What is a borderline personality disorder (BPD) “meltdown”?
According to Mighty contributor Ruby Grima, “It’s when you’ve had a lot going on, you are overwhelmed and the tiniest thing tips you over the edge.”
For many folks with BPD, a “meltdown” will manifest as rage. For some, it might look like swinging from one intense emotion to another. For others, it might mean an instant drop into suicidal ideation.
Whatever your experience is, you’re not alone.
We wanted to know what BPD “meltdowns” look like for folks in our community, so we asked them to share the way meltdowns manifest in their lives. Below you can see what they said.
If you want more support from people in our BPD community, I encourage you to post a Thought or Question on the site with the hashtag, #BorderlineThoughts, to connect with people who get it.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “It’s like I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute I’m fine, the next minute I have lost all control of myself. It’s like I’m a different person.” — Amy R.
2. “The overwhelming feeling of helplessness, failure, anger, sadness, anxiety. The very worst part is when you are at your worst, and you can’t stand to even be around your own self!” — Joleen A.
3. “When my emotions completely take over and I am left in the back seat to watch the chaos unfold around me. The whole time I’m wishing it would all stop but the intensity of the emotions leave me out of control of myself.” — Jostlin N.
4. “One moment I’m on fire, yelling, screaming, full of rage. The next moment I’m curled up in a ball, loss for words, crying my eyes out.” — Kayla R.
5. “I see nothing but red… intense psychotic anger in short bursts followed by long periods of shame for what I said or did.” — Dan D.
6. “No filter on my mouth. Whatever words I’m thinking in anger just come out. And within minutes, I turn angry at myself for letting my disorder get the best of me.” — Dani B.
7. “I shut down completely. Numb, empty… My brain is like white noise and no focus at all… And a day can seem very daunting and long… Every minute is a struggle and exhausting and I know just from getting up! By the end of the day, I’m brain dead… Drained just thinking.” — Babs L.
8. “Like a roller coaster: slow, progressive, building, then intense and lightening speed emotions, not in control, and then starts to slow down and come to a halt, leaving me exhausted.” — Haylee P.
9. “Chaotic and empty. I learned at a very young age to compartmentalize and it is torture. At the same time, the weight of emotion is crushing to the point of debilitation. I also feel and express nothing. If I don’t say I feel like I’m dying, no one even notices.” — Mateo A.
10. “I feel like I’m in a losing battle every day with myself and the relationships that are the most important to me. I’ve definitely lost some people because of it — which further fuels this fire.” — Chris L.
11. “It’s like all reason goes out the window and nothing else matters but the emotion I’m feeling right at that moment (usually anger). I say things I don’t mean, I lash out at my loved ones and I become someone I don’t even know.” — Kierstyn D.
12. “It’s like a tornado of fire, everything in my path is leveled and the guilt afterward is shattering, but I’ll never tell you I’m sorry.” — Morgan S.
13. “Feeling empty and numb and lonely and then it gets worse and feels like dementors are sucking everything out of me, but I can’t tell anyone so I just have to be on my own.” — Tor S.
14. “I go from fine to suicidal. I want to tell the people around me, but I’m afraid of being called manipulative so I suffer in silence. Then when I level out, I am so ashamed of myself and can’t stop thinking about self-harming (which I don’t do anyway).” — Stacey P.
15. “I am clear-headed, but absolutely not in control.” — Tony K.
16. “I feel all-or-nothing. After a hookup, I immediately go through a phase of dissociation. I turn off and become some kind of robot incapable of feeling emotions.” — Ginie C.
17. “I feel my face getting red. My throat dries, my ears ring, sight starts becoming tunnel vision and I want to hide from everyone.” — Tracie R.
18. “My worst meltdowns start with rage, all-encompassing rage and misplaced anger when someone close to me ‘rejects’ me. And after the fight, I am a mess, crying, sick, and usually begging them to forgive me for lashing out.” — Jocelyn M.