe the behavior of a lot of biomoms perfectly and many stepmoms freely throw around an armchair diagnosis. But is there really an epidemic of undiagnosed BPD running rampant among biomoms?

 Maybe.  Maybe not.

It is possible that there are biomoms with depression and personality disorders (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) that cause them to act the way they do and it’s also possible that there are biomoms severely lacking coping skills that act like out of control toddlers without a nap.  How do you determine which is which? Unless you’re a psychiatrist or psychologist, you can’t.  And even then, BPD tends to be a “tricky” diagnosis. 

So is it really BPD or is it unresolved anger over the divorce, the inability to move on, lack of coping skills, a desperate need to control or all of the above? I found a great online video called “Does She Have Borderline Personality Disorder?” which goes through many of the symptoms.  Try to watch it objectively.  Does the video describe the person that you’re dealing with?  It’s important to remember just because someone exhibits these traits doesn’t mean they suffers from BPD (which begs the question, “Then what is it?”).  You could be dealing a narcissist instead.  Oh joy.   

There are many stepmoms that are currently living in this Hell with biomoms and in some cases with biodads, with absolutely no end in sight.  Although easier said than done, the best advice is to stay grounded, maintain your perspective and your boundaries, and get specialized professional help for yourself if needed. What I’ve learned from being involved in the stepmom community over the last 4 years is this:

  1. You can only control your own behavior.
  2. Biomoms will misbehave.  Let them…and then document it.
  3. When the drama happens ignore it and walk away.  Don’t engage no matter how tempting it is to just let her have a piece of your mind.  Nothing diffuses an argument faster than yelling at someone who’s not there. 
  4. Remember that a lot of BPDs play the “projection game”:  denying one’s own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them (often in an accusing way) to someone else. Don’t play along.  Better to just take notes.
  5. The kids will eventually figure out that mom’s behavior is not appropriate and trust me, more often than not, that happens sooner rather than later.
  6. Let your home be a mini “detox” center and haven for the kids.  Crazy behavior does affect the kids so get professional help for them if necessary in order for them to get the skills needed to cope with the insanity.
  7. Join the online BPD community forums and read up on Target Parent Syndrome.  The behaviors seem to go hand in hand.
  8. Continue to strengthen your relationship with your husband/partner.  Create a game plan on how to deal with biomom during an “episode”. Without a strong foundation, you’ll never get through the drama in one piece.

What do you do to cope with the suspected BPD (female OR male) in your life? Please share what has and has not worked.

4 Responses to “Is there really an epidemic of BPD among BioMoms?”

  1. Erin May 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    The Church of Stepmom — I LOVE IT!!!!

    Amen sistah — Hallelujah 🙂

    • BioStep May 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

      I originally wrote “Our Lady of the Wicked Stepmother” 🙂

  2. Mister-M June 9, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    I can’t say one way or the other if there is a “BPD epidemic” among bio-moms or not. What I have found is that “where there is smoke, there may be fire.”

    I suspect BPD in my own situation and many of the stories I read, see, hear about certainly lend themselves to similar beliefs among others going through similarly horrendous divorce and custody situations.

    But BPD is a level of terrorism that goes well-beyond a “simply” disgruntled ex. Only a clinician can make that determination, but if you do enough research, it’s quite likely that you will be able to smell the smoke…


  3. Nell July 16, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Our BM was diagnosed with BPD and OCPD (a double whammy) so we are no longer “guessing” about the diagnosis. One very helpful tip I can share is that if you are in the position of trying to co-parent with a BPD, stop hoping that things will change. This took me a long time. Even if you think you aren’t hoping for change, ask yourself if you still don’t sometimes have some tiny part of you that wishes your BPD co-parent will one day say just thank you, or say anything nice at all, or say anything without an ulterior selfish manipulative motive, or resolve a minor conflict with you in some mature non-dramatic way. You must stop wishing for those things, you must really let those pipe dreams go. You must accept things as they are, for the sake of your own sanity. You must recognize that BPD is a mental illness just like any other illness. You do not expect a person with diabetes to consume sugar at will. Do not expect a BPD person to behave as if they were not mentally ill. You do not expect someone with kidney failure to give up dialysis. Do not expect a BPD to behave normally. Holding on to those hopes will result in your own development of a mental illness – codependency. A person with BPD has a brain that functions differently than a brain without BPD. They cannot see the world as you see it, they can only see it in their own debilitative way. You must recognize this as their handicap and accept it.
    The other suggestion I have is never try to communicate or negotiate directly with a BPD. You must work out all details of the shared custody arrangement through lawyers or other intermediaries. It’s an expense that’s worth it. Ask the court to appoint a communication facilitator to remain in ace after litigation is over. Ask that the cost of the facilitator be shared. It’s worth it. Never try to communicate with a BPD and expect positive results. Never. Focus on all the other positive blessings in your life and keep your attention there.
    Many PhD psychologists will not treat BPD patients because they are so difficult to treat. It takes years to treat BPD and even then there is usually little progress. And those patients are so intensive that it often drains the psychologist so that he/she has little energy left for their remaining clients. Non-PhD therapists that ‘treat’ BPD patients are often unqualified and manipulated by the BPD patient. If your BM is BPD, do not hold your breath hoping that therapy will make her better soon.

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