Why Some Phrases Are Invalidating for Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder


“You’re crazy.”

“What drugs are you on?”

“Stop overreacting.”

“Calm down, it’s not a big deal.”

I’m sure many of us have heard at least one, but most likely all of these before. Those who say them may fail to realize the immense impact they have on a person with borderline personality disorder (BPD). But why do these words hurt so bad?

They hurt because we spend every single day trying to convince ourselves we aren’t “crazy,” and we aren’t overreacting. Years of therapy has taught me whatever I am feeling is valid. I am not “crazy.” I am not overreacting. I am feeling how I am feeling, and I am allowed to feel that way. Yes, to our friends and family we may be overreacting. But those of us with BPD understand that any small thing can set us off, any small change in facial expression can send our minds running with horrible thoughts.

I find it so hard to not feel “crazy,” to not feel out of control. When someone tells me I’m crazy, or asks me if I’m on drugs, it makes me feel worse. It makes me feel horrible. It makes me hate myself even more because I realize others don’t view me the way I want to be viewed.

The worst part is, it makes me feel so alone. Alone because it feels like no one understands me. No one is willing to listen to understand why I’m upset and understand what caused that.

Unfortunately, many people don’t make that effort, and that’s something I have had a hard time coming to terms with.

Just please, if you have a friend or a loved one with borderline personality disorder, don’t invalidate their feelings. Make them feel heard, make them feel loved and make them feel understood. They don’t need you to say they’re crazy; they need you to tell them it’s OK to feel the way they do and to know they’re aren’t alone.

Never, ever tell anyone they’re “crazy.” You may have no idea the kind of impact those words can have on a person who lives with borderline personality disorder, or any mental disorder.

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 Thinkstock photo via Archv

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