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What It Means to Get a Diagnosis of ‘Quiet’ Borderline Personality Disorder

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I’m assuming many of you are shocked to hear I have a disorder with the word “quiet” in the name since I’m not quiet by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s true. And if I then say I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), many of you would again be shocked, but (again) it is true. 

Most people, when thinking of people with this disorder, think of the “classic” version of the personality disorder. Most often thought of are those who may lash out in anger, appear to be manipulative, have unstable relationships and engage in reckless behaviors, none of which describe me. So often, people generalize or believe what they see in the movies. With the “quiet” version of this illness, it is much more of an inward, introverted disorder which makes it harder to identify and diagnose.

So what in the world must I, and my mental health professionals, be thinking? Until last Thursday, I would have said there is no way this is me. But then I stumbled upon an article. And then I Googled. And then I emailed with my therapist and a psychiatrist. And I knew this could be life-changing. Everything fell into place — all of the thoughts that run through my head that are not typical for depression or anxiety, but are not ones most people wrestle with on a daily or hourly basis. Why I often feel the way I feel.

I want to share with you some of the signs and symptoms of borderline personality disorder that are not as well-known. They do not all apply to me, but most of them unfortunately do — I share a lot on my blog, but some things are just for me, my mental health professionals and my loved ones. So, feel free to guess — I will not be answering.

1. Mood swings, unsure about how you see yourself and your role in life.

2. Extreme or black-and-white thinking. Things are all good or all bad.

3. Attempts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, often cutting off someone in anticipation of being abandoned.

4. Self-image issues and a distorted sense of self.

5. Recurring thoughts of suicidal behaviors.

6. Rapidly changing and highly intense moods, lasting from hours to days.

7. Persistent feelings of emptiness.

8. Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger (inward or internalized).

9. Irrational fear of others’ intentions which leads to difficulty trusting others.

10. Dissociation.

Once I read these signs and obtained the validation from my people, I started reading voraciously on the topic. I like to be thorough, which may be an understatement. Finding out people who struggle with all types of this disorder can feel the same intensity of the emotional roller coaster, even if some of us don’t express the severity of it to others, was a huge relief. I’ve never understood that intensity I feel and I felt guilty or ashamed of my inability to “just get over” things or move on. Trying to shut my emotions down is physically and emotionally draining, and does not exactly work. Reading that others feel their thoughts and feelings are unbearable is again comforting. Honestly, I think I have been smiling a lot more since I have a way to understand myself, or at least a way to try.

The nice thing about my new diagnosis is that it does not come with more medication. It is also often co-morbid with my old diagnoses. So, our plan of action is not changing all that much. I am going to be going back to all of my old dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) books and review them, and practice the skills because they are supposed to help in the management of borderline.

There is probably still a lot more for me to say on this subject, and with this new diagnosis I am a little more hesitant concerning the idea of stigma, since it is definitely a heavily stigmatized disorder. A part of me almost held back, concerned by what others may think, but then I decided to jump right in as I always do and put it out there for all to see. Because, as they say in the song from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” “This is me!”

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Originally published: March 25, 2018
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