If you live with borderline personality disorder (BPD), you might be familiar with some of the seemingly “harmless” but incredibly hurtful things people often say to those struggling with it.
Sometimes “harmless” comments can come in the form of a question. (Did you take your meds today?) Sometimes they come with a “solution” via personal anecdote. (When I’m feeling angry, I just go on a run.) Most often, they come from a place of misunderstanding BPD entirely. And even though these “harmless” comments may come from a good place, they can often invalidate the struggles of someone living with BPD.
When someone with BPD opens up about their struggles, oftentimes they aren’t looking for your “solution,” “advice,” opinions, DIY healing guide, etc. — they may just be looking for someone to listen and be there.
We wanted to know what “harmless” comments people with BPD have heard that actually hurt them.
It’s important to remember what may seem “harmless” to one person may actually be hurtful to another. No matter what anyone says, your feelings are valid, and you deserve support.
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “Are you sure BPD is a real thing?”
“‘I’m not sure BPD is a valid disorder. Everyone is afraid of abandonment.’” — Kairi Z.
2. “Just snap out of it.”
“If it were that easy, I would. Hearing someone say that to me just crushes me even more.” — Keneisha M.
3. “You like drama.”
“I was told I ‘like drama’ and do things ‘for attention’ which is in no way true. Drama just seems to follow me because I make mistakes a lot from the things I say or do (but doesn’t everyone?) making me look like I’m doing these things for ‘attention’ and to cause drama. But sometimes I just feel like having no filter makes it hard to identify what I’m saying or doing is wrong. This hurts me a lot as I hate drama because I’m scared of my reaction to drama or the idea that people will leave me because of it.” — Holly K.
4. “You’re acting childish.”
“‘Stop acting like a little kid.’ I know the way I react to some things often seems childish. But I can’t help it. With BPD my brain doesn’t regulate emotions normally. I know me overreacting isn’t OK, but it’s just the way I instantly react and I can’t help it. I’m not trying to act like a little kid on purpose.” — Makenna B.
5. “Did you take your medication?”
“‘Did you take your medicine today?’ While my meds help put my symptoms into a manageable range, they aren’t foolproof. I’m still a human with emotions and I’m allowed to be upset or angry when something bothers me.” — Kaitlin R.
6. “Don’t let it ruin your whole day.”
“Um, I’m not allowing it to do anything. Humans have emotional reactions. It’s not like I sit there and decide, ‘Will this upset me?’ No, it just does and it takes me longer to process through it.” — Raenie K.
“‘You know, you shouldn’t let yourself get so upset by little things. They’re just part of life. Just let them go.’” — Julia F.
7. “People with BPD are manipulative and attention-seeking.”
“Hearing someone say this just made me feel like my illness makes me a bad person — not someone [struggling with] a very complex mental illness. It also made me feel like a diagnosis instead of a person. As well as making me angry because, well, it’s a horrible, generalized comment to say about people with BPD. I run a support group on Facebook for people with BPD so I have lots of contact with people living with this illness and it made me really angry to think that someone could think this about my friends, as well as me.” — Emma T.
8. “Stop overthinking everything.”
“‘You think way too much, can’t you just let it go?’ Wish I had a switch-off button to shut [out] all the thoughts messing with my head. People don’t realize how painful overthinking is.” — Amandine S.
9. “BPD… Isn’t that like bipolar disorder?”
“The worst thing is when people don’t know the difference between BPD and bipolar disorder. They tell me I should talk to my doctor and have my medication adjusted, but they don’t realize BPD often isn’t treatable with medication.” — KJ B.
10. “Once you realized you are loved, things will be better.”
“‘You just need to realize you are loved and you will be better.’ Little do they know, being ‘loved’ doesn’t stop the suicidal thoughts.” — James E.
11. “BPD doesn’t hurt me, you do.”
“That one hurt a lot. I don’t choose to feel what I feel, and I don’t intentionally mean to hurt anyone. I would never hurt anyone if I had the choice. I know I have responsibility for the things I say, but I wouldn’t say hurtful things like, ‘We should just end the relationship now,’ if I didn’t have BPD driving the irrational, chaotic, fearful thoughts that make me say these things.” — Amy C.
12. “Self-pity won’t help.”
“‘Self pity won’t help.’ [I heard this] after I bravely put my heart out. It made me feel guilty.” — Ginie C.
13. “I wouldn’t have guessed you have BPD… you actually seem nice!”
“I was once told, ‘I wouldn’t have guessed you had BPD — you actually seem nice!’ I could go on all frigging day listing off hurtful, ignorant things that have been said about my mental illness.” — Georgia G.
14. “You’re overreacting.”
“‘You’re overreacting.’ I know it seems like that to the people around me, but for me it really does feel like the world is ending. “ — Kelsea H.
15. “You need to just accept that I’m your friend.”
“I’m so scared of being abandoned. Sometimes I just ask [if we’re friends] and once I got this response. She didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. I beat myself up for having thoughts like someone really isn’t my friend and things like that. It made me feel terrible.” — Emilyanne R.
16. “It’s always something with you.”
“‘It’s always something with you. Nothing can ever be easy.’ I hate the way I am. Sometimes I truly wish I could turn my brain off and just relax. I’m constantly thinking about everything and nothing. Everything that’s ever happened in my life but nothing that is good or that matters. I dwell on the negative and am always defensive because I don’t know anything else. Also when I’m in a social situation like the grocery store, I can pick up on peoples’ emotions and if they seem mean, my mood gets instantly brought down. When people are nice, my whole day it good. However, if my whole day was good and then something happened that made it end bad, the bad thing will be the only thing I think and talk about. It’s so exhausting.” — Kaylee S.
17. “Why do you make everything about yourself?”
“‘Why is it always about you?’ I don’t ever mean to make it about me. I’m one of the most anti-spotlight people you could meet. If I ever do make it ‘about me,’ it’s not because I want to — far from it. It’s because I’m struggling with a disorder not many people ‘get’ and I’m trying to reach out and be understood. When someone implies that my bargain for reassurance is just me being ‘self-absorbed,’ it hurts so much, I just close up and suffer in silence more.” — Abigail T.
18. “You must be hard to love.”
“Someone once said to me, ‘You must be a hard woman to love.’ I know that person didn’t mean it in a nasty way, but OMG it nearly killed me! To someone who thinks they are annoying and paranoid that people don’t like me anyway, that was like validation that I am unlovable and unlikeable! The thing I think about a lot is that important people in my life are constantly reassuring me about what was said out loud by someone. It didn’t matter that people said it wasn’t true, the fact that just one person said it makes it true in my mind.“ — Rachel H.
19. “You’re too sensitive.”
“‘You’re taking things too personally. Stop being so sensitive.’ Usually the things I ‘take personally’ are justified because they’re directed at me. How could you not take that personally? People make excuses. ‘Oh that’s just how they are.’ Well I’m not down with people treating others like dirt for no reason so yeah my hurt or upset reaction is justified. It is not me being ‘too sensitive.’” — Julia F.
20. “Get over it.”
“If I could just ‘get over it,’ don’t you think I would? Those three words have made me hold my emotions inside for years. Now trying to deal with things, I get ‘You’re too sensitive.’ I can’t win.” — Tara W.
21. “You say ‘I love you’ too much.”
“It hurt because I do love hard, and I was hurt [because] I felt like my love was being rejected. It has made it difficult to express I love someone out of fear of abandonment and rejection.” — Kerrie W.