Through years of psychotherapy, Stephanie Carey is finally on the road to recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder. It's a mental health condition characterized by long-term patterns of unstable emotions that cause impulsive behavior and tumultuous relationships.
"My mom was on the receiving end of many fights and yelling and screaming," said Carey.
Carey said it was scary at first. "It's just so much emotion and it's hard to figure out that that's really not natural," said Carey.
While the disorder is tough on patients like Carey, it's also hard on their family members who are taking care of them.
"Sometimes the people when they're not doing well are quite difficult to deal with, it's especially hard. It's also one of the major mental illnesses that don't respond well to medications," said Karen Winters Schwartz, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Local Chapter president.
"Caregivers often don't take care of themselves and aren't managing their stress. And if they're not managing their stress, their Cortisol levels are impacting their bodies. If we can support families, then they can better support their relatives and their loved ones, which can make a difference in their care," said Vanessa Watts, the Family Support and Education Center assistant director.
There are several organizations, including the Family Support and Education Center and the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, that offer support to families in the form of counseling, helping navigate insurance and offering programs that educate families on the best ways to help someone with the disease.
NAMI also works to pass legislation to help individuals and families dealing with mental illness. They said their biggest hurdle to patient care right now is overcoming the stigma attached to mental health disorders.
"Somehow the brain became a separate thing from the body. And people who have a brain disorder are not considered sick, they're considered crazy. And this is a stigma we fight very, very hard to overcome because whether it's health care, whether it's medications, whether it's what insurance is going to pay for, what happens is people don't get the coverage they need. They don't get the care they need because of the stigma associated with these illnesses," said Scwartz.