Dear Dr. Heller,
My 13 year old son had two grand mal seizures last month, both in the same week and was hospitalized. He never had seizures before. He seemed very anxious and fearful the week before the seizures started and he was full of anger and frustration at the least slightest little thing. The night of the first seizure he came in my room about 1 o'clock in the morning and complained of a funny feeling in his tummy and asked me to be with him. He said he heard voices in his room in a voice saying that someone wanted to "kill him." As he lay in his bed he had a look of fright, his arm went up as if to shield himself, he cried out and then his eyes got pulled to the side as he started to convulse for over 10 minutes. He went out stiff and then went limp and seemed to stop breathing and became unconscious.
Days afterward he told me he had a vision of a man holding a knife trying to kill him and he was the same character that was in the movie " Clue" that he had been watching earlier that evening. He had also eaten lots of chocolate and drank almost a full bottle of Pepsi the day preceding the seizure during our 4th of July picnic, because I remember asking him what happened to the soda. I hardly every buy that stuff . The neurologist , seems to think that John's seizures are nocturnal and were brought on by hormonal changes caused by puberty as well as caffeine and also from overstimulation and lack of sleep. I agree, but it wasn't until I came to your web page that I started to connect the possibility of BPD.
I am almost positively sure that my father had it. He died 3 years ago and was in such a psychotic state at the time of his death . I was his caretaker for most of my life and my life with him was a living hell. I have researched my fathers symptoms most of my life and always thought it was schizophrenia or depression but now I know it was BPD.
Could my son inherit this disorder genetically? He is taking Tegretol now and has been in a better mood and is not so agitated. He is the kindest, most compassionate child I know. Please help us. Could your books help us? I have been an advocate for children with mental health for many years and have worked in early intervention programs with developmentally disabled children. I never thought I would be facing the burden of raising a son with seizure disorder and possibly BPD. John's symptoms were moodiness, angry outbursts, frustration at anything that doesn't go his way, extreme shyness, low confidence (he had to repeat a grade) sensitivity over everything and he takes everything personally.....His anger is always toward himself and he is a perfectionist. My father was always touchy but as he got older he went into clinical depressions, used to hallucinate, said he hated himself that he was ugly and wanted to die, and he was verbally abusive to me.
I left home at age 28 got married and eventually had 2 beautiful children. My father went down after I left and became more and more unable to take care of himself over the next 15 years. He denied that he had problems and refused to seek help. He became a social hermit and refused to bathe. He spent his days going to dollar stores and bought worthless junk that he filled his apartment with. You couldn't even walk in there because he had bags of senseless goods all over the floors and stale and rotted food all over the place. His compulsive shopping continued and I would tell him to seek friends and try to think optimistically but he continued his self destructive ways. Then he got lymphoma cancer and died in a nursing home . At the nursing home he had raged and threw things at the nurses and myself. He refused to eat and go to chemotherapy. He would point his finger at me and announce that I was the "enemy." He said bizarre things such that as that the nurses are planning to gas him so that he can be put out of his misery.
My experience with him has made me aware of many mental health issues and I have been reading articles and researching these issues for years. I have had problems with panic and anxiety and I think that biologically my son is a by-product of me and my father. MY panic started when my mother became ill when I was 11 and escalated when she died when I was twelve. Living with my father and his moods and always living in fear that he would commit suicide reinforced my fears. My son's seizures triggered more trauma for me and I keep getting flashbacks at night and have heart palpitations if I hear any noises from my son's room (I'm afraid he will have another seizure). I have never taken any medications but since John's illness I feel I need something because it is not good for him to see me so worried all the time.
God bless you in your work. I believe that God works through others and they are called to find ways to make this a better world for others. I did as much as I could for my dad but he was on the road to self destruction and there was no turning back. Please reply and I would deeply appreciate any help you can give us. I am a survivor in this world and always try to stay hopeful and believe that if we seek answers, God will guide us to those who can help us. If you have any suggestions please e-mail me and together we may be able to make this a better world one person at a time. I love my son so much and I hope to find the answers so that these problems are not passed on from one generation to the next.
Thank you in advance and may God bless you for your work in helping families with BPD.
They certainly could be due to the BPD. There is a strong genetic component.
Hallucinations are not common, but they can happen.
If he has the BPD he needs medical treatment ASAP! Please review criteria with him carefully, and share with him that it's a medical problem. Tegretol alone is usually not enough, but the combination with Prozac can be absolutely miraculous.