A sample of the soon to be released <3 follow up to Skeletons Don’t Sleep.
And He Gathered Her Leaves: A Story of True Love, Compassion & Recovery
By: Kelly Halldorson
Forward: By Jeff Halldorson
It’s easier to walk away from a problem than to see it through, head on. This is especially true for relationships, as shown by the current divorce rate. When it comes to dealing with infidelity, for instance, the easiest defense for one, or both, of the partners in the marriage might be parting ways.
If you then add into the mix: children, financial problems, volatility and mental illness into the blender and you end up with quite the cocktail.
This is exactly what Kelly was dealing with.
I had a rough childhood. A hard start to life. It was easy to blame the majority of my problems on that. I went through therapist after therapist. I dropped in and out of counseling all while spinning the roulette wheel of treatment. I tried prescription medications, struggling to find the right fit for me on any given day, week, or year. Years I walked around with the labels: PTSD, ADHD and even Bipolar Disorder was kicking around.
It was when the bottom dropped out for the upteenth time in our relationship that the most significant damage happened. A new low that allowed for change finally began to happen.
Kelly had been given a mess. She had very few choices. The easy choice, at least in the immediate, would be to walk away from the person that was causing all the chaos and harm. Kelly instead made the decision to do two things: 1. hold her family together and 2. get to the root of the problem.
Ten years ago, I had done so much damage to my family, relationship and finances that we ended up living in a dilapidated trailer with no electricity (sans a generator for power), a repossessed SUV, no running water and a bag of emotional reactivity so deep I landed myself in a hospital psychiatric ward.
After years of loving me and watching doctors gambling with medication, ineffective treatment and therapy, Kelly decided to find out what the hell was going on, herself, once and for all. The idea being these doctors had a number of patients. She just had a friend who she knew had been struggling most his life with little actual help from the mental health system.
A chance sighting of a pamplet on Borderline Personality Disorder in a doctor’s office waiting room, during my hospitalization, proved to be a key that would lead Kelly through a search on research studies and treatment options. She found the answer. She gathered information. She compiled a list of symptom examples and brought the information to me at the hospital.
I agreed with her. She asked me to present the information to the doctor. He also agreed it was most likely the root of my issues but also cautioned that a Borderline diagnosis would make getting treatment challenging.
With this knowledge in hand I left the hospital. I asked a reluctant Kelly to guide me through recovery as long as she was willing. I knew what I had been doing up to this point wasn’t working and I had received little effective treatment from the mental health system.
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has a way of slipping under the radar. Doctors don’t like to diagnosis BPD as it is notoriously difficult to treat even with a willing patient.
I was a willing patient. I wanted to change. I trusted Kelly. I asked that she share what she had learned and for us to move forward together. It was abundantly clear that my way wasn’t working. We both knew that road was one we could no longer go down as a couple again or family. I was willing to follow her lead and allow her to teach me strategies to help myself and our family.
It was hard for Kelly. Not only did she have to deal with the root, cause and treatment but the history and patterns as well. Not to mention the “I love you I hate you” aspect of the disorder. I would go from pleading with her to help to accusing her of trying to control me.
After leaving the hospital we decided to start over with my mental illness and how we were going to approach it.
First with Kelly’s continuing research and and my general practitioner being willing to listen to her and include us in the decision making, we were able to start medication that was more suited to my specific BPD symptoms and to me physically as well.
I stopped going to therapy at this time as it was not producing any positive results and I had dug us a financial hole.
Kelly was determined to see us through not only as a couple, but as friends. To see that our family strengthened and grew stronger together.
Fast forward 10 years. I have a good grasp of not only who I am but what I am. I am Kelly’s best friend and she is mine. Together we have found our way through the darkest parts and now we are enjoying the light, together.
I have never met anyone that took the vow of “through sickness and health” more forcefully than her. She continues to amaze me as she strives for the truth in mental illness and BPD. Her knowledge and persistence to get to the root of it saved our marriage and family. It also saved me, as a human. . I am here now where I belong with the people I belong with. I am living a good happy healthy productive life because the one person I hurt the most didn’t give up.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder and it was my wife that showed me the way through.