When you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), the symptoms you experience can really affect the kinds of thoughts you have every day.
Maybe your deep fear of abandonment leaves you constantly questioning, “Will my friends leave me if I’m too much?” Maybe your experience of “splitting” or black-and-white thinking makes you think, “I love her” one minute and “I hate her” the next. Or maybe your struggle with your identity and constantly ask yourself, “Who am I?”
Whatever your experience of “borderline thoughts” is, we want you to know you aren’t alone. The only way we can de-stigmatize BPD is to talk about what it’s like to live with it, so we asked people with BPD in our community what “borderline thoughts” they live with on a daily basis. In addition, they shared what helps them combat negative thoughts.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Everyone is going to leave me.”
“The person I love is going to leave me. That everyone I love is going to leave me. It’s a daily, persistent thought that often has no grounds in reality, but there it remains. Having some kind of reminder like a letter or picture of good times with loved ones can help, or just asking them for a reminder that they aren’t leaving.” — Amy C.
2. “Who am I?”
“My most common thought is that I am a stranger to myself, I have no idea what my own identity is. I feel like I always adapt to whoever is around me. The way I combat this is to remind myself of all the little things that make me, me. Whether that’s the way I take my cup of tea, what color I choose to dye my hair, my favorite pajamas, my favorite food, my childhood teddy who always sleeps in my bed and lots of others. There are so many things that make up who I am as a person, I just have to remind myself that sometimes.” — Hanna T.
“The consistent most unanswerable question I ask myself every day is, ‘Who am I?’ I’m incredibly self-aware and consider myself a ‘quiet borderline.’ I function to the outside world. Perhaps a little differently to others but people don’t question it. I use distance and distraction as a technique to survive every day. No one knows who I am though and neither do I.” — Jazz D.
3. “They must hate me.”
“When someone doesn’t answer me or leave me on read my immediate thought is, ‘They hate you.’ A way I combat this is telling myself they must be busy and they wouldn’t talk to me if they hated me.” —Bekah M.
4. “I hate them.”
“Every day, I get flashes of pure, honest hatred for those I love most. I know it for what it is (splitting) and I know that it’s not ‘real,’ but it still hurts my heart to feel it. Being able to identify these thoughts and feelings and to know they are just a symptom, not genuinely believed… that’s half the battle.” — Cato W.
5. “The world would be better off without me.”
“[I think], ‘I’m a worthless burden and the world would be better without me.’ I usually walk my dog or clean my kid’s room… something that helps me feel like I’m doing something for someone other than just myself.” — Thomas D.
“They’d be better off if I were gone. I say it to myself and often times I say it to my husband. I need him to reassure me that I am needed, wanted and loved!” — Crystal M.
6. “I’m a bad parent.”
“‘BPD makes me a bad parent’ is my everyday borderline thought. What counters this thought is the facts. It’s fact that my son is polite, friendly, kind, empathetic and emotionally stable. My therapist even said that my son is very well-rounded and shows no problems due to my instabilities with my disorder.” — Candice M.
7. “I’m not worthy.”
“My number one stinkin’ thinkin’ (as my therapist called it) is ‘I am not worthy.’ I combat these thoughts in several ways: I challenge those thoughts, take meds and distract.” — Annie B.
8. “No one understands me.”
“I’m always misunderstood. I can’t always explain how I’m feeling to anyone or even myself. It’s a very isolating feeling to be so lost in your own head.” — Rob E.
9. “Everyone is lying to me.”
“‘Everybody’s lying to me — no one genuinely cares. They’re all lying to my face…’ The only thing I can do to combat these thoughts is always always always always always always asking loved ones over and over and over and over and over and over if they’re lying to me or if they care about me. It gets exhausting — for me and most importantly for them. It makes me feel terrible.” — Jasper M.
10. “No one will love me if I mess up.”
“‘If I make even the littlest mistake, everyone is going to leave me. No one will love me if I mess up.’ I combat this by constantly reminding myself: ‘I am loved. I am chosen. I am cared for.’ Sometimes it takes saying it a thousand times, but it works.” — Hannah H.
11. “Feeling good won’t last.”
“’This isn’t going to last.’ Because I’ve been feeling very positive and hopeful lately. I combat it by reminding myself that I have more power over my thinking than I previously believed.” — Lisa M.
12. “Why did I do that?”
“My most common thought, ‘Why did I just do that?’ and then I have to reason with myself (like a little battle in my head) and most often apologize if it was inappropriate/out of context as I often dissociate from myself and where I am at the time.” —Rose M.
13. “People won’t think about me unless I’m doing something self-destructive.”
“‘I should do something self-destructive so other people notice me and understand how much pain I am in.’ I challenge these thoughts by trying to remember that the thought comes from emotional mind, not wise mind, and that it’s irrational and if I do something self-destructive, it’s only going to hurt me, and it’s not going to get anything I want accomplished. Honestly, I also tell myself that’s very manipulative, and that’s the last thing I want to be perceived/labeled as, because there’s such a stigma surrounding BPD regarding that.” —Rachael T.
14. “I’m not good enough.”
“‘You’re not good enough…’ The way I combat this thought is: listening to music, doing things the best I can and, as I’ve learned during DBT, I ask to my ‘wise self’ using mindfulness: ‘Is there any truth in this bias? If so, Is it fair to feel that in this moment?’ I’m really grateful for having the chance of taking DBT. It really helps. I know sometimes I’m gonna feel like a piece of crap, but it all depends on validating thoughts and learning how to deal with them.” — Genkidama K.
“I feel nothing I do is good enough even though I know I can do it, I constantly think people are talking about me behind my back, that my boss only took me on out of pity. And that I’ll never been in a relationship again as who would want someone who is a mess most days and self-harms. It’s a spiral every day. How I try to combat it when I can is I write down one good thing I did that day and one goal I want to achieve the next day.” — Micky G.
“’Why are you not enough?’ is my thought. I conquer it with ‘You haven’t met the right people yet to appreciate your goodness.’” — Britney B.
15. “Are my friends actually my friends?”
“‘Are my friends actually my friends or do they just pretend?’ And that’s when I send them a text message how much I appreciate them and I get my comfort when they always reply nice things.” — Patrycja Z.