Let’s talk about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). This mental illness is marked by patterns of mood-swings, poor self-image, and unpredictable behaviour. These symptoms often end in outbursts of rage, depression, impulsive destructive decisions, and relationship issues.

But what if the symptoms aren’t so obvious?

People with quiet BPD feel all the same things — the unsteadiness of self and the mood swings. However, instead of exploding outward, people with quiet BPD implode.

In his article for The Mighty,  Matthew Gemma Karamozov wrote the following words: 

The perception of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is one who “acts out.” That’s the “classical” definition, but like every disorder, the condition manifests itself in different ways… So what does being the “quiet” borderline mean? “Quiet” BPD is acting in, rather than acting out, but internalizing all the emotions they feel. The fears of abandonment, mood swings, anxiety, self-injurious behaviours, impulsiveness and even suicidal tendencies and black and white thinking (splitting) are all part of being a quiet borderline. But those emotions are typically acted against ourselves.

However, just because something isn’t visible or noticed, doesn’t mean that it isn’t painful. There are many symptoms of quiet BPD that often get blamed on other mental or physical health issues, or simply go unnoticed.

Signs of quiet BPD that often go unnoticed…

1: Self-blame

We tend to be our own worst critic – but when you suffer from BPD that blame game goes to a whole new level. Taking on blame when it’s not your fault, or when you’re not even connected is one thing that people with BPD do. Although, if they have quiet BPD, you may not even know they are blaming themselves. Instead, they’ll take that guilt and channel into a punishment for themselves.

2: Mentally retreating

People with quiet BPD might look like they’re getting healthier, but actually, they’re going deeper into their own heads. They hide what they’re truly feeling and create an ‘illusion’ that all is well. Additionally, those with quiet BPD tend to shut down when emotions get too intense. Instead of lashing out in anger, they will just turn “off”.

3: Fear of emotional intimacy AND abandonment

Fear of emotional intimacy can be a pretty easy one to hide, all you have to do is not let people get too close. This also provides protection from their abandonment fears, because people you aren’t close to can’t abandon you. However, this fear of abandonment isn’t the standard variety “fear of being left alone”, it’s more a fear of pushing people away.

4: Being a people pleaser

People with BPD simultaneously don’t care what other people think of them while trying to make sure they like them. They spend so much energy trying to make sure that others like them, and if they sense that someone else is mad at them — their whole world will begin to crumble.

5: Self-harm

A person with quiet BPD will often self-harm as a way to ‘punish’ themselves for their perceived failings. They often feel they deserve the pain.

In her article “The Roller Coaster of Living With ‘Quiet’ Borderline Personality Disorder”Emily Woodhouse writes the following:

Living with “quiet” BPD is somewhat like living a paradox in every possible way. I spend lots of time self-reflecting, yet I feel I have no sense of self-identity. Rather than thrive in this solitude, it ultimately leads my mind to turn against me. I burry into a deep hole of “what ifs,” and the empty, black scar of an abyss re-opens once again and swallows me whole.

Giving it a name

Many people who struggle with quiet BPD don’t even know what to call it.

Their symptoms can often be confused for other issues, but mostly, people with BPD don’t think they’re sick. Instead, they think they’re lazy, overdramatic, and attention seeking people.

However, for many people, once they receive their proper diagnosis of BPD, it feels like a weight has been lifted. They can now better understand what is going on in their brain! And even better, they can now — with the help of others — get on a road to recovery.

People with borderline personality disorder who are thinking of harming themselves or attempting suicide need help right away.

If you or someone you know is in crisis: TEXT  Kids Help Phone “CONNECT” to 686868 (also serving adults). OR CALL Crisis Services Canada 1-833-456-566 (This toll-free number is available 24/7)


Borderline Personality Disorder

‘An end without an end’: Finding my way to myself as a person living with quiet borderline personality disorder

What Is “Quiet” Borderline Personality Disorder?

What are some alert signs that someone may have quiet BPD?

New Findings on Emotions in Borderline Personality Disorder