When you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD) oftentimes your symptoms present outwardly. But for people with “quiet” BPD, that’s not always the case.
“Quiet” BPD is acting in, rather than acting out, but internalizing all the emotions they feel. The fears of abandonment, mood swings, anxiety, self-injurious behaviors, impulsiveness and even suicidal tendencies and black and white thinking (splitting) are all part of being a quiet borderline. But those emotions are typically acted against ourselves.
People with quiet BPD usually have lived with it for the better part of their lives, so we wanted to know what “signs” from childhood people can recognize now. We asked people in our BPD community to share what it was like to grow up with undiagnosed, or maybe not-yet-developed, quiet borderline personality disorder.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “Physically punishing myself if I wasn’t the best at something, or if I thought I did something wrong.” — Rebecca B.
2. “Having huge emotional swings surrounded around people and their actions or statements. I was always told I was ‘too sensitive’ and now I realize it was so much more than that.” — Sami S.
3. “Obsessions… The placing people on a high pedestal… And one small thing makes them the worst.” — Maha D.
4. “Total and utter people-pleasing. I couldn’t handle anyone not liking me… And I would do or say anything to avoid conflict of any sort.” — Jenny B/
5. “Never feeling at home anywhere (I move a lot) or knowing who I am. Pushing people away by being too honest or bored quickly (because I’m already so used to abandonment).” — Lynda B.
6. “Compulsive lying. I’ve been a compulsive liar all my life, it took me until about a year ago to realize that it was something to do with BPD. I lied about the silliest little things when I was younger, and the lies gradually got bigger. I’ve become much more self-aware with it and have good control of it, but it was a shocking realization for me.” — Marisa C.
7. “I told everyone everything. People were put off by my deep dark emotional stories.” — Bre I.
8. “Always wanting to either fit in or totally not fit in. Never feeling like I belonged anywhere. No sense of self. One minute I’d be into one activity, person, idea, religion and then out of the blue, I’d lose all interest. I’d seek for approval and happiness in relationships and do whatever I could to avoid myself and my feelings.” — Nicole K.
9. “Being submissive and holding it together when I’d feel emotional for totally legitimate reasons, just because I got the message that being emotional in front of others was unacceptable.” — Lucy L.
10. “It was the realization that I said sorry all the time and still do. I apologize for everything and am always regretful even if it’s not my fault. I think it was because I never wanted anyone to be upset with me or see me as a bad person. The irony is that I saw myself as a horrible and bad person that no one would stay with.” — Suraya M.
11. “Attachment issues. My whole self-worth would be tightly knitted to everyone around me. My anxiety. I would watch out the window for hours for friends to come over and be seriously anxious.” — Kirsten A.
12. “Splitting. I used to always as a child go from idolizing someone to thinking they were sent straight from hell. It’s one of the ‘loudest’ BPD traits I have, and one of the only ones I show outwardly. It’s always made developing relationships and maintaining them super hard.” — Salmontha C.
13. “Over-rationalizing my emotions which makes me put up with what people put me through because I’ve learned that standing up for myself and my feelings backfires in the worst ways.” — Steff F.
14. “Breaking up good relationships because it was on my terms and also because of trust issues. Break up before they break up with me.” — Steve B.
15. “Dissociative symptoms from a young age — not feeling like ‘me,’ and looking in the mirror and not always recognizing myself.” — Arybella H.
16. “Doing anything I could to make people not leave me. Of course they did, but even when they did, I would do what I could to get them back or just completely cut myself off from everyone. There was no in-between.” — Rachel W.
17. “I was so scared to do something wrong. I avoided pushing boundaries and everyone would always comment what an ‘angel’ I was. I never would do anything that would make anyone mad at me.” — Melissa F.
18. “I kept looking for affection from everyone, and got too emotionally attached. Felt like I needed to be their number one constantly and always had rough relationships as I was growing up.” — Marie C.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.