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What People With Borderline Personality Disorder Wish You Knew

woman looks sad and exhausted
By Lifestance Health on December 20, 2020

Borderline personality disorder is a serious mental health disorder that causes extreme instability in a person’s moods, relationships, and behavior. This Cluster B personality disorder is sometimes called “BPD” or “borderline.”

BPD looks unique in each person, and the full list of symptoms is lengthy. However, all borderline personality disorder symptoms can be grouped into nine types of symptoms.

The nine symptoms of borderline personality disorder are:

  • Paranoid or suspicious thoughts
  • Unstable relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family
  • Unhealthy anger patterns
  • Fear of abandonment, which are usually unfounded
  • Feeling like there’s a void inside
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Impulsivity, typically with self-destructive behaviors
  • An unclear sense of self

As you can imagine, living with these symptoms can be difficult, especially without treatment. Living with borderline is made harder when people stigmatize the disorder or harshly judge the person who lives with it. Not only can harsh judgment isolate someone with BPD, but it can even make their symptoms worse.


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Whether you love someone with borderline or you simply want to be more informed about mental health, there are a few things people with borderline personality disorder want you to know.

BPD is Not The Same As Bipolar Disorder

People often confuse borderline and bipolar disorder. Not only could they both be abbreviated to “BPD,” but they can also both cause significant shifts in mood. However, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes manic and depressive episodes. Borderline personality disorder, on the other hand, is in a different classification of disorders.

While it does affect mood, the swings in mood can happen much more rapidly than in people with bipolar disorder. BPD also affects people in ways that bipolar disorder does not, such as causing paranoid thinking and fear of abandonment. Some people with borderline also live with bipolar disorder.

Borderline is Not a Choice, Neither Are The Symptoms

Like all mental illness, nobody chooses to live with borderline personality disorder. People believe that the big emotional swings and other symptoms happen because someone is choosing to be dramatic. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like nobody would choose to be depressed, nobody chooses to have emotions that are so difficult to regulate.

It’s Like Having an Exposed Nerve, But For Emotions

Imagine having third-degree burns on much of your body or having exposed nerves that sent pain signals with the lightest breeze. BPD is like that, but for the emotional self. That’s why it can seem like someone with borderline personality disorder has extreme emotional reactions to relatively small triggers.

People With BPD Aren’t “Just Being Dramatic”

When people with borderline personality disorder have extreme emotions, those around them often write it off as someone being “dramatic.” While it may seem that way on the outside, the pain that the person feels is real. While the trigger may seem small to you, the pain is big. People with BPD are reacting to the pain they feel.

Treatment Can Work for Borderline Personality Disorder

Unfortunately, some people believe that people with borderline personality disorder will never be able to regulate their emotions. However, therapy has been shown to help people with BPD use healthy coping mechanisms to regulate their feelings. In fact, some types of therapy were specifically designed to help people with BPD.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of counseling that is especially effective in treating borderline personality disorder. This skills-based therapy gives people the tools they need to tolerate difficult emotions, build resilience, and maintain healthy relationships.

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