21 Things People With Borderline Personality Disorder Wish Their Friends Understood
The very nature of borderline personality disorder (BPD) can make relationships difficult to manage. Symptoms include unstable personal relationships and efforts to avoid being abandoned, coupled with a distorted self-image and impulsive behavior.
But that doesn’t mean people with BPD are unable to make friends, and it certainly doesn’t mean they can’t form deep relationships. In fact, the opposite can be true. To get some insight from those affected, we asked people in our mental health community to share one thing they wish their friends knew about living with borderline personality disorder.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Even the slightest sign of rejection destroys my world. Things like not answering texts, not picking up the phone or canceling a date on short notice leaves me devastated, thinking my friend hates me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore. Fears of abandonment are hard to deal with.”
2. “I’m crap at keeping in touch; I don’t mean to be. I love all the people in my life, I just don’t want my illness to affect them. I also carry shame from the times it has, making it hard to face people.”
3. “I wish friends knew how sensitive I truly am. I feel so deeply in every emotion. Bear with me, and don’t walk away. BPD really shows you how many of your friends are true. Stay strong, fellow BPDers.”
4. “I don’t mean to be annoying, but fear of abandonment and rejection makes me feel like I need constant validation.”
5. “I keep absolutely everything to myself to avoid the embarrassment, rejection and the anxiety I go through trying to get out what’s inside.”
6. “I always feel like a burden on my friends. Or like I’m just in the way. I’m scared I annoy everyone around me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to show my friends how much I love and appreciate them.”
7. “I don’t cope with cancelled plans very well, especially if they’re last minute. I feel as if they have found something better to do and don’t want to see me — even if that’s not the case.”
8. “That person who comes out sometimes isn’t me. I feel like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’m stuck in this tiny corner of my mind, watching as I lash out at people, inwardly screaming to stop. Afterwards I’m so ashamed and embarrassed I feel like I don’t deserve to live. The people who stay with me despite Jekyll are my heroes. I couldn’t make it through this without you. I love you all, and thank you for not abandoning me.”
9. “I wish other people could know the pain I feel inside. It feels like I’m internally bleeding the vast majority of the time, and if I don’t feel scarred and raw, I feel numb. Overall, I feel like a wandering, vacant hole who needs constant affirmation that I exist. Sometimes I struggle and wonder if I am real. I feel like a tremendous burden to everyone, especially my boyfriend and therapist. I feel constant shame about the way I behave, and my therapist usually gets the brunt of my “love-hate” cycles. Most of the time I can hide my symptoms from others, but they can spill out. Sometimes I want to disappear. I work in the world of mental health, and frankly, people with BPD are often treated like lepers. I’ve seen ‘difficult’ people labeled as ‘borderline’ if others can’t understand what’s going on. Even my therapist gets frustrated at me at times, and it makes me feel like I’m too much, like I’m damaged goods.”
10. “No matter how great our friendship may be, no matter how much fun we have and laughs we share, if I’m having one of those days it doesn’t matter what you say or do: I just constantly think my friends hate me. I feel like I’m not as good as them. I feel they must not really like me because I don’t like myself, so how could they? No matter what I try, whether it’s trying positive thoughts like: ‘Would they be with me if they didn’t like me?’– it doesn’t matter. I will always feel I’m not good enough for anyone — friends or family.”
11. “People with BPD have tremendous compassion and empathy. We can feel with people in a way others often can’t. We have a lot of strengths even though we feel fragile.”
12. “If I had any friends, I’d ask them to understand my extreme emotional sensitivity. I’m sorry I can’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Walking Dead.’ The violence stays with me. I can actually feel the fear, the sadness, the horror the victim experiences.”
13. “When I have an upswing, I forget myself and just go on impulse. Sometimes that means endless reposts on Facebook, to the annoyance of some. But it’s just my way of working things out in a less dangerous way than I could be.”
14. “I put on a very hard confident shell every day, but it’s not real. Not in the slightest.”
15. “When I flake out on plans all the time, it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, it’s that I’m afraid if I spend too much time with you, you will discover I’m as horrible as I think I am.”
16. “My emotions are extreme, and I can’t control how I feel. I feel things so over the top, and it’s hard to come back to baseline. The abandonment feeling happens if it’s just an acquaintance, never mind if it’s someone I’m close too. And yes. I cry in response to my feelings. And no, I’m not acting childish. It’s just how I’m wired.”
17. “It’s not the easiest thing to explain. And when I finally do find the words to explain it, their first reaction is self-diagnosing themselves with it or saying everyone has that.”
18. “I don’t even understand BPD myself, so be patient with me.”
19. “I don’t seek attention. And every single day I get up and force myself to keep going and function is a huge accomplishment.”
20. “I am not a lost cause.”
21. “It’s incredibly lonely to have a disorder that affects how you handle interpersonal relationships. We wear loneliness like a cloak, weighted down with insecurity and doubt. We love our friends and families. Even when we pull away, even when our emotions are out of control, even when fear keeps us from demonstrating or saying the words, we still love you. We are not perfect. No one is. But we are worthy of your trust and your love.”
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.