Caring for partner with BPD

Hi everyone, I just want to say thank you in advance for accepting me and any support or advise you might be able to give me. I apologise for the essay.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for but I realise that in my 10+ years of being a carer, it has been in complete isolation from other people in my situation. I don’t know anyone who cares for someone with mental health issues.

So some back story:
I have been with my girlfriend for 18 years, we met when we were 15 and we are now 33. We’re both from the UK and we live in the South of England.

For 10+ of those years I have been my girlfriend’s primary carer. She is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and emotional instability disorder. She has always struggled with depression, severe anxiety, self medicating, anorexia/bulimia, suicidal thoughts, insomnia and self harm. She had a very abusive childhood, something that has scarred her for life.

Our relationship and time together has always been chaotic and full of uncertainty. We moved out at 18 and from there moved around every 6-12 months.
She is unable to work so I would be the main source of income, but I struggled to balance a full time job and being a carer. Often leaving her alone on a “bad day” to go to work would result in coming home to a lot of pain, sometimes evenings spent in A&E. I would lose jobs quite often because the days I would have to take off to care for her made me an unreliable employee. Financially things have always been bad and are extremely stressful.

Fast forward to today and there are some positive parts of a framework in place. She is now prescribed medication to help with her depression and insomnia.
Financially we have benefits set up in the form of PIP, carers allowance, housing and council tax benefit.
I am self employed so I can work from home and be there if she needs me, I’m a self taught graphic designer and I work freelance.
Her Dad has stepped in and helped us by buying a house which he rents to us. This has given us a stable place to live without fear of being evicted and gives us both some peace of mind.

I’ve come here because I recognise I’m starting to crumble. Because I was a carer in isolation (while also trying to grow up and work out life in general) I’ve always just had to work out things on my own and not always made good choices. As a result -and always with the greatest intentions- the way I’ve coped with caring is to take on as much of the stresses of life in an effort to soothe her and give her time/space to get better. For many years I have taken on 99% of the work in our day-to-day lives and I now realise it is unsustainable.
I feel like in an effort to be empathetic and be a good carer, I have enabled her mental illness to get worse over time. In a way I’ve negotiated with her mental illness and just given into it (i.e she is too anxious to go to the shop, so I always do it. Which means she never has to confront her anxiety and learn that nothing bad is going to happen if she leaves the house. It does soothe her, but never actually fixes anything and enables it to continue indefinitely).

The obvious move is professional help, but she refuses it currently. She has been in and out of the mental health service but under duress. The times she has spoken to someone, she hasn’t engaged with or fully believed in it, noting it as a waste of time.

Im now stuck knowing how to move forward. I need to change how I care for her if she’s going to have a chance of getting better. Likewise I recognise that there are certain things that are out of my control, but I definitely cannot continue with the workload I have. I am currently in the process of seeking professional help for myself, something I have never done.

Is this a normal situation carers get into? Has anyone here cared for someone with BPD?

Thank you for reading, I appreciate it a lot.

Hi Richard,

welcome to the forum.

There are other carers on here with experience of supporting someone with BPD, hopefully they will be along with some suggestions.

It sounds like you are now more settled with a secure home, your business and your partner’s benefits in place. No mean feat. Seeking help for yourself is a great move and will give you the chance to talk things through and make sense of it all.

You are right about enabling her to stay as she is, and that is a trap so many fall in to, understandably so. You are also right about you can’t force her to engage with services providing support.

I’m sure you have looked at the Mind website before, but might be worth a revisit


Thank you so much Melly. I really appreciate the support and the encouragement.

It’s bittersweet to hear that it’s such a common trap carers get themselves into. It was incredibly jarring to go from thinking you’re doing everything you can to be supportive, to then realising it’s actually detrimental. I initially really didn’t take it well, but now I am feeling a lot more optimistic.

A long term partnership involves each partner doing their bit, according to their skills. If you work from home, and thanks to her dad it’s now her home for life, so no worries about that, then what is she doing while you work? Cleaning, food prep, cooking, or sat doing nothing productive?