Understanding Self Harm; What Is It?

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Self-harm is the act of self-mutilation, where an individual purposefully harms themselves in hopes to alleviate stress, emotional pain, trauma, depressive feelings or find control. A large number of self-harmers are approaching or are in adolescence; using these methods to cope with new emotions, mental illnesses and overwhelming situations, though many are adults or progress into adulthood with these maladaptive coping skills. Some self-harm for short periods of time or in crisis, whilst others may become fully addicted or may not know that they are self-harming because the method isn’t widely known.

Self-mutilation is not a suicide attempt; it is a maladaptive coping strategy to find control in out-of-control situations and can be replaced by healthy ones. The individual self-harming is struggling and needs professional help. They may use a combination of self-harming methods.

Sel harming scars

Cutting. Cutting is the most well-known self-harming coping mechanism and has been widespread on the internet over the last few years. It is the most heard of the bunch.

Most adolescents turn to cutting to cope with dysfunctional families, bullying, trauma, schooling and overwhelming feelings, though adults do also partake in this method. The act of cutting releases endorphins to the brain to deal with the emotional and physical pain, giving the cutter a high. It’s an exciting rush, followed by a sense of relief from what’s bothering them.

Cutting is often assumed as suicidal behaviour when, in actuality, it’s a very common way people cope with issues. The blood and mutilation factor frightens caregivers who feel they may have to bring their child to the hospital for an attempt, which is not a necessity.

It is important that, if the cutter chooses to continue, they use clean materials and clean their wounds to avoid infection and STD transmittal (as it can be deadly). They must monitor themselves; if they cut too deep, they need to request medical attention, as an excessive loss of blood can kill them.


Burning. Burning is frequently used in combination with cutting. The individual takes a hot object and holds it to their skin until it cools down and a wound is formed. Some may use hot baths or tap water instead, which may not leave a mark, but is as serious. These burn wounds may bubble up and “pop”, oozing a liquid; it is important for the person self-harming to monitor this wound and ensure bacteria doesn’t contaminate.


Scratching/Pinching. Someone may choose to scratch at their skin until blood surfaces for a quick sense of relief. This could be an occasional thing, develop into dermatillomania or be dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania (Excoriation Disorder or Skin Picking Disorder) is when the individual has an incessant need to scratch and pick at “imperfections” resulting in worsened bumps, wounds, acne or infection. This disorder can be combated through therapy and extreme efforts, but is not always noticed by the one doing it.

There is a difference between choosing to do it, and having a disorder. Someone with dermatillomania will scratch or pick during anxious or tense situations, but may not notice, while someone who is picking occasionally is constantly doing it on purpose. It must be monitored as the occasional behaviour can evolve into a disorder as they grow unaware of their actions, and lean on picking to cope. It becomes second nature.

Wound Interference. This ties in with dermatillomania and skin picking. The individual repeatedly picks at scabs which result in either blood or scars.

art piece watercolour trich trichotillomania bfrb sloth speed recovery

Hair Pulling. Hair pulling is because of a disorder called trichotillomania; a compulsive desire to pull out ones hair. The puller may notice bald patches from continuous pulling, self-esteem issues, and hair follicle changes (hairs growing in curly, thin or odd colours). Constantly pulling out one’s hair can increase anxiety, and affect their confidence, usually accompanied by depression. They may find flaws in specific hairs and feel that they do not belong, resulting in pulling it out.

Trich falls under the same umbrella as dermatillomania, (Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour/BFRB) and is not always intentional. With over exposure to pulling, they become dependent on it and may not notice themselves acting out, and can be so severe that they pull in their sleep.

Photo: © Europen Parliament/P.Naj-Oleari

Drugs/Alcohol. Substance abuse starts off as using drugs and alcohol to cope. Someone may reach for a bottle when they are upset to “lose themselves”. With repetitive use, they will become heavily addicted and full-fledged alcoholics or drug addicts.

Their body will be tolerant of the substance and require higher doses for the same effect, develop a psychological and physical dependency where they may not be able to function without it as their body and mind experience withdrawal, and addiction. Addiction is the compulsive need for the substance and effort required to avoid or reduce usage.

Depending on the substance, risks include:

  • STDs from needles and injectors
  • Irregular heart rate or heart failure
  • Infertility
  • Lung damage
  • Memory loss
  • Periods of psychosis and disconnection from self
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Irritability, anxiety, jumpiness, sweating and shaking
  • Violence
  • Insomnia
  • Depression


Hitting. Hitting involves violence towards oneself, where the individual hits and punches themselves for relief. This can result in bruises and painful areas.


Disordered Eating Behaviours. Disordered eating is a common gateway to eating disorders. They feel they have lost control when it comes to food or their body, finding flaws in their figure or eating patterns. There are heavy influences in media and they could turn to Pro Anorexia Websites for tips on weight loss. Disordered eating can be controlled and restrictive (anorexia), strictly healthy foods only (othorexia), use of laxatives and vomiting after binging (bulimia), over eating (binge eating) and other, personalized methods.

This behaviour must be heavily monitored as a traumatic change in diet can remove years off their life, become extreme with no way back or fatal. They must seek out medical attention and learn not to use food to cope. The recovery process is not short and may take years; it’s best to catch and treat it early.


“Suicide Attempts” (Testing the Grounds). These types of suicidal behaviours are parasuicidal, meaning it is suicidal in its nature, but suicide wasn’t the intent. This is very common with individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as they experience chronic suicidal feelings and use this to cope. They do not wish to die, but to control an out-of-control situation. Facing death but not dying can be satisfying to some.

Remember: Self-harm is used to gain control in out-of-control situations. It isn’t use to get back at or punish anybody.

Self-mutilation should be avoided, discouraged and discussed in therapy. Overcoming self-harm will take time, but can be done when trauma, pain and other factors are discussed, and healthier coping mechanisms are implemented. When an urge arises, they should consider journaling, going for a walk, drawing, calling a friend, etc. Constant denial to these urges will improve their quality of life, as they ween off of their need.

Relapse is inevitable, but self-mutilation can be conquered.

If you are a worried guardian or friend, do not demean them. It may not seem logical to you, but it is necessary you open the conversation, lend an ear once in a while, and tell them that it is acceptable to talk about self-harm. If you use it against them, they will lean on the behaviour more, and could hurt themselves further. Don’t overreact, don’t under react. Finding a balance can be complicated, but worth it. They are dealing with a serious problem and need your support.


10 Daily Borderline Struggles

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very intense disorder of behaviour and intensified emotions, often described by medical professionals as a roller coaster. Trauma and other factors contribute to the formation of ones personality, and borderlines experience extremes daily. Though the disorder may not be seen on the exterior, it is very real and is hard for anyone to understand, even one living with the condition.

The following are common daily occurrences for the average borderline, and may help you to understand the condition better.


Fear of Abandonment. The most common Borderline trait is the fear of abandonment, and it is an everyday occurrence. As people grow older, they realize that people leave their lives, but we have witnessed it repeatedly in unnecessary forms. It could just be assumed abandonment or, other situations may feel like it. Having to leave a phone call, a coworker leaving work or having to say goodbye to a guest, though inevitable, can feel like abandonment. It is a repetitive pattern we’ve experienced which may seem irrational, but is a true fear.



Unstable and Intense Emotions. It is no secret that borderlines can climb the emotional ladder and come down again in a matter of seconds. It may be an overwhelming trait, but it is hell to live with. Our emotions fluctuate and they lean so far to extremes that we may not be able to cope. A negative comment from a friend can upset us at first, and then spiral out into self-harming thoughts and behaviours. In very intense cases, the individual may not be able to function in everyday activities and may require disability funds.



Feelings of Emptiness. Our intense emotions unfortunately includes emptiness. We may lie there, emotionless, trying to muster up reason for our living and life itself. Being empty can lead someone to risky behaviour and dissociation to retrieve feeling. Dissociation cannot be entirely controlled, but ones body resorts to this to escape trauma and an overflow of emotions. Emptiness can quickly lead to suicidal thoughts and actions as it can be mistaken as worthlessness, thus being a very dangerous emotion.


Anxiety. Not all borderlines have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, though most do experience it. We constantly experience fear and worry. We stress over other people’s thoughts and emotions in response to our own, becoming terrified of what they could do. We understand that our vulnerability can be used against us and we may end up hurt. Not to mention, there is anxiety revolving everyday activities, along with overanalysing everyone around us. We are apprehensive of the possibility of someone not liking us along with their ability to harm us, which is ultimately terrifying.


Self-Doubt and Self-Hate. Everyone doubts and judges parts of themselves they don’t love, but those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder experience it on an overwhelming level. We are uncertain about ourselves, our capabilities and our talents. Most of us have been continuously reminded in childhood of our wrongs, with our goods taking a back seat. The lack of acknowledgement of accomplishments in our childhood make it hard for us to see how amazing we really are. This self-doubt can affect our everyday functioning as we may not believe we are capable of handling phone calls, writing something down or preparing something for someone. When these emotions intensify, we become extremely self-destructive and implode, causing dangerous outcomes and needs for hospitalization. Understanding that we are valid human beings takes time, but can be achieved with constant Dialectal Behavioural Therapy.



Boredom. Enduring boredom with Borderline is a complicated struggle. It is just as intense as any other emotion. Our response to this can be very unhealthy. To cope, we respond in extreme ways that are often self-destructive. Commonly, we turn to alcohol, drugs, risky sex, overspending, gambling and poor career decisions, all to reach satisfaction.


Suicidal/Self-Harm Thoughts. It will never be easy to swallow, but we face this daily. It is agonizing to fight, but most of us manage to see the end of the day due to our strength and resiliency. We often consider these as options as a way to cope, but we fight our hardest not to resort to them.


Identity Struggles. Have you ever noticed someone with Borderline hop job to job, getting invested in multiple hobbies, trying to start a career under a specific light, but quickly switching to a new approach? It isn’t strange for diagnosed BPD individuals to do this, and it can be draining to do. We may crave a label to identify us, so we can understand ourselves better, but it usually leaves us lost. It is a way to combat emptiness and boredom.



Paranoia and Sensory Overload. Borderline Personality Disorder may not be a psychotic condition, but we are subject to slight psychotic symptoms. In states of worry and fear, we may become overly aware and paranoid, believing that we are being stalked, or someone’s next victim. When out at a local store, we can stress over the amount of noise and crowds, along with vivid colours and brash movements. This could be a subconscious way to cope with anxieties and mistrust.



Rejection from Medical Professionals. The majority of borderlines who have sought out medical attention can tell you that you will be denied and stereotyped at one point for your disorder by mental health and medical professionals. There is a large stigma around BPD and most professionals do not want to work with us because of the intense emotions, dependencies and constant suicidal feelings.

As sad as it is, they would be liable for our actions, especially if we threaten suicide and they don’t take us seriously. BPD individuals make many threats because of emotional intensity, and they cannot send us to the hospital every appointment, but a misassesment could cause them an upheaval of legal problems. It is possible to find a therapist that will work with Borderline, but it may be a struggle if you haven’t begun recovery as they will refuse to engage the comfortable Borderline behaviours we are accustom to.

Being refused treatment can bring us down and make us believe that we aren’t worthy of help, but we are, and we deserve to feel better. Attending Dialectal Behavioural Therapy regularly and practicing healthy coping mechanisms can be the path to a healthy and happy lifestyle.



How to Understand BPD

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Borderline Personality Disorder is a complex concept on its own, but having it as a disorder is a whole other whirlwind. It’s called a personality disorder, but is mainly related to behaviour, and that is confusing on it’s own.

If there is an individual in your life with this disorder, they will need your understanding to feel less alone, and accompanied through the battles. If they are explaining and expressing their emotions to you, but you aren’t registering it, it’s a conflict. It will push them further away and their trust will plummet.


You may be involved with someone who is practically obsessed with you one minute, and the next, is dreadful, angry and possibly mean. It’s a switch. You may be confused and not know how to react, nor fully understand why they are behaving in that way.

You know they have a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder, you may know the main components, but you just can’t seem to grasp an understanding. The moment you think you’ve got it down, something changes and you’ve lost touch with your personal definition.

How can I understand Borderline Personality Disorder?


Research. No one ever learns anything unless they do the leg work. Look into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), read the BPD criteria for diagnosis, look at various resources listing the emotional and behavioral components, and refer to personal experiences of individuals.

It will be a lot to take in and understand all at once, so take this process slowly. Understand that, as people, we cannot comprehend information immediately upon reading it. This is a complex disorder that will never be the same for two individuals. Though it is important to research the psychology and the methods of diagnosis, it is also important to refer to that individual in your life.


Listening. Listening will be a good portion of your research in understanding. It is one thing to refer to legitimate documents that state the normalities and common grounds for BPD diagnosed, but to hear the experience from someone who struggles with it will trigger your compassion and comprehensibility. When you hear it from a person instead of reading it off a screen or paper, you can relate better. You will be able to hear their twists, turns, triggers, emotional states and their wishes for the future.

When you listen to them, try to take mental or physical notes for yourself. If you are together, observe behaviours and reactions, and study the limits. You may notice that their fear of abandonment is stronger than their dissociation, or that their self harming urges arise when being let down.


Reflection. Take time for yourself to absorb. Sit and think through situations, keeping in mind the legitimacy of BPD, but the individual case as well. Try to sort through better ways to respond, or offer them healthier coping strategies that you can do together. Also try to make associations with things you’ve read that align with things they’ve said.

Question yourself. How would I feel if I had BPD? What would I like to hear? How can I be more present and compassionate?

Think of their disorder as an orange. Every orange appears to be the same on the outside; a thick skin, with the same ol’ colour and bumpy texture. But whenever you cut into an orange, you can see the individuality. The segments are different sizes, the skin thickness, ripeness and smell varies, as well as cell placement. No two oranges are the same, though they appear to be. If you don’t examine that individual orange, you will never see it as an individual. It will always just be another orange in the basket.


Acceptance. Though you can’t come to acceptance with someone having BPD as simply as you could with accepting that there’s rain on a Saturday afternoon, you must try to get to that state. Acceptance is complicated, and humanity sometimes does not accept injustices or negative outcomes, but this is one that cannot be changed without recovery.

If this person is important in your life, you must persist in understanding and keep up with their rollercoaster, without becoming their therapist (the disorder will latch onto that support and spiral out). Take everyday as it comes and offer the best you can to being an understanding partner. Encourage recovery, but do not demean them for their disorder.

Expect that things may not go the way you or they have planned. Accept the swings and complexity of BPD, and help them fight it. Accept Borderline Personality Disorder as a fact of life and a constant struggle that can be fought.


Understanding. Come to a place where they feel understood by you. Without experiencing it, it is impossible to understand what this disorder truly is. Constantly strive to understand, even if you never will completely.

The best thing you can do for them is be there, be open to listening and learning.

A post revealing how to understand your own disorder is coming soon.



Why Do Borderlines Give The Silent Treatment?

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Everyone needs quiet time now and again, but there are times where someone may be purposefully giving you the silent treatment. Someone who is not mentally ill may have reasons that are comprehensible, but one diagnosed with Borderline may be harder to read. It may anger you as you try to understand what they are so upset about, and it could seem entirely illogical, but to that individual, it makes all the sense in the world.

Someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder will get very emotionally involved in a situation and take things to heart. A miniature comment with no true significance can destroy them. If you are an individual who is not entirely emotionally connected, understanding the heavy relation to emotion may be a complication, and cause you to be cold-hearted towards your loved one who is struggling. In response to the overwhelming emotions and the distance they sense from you, they may give you a harsh silent treatment as a defense mechanism.

They believe that their providence of the silent treatment will get a message across to you, and possibly encourage you to apologize and make things right again. It could also be for much needed space.


What is causing the silent treatment?

Anger & Hurt. A diagnosed BPD individual will sense emotions much more harshly than someone who does not struggle with a mental illness, and in an attempt to cope with the emotions, they may hush up. It may be a way to blame you, and make you reliable for their feelings, which is not your responsibility. It could be a tactic to get you to come to them, as they may feel that they always come to you. And though it may seem unkind on their part, they desperately want communication with you, and in an emotional state, have put a barrier and want to stick to it to the very end.

Mistrust. This is a strong topic with the diagnosed individuals. Mistrust comes along when you have toyed with their emotions, lied, are avoiding them, getting angry when they open up, etc. The may feel that they have been cheated, or that they made a mistake by bringing you into their life. Their silent treatment could be their time to reflect on the situation and come up with a final decision, or get you to come to them with an apology and an offer to be more trustworthy.

Testing. This isn’t something Borderlines like to admit, but we are the leader of many games and tests. We may be evaluating your behaviour to our rejection of communication. Are you okay with it? Are you going to show up at our door with roses and fancy dinner reservation? Are you going to get frantic like we do? We evaluate our observations and take note of your reactions like you’re a lab rat. In the future, we may use it against you as well.


Stress & Dissociation. Dissociation is not overly talked about, yet is something that is quite common in a Borderline diagnosis. In situations of stress or high tension, possibly with discomfort, we may dissociate and no longer be mentally present. We may not be in control of our reactions, nor realize what we are doing. Our mind is so overwhelmed with constant thoughts, and we lose track of ourselves.

Abandonment Perception. Abandonment is a hot topic amongst those with BPD and one of the core reasons an individual would get diagnosed initially. It is written in the disorder that we are terrified of abandonment and may abandon ship when we think we are about to be abandoned.  Someone diagnosed with Borderline will feel loneliness very intensely, and large distances between the ones they love will leave them with a sensation of loneliness and loss, and possibly abandonment. They may blame the other individual involved irrationally and assume they no longer care. It could very well be perceived as the silent treatment, when in reality, it is us abandoning you first. We want control over that situation and so we take it. We take it and disappear without a word, leaving you stunned in our mess.

Defense. It is quite simple. Being silent when we are constantly taking initiative is taking control back. Constantly communicating with someone and being turned down creates vulnerability, and ceasing that behaviour gives us the impression of self control and power.

In the end, we all want to feel like we matter. Whether we’re testing you, are being defensive or want you to come to us, our silent treatment is valid to us, and we need it to be understood by you.


How can I better the situation?

Sometimes, you can’t. If it’s been a long period of time, some of us will move on, some of us won’t. I would suggest putting effort, asking them how they feel and offer to change what is bothering them, ensuring that your relationship is important to you. Stress that they matter to you, and try to be present in their life as much as you, especially when they need it.

Refer to S.K. Bosak’s post about how a Borderline feels receiving the silent treatment.


Why is my BPD Partner Manipulating Me?

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One day, you are their favourite, their everything and their addiction, the next, you are the scum of the Earth. Is it your fault?

Someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder will consistently struggle with relationships throughout their lives, especially the romantic ones. Dependency becomes hardcore with them, as they lean on you for everything, expecting you to complete them, never truly giving you enough space. They understand the faults of their ways, but it is not a behaviour they can seem to crack.


Distance from you can be perceived as a form of abandonment, and your expression for this need of space is hell to them. It is you clarifying that you do not want them around, and even if that period of time is a half hour, for someone in the extremes of this disorder, that can be perceived as abandonment and the end of the relationship.

The anxiety will run wild as they wonder if they are even worth it. The only person they felt they loved no longer strives to be by them, and they are alone in this world for that period of time. That loneliness transfers into their brain as dissatisfaction, unhappiness and anger.

Their minds are telling them that you are the perpetrator of this pain; you are the cause. You are the one who is tearing this relationship apart. Your needs are too much to ask for and they will not be afraid to show you.


In response, you will receive hatred, attitude and manipulation. It is vengeance from the borderline who needs gratification for their pain. When the relationship starts to go haywire, you will be hung on the cross as the worst partner ever. They will go from loving to hate filled, and you will be their victim.

In seconds, you will be on the opposite side of their spectrum.

But, the misunderstanding is that they mean to do this to you, but they don’t. An individual with BPD has episodes and the disorder can entirely control them when they sense fear. We are not being rational, though it is not entirely in our control.

We preserve our relationships with all of our hearts, and we try to make them work, consistently blaming ourselves. When you push us away in that fashion, we blame ourselves subconsciously, and pin it onto you. We accuse you of not listening, not understanding, etc. but it is the true portrayal of self-hatred and lack of control. Your actions lead us to a spiral with our Borderline, and every time abandonment is perceived, it is a repeated crisis.


So, what do you do? 

They’re mistreating you and seek out to cause you pain. Do you choose to leave them?

If you are truly unhappy and don’t see a future with this person, you are entirely allowed to choose to leave. For those who have seen happiness with us and can see a future with the healthy versions of ourselves, work on it with us. Be straight forward about how you feel in a calm environment, and offer alternatives to compromise for both parties. Reassure us of your love and your desire to be by our side. Offer your effort into the compromises and try to understand the constant inner torment we are subjected to on a daily basis.

A relationship with an individual diagnosed with BPD is passionate, and sometimes that passion is channeled in the wrong ways. But, all in all, though we may claim to hate you, we indefinitely do love you, and that is why you are the one exposed to our ups and downs.




9 Things You Need to Understand About Borderline Personality Disorder

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It is necessary to state that not all diagnosed BPD patients are the same. Most statements will resonate with the majority of diagnosed individuals, but not all. Every experience differs, and all of our pasts and paths are diverse. These are very common and basic statements about the disorder.

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline Personality Disorder, otherwise known as BPD, is a serious mental illness characterized by the inability to regulate emotions. Some common traits or symptoms borderline-personality-disorderinclude:

  • Fear of abandonment
  • Unstable interpersonal relationships (with idealization and devaluation)
  • Identity disturbance and low perception of self-worth
  • Impulsive behaviours (risky sex, drugs, overspending, etc)
  • Self harm and suicidal tendencies
  • Reactive and difficulty controlling emotions, especially anger
  • Emptiness
  • Paranoia and disassociation

Borderline Personality Disorder has acquired plenty of negative connotations over the years, with some mental health professionals reluctant to treat it based on the intensity of the patient’s threats, reactions and, sometimes, lack of desire to get better. Some people who have associated with individuals diagnosed with BPD may not understand and, within discussions regarding the topic, furthering the stigma.

As diagnosed BPD individuals, we are not perceived positively. People tend to avoid us because of our intense emotions and emotional episodes. As much as we may try to explain ourselves, we are often misunderstood  or not taken seriously. We may desperately try to express our distress to you, without knowing how to go about it. Some of us don’t quite understand our disorder yet and may not know that our explosive or sensitive reactions are distinguished in this disorder, thus having no capabilities to explain ourselves to you.

Explaining our behaviours by stating we have Borderline Personality Disorder is an explanation, not an excuse.

I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me


We find it very complicated to be in a stable relationship, seeing as our life patterns demonstrate someone loving us, remaining for a while and then abandoning us. We push and shove in response to our overwhelming emotions, trying to abandon you before you are able to abandon us. We constantly fear being left by the ones we love and we find it more beneficial to our emotional stability if we do it first. We convince ourselves that the blame cannot be put on us, even though we recall our behaviour later on and blame ourselves for causing you to leave.

We cannot live with you or without you, and it is a constant battle in our minds. We try to deduct whether it’s more beneficial to have you in our lives or not. At times, we think we have our mind made up, until we realize we want the opposite minutes later.

Think of the old concept introduced to kindergartners; “boys bully you because they like you.” (Extremely sexist, but wait for it.) BPD can sometimes make us act like those little boys. We do not have the means to express our affection to you, nor do we comprehend it, thus we violently lash out. We get the most violent with the ones we love and appreciate the most. It’s awful to say, but if we are treating you like this, we probably love you very, very much. We blame you for the potency of our emotions, and being loved is out ultimate fear. In response, subconsciously, we will cuss and push you away until you leave.



Emotional Instability, Intensities and Outbursts

A main symptom of the disorder is emotional instability and mood swings. As much as we may try to control our emotions, they always seem just past arms’ length. We go from ecstatic to depressed in moments, and it can leave us utterly exhausted. We struggle with the maintenance of any particular long term emotion; contentment can last a few hours and it can be followed by exaggerated anger.

In response to the ferocious mental storm, we violently react with outbursts and painful statements. We can become physically abusive as well as emotional and mental, trying to spike you with similar pain that we feel. Our outbursts can be brief or elongated, lasting up to a few hours. The extreme emotional implications can even lead us to self harm or a suicide attempt.


Sensitivity and Overreacting

It is no secret that we are on the more sensitive side of the spectrum of people. A comment you make that someone else could  disregard or be caught off guard can drive us into a frenzy. Our sensitivity is heightened along with our emotions and, though what we are hurt by may seem silly to you, it is very real and traumatizing to us. There are events and situations that we will not forget because of their extreme sensitivity content and the overload we felt.

An empty comment can be spun out of context with our skewed perception of reality, assuming you’ve observed a trait in us you don’t like, or we aren’t attractive enough, etc. and even if what we heard is not what you had said or what you intended, we create our own reality to make it true.

In retort, we may lash out or bawl, taking an extreme stance, and though it may seem like overreacting, it is valid to us and comprehensible. We felt so hurt by something and our only ability to cope is to lose it in one way or another.You may perceive it as unnecessary but it is our process for coping and we require love and support. In these times, we are in need of an apology and comfort from you.


Boredom and Emptiness


Borderline is often unstable, with periods of highs and lows, and some switching quickly between the two. It keeps us very busy, I’m sure you can imagine. We are so encompassed in this constant whirlwind that, when it calms down, suddenly we are hit with boredom.

Boredom often gets misinterpreted in our minds as depression or sadness, and can evidently lead to self harm and suicidal behaviours. The stillness leads our thoughts in a negative direction, and the self-deprecating notions become repeated in our minds, woven one over the other. (“You’re useless.”, “You’re lazy”, “You never stop wasting your time.”) When nothing is going on and we are chaos free, we are unsure as to what we should do with ourselves, and we can sense a great deal of emptiness and dissatisfaction. Without being kept busy with a hobby, we misinterpret the boredom and the intensity escalates until we lose control and have an episode. We want to have that time and those feelings filled with activities that work our minds and keep our thought process busy. Without occupying the thought process, we can quickly become consumed by our own self hatred and low self esteem.


Relationship Struggles

The inability to maintain a stable relationship is very common. These relationships can be family oriented, friendships and romantic or sexual relationships.

A thing to remember is the sensitivities and intensities felt by an individual diagnosed with BPD; any comment made gets held to heart, whether it’s kind or mean. Your opinion is held at high standard and can make or break the individual’s day/week/month/year.

Being in a relationship, we often assume we will be left, being a common pattern we have been exposed to. We assume it is a life pattern that will always follow us, and instead of riding the waves, small or large with you, we subconsciously push you away and leave you before you can leave us. In our mind, it is a way to break the pattern; “you can’t leave me if I’ve already left you”. Any stillness in the relationship is perceived as boring and can somehow be misinterpreted by you not meeting our needs or not understanding us, or even not loving us enough. We have not been exposed to much relax and thus, do not have much experience with coping with it, but we do know chaos and roller coasters. In our inability to cope, we will take you for that ride down the slope.

We desperately want to have a happy relationship but we are not always in control, and to be loved. We face episodes where our mouthes and emotions completely disconnect from our morality and usual conversations. We do not want to hurt you, but we are terrified of being loved. It’s a foreign concept in our minds. We try to keep ourselves together but we loosen at the seams and become explosive. And at times, in our angry episodes, we want you angry too, because then we aren’t alone and you, too, are taking the roller coaster ride with us.

Despite the chaos and rides we will take you on, and as silly as it may sound, we do it because we love you.


Skewed Perception of Reality

Though reality is altered from one person to the next, most people are still living within the facts or slight exaggeration of them. With BPD, our reality is concentrated on emotions and fears. For example, if we are scared you will abandon us, we will act as if it is current and live in that chaos. Or, let’s say we feel ugly, we may assume that our loved ones believe it and torment ourselves to not feel this way. And if our fears aren’t real enough, we create them and make them reality.

Our perception of reality is often skewed and can confuse our surroundings. Though we may not be psychotics, we may have delusions and paranoia. They may not be the commonly known heard voices as seen in schizophrenics and patients with psychosis, but they alter our sense of reality and fog the facts.

Our assumptions can go from being just that and escalate to being “reality” as we associate clues and events to our prejudged conclusion. All of our clues, though inaccurate or unrelated, soon become the full reason or description for a situation.

A misheard sentence from your mouth can make us frantic; you may claim you said one thing but we heard another, and it wasn’t a good thing. Suddenly, we believe it; we have proof and evidence that it is all true and you meant what we thought we heard.


Identity Crises


We lose touch with who we are in the process of understanding our disorder, mental illness and wanting to be someone entirely different. We may label ourselves as BEING the disorder or change from one type of person to the next. We act like chameleons and study our peers to be accepted and wanted by them. We perceive fitting in as a sense of validation and self worth. Some individuals will be entirely different when they are at home, compared to work, compared to with a romantic partner. We study and dictate what we want to put on show for specific people, trying to find a way to integrate and not be left.

We discern our being as unlovable, dictated by the demonstrations in our past, and we cannot imagine anybody loving us for our true selves, not to mention the chaos that is this disorder. We will hide behind as many masks and in as many costumes so that you may not break that barrier and unleash us out of our comfort zone. We would prefer putting our best traits on display.


Self Harm, Suicide and Threats

A common lead to diagnosis is self harm and suicidal tendencies. Many adolescents get diagnosed before they are deemed able to be diagnosed because of this, mixed with unstable teenage emotions that worsen in stages of puberty.

Self harm is our expression of the overwhelming emotions that overtake our bodies and minds. It is our way of physically creating our pain; painting it out, if you will. Self mutilation is not just the act of cutting, it also includes:

  • Burning
  • Starvation/Bingeing/Purging (Disordered Eating behaviours)
  • Scratching
  • Suicide attempts
  • Overdoses
  • Illegal and recreational drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Trichotillomania/Dermatillomania (and other Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours)
  • Etc.

Some of us do it to feel alive, others for control, on impulse, or to scare. (Whether a person is doing it to scare or for any other reason, it is still valid and still dictates a problem, just a different type of problem. In the end, it is still self mutilation, which is unleashing physical pain onto ourselves to cope with emotions.)

It is important to not judge the individual for this expression. It is a maladpative coping strategy and eventually grows to be addictive, as the acts release endorphins, tricking our brains. For the time being, it does work. It isn’t healthy, nor is it worth it, but the individual may have not come to that realization yet. Without desire to recover, it is still recognized as functional by the one self mutilating. Prying and trying to stop the behaviour can worsen the outcome, leading them into intense emotions where they feel they may have to do it again to find release.

Trying to be understanding and supportive, offering positive coping strategies,  hobbiesroutine and helping to create a coping kit with them can guide them on the right path. It will take a lot of time, but the diagnosed BPD patient must eventually learn to self regulate and should be granted years for this process.

Though we may not be trying to kill ourselves by using these negative coping strategies, they can have negative repercussions. The beahviours can become quite severe and may require medical attention, which is important to seek out when needed. The emotions we feel can escalate drastically, requiring us to get stitches or getting our stomach’s pumped, and should be supervised. It is important to ensure all wounds are kept clean and are covered to avoid STDs and other blood transmitted diseases.

Suicide attempts and threats should be taken very seriously, but it is very crucial to note that mental health professionals prefer to avoid hospitalizations for us and so, we can be left on our own. Many of us do not properly use hospital stays properly, often getting involved in other people’s problems or becoming aggressive with staff, feeling the assistance is unhelpful, and disrupting other people’s stays. It is a very sad truth, and we may be turned away when requesting to be hospitalized for these reasons. (It is also very important to recognize that being turned away can spiral emotions downwards, and skewing their perception of reality. They may think “Well, if they don’t think I’m suicidal enough, I’ll prove it.”, and this can be a very dangerous thought process. Ultimately, it is preferred to avoid trying to get hospitalized, which will lessen the trauma.)

The threats can be made to express great deal of distress and serious desire to take one’s life, and it can also be to scare and receive sympathy from loved ones and medical attention. The emotions are intense, and we may threat when they have escalated passed our capacity of withholding them. To us, it is very real. We truly believe we are ready to take our own lives, and though it may be a threat and we may not fully act upon it, our feelings are serious and can lead to the act if overwhelmed.

They will need extra support and will require professional attention from a counselor or therapist who is knowledgeable in  Borderline. Offer support, do not fall into stigma and try to be understanding of the chaos.


It is a Disorder but we are NOT Hopeless


Though this is a long lasting disorder, we CAN recover. The recovery path consists of self regulation and understanding. We must practice mindfulness and positive coping strategies to keep ourselves in line. We are not entirely in control of the behaviours; they are just learned patterns. The treatment of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will offer us the tools to acquire that content and stable life.

A popular choice for those who cannot afford, nor find a professional or service that specializes in DBT can look into the Out of Control; DBT CBT Workbook, which offers diagrams, activities and simple explanations to many, if not all, common Borderline Personality Disorder behaviours. The tools must be continuously practiced, or relapse is inevitable to occur.

Many will give up on us, but I can assure you that if you stick around to watch us get better, you will not regret it. One day, we will know peace, stability and even happiness, as long as we work hard at it.


Burn Out

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Those familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder will know this term all too well. It’s one of the largest fears we have, to be abandoned, but an occurrence most of us have become most acquainted with. It’s like a waiting game; when will we be left finally? When will they be sick of us, just like the rest? We are constantly on egg shells with the ones we love but we can’t seem to get off of them. Any interaction has an attribute that feels like another crack, breaking these shells into smaller pieces, until they evidently become dust that blows away in the wind.

The burn out is the state in which, someone is becoming overly exhausted by the behaviours and their surroundings that their functionality is decreasing and they are no longer capable to keep it together. Burn out to someone suffering with BPD is the threat to be abandoned. To hear those words out of the mouth of someone we want to keep with us is terrifying and it feels as though the world is coming to an end. Everything is crashing and soon, the only thing we had will come to an end.

I’m  burnt out; Advice for loved ones

We can only imagine how hard it is for you to watch us suffer in this way, and we understand that you try to keep it together for us and our mental illnesses, but we are imploding. Our biggest fear would be losing you and we never want you to burn out. We comprehend the complications we cause and how our experience with excruciating pain could bring you down, not to mention, being involved with us gives you an unwanted helping.

We desperately want to keep it together and keep the relationship healthy but it’s not a simple switch we can turn on or off. I can’t speak for all people diagnosed with BPD, but personally, I can climb from 0 to 100 and back down to 0 in seconds, and as much as it is hell for a partner or family member or friend, it’s a million times worse for us suffering from it. We act mean and create chaos, trying to cease it to no avail. My brain is a storm, a cesspool of destructive thoughts and corruptive behaviours. I feel so absorbed with the emotions I feel, though positive, they quickly transfer to negative when I am even slightly let down. I so desperately want someone to stay, but do not know how to keep them. I intensely sense myself being destroyed with this constant desire to not be left, to be loved and to be understood.

A “burnout” is inevitable at some point when we lose sight of recovery or maintenance, but we beg dearly that you do not leave. We have burnt out long ago in this disorder, but we are still alive and fighting daily. We have entrusted you with the most horrible parts of ourselves and are desperate for you to stay.

We will try as hard as we can, but we ask that our counterparts try their hardest to remain by our sides, as long as it is abuse free, and understand us. We are quite complicated with very distinct behaviours and reactions, but your support is required. We love those close to us very deeply and despite us being aggressive to them, we need them to stay and to love us.

Express to us your feelings of burning out, of exhaustion, but try to stay, and remember to tell us you want to stay. Attempt to remain strong and survive the hardships to one day settle into our stability. Understand that this is not always our choice and our emotions can control us entirely. Comprehend our efforts and work as hard as possible to remain by our side.Communicate with us; tell us how we can benefit you despite our chaos, and let us tell you how we feel and how you can help.

I’m burning them out!; Advice for the diagnosed BPD

Hearing those words can be an awful experience but, we must remember that a burn out is caused through love. Someone is trying their ultimate best to remain at our side but is feeling the negative aftermath of our behaviours and intense emotions, and they love us dearly. If you ever doubt they don’t, ask yourself what could be another reason for them having stayed through our highs, lows, anger and trauma but love. They desperately want to be by us, and they want us better but it is true that it an get to anyone. It’s agony for us and a helping to an outsider can seem just as overwhelming, despite them not be burdened with it as their own disorder.

They voice this to exclaim the jeopardy to their mental health, not as a threat of abandonment or act of hatred. They have taken note of their mental health issues and are sharing it with us, and we must try to respect that. Everyone’s mental health and well being is valid, even those who burn out from our BPD, and we must respect space and their need to be healthy, as hard as a temporary separation can be.

To find our own way to manage and depend on ourselves is crucial to remaining in control and being able to keep relationships going. It is exhausting to do, and it is painful to realize that we are (our behaviours are) the “cause” of someone’s lack of desire to be with us. The only way to keep two parties mentally well with one ill with BPD is for the one diagnosed with BPD to find some form of self-control and life satisfaction apart from the relationship.

Try picking up a hobby and practicing it when you start feeling down, practice daily self-care and maintenance, put together a coping kit or purchase the Out Of Control DBT CBT Workbook which will provide ways to assist yourself with BPD. With these strategies, you will become more able to understand and control yourself, and eventually find peace, even if it’s for a short period of time.

A burnout is not the end for anyone. It could be the beginning to understanding the parties involved, what they are seeking and ways to work on a relationship together. It does not have to be the ending and we should not treat it as such.