This week, we’re speaking to 28-year-old Anneli Roberts, whose late mother, Brita, was diagnosed with BPD in 1993.
We wanted to speak to Anneli to find out what it was like to grow up with a mother who lived with a personality disorder, how it affected her and whether it’s had any impact on who she is today.
Anneli tells Metro.co.uk that her mother, Brita, was diagnosed with BPD when Anneli was three years old and her mother was 23.
She said: ‘As with so many people who have BPD, she was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met – people were just drawn to her.
‘She definitely cared too much and found the world difficult because she seemed to kind of absorb the suffering of others. She self harmed and had problems with binge drinking.
‘She also had a tendency to be reckless. She liked to test people – push them away to test how much they cared.
‘In some ways she was quite childlike – but not in that she was immature – more that she never actually lost that playfulness kids have.’
Anneli says that her mother’s BPD ‘affected her so much’ – both in good ways and in bad.
She feels the disorder exposed her to self harm and suicide attempts, which she says ‘tested’ her. At times, it felt like she was the parent in the relationship.
She said: ‘There were definitely times after I became a teenager when I felt like I was the parent in the relationship, but in a way that was nice because we were friends in a way most people aren’t with their mum, in that there had to be a two-way trust.
‘I was always very protective over her and proud of her.
’ Anneli feels growing up around her mother’s illness has made her a more compassionate and understanding person, and it has inspired her to use her own Twitter account to raise awareness of mental illness.
She said: ‘Her having BPD definitely made listening to people talk about mental illness “normal” for me from a young age.
‘I first heard “borderline personality disorder” at 11 years old, but my parents had always been very open with me so even younger than that I would have had some kind of an understanding.
‘There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a BPD parent, and I wouldn’t change a thing about how I was raised – it’s made me who I am.
‘The only thing I’d say is that there is an enormous responsibility on any person to keep themselves safe – especially with children in the picture – and that I find it incredibly sad how little self worth and self love my mum had.
‘She genuinely believed she was unloved – but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
‘I’d go as far as to say that the “sensitivity” that she had was the number one thing in life that has brought the compassion and love I have for others now and I think that’s the most important thing anyone could ever teach a child.
’ As advice to other children who have parents living with borderline personality disorder, Anneli says it’s important to reach out for support if they need it – and to remember that doing so is absolutely not a betrayal to their parent.
She said: ‘It’s ok for you to get some help – it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family.
‘I know it’s hard to figure out how you should respond to certain behaviour, but as long as you love openly, then you can also be open sad, openly happy and openly scared.
‘You’re not alone – believe me, even though it feels like it now there are plenty of people in the world who are feeling how you feel.’