Borderline Personality Disorder

Does my mom have BPD?

My mother has always been unstable and scary. Could she have borderline personality disorder?

Dear Cary,

I’ve been reading your column for years and it’s helped me a lot. Thank you for that.

A recent suggestion that a daughter-in-law who throws outrageous tantrums at the end of visits might have a borderline personality disorder really struck a chord with me. The videos you linked to were so similar to my mother. For example, at least twice a year she’ll unleash a barrage of furious and hostile emails and phone calls to me and accuse me of gloating while she cries, being abusive, lambasting her and making her as miserable as I possibly can, never saying anything supportive, being secretive and a user (because I didn’t tell her that my husband and I had separated until we knew for sure we were headed for divorce) … I could go on and on. None of it matches my view of myself at all, though I do tend to close myself off and not react when she screams at me. I used to get really wrapped up in the hurtful things she says, but I’m used to it enough that it mostly gives me a week or two of feeling depressed and like I’m a horrible person, and then I just shrug and carry on.

The latest episode was provoked because I couldn’t give her a ride to a doctor’s appointment with only two days notice due to work commitments. She had said that if I couldn’t, it was no big deal. But I’ve learned that these kinds of events are precarious, and I steeled myself for the inevitable.

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