Poem: Detached.




I feel so alone…
So misunderstood
Left out in the cold,
Alien to the world around me
They carry on as though I were a ghost,
The people whom I love most
Look right through me, no second glances
Making choices, seizing power
Denying me the right to speak
To have a voice, make a choice
And feel what’s deep in my heart
Belittle my problems, scoff at my pain
Trivial battles fought in my brain
No real life, no sense of true suffering
A girl of little importance,
No worth
Nothing to boast about – no car, no job, no man,
No house, no life, no plan
This isn’t how I planned
Trapped in a torment too powerful to dispel
Living in hell,
As life goes on around me
Pitying me as year after year ends the same.
Making progress but tested ever more,
By things beyond my control.
I have none.
On a merry-go-round, making me sick
Sick of this life,
Meaningless, fruitless.
I’m not like them,
I feel alone, completely and utterly alone,
But they don’t know, they don’t see
They don’t hear the cries from me
I try, my God I try.
Each day moving forward,
Reaching out to those I love
It’s never enough
Rebuff my efforts
Whenever I try, whenever things are going right
It’s back
The colour of black
And I’m left in my corner alone
Whimpering cries muffled into my silent pillow
For no-one knows my grief,
The burden I bear
I do not suffer
I am suffering itself
I pity those who suffer me
Destruction left in my wake
That’s the only role I take…
An instrument, a catalyst
Surely I would never be missed
They don’t know me anyway, what else to say…
I’m falling into the hollowness of my heart
And it’s tearing me apart
And nobody can tell but me
I wish that they could hear my plea
And build me up, not knock me down
Not make life more challenging
For it’s challenge enough to wake each day
Sunshine to grey
But I’ll stay this way
On my own.
For everybody is alone
Alone I write
Write these words
Until there’s no words left
And all there is
Is silence.



If you have BPD you may well know what I mean when I say you experience ‘episodes’, although you might refer to them as ‘outbursts’ or by some other name. These are fits of emotion that take over not only your mind, but your body too. They are probably quite scary to see someone go through, but are terrifying to the person experiencing them.

It’s a feeling of complete loss of control. I will try and explain it by giving an example I had only a week or two ago…

For a while things have been piling up. I won’t bore you with the details of what. But memories from the past, anxieties about various things and people. I’d got to a point of wanting to shut everyone out, as nobody could understand the pain I was in because of the past. I was severely depressed, on edge the whole time, and nobody knew – I kept it bottled up. And that’s the danger in BPD… eventually these things will build up and up, and then one day something will happen that’s too much. The limit will be reached and you’ll snap. That happened when I got a letter in the post, making me have to deal with something that I wasn’t ready to face.

I started talking it through with someone and suddenly I was shouting, swearing, thumping my fist down on the table, and then I punched the wall next to me. I burst into tears, covered my face out of embarrassment. I thought the person with me might’ve comforted me or said something, but they had left the room. This only made me feel more misunderstood and alone, and added to the pile. So I ran upstairs, shut and locked my door and punched my door hard, 3 times, before eventually self-harming.

From the outside looking in, anyone would think how I reacted was crazy, over-dramatic, an overreaction, and perhaps manipulative in some way. But let me tell you this, I didn’t plan to do any of that. When it happens you go into a sort of ‘fight or flight’ mode. You’re running on adrenaline. You feel detached from your body. Seriously, when I hit the wall and the door, I didn’t feel a thing. It almost felt like I myself was watching it. Like it wasn’t me.

It’s scary because you don’t feel in control of your actions. This does not mean that people with BPD are dangerous and violent towards other people. I’m sure it happens. All I know is I would never knowingly hurt anyone… it’s not in my nature. The behaviour may seem violent, aggressive, intimidating, but it is mainly expressing anger and frustration with the self, or the situation the person is in. It’s like a volcano finally blowing its top. It’s not aiming to erupt and hurt someone… it’s just built up pressure that has to go somewhere. And unfortunately sometimes it has to come out through shouting or punching things. For me, the punching, though out of control in itself, actually serves to try and bring myself back under my own control. It’s like I hit the wall, to bring myself pain, to pull myself out of whatever intense whirlpool of emotions I’m caught in. It’s not planned. I don’t think ‘hey I’ll punch a wall’ – everything in an ‘episode’ happens so quickly there’s not time to think… but it’s more like an instinct.

I’ve had other moments like it. When I was abroad with family for my brother’s wedding, the night before, they were outside practising dancing, and I was taking a photo, for them to remember the whole experience. She wasn’t happy about it. So I stopped and went in. I felt embarrassed about it, and it was only amplified when talking to others about it. It was meal time and I decided to hide away in the next room, as my brother’s friend was with us too, and I just felt humiliated. I explained quietly in private how I felt, but it fell on deaf ears and someone was particularly insensitive about it and started raising their voice at me, embarrassing me further…. so I got up, ran off, shutting the door behind me – I ran up God knows how many steps, all the way along the corridor, shouting ‘this is all your fault!!’ as I went… I went into the bathroom at the end of the corridor, locked myself in and harmed myself, then collapsed on the floor by the door. I was terrified that someone was going to come after me and make it even worse. I’d never felt more scared or alone. I was in a new country, my friends all back at home. I didn’t want to be there after that.

Another time I was in the car with two of my friends. I was sat in the front passenger seat, my best friend driving, and another friend behind me. The one behind me told me some news that I found deeply upsetting and confusing, about a guy, and a ‘friend’ who had lied to me about said guy. My reaction was to throw my phone on the floor of the car, and it broke apart. I still to this day feel embarrassed that I reacted like that. That they had to see me like that. I always try and keep a handle on things in public.

I had a couple of moments at work, where people made me feel stupid, or accused me of things I didn’t do. And I successfully managed to keep a lid on it. But I excused myself – the first time going upstairs to be alone, and I sat on the floor and cried as I scratched at my arm. The other time I got my coat and left, as I could feel myself losing it.

These are just some of the episodes I’ve experienced. There have been many others. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve punched walls, shouted, thrown things… one of my ‘favourites’ is in the bathroom, running the tap full force and splashing water all over the mirror, or squirting handwash everywhere. It sounds so juvenile – but those ‘favourites’ have sometimes kept me from punching walls and self-harming. Doing silly things that ’cause damage’ but don’t actually cause damage, it lets it out in a safer way. Pulling leaves off of bushes that you pass is another one if you’re out and about and experience something really upsetting – as long as it’s not one with thorns!

In general I can keep a lid on it in public. I’ve had my close calls…. my urges. Many times I’ve been this close to sitting on the floor and crying, kicking lampposts, or just shouting my head off at the world. But generally if I’m in public I’ll do something like scratch at my arm, or dig my nails into my hand, and cause myself some level of pain, to stop me doing anything to publicly embarrass myself. This is not healthy either, but I fear the trouble my episodes may get me in one day. That is a very worrying aspect of BPD. I fear something could trigger me one day, and if I’m at work (not where I am at the moment as they know of my issues), it could cost me my job… then I would spiral downwards from there. I worry it could one day cost me a relationship if I had one. Or friends even.

It’s not just a simple case of ‘having a tantrum’… it’s much deeper than that. It’s made up of many layers, and it does build up… you just might not notice it early enough. You have beliefs about yourself and the world, formed by your previous experiences. And when things happen, however small, that back up those beliefs, it starts to build up.

Someone might give you ‘dirty looks’ on the bus…. if you have had experiences of people judging you, you’ll think everyone’s judgemental, and you’ll start going through the list of what’s wrong with your appearance, which will bring your self-esteem down. If someone then says something bluntly to you at work or in the shop, it’ll go on the pile, of ‘everyone being out to get you’. If you drop and break something that isn’t yours, or you make a mistake and have it pointed out, you’ll think ‘I can never do anything right’. If a friend lets you down or betrays you, you ‘can’t trust anyone’, and ‘nobody cares about you’. Then you’ll find you need to take time to yourself because you feel if one more thing happens, you might explode. This is the big flashing warning sign. This is near the end of the line. If you feel like this then yes, take time for yourself and treat yourself kindly, and remind yourself of the good in life, the good in people and the good in yourself. Because trust me, if you don’t step back, then you will hit that breaking point. You’ll get that letter through the door, and you’ll think ‘WHY CAN’T LIFE GIVE ME A ****ING BREAK!?!’ And then you’ll need all kinds of damage limitation – I know, I’ve been there!

I liken it to when an old friend and I fell out. Whenever we had slight issues between us, she wanted it swept under the carpet, to pretend it didn’t happen, just ‘move on’ and forget. Which we did, for a long time. And eventually so much got swept under the carpet that it had nowhere to go. Things blew up bigger than they had to be, because we didn’t deal with the little issues as they arose.

It’s the same with BPD, you must swiftly deal with each thought, emotion or issue as it arises. If you let it fester it will only bring you more suffering later. This does not mean to ‘dwell’ on your issues. But for instance if you’re criticised in front of someone, you may want to bite your tongue, breathe, maybe write down how you feel about it, or quietly talk to a trusted person. But take five minutes out, just to clear your head, say ‘that’s their opinion’ and list 5 things you’re good at. It’s like ‘you might think I’m toxic, and you’re entitled to that opinion, but I’ll tell you this – I’m friendly, compassionate, loyal, creative and honest, and those 5 things outweigh your 1 opinion, so there’….and then get back to what you were doing. It helps if you can speak to a friend or someone, to have them reassure you that you’re not what someone says you are, or to pick you back up again. But sometimes you have to be your own best friend.

The key is to challenge thoughts as they come in. Acknowledge the emotion you’re feeling, and don’t fight it. But think ‘Why am I feeling this way? What thought is behind it?’ and then challenge the thought. Think of the other possibilities. If someone has called you toxic, and you now think you must be, so you feel terrible about yourself…. the thought could be ‘I’m an awful person and don’t deserve friends’. Turn it around and say ‘I’m a good person, and just because I had a disagreement with this one person, and they now think I’m toxic, it doesn’t make it a fact… and it doesn’t change the fact that I’m a good, strong, loyal friend, and am fully deserving of all the friends I still have’.

Writing things down really helps me. It’s good to rant about everything, and ‘shout’ onto the paper. Most people who don’t have BPD would say ‘just forget about it, let it go’, but assuming you’re like me, it’s hard to do when you analyse everything. The main thing, whether you write about it, or talk it out with someone you trust, is to seek validation, either from another or from yourself. It’s okay to defend yourself, to yourself. And it’s actually okay to stand up for yourself to others too. I will touch more on that at a later point.

After an episode / outburst, you’ll likely feel deep embarrassment, shame and guilt. Yes, this behaviour of ours is far from ideal. At times it’s not socially acceptable, but if we could control it don’t you think we would’ve already? You’ve likely been having a hard enough time, been beating yourself up and been taking knocks, left, right and centre, for it to have come to a head in an outburst… the last thing you need afterwards is to feel even worse about yourself, and give yourself an even harder time. I think the feelings of shame you get afterwards are similar to the ones you get after self-harming. And I’ll be talking about self-harm sometime soon, and will try and cover how to deal with the feelings of shame and guilt. Don’t want to ramble on about it too much right now, but I just want you to know you’re not a bad person for having these outbursts. It’s good to have an aim to work on them, and to prevent them from ever reaching that stage – for your own benefit as much as anything else… but it’s a switch when things get too much. It’s like dissociation, and the self-harm itself – the emotions become so heightened, something inside you flips the switch and you’re not you anymore. I guess it’s a sort of defence mechanism, to prevent you feeling any more emotional distress. Like with dissociation the mind ‘checks out’ to protect you… I imagine this is similar. It’s just more demonstrative.

I’d advise you to, if you’re able to, discuss these episodes you have with those closest to you. To make sure they know that if it happens, it’s not an attack on them, and you’re not a crazy person! You may even be able to tell them your early warning signs, so they can look out for you, and tell when things are getting too much for you. It’s always good to have allies against BPD. The more people you can share your story with and get support from, the easier it will be to find the quality of life you want and deserve. But I know it can be hard to talk about these things at first, so don’t lose hope if you’re feeling alone with it at the moment. If nothing else there will be places online you can talk to others in the same boat. That’s the upside of the internet!


And just a last note, to those who witness these episodes but don’t necessarily understand them… It’s understandable if you feel threatened by our behaviour. But please know we have no intention of harming you or anyone. We just need to let out our frustration. We need to be heard. It doesn’t always come out how we want it to, and we feel bad and ashamed about this. If you cannot cope with our outbursts, then that’s okay. What I would ask and advise is this…. give us a little time to cool off, calm down and hide in embarrassment. Once our adrenaline has stopped pumping and we’re calmer, it would be nice for you to check up on us, come to see us, give us a big hug and tell us it’s okay. That’s what we need. It may sound like negative reinforcement, as you might think we’ll learn to have these outbursts to get a hug. But it’s not like that. What we have to deal with inside day in, day out, is more than you could ever comprehend. And when we experience an episode, we think badly of ourselves, and we fear you’re going to hate us and leave us because of it. Please show us you won’t. If you do abandon us because of something out of our control, it will only make the problem worse. We need to know there is good in the world… kind people…. loyal people…. people who see our worst sides, but know what goodness is within us. People who still want us in their lives, despite our flaws. We all need that – every single person in the world.

We are no different to other people. We’re simply more emotional, more sensitive, we hide our emotions more, until a point they can’t be denied anymore. We have a lot to give others… a lot to offer the world. And we just need to be loved a little bit stronger than other people. To know we’re good people… even if we can’t see it ourselves.



BPD & The Snowball Effect


One thing that people sometimes don’t understand is our reactions to the things happening around us… very often they might seem out of proportion to the situation, and this can lead them to think we’re overreacting and letting things get to us.

What non-BPD people need to realise is that very often it’s not just about that one thing. It’s a build up of several things. I shall try my best to demonstrate this for you…

Imagine your friend becoming friends again with your ‘enemy’ for lack of a better word – the person who hurt you the most… this upsets you, so you talk to her about it…. you don’t feel you can make yourself understood. You’re terrified of the intentions of the ‘enemy’. You question the loyalty of your friend. Nothing changes – your friend remains friends with the ‘enemy’ and doesn’t take your feelings into consideration… you feel unloved, neglected, unimportant… what work you did to forget and ‘forgive’ the ‘enemy’ is undone… you start to hate the ‘enemy’ again. You recall vividly what you went through with that person, how they treated you, and how none of your friends stood up for you, and how isolated you felt. This makes you think back to school when you were bullied in front of the class… you think about primary school and how isolated you felt back then. You think about how rubbish your life has been – you remember the days you were at college and started self-harming… you think how long it’s been since you left college and how little you’ve done with your life since then… you feel like a failure. You get the urge to self-harm. You think it’s almost summer, you don’t want more scars… and what if you meet someone special and they have to see your scars…. then you think ‘nobody’s ever going to be attracted to me… I’m fat…. you think of the guy you are trying to get over, and how good things used to be, but how they changed… you wonder if it’s because you put on weight. You think about how you need to lose weight but how impossible it feels because of your multiple health problems. You feel lazy. You feel abnormal because you can’t function like normal people and have a 9 to 5 job. Then you start thinking about how different your life would be if you’d just had the courage to tell that nice guy that you liked him, and you’d be married to him now instead of the friend who betrayed you. You wonder why nobody values friendship and loyalty nowadays. You feel like you don’t belong in this world, in this time, because nobody has traditional morals and values anymore. Nobody thinks like you do, loves like you do and cares like you do. The world seems too harsh and painful for you. You think you’ll never amount to anything. You’re just a catalyst, propelling others towards their futures, but there doesn’t seem to be one for you. You feel like giving up. You think who would miss you…believing nobody would….. then  you think of your family and feel guilty for thinking of ending it. It’s all getting too much though. You feel like you need to scream out the frustration of living in a world that doesn’t give a fig about you. You want to cut yourself off from the world, disappear. Stop talking. Nobody cares anyway… they’re all too busy being happy and selfish, not caring how you feel. You feel sick and want to cry… you want to yell and punch things… you need pain, you need people to know how all of this is breaking you…….


And so you self-harm.


It all stops…. for now.


All of those thoughts likely took place in the space of ten, fifteen minutes… if that. That’s the snowball effect. It starts as a single thought or event, and it triggers a memory or another thought about your past, future or current situation. You need to catch it before it becomes too big. Once the snowball is rolling and gaining momentum, there’s no stopping it. In this case, you’d need to shout ‘stop!’ to yourself as soon as you start thinking about the past and how the friends never stood up for you – yes it was painful, and not acceptable in your book. That’s okay. You know what you expect from friends. And if they won’t deliver on it, then you have the choice to withdraw your friendship from them. You learnt from the experience, you don’t need to keep reliving it. Thinking about it won’t change anything… you can’t go back and get support from them. You have to look at the present situation – the only thing you can do something about…. you’d have the choice – talk to your friend again and make it clear where you stand; leave it be, carry on as normal; leave it be, but be more cautious; or just walk away.

Always look at the current situation… problem-solve it. Look at your options and focus on finding a resolution. Stewing on everything that led up to this point won’t change a thing. You need to take a situation at a time… it’s an individual circumstance. The trouble with BPD is we often see the negative things that happen to us, as a continuation of an unfortunate life. We have our beliefs from our past experiences. For instance we might think nobody is ever on our side. Nobody cares about us like we care about them. Bullies always ‘win’. And in the above example, the friend being friends with the ‘enemy’ and not seeing the problem in it, would tap into these beliefs, by telling you that she’s not on your side, she doesn’t care about you enough to do what’s right by you, and the bully, the ‘enemy’ always wins – she’s managed to fool yet another person into thinking she’s a nice person.

When our beliefs are tapped into like that, it starts the snowball effect. It’s like a trigger. And we consequently scan our brains for evidence that backs up the belief that’s been tapped into. So if we think ‘nobody cares about me like I do about them’ – we’ll be thinking about the current situation, but also the guy we liked who shacked up with the ex-friend and accused us of being selfish for being upset about it, and who then turned his back on us so easily…. the other guy who we loved, but who was only using us to feed his ego… the narcissist who badmouthed us to all our other friends, despite the friendship we showed her… the old friend who disappeared on us without a word…. the friend who stabbed us in the back after the loyalty we showed them… and every other situation that showed that we cared more about others than they did about us.

Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to see a situation as an individual occurrence, but the truth is, it is. I think the best way to tackle this (which I’ve yet to put into practice myself!) is to write down your beliefs about the world, people, and yourself, and look for the evidence that goes against those beliefs. There will be times you’ve been shown what a good friend is…. how kind someone can be…. nice things people have said about you…. write them all down. So that when you start snowballing in the future, you can remind yourself that what you’re thinking isn’t strictly true, and you can’t generalise and say this always happens, or never happens, or all people are the same.

Whatever your trigger, or starting point is write it down. It has to start with a thought. Identify the thought, and ask yourself why you think it… by all means write down the evidence you have for that belief… but I challenge you, for every thing you write to back it up, you must write at least two things that go against what you’re thinking… two pieces of evidence to show you’re not this awful person you think you are… two examples of kind, caring, loyal people… two happy memories – whatever is applicable to your situation. This allows you to acknowledge your negative thoughts, as you shouldn’t just deny them… but it asks you to challenge them, so as not to see them as facts, but as just one way of looking at things. If you have to double up the positives for every negative, it leaves room for the negative, but hopefully will slowly increase the positive. And that’s what you want. You don’t want to just pretend everything is good. But you want to feel better… right? So I think you and I should try this challenge the next time we feel ourselves starting to snowball.

My advice to those who don’t have and don’t understand BPD is this…. if somebody you know and love reacts to something you perceive to be ‘minor’, in an intense, out-of-proportional way, the likelihood is that they’re reacting to a build-up of experiences, emotions and thoughts. A lot can go on behind the eyes of person with BPD… stuff that you would never know about. They think… a lot. It can be hard to quieten our minds – that’s where mindfulness comes in handy, which I will talk about at a later date. You might say one thing to us, but it does two things. Firstly it adds to an already precarious tower of things which may have happened in the day or week. Secondly, the thoughts and emotions linked to what you say, taps us into our memory bank of emotional experiences and thoughts we’ve had in the past.

It’s difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it. All I can say is please be patient and give us some slack, if we appear to ‘overreact’… it’s not just about you and what you’ve just said. So please don’t take it too personally. We’re just traumatised by our past emotional experiences. We’re scarred on the inside, and the internal wounds easily open up again, the trouble is nobody else can see these wounds, so can’t understand our reaction to the pain.

I hope to eventually post some information about the skills I learnt in therapy, for those who are unable to get that help themselves, as it’s good to know there are ways of managing our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, just know that I understand the scars in your heart and mind, and why you get hurt by the smallest of things… and why one small incident becomes something so much bigger. You’re not alone, and you’re not abnormal. We’re wounded, and we’re unfortunate that others cannot see those wounds. But they are real, they should be recognised and allowed to heal.. even if nobody can see them. They’re real for you and me, and until others can understand and help us heal, we must be supportive and compassionate with each other as BPD sufferers, and we must be our own best friends.



What NOT to say… and why.



Just the other day I saw a post on Facebook, that said “We often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, overreacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally”. So me being me, I decided to stand up for those with BPD, as I know a lot of us would be frustrated with a quote like that – as if it’s that easy to change our whole personalities and nature! I was met with the comment – “That’s fine as long as you don’t impose your issues on others”. Can you believe that? This showed a complete ignorance towards mental health issues such as BPD. And it enraged me. Of course my first reaction was ‘I want to rant and rave at this person for being so heartless’. But I took a breather and put together a more constructive, educational response, telling the person that people with BPD very often keep such ‘issues’ to themselves, to the point they harm themselves, and that’s the problem. Having to keep it to themselves actually compounds the problem of BPD. I said that anyone who truly cares about people like us wouldn’t see it as an imposition anyway, as they love us and want what’s best for us.

But this experience made me so mad. I actually felt incredibly anxious, as people responded, as I knew I’m not in a good place at the moment, so couldn’t handle ‘trolls’. Thankfully there were a few people  who agreed with what I said. Although there were some who thought they knew better. But it made me decide to write this post about the unhelpful things non-BPD people say, and WHY they’re unhelpful. Which I will then follow up with a list of helpful things to say to someone suffering with BPD… The first few of these are specific things I’ve had said to me, the rest are more general, things people tend to hear… and I’m sure there are MANY more…


What Not To Say


You always seem to have a lot going on, truth is everyone does, it’s just the way you deal with it…” People with BPD are not stupid. They’re not totally self-centred. They know other people have issues, they’re not denying that. They are just trying to cope with their own at that point. People with BPD have hectic minds. Even if they’re doing nothing, their minds are busy. They’re overwhelmed by everything going on. Try to have a little understanding and sympathy for their struggles, rather than make them feel selfish and guilty for feeling overwhelmed. They’re dealing with it the best they can. Don’t judge what you can’t understand.
I think you make life very difficult for yourself by letting things get to you”. Said by someone who kept upsetting me and didn’t want to take responsibility… and in such a case it’s unhelpful, because the problem is NOT my sensitivity (letting things get to me), the problem was the behaviour of the other person. People who are hurtful like to think they’re entitled to say and do what they please, and if it upsets you then you’re too sensitive. Sensitive people are the nicest people in the world… we need more of them, and fewer of the hurtful ones who do what they want and think they can get away with it. What people need to realise is that those with BPD are not making life difficult for themselves… their lives are made difficult by their mental health problem. Yes there are things that can be done to work towards a better life, but we didn’t choose our mental health condition, so to place the blame on our shoulders and make us think we are the ones responsible for how bullies make us feel, is heartless. And in my case with this comment, my thought was ‘did I ask your opinion?!’ Try living a day in our heads, then repeat a comment like that.
You’re making an issue out of nothing” If there’s an ‘issue’ it’s not because of nothing. There will be a good reason we’re upset. It might not matter to you but whatever it is matters to us, and you should respect that, not dismiss it. ‘Making a mountain out of a molehill’ – that’s how it may seem to you, but to us it IS a mountain. It might not register on your scale, as it may be irrelevant to you, but it’s relevant to us. Just as we won’t be bothered about some things that bother you. But we don’t kick up a fuss about it do we? In my case there was an issue, caused by the person who said this. If they choose not to acknowledge that, there’s no problem, but to say I’M making an issue out of nothing… no, no, no…
It’s only an issue for you, I’ve moved on…” Some people, particularly those with BPD have a harder time moving on after something upsetting. Especially if they were the victim. You can’t expect us all to recover at the same rate as you. Because of our difficulties with emotions, we need more time to process what it is we’re feeling, figure out how to cope with it, and heal after a hurt or betrayal. And the fact it’s ‘only an issue for us’ doesn’t make it any less important. If it was an issue for you, you would expect us to care about it and not dismiss it, so please have some decency and recognise that if it IS an issue for us, it matters.
How you think messaging me all the time is going to make me like you, I really don’t know” Ouch! To someone with BPD that stings like crazy. We have such a yearning to fit in and be liked. We can also be quite insecure and need reassurance. When we feel we’re being abandoned by someone or we need to know where we stand with someone, if we message them and don’t hear back, the urge is to send another, and another… out of fear that we’ve done something wrong that we need to fix. You may judge us for this apparent ‘desperate and needy behaviour’, but it is a part of a mental health condition and it doesn’t make us bad people. I’ve been hurt by a few people – only two of them have really said anything that stung… this was actually the worst – so much so that I put it out of my mind and only rediscovered it recently. How could someone say something so hurtful? Okay they didn’t know about my BPD at all, and to be honest they weren’t really that important in my life. But it was a cold-hearted thing to say given the circumstances. If you don’t want us messaging you anymore then of course you have the right to say so… but there are much nicer ways of going about achieving that. Please think before you speak… words like this will stay with us much longer than other people… possibly forever.
I don’t like you overreacting to me cancelling”. What a ‘normal’ person calls “overreacting”, a person with BPD calls a ‘normal’ reaction. To people like us, repeatedly cancelling on us and letting us down, would be a sign you’re not bothered with us, and you’re abandoning us. It’s deeply upsetting and sends us into a panic. In this case I actually had a panic attack, hyperventilating, as the person in question had a long history of letting me down and actually ‘playing me’. So I had good reason to ‘overreact’! In the end it turned out his excuse for cancelling was him losing faith in the connection we had, which he had no reason to do… so it was a lame excuse, and I knew I never overreacted. The only thing I might’ve done different is just shut the door on him earlier, and given him the silent treatment… but it’s not in my nature… it’s not in the nature of someone with BPD – we WANT to make things work. We want to fix things, give chances, and feel lovable… if we give up and walk away it’s like admitting we’re no good, a failure and because the other person doesn’t fight for us, they must hate us. Let me put it this way: If having a private panic attack, and messaging someone saying ‘I can’t do this anymore’, or ‘never mind’ is “overreacting” then how about someone driving to your house, banging on your door, screaming in your face, slapping you, pulling leaves off the hedge in the garden, keying your car and smearing you on the internet…… perhaps THAT is an “overreaction”… what I did certainly wasn’t!
You’re imagining things/ it’s all in your head”. Incorrect and very invalidating to hear. I’ve witnessed ‘arguments’ and picked up vibes. Vibes do not lie. People with BPD, okay, CAN experience delusions, but very often we are extremely sensitive people, who probably lean towards being empaths. Empaths have the ability to know what someone else is feeling. We pick up vibes in the atmosphere. We can sense things, and feel the emotions of other people. I’ve been told I’m just imagining things. But that’s not true. If it’s a case that you don’t want to admit to something then that’s different – but do not make us feel like we’re going crazy and imagining things, that’s not fair. If we’re wrong, there’s better ways of letting us know.
Promise me you won’t hurt yourself” Self-harm is something we depend on. Even if we’re in recovery and have other skills to use, there will be times we will turn to it. I had this said to me once, after I already had harmed myself, and all it did was make me feel guilty. But even if you say it before someone harms, all it does is add pressure, because now we’re having to find another way to cope with how we’re feeling. I know this is how it should be. We should be coping in other ways, but being forced not to self-harm is counterproductive. It’s like someone drinking – they cannot stop because someone else tells them to… they have to come to the decision themselves. As self-harm is a coping strategy, sometimes to prevent someone going further and ending their life, it is dangerous to take that safety net away, especially if they’re in the midst of a crisis.
Not to sound patronising, but you don’t have a partner to think about… a house, a car, a dog, bills to pay….” etc. We already know what we lack in our lives, and we know it’s as a result of our BPD. Our relationships are rocky if even existent. Perhaps we’re unable to work, and therefore own a house, car etc… we don’t need it pointed out how little we have in life, therefore how much less stress we have than others. I had this said to me, by someone with BPD actually! Which is odd to think… but it made me feel like they thought my problems were trivial compared to them. And yes, compared to them they probably were. But to me they were far from trivial. We are all on different scales. Unfortunately we are fed this belief that ‘someone else always has it worse’ – we’re encouraged to think that… but in the process it can appear to diminish and belittle our own problems. And this is unhelpful in our bid to recover. We have to acknowledge and accept our problems, validate them, so that we can see them as something we can actually do something about. Don’t ever tell someone they don’t have it as bad as you. You wouldn’t like it, so don’t do it to others. It’s really that simple.
You’re always moaning about something!” Please don’t say this to someone with BPD. Life is really painful for us. We’re trying our best, and believe it or not we do have our positive moments… they can be few and far between… our moods can change suddenly.. please don’t forget all the times we’re not complaining and we are happy. We’re not ‘always’ moaning about something… you just choose to remember those moments. There’s a lot to moan about in life, for anyone, and for us we find it even more a struggle to exist. We get hurt a lot more and feel everything so much more. So we’re more likely to complain. It’s better we’re outwardly complaining than keeping it inside and turning to self-harm to cope in secret.
………….. Saying nothing to someone with BPD…. ignoring them… is one of the most hurtful things you can do. Because in our minds we fill in the gaps. We interpret things. Even when you say things we read between the lines. So when there’s silence we automatically assume the worst and will act on it. We will assume you hate us, we’ve upset you, you’re trying to control and manipulate us, you’re immature, or whatever… and we’ll either try and fix things, or we’ll walk away, to preserve ourselves… save ourselves from being abandoned. Sometimes we will pre-empt the abandonment… we will initiate it, if we sense it’s coming…. but really our hope is that you will stop us, pull us closer and tell us what we mean to you…. sadly this rarely happens… you just let us go. And we believe we are worthless and nobody will ever care about us. Yes, it’s a messed up place to live, in the mind of someone with BPD…. just thank God you don’t have to be on the inside of it. If we annoy you with it, just think how much worse we feel inside – you couldn’t even comprehend it.
But you don’t look ill / but you look happy” Looks can be deceiving. Look, if we could we’d walk around looking how we feel. We’d sit in the streets and cry, and look as miserable as sin, but life has taught us that people don’t react well to the truth. People don’t want to know you if you’re miserable. So we have to slap on a smile from time to time, and chat to people like we’re confident. Sometimes we actually ARE happy, and we have our ‘well’ days. It’s not always doom and gloom! But don’t think just because someone doesn’t look like the stereotypical ‘mentally ill person’ that they’re making it up. It will force people deeper into their depression and illness. They may feel the need to demonstrate their illness through self-harming… to prove they really are unwell. Nobody knows what someone is feeling inside. When I see my friends I smile, laugh, actually have a good time. But as soon as I’m home I’m back into ‘broken’ mode, and life is too tough and I’d rather not be here… I feel alone and wonder why nobody cares. A smile and a laugh hides a lot.
Just let it go” Really? As if I hadn’t already looked at that option already! If it was as simple as ‘just letting it go’ don’t you think I’d have done that already. We don’t WANT to keep hold of negative emotions. We want to feel better. Memories won’t let go of US. Like I’ve said above – it takes us longer to let go of things… it’s not that we ‘hold grudges’, it just takes a lot more time and work to deal with and release our emotions. Some people with BPD also suffer with PTSD, and that compounds the problem, making it almost impossible to forget the past. Trivial statements like ‘just let it go’, ‘move on’, ‘forgive and forget’, are very invalidating of our feelings, which we’ve every right to feel. We need to be told it’s okay to feel how we feel, to experience it, work through it at our own pace, and we need to know you’ll stick by our side until we make it out the other side.
You’re too sensitive/emotional – you need to grow thicker skin! We don’t need to do anything of the sort thank you very much! Why should we have to change? Why can there not be kind, sensitive, emotional souls in this world? Why aren’t you telling the heartless bastards out there, who say whatever the hell they want, that they need to be more sensitive and kind? It’s just like when I was at school and I was quiet – I was made to feel like an alien because I wasn’t loud and outgoing like all the other kids. I was shy… so there must be something wrong with me. I ended up changing to be what other people wanted me to be. But you know what, I’ll do no such thing anymore. There’s something wrong in this world if the nice, empathic, beautiful souls are the ones that have to change and ‘toughen up’, yet the obnoxious, loud, opinionated, hurtful people are allowed to do and say what they want… and it’s our sensitivity that’s the problem! My simple reply to this would be: I AM sensitive, and I AM emotional, and thank God there’s people in this world like me. I don’t need to grow thicker skin. You need to grow a conscience, some manners, and some compassion and stop going around upsetting people, thinking there won’t be consequences!
You’re just attention-seeking” So….? Everyone needs and deserves attention. If someone is seeking attention then it’s because they lack it in their life… they may feel unappreciated, unimportant and ignored. We, as BPD people are not ‘the attention-seeking personality disorder’…. that’s Histrionic Personality Disorder…. but admittedly our self-harm and troubles in relationships may make it seem we’re attention-seeking. But is that any reason to ignore us and deny us the attention we actually need? We’re not doing anything with the intention of manipulating you. But if you see someone doing something, like a ‘cry for help’ – wouldn’t the human thing to do be helping them? If you ignore a BPD sufferer’s cry for help it worsens the problem, can lead to serious self-harm and even suicide. They’re not making up their suffering. They need a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on and someone to take their pain seriously, so they feel less alone, and more able to get through the crisis. So please don’t say this. Just give them the attention they deserve.
Be positive/happy… cheer up….things could be worse” When we’re in our bad patches, the last thing we need is some cheery bastard coming along, telling us to cheer up, smile, look on the bright side…. we know you mean well, but in that moment we need our feelings of sadness, fear, anger to be acknowledged, accepted and experienced. By trying to gloss over things, or sweep things under the rug, you’re invalidating our emotions, and teaching us it’s ‘wrong’ to feel what we’re feeling. The whole problem with BPD is we can’t identify individual emotions and we feel some, like anger, are wrong to feel or show. If you invalidate our feelings, we will further learn it’s wrong to be anything other than ‘happy’, and you’ll have a bigger problem on your hands. Just be there for us, and let us feel what we need to feel. We’ll be happy, but at our own pace.
Stop playing the victim/ stop blaming the whole world for your problems We don’t blame the world. We often blame ourselves. But usually it’s not about blame. It’s just about getting through each day and putting up with how awful we feel. We’re not playing the victim – often we are victims…. of bullies, abuse, narcissists, cheaters, and all sorts of other nasty people – we’re easy prey for the ‘players’ and bullies in the world. We ARE the victim. Stop making us feel like we’re not, and like we’re trying to gain sympathy and attention. That’s not it at all. We’re just trying to process our emotions. And first comes recognising we weren’t the ones in the wrong, we didn’t deserve what happened to us, and we deserve better – it’s the only way to move forward and recover. You may think we’re always playing the victim card, but please understand we’re trying as hard as we can to battle on, despite the onslaught of setbacks in life. It’s hard enough without being made to feel that we alone have put ourselves where we are, and nobody wronged us. If you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything!
Calm down” Whether it’s anxiety or raging anger, if you tell us to calm down, it will do anything but calm us down, trust me. Again, it’s invalidating our experience. The most important thing to someone with BPD is feeling validated. We need someone to say, ‘I recognise you feel like this, I can understand why you feel that way, it’s alright, and I still love you’. If we’re panicking, help us to slow our breathing. If we’re angry, give us a cushion to punch, or let us shout it out… we’ve probably bottled it up for too long and it’ll release our emotions. Let us know it’s OKAY to feel angry, it doesn’t make us a bad person, and you don’t think any less of us because of it – we all feel angry.
Oh, but I thought you were getting better….” What you need to understand is that with BPD it’s not a simple journey of recovery from A to B. In your mind you may think once we start therapy or whatever, we’ll only go upwards. Not true. There will be ups and downs. There may be weeks of ‘wellness’ followed by an extreme drop in mood. It does not make us ‘bipolar’. We are just more reactive to external factors than other people. We experience emotions to a higher degree than other people – the good and the bad. But something can happen to us, and we’ll appear to take five steps backwards. It’s not the end of the world though. We will push on and get better. But again, further down the line we may slip backwards. Self-harm for instance may always be with us. We can never say we’ll never do it again. I can never say I’m a recovered self-harmer, I will always be a ‘recovering self-harmer’. But what I always used to view as complete failure and starting from scratch, I now see as a slip-up and I continue on from where I was. The last thing we need is to feel we’re letting you down by slipping backwards. It won’t encourage us to push forwards, it’ll only add to our feeling of failure and isolation. Let us know it’s okay to have setbacks, and it’ll make us stronger, and you’re there to help us if we need you.



Helpful things to say to someone with BPD:

  • I love you
  • I’m here for you, whatever you need
  • I’m not going anywhere
  • I forgive you
  • You matter to me
  • I appreciate you
  • I need you
  • It’s okay to make mistakes – it doesn’t make you a bad person
  • You’re not crazy
  • I’m sorry I hurt you, how can I make it up to you?
  • How do you feel? (And tell us it’s okay to feel this way)
  • I hope you can forgive me
  • I’m sorry life’s so hard on you… I hope you’ll get the luck and happiness you deserve
  • I believe in you
  • (If upset or licking your own wounds… or too busy to talk) Sorry, I’ll get back to you on that
  • Do you want a hug?
  • I wish I could take this all away for you
  • We need more people like you in this world – don’t ever change!


I recognise how difficult it must be to know someone with BPD. It would be hard to know the right thing to say to someone, and when you’ve got your own problems, and emotions are heightened, it’s very easy to say the wrong thing. So all you can do is try your best. But the more secure and loved your loved one feels, and the less judged and invalidated they feel, the more harmonious life will be, and the higher the chance of the BPD sufferer’s recovery. At the end of the day we are just like anyone else. We want to be happy and loved, and to feel we belong in this world. It’s sometimes just a struggle to believe that will ever happen. We bruise easily and need more patience than some. But we’re good, kind-hearted people and need more understanding, in order to become successful members of society.


Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.