TikToker Uses Water Glasses to Show Why BPD Causes Big Emotions

TikTok user @recollectedself (aka therapist Jaime Mahler, LMHC, NCC, CCH) brilliantly demonstrated why people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often experience intense emotional reactions, even in situations other people might think are “no big deal.”

In a new video, Mahler said one misconception people have is that we all start with the same level of stress and emotional regulation. That’s not true. Using glasses filled with blue and red water, Mahler explained that people who have BPD start with a higher level of stress and emotional intensity compared to people without BPD.

She then demonstrated the impact of a new stressor (using added water to each glass). When she poured more water into the glass representing people without BPD, they had plenty of “emotional space” to absorb the stressor. But because people with BPD start at a much higher emotional baseline, adding the same stressor quickly overflows their emotional space.

@recollectedselfBpd won the vote! So here it is ##bpd ##borderlinepersonalitydisorder ##tiktoktherapist ##recollectedself♬ original sound – Jaime, LMHC, NCC, CCH


Experiencing “big” or intense emotions is a hallmark of BPD. Mighty contributor Morgan Rondinelli explained what this can feel like:

My emotions tend to be capital ‘B,’ Big. They are sudden-onset, quick-changing, high-intensity and just plain Big emotions. For example, I watched ‘Up’ the other day and full-out cried three times. I tend to take constructive criticism extremely personally (and often cry). And I will vehemently stand up for those whom I care about. It takes hours for emotions to pass from ‘seemingly small’ situations.

Many people with BPD feel like “too much” in part because of these intense emotional reactions. Mahler’s video helps demonstrate, however, that those who judge just don’t understand BPD.

“My intensity is almost always bigger than what others would feel,” Rondinelli wrote. “What I’m realizing though is that doesn’t mean the emotion is less valid or somehow wrong.”

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