Mental health professionals agree that those who have a stressful childhood are at greater risk of developing BPD. Sources of stress include abuse, neglect, parental divorce, separation from a parent or caregiver, mental disorders in a caregiver, parent, or sibling, or general conflict, fighting, and instability in the family.

When I became an adult and looked back at my youth, my first impression was that it had been quite good. But as I grew older, I recognized that things had actually been quite bad. The descriptions in the paragraph above describe it well. My parents lived with severe emotional problems. Both my ill health and my mother’s meant frequent trips to the hospital and time spent with friends and relatives. At ages 7, 8 and 9 malnourishment caused me to be sent to institutions for six weeks at a time for care. These periods away from home terrified me. They were not friendly places. I felt alone and anxious throughout my time there.

I can see now why I developed BPD – and it’s a wonder that the diagnosis came at age 70, not earlier in life.

Such a childhood is bound to leave a person with unmet needs. Many of those needs are carried over into adulthood – deep within our subconscious, hidden in the past. We might be left with a fear of loneliness, a fear of abandonment, a desperate need for company. Though we’re grown adults, we can still have a longing for the love and security of a relationship with parents. An inner void remains.

Often, when such a void is present we will unconsciously try to fill it. If we lacked good parenting we might seek partners or friends who are nurturing and protective. But meeting the needs born in us as children can never fully satisfy when we try to fill them as adults. The original need of the child always remains.

I came to see a couple of friends as mother and father figures. Not unlike a young child is attached to her parents, I developed attachments to them, including a need for constant contact. When one of them went on holidays I panicked. Like an insecure child, I feared she would abandon me. This and other needs brought over from childhood have at times crippled me.

Though I suffered much because of this, therapy is starting to bring improvement. With the help of my husband,  friends and my faith I am overcoming much of my neediness. But it will take time to become the secure adult I would like to be.

And I wonder: How much of a role do these unmet childhood needs play in our lives with BPD? And just how many different needs could we be suffering from?



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