I’ve spoken regularly on Twitter and also on this blog about the positives that can come from having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), including making us intensely passionate, empathetic, and creative.
Today I’ve chosen to make an A to Z list of the things that those of us with BPD can struggle with, in order to raise awareness of what we going through, and hopefully to create more understanding.
If you have BPD and are looking for help and support, I have left some useful links at the end of this post.
***Trigger warning*** This post makes reference to self-harm and suicide. If you are at risk of being triggered or upset by these topics, please do not read any further, or scroll right to the end of the post for the useful links for support.
A – Abandonment
Those of us with BPD are constantly scared of being abandoned or rejected. This can be anything from a loved-one leaving us, all the way down to someone not texting us back in a timely manner. It may seem petty, but to us, it’s a very real form of abandonment.
B – Black and white thinking
When you have BPD, life is very black and white. You either love someone or you hate them. Your day has been amazing or terrible. Life is incredible or totally pointless. There is no grey area. It’s quite exhausting swinging between the two extremes.
C – Catastrophising
Another aspect of BPD is catastrophising. When something bad happens, we tend to see it as a total disaster (or catastrophe), rather than the small problem it is. If something minor goes wrong, we immediately spiral into “what-ifs” and we start imagining all the worst things that can happen.
D – Distress
BPD involves a lot of distress. Our emotional instability means that our moods can get extremely low, and we are often very distressed and feeling like we can’t cope.
E – Emptiness
Chronic feelings of emptiness are a hallmark of BPD. It’s a strange feeling because it just feels like nothingness. It’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling and often results in distress (as above).
F – Favourite person
Having a favourite person can be both good and bad. It’s nice to have someone always at your side, but those of us with BPD often take that too far and make that person the centre of our entire world. So, when anything goes wrong, such as a minor disagreement, or a period of separation for whatever reason, it feels like a disaster.
G – Gullible
This might sound derogatory but it’s not meant to be. Let me explain. In an attempt to avoid abandonment or rejection, people with BPD often find themselves accepting poor behaviour from others, and are quite gullible (for want of a better word) when it comes to accepting lies or toxic behaviour, thinking that we don’t deserve any better. We also allow ourselves to be depicted as “the bad guy” when the facts may be that we are actually being manipulated by a toxic partner.
H – Hopelessness
When you’re stuck in the cycle of BPD mood swings, it is easy to feel hopeless and unsure about the future. It’s hard to have hope when everything seems to constantly repeat itself in a negative way.
I – Impulsivity
Making impulsive decisions, or rapidly changing our minds, is a big part of BPD. it can result in us spending money we don’t have and getting into debt, engaging in risky behaviour such as sexual activity, and other damaging behaviours.
J – Judgemental
Many people with BPD are incredibly judgemental of themselves, with constant thoughts of self-criticism and doubt in our own abilities. I know that I will often convince myself that a minor error I have made is the worst thing anyone has ever done, or that I am unworthy of being trusted with responsibilities.
K – Killing ourselves
According to Very Well Mind, approximately 80% of people with BPD will attempt suicide at least once, with many making multiple attempts. Around 9% of people with BPD successfully end their own lives, which is 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population.
L – Living in fear
Anxiety is also present in many of us with BPD, and we often live in a state of constant fear. Our unstable emotions are scary to deal with, and when you couple that with intrusive thoughts (see T) and all the other stuff we’re battling, it’s no wonder we are afraid.
M – Motivation (lack of)
When we’re feeling overwhelmed (see O), it can drastically affect our motivation. This is often because we are already dealing with so much, we feel that we can’t take on anything else, even if it’s seemingly small tasks like household chores. This can lead to things piling up and becoming even more unmanageable.
N – Negativity
I know from my experience of BPD, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of negativity. This isn’t surprising when we experience so much distress, and often things can feel very negative in general.
O – Overwhelmed
Experiencing so many emotions in quick succession or even all at once can feel very overwhelming. We can often feel overwhelmed by even the smallest tasks because we are dealing with so much in our heads at the same time.
P – Paranoia
Paranoid thoughts can be particularly prevalent in people with BPD in times of intense stress and anxiety. For me, this shows itself in the form of being intensely afraid of going outside or being convinced that people are out to get me.
Q – Quarrelling
We often struggle with bursts of anger that can result in frequent arguments, even though this is the exact opposite of what we really want. Also, our intense fear of abandonment can lead to over-clingy behaviour which can result in arguments.
R – Relationship issues
This one is a combination of several things already listed, such as quarrelling, favourite person, and black and white thinking. All of these things can create relationship issues, and make it difficult for us to sustain healthy, meaningful relationships.
S – Self-harm
This one is pretty self-explanatory. A big part of BPD is self-harming behaviours, including things like cutting, burning, picking, and so on.
T – Thoughts
Intrusive thoughts about ourselves or about our surroundings and people around us can be very scary, especially if the thoughts involve hurting ourselves or even ending our own lives.
U – Unstable emotions
BPD is also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) because experiencing unstable emotions is one of the major aspects of the disorder. Those of us with BPD experience rapid mood swings, with emotions feeling much more intense to us that someone who does not have BPD. We can be happy and laughing one minute, then absolutely devastated and in despair the next, for seemingly little or no reason. These swings are usually difficult for others to understand, as we can go from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye. It is also very frustrating and upsetting for us.
V – Vulnerable
The combination of all the things listed here can make someone with BPD very vulnerable to being manipulated or abused. Many people with BPD have experienced trauma in their past and present lives, and are highly vulnerable to experiencing this in their future if they don’t receive the appropriate treatment to help them regain some control over their lives.
W – Worries
BPD involves constant worrying; worrying about not being good enough, worrying about being abandoned, worrying about our impulsive behaviours. It can be totally exhausting.
X – X-Ray Vision
Those of us with BPD often believe we can see into people’s brains and read their minds. We often jump to conclusions and misread people’s intentions. This can cause arguments and also a lot of distress for us and the people around us.
Y – Yes
One of the aspects of BPD with which I struggle the most is saying yes too much. I struggle to set boundaries and respect my own right to say no. This often leads to me taking on more than I can handle and trying to spread myself too thinly.
Z – Zig-zagging
Our unstable emotions and impulsivity often make it difficult to make decisions or stick to plans. We can zig-zag between decisions quickly and as such it’s hard for us to finish tasks or make long-term goals.
I hope this list gives you a better understanding of what someone with BPD is potentially going through on a daily basis. If you’re looking for help or support, you can reach out to your GP and/or your local mental health team. I’ve also left some useful links below.
Do you have experience with BPD? Which element of the disorder do you find the most challenging? Which coping strategies do you find the most effective? Have you accessed any form of therapy, such as DBT? Let me know in the comments.