It is very difficult to watch your loved one suffer and refuse to seek help. It is additionally challenging and understandably frustrating when a loved one’s problems negatively impact the family and everyone suffers as a result. This seems to be the case in your situation.
Undoubtedly you are faced with a very challenging situation. There are no easy solutions. When someone refuses to seek help, then it is the others around them who have to make the adjustments. That may mean limiting your interaction with your mother. If she won’t modify her behavior, then you may need to modify yours. You have to protect yourself. Self-preservation is not a selfish act; it is a necessity. It is important to do your best to help your mother in every way possible but it is also important that you do not let her problems destroy your life.
I have three main recommendations for you. One would be to consider family therapy or individual therapy. Family therapy may be an option if she is willing to go with you to counseling. Even if she isn’t, therapy could teach the family the necessary tools that are needed when caring for a loved one with mental illness. It could also facilitate consistency. Working together as a family may also provide the leverage needed to gently urge your mother into treatment.
There are other possible advantages of family therapy. If the rest of the family is open to counseling, then she may be more willing to go to treatment. If everyone else is willing to make adjustments to their behavior, then she may be open to doing the same. It also sends the message that she isn’t “the problem” and that the family unit as a whole could benefit from a positive intervention.
Individual therapy could teach you how to better and more effectively interact with your mother. The therapist could help you to understand the importance of boundaries and teach you the logistics of how to achieve this important step. In addition, he or she can also help you deal with the psychological and emotional aspects often associated with caring for a mentally ill family member.
The second suggestion involves contacting a local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group. NAMI is an advocacy group that is dedicated to helping individuals with mental illnesses and their family members. They are particularly well-versed in the challenges of having a family member with a mental illness. Most communities across the country have a local NAMI support group. Visit their website for more information.
My third suggestion involves psychoeducation about borderline personality disorder. Pay close attention to educational material designed for the family members of individuals with borderline personality disorder. There are many resources available. One popular resource is The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Egg Shells by Randi Kreger. You may also want to try the Family Connections program.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.