How would you explain what borderline personality disorder is to someone who doesn’t have it?

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How would you explain what borderline personality disorder is to someone who doesn’t have it?

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It’s an emotional regulation disorder. Things that might hurt us a little emotionally or make us feel loved will make an individual with BPD feel extreme forms of those emotions. This creates stress in their social relationships which feeds into their BPD symptoms. Internally it can lead to intense feelings of loneliness and abandonment which can cause self harm or suicide.

BPD is a disorder in a person’s understanding of other people.

A person ***G*** with BPD meets person ***H***, and is impressed by them. In ***G***’s eyes, ***H*** becomes an excellent example of humankind. ***H*** can do no wrong, and ***G*** is ***H***’s biggest fan.

Until ***H*** does something that ***G*** doesn’t like, and then ***H*** falls from glory, and now ***G*** believes that ***H*** can do nothing right.

Best way I’ve heard it described is:

People have skin to protect us, so a person with no skin would feel extreme pain at even being touched.

People with BPD have little to no “emotional skin,” so they can feel extreme emotional pain in response to small triggers.

For example: Boyfriend hasn’t texted in several days. Person without BPD might be miffed. Person with BPD has a brain that informs them “he’s abandoned you, now you are completely alone in the world,” maybe with a side of “he abandoned you just like everyone always does because you are such a piece of shit and you deserve it.”

The person might try to hurt or kill themselves because they feel shattered, are desperate to escape from excruciating emotional pain, and/or feel self-loathing.

The person might also take frantic actions to bring bf back and thus relieve emotional pain. For example, self-harming so bf will come to the hospital.

It’s worth noting that there is a LOT of overlap between symptoms of BPD and Complex PTSD.

longing for a deep connection with everyone you meet even when it isn’t appropriate, and feeling like you don’t deserve it when you get it

Coming from someone with multiple relatives with borderline and who was also subject to their abuse it is important to highlight their instability. Here’s how I describe it to my friends:

it’s a syndrome characterized by mood swings, outbursts, and unstable relationships. They are easily inflamed if they feel judged or rejected and are characteristically known to resort to social, emotional, or sexual manipulation to obtain closeness or protect their self image. it’s the result of very low distress tolerance.