It went on for 3 days. Three long days of screaming, name calling, crying and saying the most illogical and hurtful things that one could imagine. Crying that everyone is against her and is trying to hurt her, that her husband, companion and caretaker for thirty years has never cared about her, and on and on. She stormed out of the house hinting about suicide and drove off only to return, fix something to eat and then begin again to attack her husband and any family member that comes within range. She then runs out to the car again but this time she doesn’t leave but comes back in after five minutes and proceeds to berate her husband for not trying to stop her. Out she goes again and this time her husband tries to stop her. As she reaches for the garage door opener he grabs her wrists and holds them. She doesn’t resist but looks him in the eye and screams, “Ahaaaaaaaa! Ahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! He’s beating me! He’s beating me!” He lets go of her wrists and walks back into the house. She comes in and says she will just kill herself with her medicines, goes into the bedroom and closes the door.
Hours later she announces she is absolutely sure she is dying or has cancer and off to the emergency room she goes. This time they keep her and do a complete workup. It seems she is not dying at all, is in pretty good shape and is just having complications from the antibiotic she was taking for a bronchial infection. She is sent home the next day and that evening it starts again. This time it’s verbal and it goes on till four in the morning when finally exhausted, she falls asleep leaving her family wondering fearfully in the dark. What will the next day bring?
The episode described above is routine in the lives of people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). A window of time, which in the above case, was 3 days long. Families with a member suffering from BPD live in a world that can go from calm and serene to defending themselves from a full blown verbal and sometimes physical attack on anyone within eyesight of the BPD patient. People suffering from BPD go through violent mood swings, up one second and down the next and see the world in absolutes. They seem to have a childlike outlook and have a hard time making decisions. Many families are eventually destroyed by this disorder.
An estimated 18 million Americans, roughly 6% of the population, suffer from primary BPD, and between 15 and 25% of all psychiatric patients are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
In light of the gun violence committed by persons suffering from mental illness coupled with the inability of Congress to pass reasonable background check legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, we call on Congress to increase, rather than cut, funding for mental health services across the nation. Cutting funding for mental health services may seem pennywise but is certainly pound foolish!