25 Songs That Describe the 9 Classic Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder
While music isn’t a “cure” for mental illnesses like borderline personality disorder (BPD), oftentimes it can perfectly describe what it’s like to live with them. Because BPD has nine “classic” symptoms, we asked members of our Mighty community to share songs that represent their experience with each symptom. In addition to their song recommendations, we included definitions of each symptom so you can share with a loved one who may not understand.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. Frantic Efforts to Avoid Abandonment
An intense fear of abandonment, even going to extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection. (via Mayo Clinic)
- “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me” by Demi Lovato
“This is exactly how every single moment of my life is. Yes, no, stay, go, etc. This song describes me 100 percent.” — Brenna B.
- “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day
“It describes how I feel when I feel like I’m alone, forgotten, replaced, lost and isolated. It describes the chronic and consistent combination of symptoms and struggles with feelings of failure, preoccupations with loneliness and rejection, emptiness, suicidal thoughts and feeling lost with no sense of self and identity. The second verse even says at one point, ‘I’m walking down the line that divides me somewhere in my mind. On the borderline of the edge and where I walk alone…'” — Kellyann N.
- “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith
“[It] accurately describes the fear of abandonment that comes with BPD and the feeling of a ‘favorite person.’ The narrator of the song acknowledges it’s clearly not love between him and the other person, but he wants them to stay anyway to relieve pain. Perfect description is these two lyrics: ‘And deep down I know this never works/ But you can lay with me so it doesn’t hurt.'” — Lisa G.
Unstable personal relationships that alternate between idealization— “I’m so in love!”— and devaluation — “I hate her.” This is also sometimes known as “splitting.” (via National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- “Please Don’t Leave Me” by P!nk
“The lyrics explain how I rage so hard at the people I love most but I’m also desperate for them to not leave. I know I’m ‘a lot’ when I have such a passionate love/hate thing going on, but it’s a package deal.” — Stacey F.
- “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles
“It talks about wanting to be free, but always coming back. I connect with that feeling so much as I try to push away but never can.” — Megan G.
3. Unstable Self-Image
Distorted and unstable self-image, which affects moods, values, opinions, goals and relationships. (via National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- “Control” by Halsey
“I feel out of control sometimes and I have a bit of a mean streak where I black out and I get flat-out mean. I feel like a monster sometimes when I get numb, but sometimes I’m such a sweet caring person. I feel like I don’t know who I am.” — Brittney H.
- “In the Blood” by John Mayer
“Talks about the inability to determine whether you are your own self/person, or merely just a repeat of your genetics… I’ve never heard another song that so perfectly describes how I feel about myself — desperately hoping that I am more than my defective genes, but never truly believing I can ever be anything more, no matter what I do.” — Sarah M.
- “Caught in the Middle” by Paramore
“To me, it’s the perfect representation of living with BPD and how I feel I’m being pulled in so many different directions, all at once. Being caught between the expectations of others, the expectations I place on myself, the hurt of the past and the fear of the future and the emptiness I feel inside all the time that perpetuates the hopelessness of making it out (of BPD) alive.” — Sarah M.
4. Impulsive Behavior
Impulsive and risky behavior, such as gambling, reckless driving, unsafe sex, spending sprees, binge eating or drug abuse, or sabotaging success by suddenly quitting a good job or ending a positive relationship. (via Mayo Clinic)
- “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen
“The tempo is perfect. When my brain is spinning, it keeps up and fires me up more with every heart pounding chorus.” — Kim M.
- “Binge” by Papa Roach
“There’s two sides to you — one that knows you should control your urges and ‘behave’ as you should; the other that rages against what ‘should be’ from inside, like poison speeding through your body, bending you to its will, desperate for satisfaction, but no amount of indulging ever truly satiates it.” — Sarah M.
5. Suicidal Behavior or Self-Harm
Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection. (via Mayo Clinic)
- “Breathe Me” by Sia
“I’m trying to recover from self-harming. I don’t count the days/weeks/months anymore as I know it’s always going to be there, waiting to take hold again. I usually self-harm during BPD/C-PTSD relapses, even though I know it makes everything worse in the long-run.” — April S.
- “Sober” by Demi Lovato
“It perfectly describes my ups and downs. The love/hate relationship I have with myself.” — Mika M.
- “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace
“It shows me I’m never alone. And it came out around the time those thoughts became prominent.” — Alicia E.
6. Periods of Emotional Intensity
- “Hysteria” by Def Leppard
“Describes an all-consuming feeling that takes control of your senses, your thoughts, your behavior; and there’s nothing you can do in the moment but let it happen, like you’re just along for the ride.” — Sarah M.
- “I Love It” by Icona Pop
“Everything in this song is intense, and it perfectly describes how I feel everything.” — Krystal T.
- “Given Up” by Linkin Park
“The song perfectly describes the intensity of the emotions and how it feels like we are stuck, alone, suffocating and hyperventilating. It covers the intensity of the range of emotions, like anger, depression or panic.” — Kellyann N.
7. Chronic Feelings of Emptiness
Chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness. (via National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- “The Lonely” by Christina Perri
“Especially this part that repeats several times: ‘I’m the ghost of a girl/ That I want to be most/ I’m the shell of a girl/ That I used to know well…'” — Megan G.
- “Leave out all the Rest” by Linkin Park
“I can’t even put these feelings into words. The lyrics speak for themselves.” — Naomi D.
- “Numb” by Linkin Park
“[It’s] always been the song I relate to when it comes to feeling, well, numb. The video also hit home as I am an artist and fought with my mom a lot so I would turn to my art. I felt invisible like the world was speeding by me growing up. I still feel that way more often than not and this song always makes me feel like someone understands.” — Stephanie R.
8. Intense or Uncontrollable Anger
Inappropriate, intense or uncontrollable anger — often followed by shame and guilt. (via National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park
“‘One Step Closer’ has been my go-to song when I’m angry for 15 years now. It was the first song I ever heard from them and it really made me feel less alone in my anger.” — Michelle D.
- “Sober” by P!nk
“[It] perfectly describes my situation, especially when I’m at my extreme lowest and highest points. It also perfectly resembles my fear of abandonment, and the lengths at which I take so the people I’m around don’t leave me– which makes being me so frustrating.” — Emily C.
- “Monster” by Skillet
“Definitely ‘Monster’ by Skillet. I think it’s a perfect representation of BPD rage. It describes how we feel a lack of control and suddenly switch to intense emotions. It even includes how it hurts and tears us down and seems to chase after us, even if we don’t want it. It describes the external impact as well as how we feel internally.” — Kellyann N.
Dissociative feelings — disconnecting from your thoughts or sense of identity, or “out of body” type of feelings — and stress-related paranoid thoughts. Severe cases of stress can also lead to brief psychotic episodes. (via National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd
“When everything becomes too much, it’s like floating into an abyss inside your head; it’s darker, and a little fuzzy, but it’s warm, and welcoming, and you feel safe in there. That’s what this song feels like when it’s pouring into your ears through a great set of headphones that don’t let a single outside sound in.” — Sarah M.
- “A Whole New World” by Lea Salonga and Brad Kane
“It feels like I am being swept off of my feet into a world of fantasy I’m chasing after, rather than my own reality.” — Tatauq M.
- “Mad World” by Gary Jules
“It’s very sad and kind of floaty — it sounds the way I feel when I’m in a dissociative state.” — Kara D.
What would you add?
Header image via Linkin Park and Demi Lovato Facebook pages