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18 'Red Flags' That Might Mean You're Struggling With 'Quiet' BPD

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If you’re familiar with borderline personality disorder (BPD), you might also be familiar with a less-discussed manifestation of the condition — colloquially referred to as “quiet BPD.”

Folks who live with quiet BPD experience many of the same hallmark symptoms of “classic” BPD, just in a way that’s not as obvious on the outside. While someone with classic BPD typically “acts out,” a quiet borderline will “act in,” oftentimes only doing “harm” to themselves.

Though “quiet” BPD can sometimes fly under the radar, it’s no less difficult to live with than “classic BPD” — it just manifests a little differently. As Mighty community member Andrew L. shared, “‘Quiet’ does not mean less hell… Our hell is no less nightmarish than an unquiet borderline.”

That said, having a BPD diagnosis is not hopeless. The Mighty recently spoke with Dr. April Foreman, who specializes in treating folks with BPD. When asked if she believed people with BPD could recover, she replied, “Absolutely, yes. And with effective treatment, it’s very likely. I have definitely had patients recover — more than a few. And they no longer would meet the criteria.”

So while it’s true many people with BPD do experience significant struggles, with specialized treatment (dialectical behavior therapy is the gold standard for BPD!), recovery is completely possible.

We wanted to know how people with self-described “quiet BPD” knew they had it, so we turned to our Mighty BPD community to share their experiences. Below you can read the “red flags” that let them know they had quiet BPD. If you can relate, you’re not alone.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. I feel all of my emotions so strongly that it feels like sandpaper being rubbed against exposed nerves — anger, sadness, all of it. I also don’t ever show it because I don’t want to upset anybody else. Add in the constant feelings of guilt and questioning everything I do and there you go.” — Samantha F.
  2. Never being able to ask for help because even silly things make me feel like the biggest inconvenience.” — Mia A.
  3. “Turning borderline rage into episodes of crying for hours, trying not to take it out on others. One fight with my boyfriend and then I feel like it’s the end of the world, splitting to the point where I hate him and push him away. And when he leaves, completely falling apart because I’ve been abandoned.” — Pauline T.
  4. “The constant inner dialogue of emotion highs and lows and having to talk myself through.” — Julie R.
  5. Silent splitting. It truly feels like there are brakes in my head and they just… make emotions stop.” — Kristin M.
  6. “If someone raises their voice at me, I shut down. I can’t speak. I can’t think. It’s like flipping a switch. Later all the emotional tidal waves of BPD will kick in, but only when I’m alone.” — Rebecka B.
  7. “I am my own worst enemy. Rather than explode to other people, I rake myself over the coals and am my cruelest critic.” — Rachel P.
  8. Borderline rage, which I usually turn in on myself. Self-destructive impulses and self-harm. Not knowing who I was or who I was supposed to be. Changing my major and never feeling in the right place. Changing how I acted when around different people.” — James T.
  9. I want to go on a complete rampage and scream and throw a fit, but I don’t want to inconvenience anyone so much that I just internalize it.” — Megan B.
  10. “Complaining a lot instead of having outbursts of anger or crying.” — Trisha H.
  11. “My intense attachment to a friend who “friend” broke up with me over three years ago. Still can’t get over it.” — Emily M.
  12. “Pure self-loathing. If I make a mistake — which inevitably all humans do — I’m the worst person in the world and I deserve death. I have trained myself not to think in black and white, and I’m fine applying that to other people, but I can’t do it to myself. I’m either the shittiest person ever, or awesome. There’s never a middle ground.” — Lyndsey S.
  13. “I retreat into my head when my emotions overpower me. I can’t tell my loved ones because I feel I deserve to suffer alone, or because I just don’t know how to explain what’s going on in my head.” — Heather S.
  14. “I doubt everything and everyone around me. My emotions aren’t real, the love my friends have for me isn’t real, life isn’t real. My only reality is how horrible I am, and how much I deserve to suffer.” — Emi M.
  15. “Being silent for fear of having an ‘unreasonable’ reaction.” — Natasha H.
  16. “All of my symptoms are towards myself. Instead of that stereotype of acting out towards everyone, I act internally. I don’t think of others in black and white, but depending on how I’m feeling, I’m either all good or all bad. For years before being diagnosed, I’ve said everyone else is grey but I know what’s right or wrong for me.” — Becca B.
  17. “When anger bleeds into that deep-seeping depression, I become quiet and won’t make eye contact. The world is swimming at the edges of my vision and eyes are too much to process for that level of overstimulation. It doesn’t matter who I’m talking to, I just look at the floor or my hands or their shoulders.” — Cait S.
  18. “Dissociation over anything overly-upsetting. Arguments with others or stressful times in a relationship. I don’t realize I’ve done it until a few days later when I try recount what happened between the other person and myself, and I realize all the facts are foggy. Within a few weeks, I’ve entirely forgotten most the situation and how it happened or why and what was said between us, etc. I hate it because it makes it seem like I’ve made the whole thing up!” — Sarah C.

Can you relate?

Getty Images photo via Transfuchsian

Originally published: November 29, 2018
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