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Long-Distance Support

Question:

My 27 year old daughter suffers from mild bipolar and mild borderline personality disorder. She has had one suicide attempt in a panic abandonment state, not an “end it all” state. We live 3000 miles away. What suggestions do you have for long distance coping?

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Answer:

Long-distance relationships of any sort are very difficult. Telephone, video conferencing, letters, email, and instant messaging are all wonderful tools, but all fail utterly when you need to express basic human touch and true eye-contact necessary for human support. For this reason, I think it will be best if your daughter is encouraged to build up supports in her local community that could help sustain her through future crises. Your daughter would be well advised to spend some time building and maintaining friendships. All human beings need them. I also strongly recommend that your daughter get hooked up with a professional helper (therapist of some sort) who can provide support. Support groups, and psychotherapy groups, particularly those involving Dialectical Behavior Therapy would also be a good idea. The more she can build up a network of friends and other supports, the better off she will be. Aside from the social world, you can also provide support to your daughter by encouraging her to build and maintain healthy habits with regard to her diet and exercise. Eating healthy, and getting regular physical exercise is critical to maintaining good health. I’m assuming that she is already in treatment for her bipolar condition (e.g., medications to help keep her mood stable). If she doesn’t see a psychiatrist on a semi-regular basis, she may wish to consider that option.

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