Many things someone with BPD feels are not abnormal they are just far more extreme.
Self Loathing and Rejection
You know those days when you look in the mirror and think, “God I’m ugly?” Everyone has it at some point but a BPD sufferer has it most of the time. If you get the impression someone dislikes you, it gets worse. You think to yourself, “I can see why they don’t like me; I’m ugly and an awful person.” The trouble is, someone with BPD thinks that a lot of people dislike them. In fact they scan everyone for a sign of rejection. A simple phone call can cause emotional situations:
These are two friends Linda and Katie. Katie has BPD and Linda rings her up:
Linda: "Hi Katie how are you?"
Katie: "I'm good thanks, how are you?"
Linda: "I'm fine. I will come and visit you next week!"
Katie: "Great! It will be nice to see you." (Katie is now feeling extremely happy and excited)
Linda: "Ok I'll ring you in a couple of days, bye."
Two days later Linda rings Katie again.
Linda: "Hi Katie it's Linda."
Katie: "Hi Linda, nice to hear from you again!"
Linda: "Did you see that article in the newspaper?"
Katie: "Yes I did, funny wasn't it?"
Linda: "I better go now. Remember next week I might come and visit you, bye."
Katie: "Ok bye" (Katie now starts to feel upset)
Did you notice the difference in the conversations? Of course the second time they speak about an interest in a newspaper article, but did you notice what upset Katie?
Katie was upset because the second time Linda mentioned visiting she said "I MIGHT come and visit you." The new added word "might," is perceived by Katie as rejection. She thinks that Linda doesn't really want to see her. Katie will now think that Linda will not come, she will think about all the possibilities that will make her not visit. Her reaction will be to either ring Linda later and ask her if she really is coming, or she'll sit and worry about it until she believes for sure Linda won't visit. This is just an example there are many other situations and conversations that can cause similar results.
Everything is scanned for rejection, even down to tiny words used. When someone with BPD is rejected or feels as if they are, they will think "that is my fault, I am an awful person." It can even get to a point, that at times, the sufferer hates the sound of their own voice and can't stand looking at them self in the mirror.
Has someone you love died? Has a relationship broken down? Most people can say they have experienced either or both of these. So imagine the build-up to either of these events. The fear and the pain you feel. Now imagine you felt that pain about the majority of people in your life, people who are not dying or leaving you. Well for someone with BPD that is what it’s like. They sit and worry about all the possibilities of what may make a person leave them, in the end they become convinced it will happen and dread it. What they could fear may be an inevitable event (such as death) that may not happen for an extremely long time, or, what they fear might not be something that is going to happen at all. The constant worry of losing someone can become a vicious cycle for a sufferer, as they may fear that their own behaviour will push a person away, which of course leads to self-loathing. If someone does leave the life of someone with BPD it will take the sufferer months to recover from the loss and can trigger severe depression.
Loneliness and Lack of Self Worth
Many people with BPD are isolated from conventional family or friendship situations. As many people around them do not know how to cope with the sufferers behaviour, they tend to withdraw from their friend or relative. This leads the person with BPD to feel lonely and worthless. They already have a very low self-esteem and this makes it worse. People with BPD are like anyone else, they want to feel loved, but in their case it is more extreme. Left alone for too long and they believe nobody wants them. This is mainly caused by rejection at a young age, it is learnt behaviour. The self-loathing and fear of abandonment also causes loneliness.
Remember when you left school? Many of you didn't quite know who you were or what you wanted to be. Well people with BPD suffer from this often. Some sufferers also have issues with their sexuality which can be very distressing, cause more feelings of isolation and loneliness. Often someone with BPD rely on other people to feel they know them self, but then become frustrated because they become misunderstood by others. Commonly someone with BPD will change their character to try and make someone else like them.
Depression, Self Harm and Suicide
Everyone goes through periods where they feel down or depressed. But for a BPD sufferer it is like that very much of the time. Also severe depression will flood them from time to time. How often do you wish you were not alive any more? Maybe once in your life but most likely it hasn’t ever crossed your mind. A majority of people with BPD think about it very regularly. In fact for a BPD sufferer it becomes normal and it can be quite a surprise to them when someone tells them they never think of it.
Have you ever been in so much emotional pain that you’d do anything to relieve it? Trying to counter act the emotional pain with physical pain is logical if you think about. It’s like tooth ache, you’d do anything to relieve it. So one of the reasons a sufferer self-harms if to get some relief. Another cause for self-harm in a BPD sufferer is self-loathing, they feel so bad about themselves that they feel they need to be punished. Self-harm is not always a sign of a suicide attempt, it’s just a reflection of how the person is feeling on the inside.
Threats of suicide are common among people with BPD, and it’s also not uncommon for them to make an attempt at ending their life. Life with Borderline Personality Disorder is ten times harder than for a non-sufferer. Imagine how the constant fear and pain must be. Suicide threats are like a safety net, “If I really can’t stand my pain any more, then I can escape,” makes sense doesn’t? If you walked through a bed of stinging nettles you would think of trying to get yourself out wouldn’t you?
Black and White Thinking
Have you ever suffered from black and white thinking? Most do to a certain degree, for example some people often don’t like cats because they find them selfish, too independent and moody. But in reality every cat is unique just like humans. That is a common case of black and white thinking. So now imagine you thought like that over a lot of things, like someone with BPD does. If someone with blond hair is unpleasant, then everyone with blond hair is the same. In cases it can lead to transference of feelings towards unrelated people, animals or objects. Transference is not something only someone with BPD suffers from but everyone. But like everything else, for a person with BPD it’s a lot worse. Transference is very dangerous and most often leads to unwanted situations.
Have you ever had a major argument with a loved one? You feel almost like you hate them at that moment. This is how someone with BPD can feel towards you over a minor argument or a disappointment. If they love you then it is very likely they will feel like they hate you, when you have let them down. This feeling of hate is empty and will not last long. It's rarely in the middle, someone with BPD is more likely to say "I hate you" then "I am very disappointed with you." Someone they love has the power to hurt them more then anybody and of course the sufferer knows this, so they feel extremely angry when hurt by that person. You could almost interoperate the "I hate you" in to "I love you, but you have hurt me so badly right now." But remember BPD does NOT make a person love you, that comes from the heart.
Have you ever been in a real rage? Things have got on top of you so much, that you have just exploded. Well this is how someone with BPD feels when angry. They will scream, shout, and physically display their anger. It is not easy to hold back the anger as their whole body can feel the rage, they have the desire that is so strong to display how they feel. Trouble is these angry spells lead to depression, self-loathing, fear of abandonment and self harm.
Drug and Alcohol use
After a stressing day at work it’s nice to have an alcoholic drink sometimes. Some people might try recreational drugs a few times, after which they stop. For someone with BPD these are unsafe ways of masking the pain and stress they feel. They may find alcohol or drugs relieve their negative feelings. Of course this leads to dependency. Drug or alcohol dependency is an extremely common symptom of BPD. If you feel down you do what it takes to make yourself feel better, the trouble is with BPD you feel down most of the time.
Have you ever felt out of control? Maybe you have felt like you are in a tunnel, no fear or thought of safety for yourself or other. Detachment from reality, at times, can be how be how someone with BPD feels. Often they suffer from intrusive thoughts or hear voices. The only way to describe how it feels to have intrusive thoughts or hear voices is, imagine someone is with you 24 hours a day, imagine this person is saying things like "hurt yourself," or "the devil is following you, he will take people away from you." Often the thoughts or voices will play on the sufferers insecurities. Some people have other hallucinations or believe they have super powers. Commonly people with BPD only have mild psychosis but occasionally some sufferers have more severe psychosis. Mostly they only have psychotic episodes induced by stress. Think about it, if you go to a party and everyone around you is drunk, and you do not like it, you would remove yourself from the situation, right? In the BPD sufferers situation, the brain is removing it's self from the problem which is the persons thinking and thoughts.
Withdrawal from Others
Many people with BPD have times when they withdraw from the world. They stop working and socialising. If you were hurt by something you would try and avoid letting it happen again, wouldn't you? So this can be why someone with BPD may become distant and unresponsive to friends and family. In most cases this withdrawal doesn't last for more then a few days, weeks or months, but in some sufferers it can last much longer. When withdrawn the sufferer will feel depressed and isolated.