When we think about Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD, we conjure up the image of someone acting out and externalizing their emotions, especially anger. However, for those with “Quiet” BPD, this is not the case. In fact, it is just the opposite.
Borderline Personality Disorder is an excruciating and devastating mental health condition that can be detected only from the behavior of the affected person. When there are different manifestations of BPD, the symptoms also vary vastly.
This is misleading as we tend to recognize only the kind of BPD with external indications. That makes it all the more difficult for those suffering in silence from Quiet BPD. As a result, it goes undetected and untreated. Even if you grew up with Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder, you or your family may fail to identify this destructive mental illness, making the lives of all concerned complex and hard to manage.
This article focuses on Quiet BPD and its symptoms. Here you will find a list of signs you grew up with Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder. This may help you identify the mental health condition in yourself and seek treatment.
Before we move on to the signs that can tell you whether you grew up with Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder, let’s understand this mental health condition.
What is Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder is typically associated with irrational and impulsive behavior, wild accusations, angry outbursts, and self-destructive tendencies. In Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder, all these external manifestations are absent. Instead of directing their anger at others, a person with Quiet BPD internalizes it.
In simple terms, Quiet BPD is “acting in” rather than “acting out”. A person with Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder experiences the entire array of emotions felt by all BPD people, but keeps it all inside and doesn’t show anything on the outside.
They also feel self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, rage, excessive emotional attachment, fear of rejection and abandonment, and intense mood swings. But instead of taking out their anger and frustrations on others, they direct their hate, criticism, and anger toward themselves.
While fighting is the typical defensive reaction for a typical BPD person, it is freezing for someone with Quiet BPD.
Checklist to identify you grew up with Quiet BPD:
- Intense mood swings with no external manifestations
- Extreme guilty feelings and toxic shame
- Blaming oneself when anything goes wrong
- Putting someone on a pedestal one day only to take them down the next
- A feeling of emptiness, numbness, and detachment from the world
- Feel like an observer and not a player in the scene you’re part of
- Denial and suppression of extreme emotions like anger
- Feel like a burden to others
- Cutting off hurtful people without trying to resolve the problem
- Isolate and withdraw from the world when hurt and upset
Signs you grew up with Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder
1. You hide your feelings
You have no clue why you do this or when you started it. As far as you know, you have been doing this your entire life.
Maybe your family looked down upon such expressions of feelings and needs. Or you may have learned it unconsciously from one of your parents. Maybe there was an invisible pressure on you to appear calm, happy, and normal. You felt more accepted when you followed these norms and then that became part of your habit.
Even when appearing calm and joyous on the outside, you were drowning in sad thoughts, hounded by fear, or seething with anger. You preferred to suffer silently rather than let the world know about your troubles.
Prolonged denial and suppression of emotions may lead to a condition known as alexithymia. It involves the inability to acknowledge, recognize, and verbalize feelings and thoughts due to a lack of vocabulary.
2. You appear to be successful
To the outside world, you’re a self-reliant, active, efficient, and successful person. You’re seen as a perfectionist and ambitious person. You have proven time and again your talent and capabilities at the workplace.
However, once you are away from the public eye, you collapse in a heap. You put on the mask of being a perfectionist and successful person to ward off painful and unwanted feelings and thoughts. But when faced with a personal crisis like divorce or loss of job, this persona crumbles.
3. You experience detachment from self
You may have found yourself observing your own life as an outsider. Known as the depersonalization-derealization disorder, this involves the surreal experience of detaching yourself from your body and observing yourself from the outside. You feel as if the world around you isn’t real.
With this, you’re losing your sense of self and detaching from yourself. This typically happens when you experience overwhelming emotions or pain. When you are going through this, you will be unable to feel any joy or pain. You don’t feel connected to your loved ones. Your life will be in auto-pilot mode.
4. You’ll do anything to please others
Some people are natural people-pleasers. But you go a step beyond this with your readiness to endure pain and suffering for the sake of others. Maybe in your family, while growing up, this role was thrust on you. You turned into a people-pleaser to survive.
Years of conditioning in this role have imbibed this as a habit in you. You give more importance to being liked and appreciated over dignity and respect. You can’t help feeling nervous and panicked when someone disagrees with you or is angry at you.
When this reaches absurd levels, you lose your creativity and spontaneity. You keep reviewing your thoughts and feelings multiple times before verbalizing them.
5. You enjoy the seclusion
The presence of others tends to build up anxiety in you. As you’re highly sensitive, your buttons may get pushed intentionally or otherwise by others. You often feel ashamed, hurt, and humiliated. You feel as if you are walking around with an open wound inviting people to poke at it.
After the pain and suffering you are forced to endure, no wonder you prefer isolation. If you experience the “splitting” symptom, you will be seeing the world in black and white. You may feel that someone you classified as good yesterday will turn out to be bad today.
With Quiet BPD, you won’t confront or fight bad people. Instead, you withdraw into a shell and cut your ties with them. You tend to discontinue friendships without much consideration and regret it at a later date.
6. You’re scared of loneliness but push away people
You feel afraid of rejection and abandonment and fear that you will be left all alone. These are typical BPD symptoms but it manifests in someone with Quiet BPD in an altogether different way. You are reluctant to fight for love, affection, and attachment. Instead, you blame yourself and think that you deserve to be abandoned.
Together with low self-esteem and self-loathing, you withdraw from others and isolate yourself. You think you’re not good enough and if you allow others to get close to you, they will figure out who you really are. When someone appreciates you, you run away from them so that they won’t “discover” your defects.
Your fear of rejection and abandonment is so intense that you shy away from relationships. You feel it better to stay away from people than get hurt. Quiet BPD and romantic relationships don’t gel well together.
7. You accept blame for everything
You consider yourself guilty even when others are not blaming you. When someone is angry, you consider it your fault. You think that you must have done something to make them angry, even if you can’t make any connection. You always have the feeling at the back of your mind that you are a burden and an annoyance to others. And that when others treat you badly, you deserve it.
Hating oneself and social anxiety are symptoms of BPD. You tend to minutely scrutinize everything you do or say. You are your own worst critic and often punish yourself for imaginary mistakes.
8. You’ve lost touch with yourself
You are unsure and confused about yourself. You can’t make up your mind about who you are because you keep changing your mind about your preferences, values, and goals. You find yourself obsessing over someone or something one day, only to lose interest or even hate them the next day.
This uncertainty about your likes and dislikes makes it hard for you to form a concrete idea about yourself. Because of this, you encounter difficulty in building your self-confidence and self-esteem.
9. You feel the urge to control everything
You want the world around you to be perfect and in proper order. You can’t tolerate when things are a bit out of place. You formulate your own set of rules so that order can be maintained. Unfortunately, order equates to rigidity and this is a damper on creativity and spontaneity.
Doing something without a plan is inconceivable to you. You feel uncomfortable and exhausted in unorganized and chaotic situations. You may also run away from relationships as they expose your vulnerabilities and may put you in situations you cannot regulate.
10. You have frequent mood shifts
Mood swings are one of the most prominent symptoms of BPD. However, in a person with Quiet BPD, this will not be outwardly evident. It will be internalized as in “acting in”. You tend to suffer these shifts in emotions silently. Quiet BPD meltdown is real.
As part of your mental health condition, you experience your emotions swaying from one end of the spectrum to the other within a short span. It’s common for someone with BPD to feel joyous and euphoric in the morning and then feel depressed or even suicidal a few hours later. This may happen in the reverse as well – horrible in the morning and better in the evening.
Unfortunately, you consider it best to hide your feelings and pretend that everything is great. Or, you may feel no emotions at all – just freeze and feel numb. You feel a sense of shame and guilt that prevents you from expressing your emotions.
11. You fear emotional intimacy and abandonment
The fear of abandonment and rejection is a dominating feeling in the minds of a BPD person. You also feel scared of getting too close to others or allowing others to get too close to you. The fear of abandonment is the root issue there as well. You feel that if you get into an intimate relationship with someone, in the end, they will lose interest and abandon you.
Being abandoned is intolerable for someone with BPD, especially the Quiet BPD kind. This mindset makes it almost impossible for you to develop healthy bonds with others. Besides this fear of abandonment, you will also worry about how others perceive your condition and its accompanying symptoms.
12. You display self-harming behavior
Self-loathing is an essential part of BPD symptoms. You find it hard to love yourself for who you are. Also, the manifestations of the other BPD symptoms may become too much to tolerate. This may make you want to harm yourself. Many studies estimate almost three-fourths of those suffering from BPD commit self-harm of some form.
Self-inflicted injuries by BPD sufferers include cutting, pricking, scratching, burning, and hitting oneself. While female BPD patients reported damage by self-harm to arms and legs, men focus more on their face, chest, and genitals. This is more intense in people with Quiet BPD as they don’t have any other outlet for their emotions.
Though you may struggle with suicidal thoughts, often self-harm is not done with suicidal intentions.
13. You punish yourself for falling short of expectations
Self-punishment is an emotion regulation strategy in borderlines. The root cause and trigger may vary from person to person. For some, it can be their fear of intimacy and abandonment that makes them feel trapped with no escape. In others, the inability to maintain a healthy distance and respect boundaries may lead to a collapse of their relationship.
Or, you may have set too high an expectation for yourself that you find yourself in a no-win situation. Self-blame is also another trigger for self-punishment. When you feel disappointed in yourself or others, you deal with the ensuing emotions by harming yourself.
14. You are overly sensitive
Growing up, you may have heard this said about you many times over. As a person with Quiet BPD, you are genetically vulnerable to emotions more than normal people. That is not the only contributing factor. It’s also the people you interacted with in your early days who contributed to this. When you grow up in an environment of invalidation in which your emotions are constantly ignored or dismissed, you may never learn to handle and control your emotions.
Already your BPD symptoms place you in a delicate and precarious position. With additional contributions from your environment, you become hypersensitive.
15. You place others on a high pedestal
It’s common for someone with Quiet BPD to become obsessed with someone or something. This can either be in a positive or negative light. Typically it begins in a favorable light. Whoever you are focusing on cannot do anything wrong, from your perspective. You tend to ignore their mistakes, failures, and shortcomings and focus only on their good qualities.
However, all these will change in an instant. Anything can be the trigger for this. Instantaneous changes in emotions and viewpoints are typical symptoms of Quiet BPD. A small mistake, real or imaginary, on their part, can make you think the worst about them.
16. You would do anything to avoid conflict
Your fear of abandonment and loneliness is the main driving factor for this. Again, you want others to like you and you are willing to do anything to please others. You just can’t tolerate others disliking you. All these will make you run away from conflict situations.
You may feel that if you don’t disagree or fight with others, they will automatically like you.
17. You are a compulsive liar
You may never be able to recall what made you one or when it all started. You have been a pathological liar all your life but never realized that you lied or it has something to do with BPD. When you were younger, you lied about smaller and silly things. As you grew up, your lies also got bigger.
You were accused of being a habitual liar by others but always dismissed them as lies. Only when someone you trusted pointed it out, you became aware of it. Initially, you couldn’t control your urge to lie but gradually you have gained some control over it. Despite the progress, it is still a shocking realization for you that you’re a liar.
18. You never felt a sense of belonging
This is a classic Quiet BPD symptom experienced by most borderlines. Your shifting moods and changing preferences and inability to stick on to anything in life are to be blamed for this. One moment you may feel something or like something. The next moment you will feel the opposite. You find it hard to build and maintain friendships and relationships due to this.
You have a hard time fitting into any groups as you are not consistent. You cannot even decide whether you want to fit in or stay away. One minute you want to be part of something and then, out of the blue, you will lose interest in it or worse, begin to hate it. This is a sign that you grew up with Quiet BPD.
How to heal your Quiet BPD?
Borderline Personality Disorder is not easy to diagnose and its symptoms are general and similar to other personality disorders. It is often misdiagnosed as depression, Asperger’s syndrome, or social phobia.
With Quiet BPD, you may want to isolate yourself. You may feel uneasy and ashamed to ask for help. You may even feel that you don’t deserve to be healed and lead a happy life. Though it is hard, reaching out for help is essential to your healing.
The good news is that Quiet BPD can be managed well enough for you to lead a normal life. Though there is no specific medication for it other than for treating depression, Quiet BPD can be brought under control with therapy. With the right treatment, you can be as normal as anyone can be.
Final thoughts on quiet borderline personality disorder
Now that you know the signs of growing up with Quiet BPD. From this, you may be able to identify whether you are suffering from it or not.
If you feel you have symptoms of Quiet BPD, it’s up to you to gather the courage to seek help. Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder is a terrible mental health condition but it need not define you for the rest of your life.