People often describe those who have borderline personality disorder (BPD) as manipulative, unstable or clingy. From the outside, the outbursts and intense emotional reactions of a person with BPD may seem unreasonable, but from the perspective of someone who has this disorder, what others see is a manifestation of a world full of intense pain.
For those who have BPD, intense mental-emotional pain is their baseline mood. The depth of this pain impacts their ability to behave in ways that others might consider “reasonable.” Why does BPD hurt so much?
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BPD is a deeply misunderstood mental health disorder. An individual with this disorder has a great deal of difficulty managing their emotions, which impacts their relationships, their self-image and their behaviors. Emotions are extremely intense, leading to episodes of depression, anxiety or anger that may persist for days or weeks.
They may be consumed with an intense fear of abandonment, but at the same time, impulsive behaviors and mood swings act to push others away. When they’re not feeling overwhelming pain, sadness or anger, they may feel a sense of emptiness.
The Challenge of Relationships
Relationships are an ongoing challenge and frequently a source of pain when a person has BPD. They are eager to experience connection and terrified of having others walk away. They may be very demanding of their partner’s time and attention, which can trigger resistance or resentment from the partner.
Black and white thinking can quickly strain any relationship. Feeling that things and people are either all good or all bad, the slightest disagreement with a partner or friend can cause intense feelings of anger and hatred or guilt and shame. These deeply negative feelings may be all-consuming for days on end, which may be followed by shame and guilt.
Deeply negative emotions and mental pain can impact the self-image of a person with BPD. They may feel like they have no idea who they are or what they believe in and may change who they are depending on what others want from them.
A person with BPD is often unable to trust their own feelings or reactions. Lacking a strong sense of self leads to a sense of emptiness and sometimes a sense of being non-existent, and this is another reason BPD hurts so much.
Attempts to Cope with Volatile Emotions
Many of the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder aren’t what they appear to be, but instead are an effort to cope with volatile and overwhelming emotions. Those who don’t have this disorder sometimes have a hard time understanding the almost constant struggle with intense emotions. The problem is that the way a person with BPD behaves in an effort to escape the pain often leads to more pain.
Desperate attempts to escape from emotional pain can lead to self-destructive behavior such as cutting or suicide attempts. Others may think this behavior is manipulative or overly dramatic. It isn’t. It’s often an effort to obtain relief from almost constant pain.
Having BPD is an extremely painful way to live, and it’s intensified by stigma and the misunderstanding by others. Fortunately, BPD is now a treatable condition, and the pain doesn’t have to be endless.
Good, long-term outcomes are possible for people with BPD who commit to a comprehensive treatment plan, which may include treatment for co-occurring disorders such as substance use disorder or eating disorders. Evidence-based treatment can help a person with BPD experience less severe symptoms by learning to manage uncomfortable emotions, tolerate distress and improve their ability to relate to others. This can lead to a much better quality of life, and a life that contains much less pain.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a Borderline Personality Disorder or another mental health disorder, please call us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.