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Help - Can anyone offer a diagnosis please?



New member
May 12, 2009

I am writing to ask if anyone is able to offer a diagnosis based on the following very sad story.

Many years ago, I was in love with a girl (let’s call her Sue, not her real name). At the time, I was 32 and she was 10 years younger. Initially we started out as friends but eventually it was obvious that our relationship was something stronger than friendship.

As a friend, Sue was absolutely lovely company. When she was on form, she was always smiling and laughing, and she had the most beautiful pair of eyes which seemed to shine. She could be a little volatile at times (especially when our relationship became serious), but any storms usually blew over quite quickly. She was a warm, gregarious, caring and compassionate person, both in her daily life and when with myself. She was very loyal to her friends, and had a very strong sense of morals. She wouldn’t keep quiet if she sensed injustice, and could be very tough when she had to be. But she also had a vulnerable, sensitive side, and I remember one occasion she cried when I said I would not be able to come up to visit her one weekend.

At first, she was a really trusting person, and told me all sorts of really personal information about her life. She told me that her mum was only 17 when she had Sue, that her father had a successful business but lost it all due to alcoholism, that during her time as an au pair abroad she was raped and not surprisingly had to come back to the UK shortly after.

When I met her family, what was striking was how close Sue was to her mother (who had remarried, after leaving Sue’s father eight years earlier). They had obviously been through so much together, and consequently appeared to have a very strong bond. In addition, Sue’s mother had suffered another major trauma; she was only 20 when her elder brother was killed.

Sue seemed to change when she moved in with me; I found I couldn’t relax and enjoy each other’s company the way we had previously done so. In addition, she was extremely angry when she found out I’d been dishonest about meeting an ex for lunch one day (when Sue was working abroad that summer), albeit genuinely only as friends. (She actually rang my ex at her place of work; in retrospect I guess that she was a terribly insecure person). I felt beforehand that she didn’t seem able to trust me enough; she had actually told me once that ‘the only man I’ll trust is the man I’ll marry’.

She left me the following week. The day before she left, she was told that she would not be entitled to any unemployment benefit as she had left her overseas job in voluntarily (she hadn’t found work since moving in with me). That evening, she launched into a really nasty rant, saying some terrible things about me (eg. That I must have been abused as a child because, she claimed, I was so unaffectionate towards her). I had never seen that side of her character before; I knew she could be tough when she needed to be, and that she did have a short temper, but I didn’t know that she was capable of this kind of spiteful anger. When she left me the next day, she had calmed down, but said that ‘you should be glad now because after today I’ll be out of your life’, and really did not seem to care.

Despite all that, and despite her subsequently making it clear that she no longer wanted anything to do with me, I tried to take a charitable view, thinking to myself that it was only her way of ending a relationship that didn’t work out, and that she wanted to move on in her life as soon as possible. Nevertheless I was quite bitter with the way she treated me, and told her so in a couple of long, angry letters to her. Like anyone else, I said and did things in anger which I regretted later. At the same time, I was absolutely heartbroken that she’d left me, and it took me a good 18 months or so to get over it.

Even though I subsequently married, I often wondered what happened to Sue in her life, as she was responsible for some of the most beautiful moments in my life. I also wanted some form of permanent, positive closure to our relationship. So in May last year, I wrote her a letter, care of her mother’s address, apologising for my part in the unpleasantness at the end, and wishing her well for the future. I was not expecting a reply.

So I was very surprised when her mother sent me a message asking me to contact her, via the website in my workplace. I was expecting her to tell me never to contact Sue again as she still never wants anything to do with me. In fact, in the course of an initial exchange of e-mails and a subsequent telephone conversation, Sue’s mother told me the desperately sad story of what had happened since we’d split up.

It transpired that since then, Sue had appeared at one time to be doing quite well in life. She’d bought a house and a car, and was apparently studying to take exams in her chosen profession. As far as I can recall from my conversation with her mother, things started to deteoriate when she failed the exams, couldn’t reclaim the cost of taking them, and as a result went into considerable debt. She apparently also had a number of unsuccessful relationships; apparently at one time she became pregnant but sadly lost the baby.

The extent of the debt only came to light when Sue’s mother and stepfather visited her at home and caught sight of a bank statement lying around. They tried to help her with the debt, but Sue seems to have taken exception to their (and especially her mother’s) perceived ‘interference’. Thereafter matters seemed to go downhill rapidly. Sue wrote letters to her mother and some family friends, saying that she intended to commit suicide; the police had to break down the front door of her house, but all the time she was round a friend’s house. Eventually Sue’s own house had to be sold and since then she’s lived in rented/council accommodation.

Since then, Sue appears to have held her mother responsible for her misfortunes; she has told her mother that she wants nothing to do with her, and that she must not contact Sue ever again. Amongst other things, she had made abusive phone calls, saying what a terrible mother she’s been; she’s told untruths to family friends, claiming her mother ‘twists’ things and that she’s trying to control her. (Oddly, although Sue has said she wants no contact from her mum, she still phones and texts her mother on an irregular basis, and some of her messages are almost conciliatory).

Another strange aspect of her behaviour is that she has now made friends with her father’s ex-wife, and now refers to her as her ‘stepmother’. It seems almost as if she wishes to renew contact with her father’s family, just to spite her mother. (And this despite Sue saying that because her father was apparently abusive towards her mother, her mother is now ‘taking it out’ in turn against Sue.)

Looking back to when we were together, on one occasion we visited her paternal grandmother, and Sue asked me not to reveal this to her mother. Sue also told me that occasionally she used to meet her father, again without her mother’s knowledge. (Apparently he once said something like ‘if you weren’t my daughter I’d shag you’, so I can’t see why she wanted to remain in contact with such a man.)

Sue’s mother and stepfather now think that some of the stories she told them have been lies, as a means of seeking attention. I think that despite the abusive tone of many of her texts and calls, maybe she wants to re-establish contact with her mother and she’s really crying for help. Maybe she’s now experienced too many painful setbacks and traumas in her life; she’s looking for a scapegoat, and has chosen her mother as the victim.

I do get the feeling that Sue’s leading a double life. I know for a fact that the caring side of her nature is still there; having googled her name, I found she’d sponsored two friends who’d run in the London Marathon and made typically generous comments of congratulation. Obviously I don’t know for certain; maybe in her everyday life she’s holding down a regular job and gives the impression of contented normality; whereas whatever condition she may have is causing her to vent all her anger on her family in private. Maybe there’s an element of schizophrenia there?

Speaking as an outsider, short of getting her GP involved, I can’t think of anything that can be done. Sadly, Sue seems to be in some sort of denial, or genuinely thinks that she is happy and cannot recognise that something is wrong in her life. She seems to have an ability (if that is the right word) to be ruthless and spiteful towards those people who she wants to cut out of her life. I can only guess that a major trauma in her life has caused her to have some kind of subconscious mental breakdown/reaction, or whether she’s always had a mental condition which has been latent all this time until now. I hate to say it, but she must be suffering from a mental illness of some kind and obviously can’t recognise it herself. I just can’t reconcile Sue’s spiteful behaviour towards her mother, with the girl I used to know and love.

Is there anyone reading this posting who recognises the symptoms of any mental disorder on the basis of what I’ve had to say above? She seems to suffer from a combination of chronic insecurity, schizophrenia, paranoia and some other ailments; is there anyone out there more qualified than me who can offer a more accurate diagnosis, and recommend an appropriate course of treatment/therapy/any other course of action?

If anyone were able to offer any relevant resources on the Web, or books to read, I would be most grateful.

Thank you very much in anticipation of your help.


Former member
Is there anyone reading this posting who recognises the symptoms of any mental disorder on the basis of what I’ve had to say above? She seems to suffer from a combination of chronic insecurity, schizophrenia, paranoia and some other ailments; is there anyone out there more qualified than me who can offer a more accurate diagnosis, and recommend an appropriate course of treatment/therapy/any other course of action?

None of us on here are psychiatrists; & even if we were; there would be no basis to make any kind of diagnosis based on what you have written.

If you are interested in developing an understanding of mental health. Then perhaps investigate the many theories; & different perspectives on the subject.

Having been though things myself, & looked in detail at this subject. I can best at present conclude - that mental illness is a spectrum, it is part of a scale. No one displays perfect mental health. Or as someone put it - 'show me someone who can define sanity; & I'll show you a raving lunatic'.

From what you have described it all sounds, primarily, like natural & complex reactions to certain stresses & traumas. There is no categorical proof any mental health condition being primarily a biological brain disorder - none.

The Orthodox & Generally accepted opinions on Mental Illness are very easy to investigate. Maybe start with some more Alternative perspectives.




Former member
You only know what other people have told you. "Sue said, her mother said, her stepfather said, Sue said her father said" and who is to say what the true dynamics are in this complicated set up.

As Apo says these things you describe can be natural though complex responses to stress. You don't have to have a mental health problem to fall onto hard times and not be able to cope. Or to have a testing relationship with your family.

As Sue has been out of your life for such a long time it does make me wonder why you're taking such an interest in her life now especially since you're married. (I'm presuming you're still married as you don't seem to have mentioned divorce).


Former member
I am a senior member of this forum and it is frowned upon to diagnose !!

Reading between the lines of your post I have to mention BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder - seems to be the result of a lack of love OR even and abusive childhood

The actions of BPD sufferers can appear unfathomable

Please don't blame yourself for any of her actions and behaviour

Don't be afraid to mention anything you might have left out

Were here to help.


New member
May 12, 2009
I am curious

I have always operated in my life and yes ,I know the value of words
On 2 levels.......totally and I mean that,
totally on 2 levels
2 distinct levels.
The social.........way hy etc
The real.(yeah well)

And no I have not been assessed as anything..to do with this .FOR me it's just that I operate on 2 plains.Does not make me feel ok.
Is feeling ok the point?