Moods shift so suddenly, you don’t know if you’re coming or going. You love someone, but the slightest separation or argument can make you hate them, feeling as though they’ve “gone off” you. That’s splitting, where you go from idealisation to devaluation in the blink of an eye.
The 9 symptoms of BPD are (you need 5 or more for a diagnosis):
1.) Fear of abandonment.
People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned and have an intense fear of being left alone. Even the little things, such as a loved one being late home, not being where they said they’d be, or not answering a text message, can trigger intense fear. This leads to frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, jealously track your loved one’s movements, hound them over text message or the phone, or even physically block the other person from leaving. Anything for five more minutes with them. Unfortunately, this behaviour tends to drive them away.
2.) Unstable relationships.
People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense. You may fall in love quickly, believing each new person is the one who will make you feel whole. Your relationships either seem perfect or feel like a waste of your time. There is no in between. You “split” on them, you love them, you hate them, you miss them, you… don’t. It can leave them feeling drained, and not sure whether they’re coming or going.
3.) Unclear or unstable self-image.
When you have BPD, your sense of self is usually very unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, and even sexual identity. You may dye your hair crazy colours, shave your head, change your music tastes, your politics. You may also adopt parts of your loved ones, just to feel more complete.
4.) Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.
If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful behaviors, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, engage in risky sex, or turn to drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you. You become destructive and your loved ones aren’t sure how to help you.
Suicidal tendencies and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning, but they can be done via other means, such as dousing yourself in baby oil on a hot day, slapping yourself, or even getting a tattoo.
6.) Extreme emotional swings.
Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. It’s other name is Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, or EUPD.
One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, sad. Little things that other people brush off easily can send you into meltdown, such as someone looking at you in a way you perceive as different, or your card being declined. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly, usually lasting just a few minutes or hours; maybe a day, tops.
7.) Chronic feelings of emptiness.
People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” Everything will be in the negative, and you’ll find it impossible to love yourself, or even like yourself. This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the hole with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying, and the emptiness lingers.
Sometimes you latch on to people, making them your “favourite person”, and basing your entire self worth on how they view you.
8.) Explosive anger.
If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the anger is triggered, by yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. This is the “hulk out”. You may head butt things, yank things, punch yourself. You’ll have no control over what you do, how you act, and you won’t be aware of your own strength. Anything to direct the anger towards yourself. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time being angry at yourself. This is “quiet” BPD.
9.) Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality.
People with BPD often struggle with paranoia or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality, and dissociate. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body. You may have brain fog, and feel as though you’re on autopilot, with gaps in your memory.