When a loved one in your family is suffering from one of the personality disorders, the entire family is under stress. A family is like an orange: each segment is unique, but connected to make a whole. When member suffers, the entire family suffers.
There are many excellent therapists, counselors, and medical practitioners who specialize in treating personality disorders, but very often the caregivers are overlooked. Just as Mom and Dad can be taken for granted by the children, they can also be assumed to be doing just fine in such a stressful environment.
It doesn't matter much what the personality disorder is when it concerns the well-being of the family. It could be borderline personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or manic depression. The caregivers need to be taken care of as well!
Be careful for Crazy Making
Crazy making is a term to describe a common effect that someone with a personality disorder can have on the one caring for them. It means that the caregiver begins to question his own sanity. It can and does happen that you become so surrounded by the relentless symptoms of a disorder that you lose sight of reality. It begins to make you crazy, hence the term: crazy making.
If you have been there, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Day after day, night after night, maybe your spouse acts out. Sometimes it is subtle, other times it is blatantly obvious that something is wrong. But if there is nobody else to talk to, or you are afraid to confide in another, it creeps up on you and you start to question your own mental condition.
Some typical examples of crazy making
Suppose for a moment that your adult son, who still lives at home, owes you some money. You politely, but firmly ask him for the money, which is past due. This should not be a complicated matter, he borrowed it and promised to pay it back on a certain date.
One favorite tactic is what I call smoke and mirrors. He brings up numerous semi-relevant topics to distract you, all the while appearing like an honest person. He has developed a refined ability to cloud the matter and eventually bring it back on you! Now you might even owe him money!
He might tell you of his hardships, your hardships, your relationship to the other children and how you favor them, and on and on and on. Next thing you know, you actually should have given him this money anyway, somehow he is entitled to it.
The worst thing is that you might fall for it, at least a few times. Eventually though, you begin to realize that you are being manipulated very skillfully. It it when you put your foot down that the sh*t hits the fan.
Another example is when they tell you (and everyone else within earshot) how you think, feel and act. Never mind that it is not true, they are telling you anyway. In fact, they have the uncanny ability to make five hens out of a feather any time, day or night!
Even when such a person is shown to be wrong and they acknowledge this, soon they are back to the original embellished story that protects them from reality. Their show simply must go on, in spite of the facts or feelings of other people.
What can you do to avoid crazy making?
The first thing is to recognize it. If you live with somebody who has a personality disorder, you will see it all the time. It becomes entirely predictable, once you learn the signs.
Educate yourself. There are numerous books available that are very helpful in learning to cope with the stress of crazy making.
Take your life back. You have the right to a safe and healthy life. Take care of you health, your finances, your well-being. This is also one of the best things you can do for the family member who has a personality disorder.
Be forewarned, however: once you begin to take your life back, the episodes will most likely escalate, at least for a time. Make sure you have an adequate support system in the form of friends, family, church, therapists, etc. Personality disorders can be extremely stressful to deal with, but over time you will become confident and strong.