In Loving Memory of Anne Reeve

Anne Reeve had a profound impact on the lives of those who care for people with borderline personality disorder or BPD, as it is known. When Anne first encountered BPD, nearly a decade ago, she saw it for what it is; a severe and disabling condition that causes profound pain, suffering, and disability for those people affected and for those who care for and love them. Sadly, many of those affected by BPD will die prematurely by suicide or physical ill health. Most importantly, Anne was appalled by the neglect, stigma and discrimination experienced by those living with BPD and the blame and alienation experienced by their families. She was shocked that most of this stigma and discrimination is perpetrated within the mental health system.

Anne was not someone to stand by idly and allow such things to pass. She harnessed her extraordinary energy, skills and clarity of purpose to singlehandedly transform the lot of those who love and care for a family member with BPD.

Anne set about garnering knowledge and support for her vision that all families would receive the welcoming support and skills that they wanted and needed for the task of helping their loved ones. She reached out to the late Dr Perry Hoffman in the USA and to Professor Andrew Chanen in Melbourne and dragged them along for the ride. What a pace she set!

By 2014, Anne persuaded the US-based National Education Alliance for BPD, known as NEABPD, to ‘gift’ its brand, its wealth of research and treatment knowledge, and its globally renowned Family Connections™ program to the Australian community. With Dr Hoffman and Professor Chanen, she established NEABPD Australia. This was only the beginning, a basecamp for her enduring contribution to the Australian community.

Much of the philosophy of NEABPD was informed by Anne’s personal experience and feedback from Australian BPD stakeholders, shaped by the experience of Dr Hoffman and Professor Alan Fruzzetti, who co-created the Family Connections™ program. Anne developed deeply respectful and enduring relationships with Perry and Alan, and others across the world. She arranged for Alan to come to Australia in 2015 to teach the Family Connections™ program to families and mental health clinicians. This changed the lives of so many Australian families for the better. These programs are now run in several Australian states but there is more work to do to make this program available truly nation-wide. Anne, we will get there!

In Anne’s words, “Family Connections™ started the process of changing my life”. She was acutely aware of “the chaos, hopelessness and darkness that overwhelms the lives of family members caring for someone with BPD”. This informed her work in developing quality standards for the program to ensure “we did nothing to exacerbate the chaos, and to deliver the best possible product.”

Anne’s belief that the Family Connections™ program was “more than just for families” led her to build positive working relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. She upskilled first responders, and advocated across all levels of Government. She heightened awareness through the media, created the dedicated BPD Awareness Week platform, and organised training for cohorts of practitioners in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. She reached out to police and legal fraternities. Via the ‘Ask Me’ campaign, she tackled stigma and provided a platform for those who suffered from BPD.

Anne was tireless, resourceful, passionate, deeply committed, unfailingly positive and extremely generous. She had the most wonderful smile and energy, which will endure with all of us associated with NEABPD Australia.

The work that Anne started with Family Connections™ has earned the deep respect of so many, including the large and growing groundswell of volunteers and supporters, who continue to work to ensure that Family Connections™ thrives in Australia and makes a tangible difference in alleviating suffering in our BPD community.

NEA extends its love and profound thanks to Anne’s family, the people Anne loved most, and whose lives were the reason for her work. You have contributed so much yourselves to the improvement of the lives of families experiencing BPD. Without you, this work would not have been done, or done so incredibly well. We honour and thank you and will work to keep Anne’s memories and wishes alive.

Vale Anne Reeve. You are deeply loved. You will be missed so much.