1. Health

Have Compassion

By December 23, 2010

I feel compelled to write a post that is a bit more personal than usual.

I have been About.com's Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder for almost three years. I really love writing for this website-- it's a nice way to be able to share my expertise and knowledge with people who need it. I am often thanked by readers, but I have to tell you that I feel very grateful for the opportunity to do this work and probably get more from it than anyone gets from anything I've written.

There is one thing, though, that bothers me, and that I have to say something about.

Many times each week I receive reader comments, forum posts, and personal emails that are incredibly hateful toward people with BPD. I do understand that many people have been hurt by individuals with BPD, and that usually these comments are written from a place of pain and anger. But, I am often shocked by the level of vitriol in these comments.

People with BPD deserve your compassion. I am not saying that people with BPD do not behave in ways that are hurtful, nor that they should not have to accept responsibility for these actions (and, by the way, you may not realize it, but they usually do, after the fact, and with a deep sense of shame, guilt, and remorse).

But regardless of this, before you judge someone with this disorder, please take a step back and think about what it would be like to have this disorder. Realize that the great majority of these individuals were children who had terrible things happen to them. The minority that did not have terrible things happen to them in childhood probably have a strong biological predisposition for BPD through no fault of their own or anyone else. Think about whether you would make the same judgments about someone who had, say, schizophrenia, or social anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder.

In short, have compassion. Be grateful that you don't have to live with BPD. And do something to help, rather than spewing out hate. It's not helping you or anyone else.

December 23, 2010 at 10:11 pm
(1) Jason says:

Thank you for this article, as someone with BPD, I can say that your statement “(and, by the way, you may not realize it, but they usually do, after the fact, and with a deep sense of shame, guilt, and remorse).” is very true. I get your articles in my email and they are a great help and a good resource for my facebook page. So thanks again and Merry Christmas…

December 24, 2010 at 7:22 am
(2) Oldsoldier2411 says:

I have beenh very fortunate to have had 2 fantastic and supportive parents. However, not everyone is that fortunate. BPD is a very distuctive illness for the sufferer BUT also for families, caregivers and friends. Although BPD is not as well known as say BIPOLAR or SCHIZOPHRENIA, it was only by reading the many articles on this website that I have been able to recognise so many symptoms of my daughter, also how much chaos this condition brings to bare on the people who are trying to cope with these destuctive episodes not knowing what the real reason for the H BOMB going off. I do not believe ANY descent human being would wish a mental illness or disorder on any one.

How do we cope with a BPD sufferer? The answer. I believe, is for a wider knowledge of this condition to be made known to the general public. The drawback. There are some people that will use the sufferers condition for their own ends. This as you can see is not a perfect answer.

I was always brought up to be compassionate to ALL. My father having been a male nurse in a prison. Although he was not able to diagnose he could and would pass on to the Doctors as soon as he could any problems that were surfacing. Getting the help as quickly as possible is the main priority. Many BPD sufferers do NOT always see a trigger or the process that it starts elevating too until it may be too late. This is why I am a strong supporter of families being informed NOT just a health visitor who may only seeing the sufferer once a week. A delay could end in tragedy not just for the sufferer but also for the person close at hand.

As for Jason’s comment I would like to say You have taken a very brave step and you have my deepest respect I wish you well.

I wish ALL at About a peaceful Christmas and happy New Year.

December 24, 2010 at 8:41 am
(3) Randi Kreger says:

Family members DO have compassion and much love for their borderline relative. That is why they are there, hanging in the relationship despite the pain it often causes and despite the very little support they get from the mental health community.

December 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(4) Steve says:

Thank you so much for this posting. I am amazed how people react to me, although they would never behave that way with someone with a more “visible” illness. Christmas is always a tough time for me. Thank you for your sentiments. I find your work to be tremendously important to me, much more than some static website. It’s like you’re having a conversation with us, and that is enormously healing.

December 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm
(5) RH says:

I fully agree with your article.

As a friend of someone with BPD, I often found myself getting upset and angry with them over their behavior but then I had to accept that if I was going to continue having this person in my life I had to accept them as they were, no if’s and’s or but’s.

It is who they are and we have to either accept that or step away. It is pointless to try to make them fit our idea of who they should be.

It is a very tough relationship but also a very worthwhile one. As long as I give up my expectations as to who I think they should be everything works just fine.

December 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm
(6) Anon says:

I can understand the comments from people that have been truly hurt by a person with BPD. Why discount their feelings? It’s true that a person with BPD isn’t at fault for having BPD. But it is also true that people have suffered greatly from BPD rages and abuse.

Let’s not candy coat this. Do we wish for our loved ones to be healed. God yes. Do we blame them for being disordered? Of course not. But to discount the pain and feelings of people that have suffered is just as hard hearted as those that would wish revenge or harm on people that abused them. Have a heart for people that are hurting, BPD doesn’t only affect the person with BPD.

December 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm
(7) bpd says:

Randi and Anon,
It’s not my intention to discount the suffering of family or friends of people with BPD. My post specifically targets people who leave hateful comments on this blog, at the BPD forum, etc.

I do understand the tremendous pain this disorder can cause for everyone involved. What I do not understand is why anyone thinks it is productive to leave remarks that vilify people with BPD.


December 26, 2010 at 10:34 pm
(8) Anon says:

Maybe it’s best that a person with BPD sees the horrible devastation their illness does to others. Maybe it will be the motivation to getting into therapy and staying in treatment.

Maybe someone with BPD can then one day say, I will never cause the pain and suffering that person has gone through.

I can’t sugar coat this for them. They were possibly misstreated when they were too young to cope and this became the method of defense. But as adults, they must either take responsibility/get into treatment or bare the brunt of some really unpleasant feedback about how their actions are absolutely devastating to those around them. Or they can continue to blame others, project, split to black, rage, abuse and maybe read some reactions that aren’t very favorable.

December 27, 2010 at 1:53 pm
(9) cathartes says:

I am the adult child of a BPD mother. All I knew growing up was the fear and confusion of trying to be “just right” and avoid her outbursts. There was always the guilt from all the day to day things I did as well as the things I didn’t do. It was very hard even as an adult to understand why this was happening.

It was only earlier this year that a counselor explained BPD to me. My Mom is 82 years old, still as unpredictable as ever and that will never change. But because of the information I’ve learned, I’ve changed. I’m not afraid of her any more. Her unexpected hot/cold attitude towards me is manageable because now I understand.

My Dad passed away 2 years ago, my Mom needs help with day to day things and I can provide it for her without sacrificing myself. Yes, I have some boundaries but I can feel good about helping and being there for her final years. At least now I’ll have something good to remember.

December 28, 2010 at 6:48 am
(10) BPDFamily.com says:

Thanks for your thoughts, Kristalyn, at BPDFamily.com we also share your concerns. “Vitriol” – Oil of vitriol – sulfuric acid – is a good term to describe it.

There is a lot of dysfunction in and around the relationships of people suffering from BPD.

The struggles facing people with BPD have been well characterized in recent years. But the struggles for their family and relationship partners is not as well understood – the child that grows up in the arms of a BPD mother, the spurned and violated lovers from these failed “love of a lifetime’ relationships, the ex-spouse locked in conflict long after a contentious custody dispute.

As you say, the anger often goes far beyond the anger and pain of grieving – for many it is a deep resentment and the inability to process losses in a healthy way – and inability to let go of the resentment and move forward.

At BPDFamily.com, we tend to think that no one suffers more than the person who holds onto this resentment. The longer they are locked in this “battle” the longer it takes for them to realize that they can emerge from a bad experience, learn about themselves and their role in their own suffering, and go forward to have a more rewarding life.


December 28, 2010 at 10:42 am
(11) alex says:

my fiancee who has bpd has just left me again this time on christmas eve we have been together for 2 years. she now says she doesnt love me,never has, and never to contact her again,basically pure abuse. she has done this before but i fear she really means it this time, but its so difficult to understand as it was only last week she was the opposite and telling me she loved me and couldnt wait to get married, i love her so much and i truely accept her illness but iam at a loss as to what to do, ive tried to phone and text but she doesnt want to know. please help i dont want to lose . thank you

December 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm
(12) cinnomen says:

I have been in a relationship with someone that After almost five years has realized that he suffers from BPD. I always knew he suffered from some psychotic disorder just didn’t have a name. What always even after five years surprises me is the depth of his cruelty in what he says and the total detachment of any feelings or signs of humanity. The way he gets right in my face yelling & screaming, his hot breath and spit on my face cursing degrading me
And everything that defines me. No boundaries. And ALWAYS has to be right no other opinions are welcomed takes that as an insult or questioning of his intelligence.? Just to have an opinion that doesn’t match his.? Will lead to an all out attack. Zero to 100 in a second.

December 29, 2010 at 12:10 am
(13) leeanneuren says:

A wonderful article Kristalyn. I really hope my family and ex partner read this. having this illness and diagnosed 20 years ago. The people who understand me is zero. Im one of the nicest people you can meet, but the minute i show signs of unstability of they go. After an episode i always feel shame, guilt, frustration and the need to explain my actions, which no one again understands. Thanx for this web site, im with people who no me, even though weve never met

December 30, 2010 at 11:22 pm
(14) c says:

thank you for such a compassionate post. i have been living with bpd and only have i recently been formally diagnosed. i think i understand so much more and yes, i do feel bad for those that may be negatively affected by bpd related behaviors/actions. i appreciate your prior post that referenced linehan’s work around the role of an invalidating environment and bpd. i do not think i will ever have children because i am too nervous that they might not be raised well. i hope some people see that as a hard decision but one that i do not take lightly. i really appreciate this blog and i hope people are able to find peace and forgiveness.

December 31, 2010 at 4:43 pm
(15) edbed4 says:


My BPD sister-in-law brought false charges of sex abuse against my father. He had absolutely no previous history of such behavior. She, however, has a long history of false allegations. She exploited the fact that I held an elected position in order to manipulate the local investigators and the local newspaper.

My father was compelled to accept a plea. I had to resign my position due to the publicity. I did absolutely nothing wrong. Years ago I tried to warn my family about how dangerous my BPD sister-in-law is. Any compassion for me or my children? My children are in counseling due to all this publicity over their grandfather. I am out a job. My sister-in-law had her 15 minutes of local fame.


January 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm
(16) MaD DoG says:

I had been married to a person diagnosed with BPD for 9 years and most of the marriage was miserable becuase I had no idea what was wrong with my wife. The fact that my step daughter had this disorder and lived in the same house made it even more difficult to keep our marriage in one piece.

This disorder is very distructive to all aspects of your life and the more that I gave the more that my wife wanted and expected. I have never seen something where an individual feels entitled to so much and does so little. Having compassion for that alone is hard to do for anyone trying to keep their life in order as well as sane.

Being away from the destructive nature of this disorder (mental, physical and financial destruction) has been the best thing for me and my two girls and I would not trade that at all.

I have compassion for my ex-wife in the hope that she will get better but my goal is to protect my kids and make sure they live in the real world and can be happy with who they are in life.

January 3, 2011 at 12:27 pm
(17) sue says:

Having recently been diagnosed with BPD i know my behaviour can sometimes be hard to deal with. However most of the time i am a really nice person.
Just a thought not all people with BPD are the same we are all individuals struggling with an illness but our personalities are all different.
It is obvious from some of the posts some people have suffered but that can happen in any relationship whether your partner issuffering with BPD or not.
My mother was schizophrenic and very hard as a child to live with I don’t blame her….she was ill.

January 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm
(18) Randi Kreger says:

Whether a family member can hear your plea for compassion depends less on the kind of person they are, I believe, but on:

* The degree and type of abuse they have suffered
* How long the abuse has gone on
* The degree of validation they’ve had for their experience
* The degree of INnvalidation they have had for their experience.

People who are in online communities like Welcome to Oz and BPDFamily have been in validating environments where people who have been there have listened to and validated their pain and grief for their great losses.


January 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm
(19) Randi Kreger says:


Those who choose to “work the program” get beyond this pain and, using the tools available in my books and/or on the website, look into themselves and either:

*Take responsibility for their part in the dynamic (for partners) and learn and grow from that.

*Radically accept the reality of having a mother, child, or sibling who will bring them pain instead of love and will never be the kind of fantasy “Hallmark card” kind of blood relative. This is tough, and it takes a lifetime.

My question is that why are sites by me and experienced family members the only ones to take the anguish of family members seriously and help them find sanity again, and not just for their BP/NP family member’s sake?


January 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm
(20) Randi Kreger says:


Where are the evidence-based treatments for those who have been the projected “bad objects” 24/7, when there are resources for DBT therapists who fulfill that role once or twice a week for an hour or so?

Why are these family members so invalidated by the very experts on the importance of validation? They are either told their feelings are “wrong” and “uninformed” and just “mean.”

If BPD advocates took the time to listen to these people and ask “What happened that made you so angry? Tell me your story? How can I help?” and listened–truly listened and provided a validating environment, then they could help these family members develop the capacity to look beyond their own feelings and get beyond the blame game. Instead, they are ignored. Their absence in these conversations is obvious and noted by myself and others.

**Before family members can validate, they need to be validated.*** We who run family member communities have known this for more than a decade. It’s time for BPD advocates to learn this too–and then practice doing this. It will be a great learning experience on both sides.

January 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm
(21) Domenico says:

Thank you for this article…

Many times we forget that BPD people have a great problem, they are ill…
We MUST think over this.

Thank you very much again and Happy New Year.

January 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(22) Chris says:

Thank you very much for sharing this. Your e-zine has been extremely helpful and I look forward to receiving it every week. I am 53 and was finally diagnosed with BPD about one year ago. It was only during the last year of therapy that I began to learn the impact my condition had on myself but also on others. I thank those who shared the negative experiences they had with people with BPD. No excuses for those who have hurt others, whether intentionally or inadvertently, but it seems to be a learning experience for most of us.

January 3, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(23) tryinghard says:

Just trying to join the forum as a nonBP whose life is all but ruined by a relative with BPD, with no relief in sight.

January 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm
(24) lbjnltx says:

thank you so much for all the work that you put into this!

as a parent to a 14 year old dx/w borderline traits i have finally arrived back to a place of compassion. for me, the anger was a secondary emotion to fear. fear for my daughter…that she would never know peace, love and stability. i have learned to stay in the compassion through faith in her ability to use the tools she is learning at a residential treatment center. her future looks bright and my soul smiles again.


January 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm
(25) kittie says:

Thank you, I read all your topics. I just wish my friend realized I accept her as a friend, no matter what. However, she somehow doesn’t believe that and now assumed the relationship is not worth keeping since she thinks I pity her or whatever it is about… No matter what I say or do, it doesn’t work. At this point, i just demonstrate Love if given the opportunity socially among others with acceptance towards her. That’s all I can do, it’s too late. Compassion is needed for all people, but this one evades me. She has a way of making it a no win situation, even if love is given. She assumes it is because she shared too much about her life, disorder… I just wish she could share more openly live versus in e-mails. If something comes up, I feel like a punching bag for whatever is bothering her. I know rejection is the core to the problem, but it’s hard to avoid double bind situations, you are dammned if you say anything, and you are damned if you don’t. She is a sharp shooter and knows how to set a trap whereby you become the bad guy… I don’t see it that way at all, but oh, well, life goes on… I am human too, but I guess that is not allowed. How sad to me… No matter what solution I think might work to convey friendship, it doesn’t seem to be the right one.

January 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm
(26) Devastated says:

Thank you Kristalyn, Randi, and everyone who has given heart-felt responses. Over the past 4 years I have gotten valuable bits of insight from many sources, but no one has been able to answer my most important question.

Four years ago, this week, I received a threatening certified letter from my BP friend. It said to never contact her again, or she would take legal action, and went on to make some very hurtful, “invalidating” comments about me. We had met in high school, and I got back in touch with her many years later. LSS, we became best of friends, if from across the miles, never having an unkind word to say to each other. We have SO MUCH in common. To the point that I’m convinced we are soul mates. We confided in each other, and consoled each other. Laughed, and cried. Then, suddenly, WHAM! She started misunderstanding and critisizing every word. I was totally confused, until a mutual friend told me, point blank, that “_____ has Borderline Personality Disorder. I’ve spent much of my free time looking for answers, ever since, and have a collection of books, including yours, Randi.

There was never the classic “dysfunctional dance,” but rather, I was suddenly, permanently cut off, without a chance to have discussion. She has hundreds of online friends, but I’m sure she’s very alone in this world. Undiagnosed. Untreated.

Now my question: HOW DO I GET THROUGH TO HER?…

January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm
(27) Devastated says:

…(continued)…occasional attempts to contact her with supportive messages (and pictures that I KNEW she would like) have mostly resulted in no response, with an occasional very negative response, but no chance for an open dialogue.

I’VE BEEN TEMPTED TO SIGN HER UP WITH THIS NEWSLETTER. WOULD THAT BE A WISE THING TO DO? She would likely know who did it, and I hope realize I did so because I CARE.

January 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(28) A.J. Mahari says:

Thank you for writing this. Compassion for people with
BPD is important. Hate serves no one. Often, in the
case of BPD, there is tremendous pain for people with
BPD and those closest to them. Randi Krger’s view
point lacks, I believe, full understanding of the responsibility
that loved ones have as well. As a Life Coach, BPD and
Mental Health Coach I work with and for both those
with BPD and over ones. I recovered from BPD and I had two
parents with BPD as well as a partner, in the past
with BPD. Loved ones need to takea hard look
at where their loved one with BPD is. No one should
accept abuse. Those with BPD do suffer tremendously. It
is important that we validate the experience of both
sides of the BPD experienceand seperate the disorder
from the person. There are many people including
myself working constantly from a base of compassion
to help people with BPD and their loved ones. I certainly
recognize and personally understand and have compassion
for all involved. I write, coach, and speak often of the importanance of compassion for all. I also believe that just as
those with BPD need to learn to take personal responsibility so too do loved ones. Many loved ones stay in relationships
that aren’t wirking far too long. Many only end up feeling less and less compasion as they fail to detach from the rescuing and/or enablng that doesn’t help anyone.

January 3, 2011 at 3:09 pm
(29) Mario Arc says:

My wife is a BPD.

Now she´s 32 and she had improved a lot.

But still sometimes she acts as like in the past, flirting (and who knows what else), getting angry for nothing and avoiding sex with me…

I love her, but I´m not an “Iron man” and my love for her, is fading, almost disappeared…

I do everything to avoid causing suffering to our young daughters.

But those past years taught me not to avoid showing her that her behavior will cause negative consequences for her (divorce, etc)

We love them (bpd) but this don´t mean I have to be like lambs !

They , sometimes, are like children…they need to feel limits and consequences for bad behavioral…

January 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm
(30) kittie says:

I agree rescuing and enabling don’t help, some people are wise to that and reject you due to your attempts. I do think responsibility is important, however, even the DBT was being used as a weapon against me. I think there are many sides to a BPD. There are clear cut answers. If the person is highly intelligent and savvy, there lies a deeper problem to work with in keeping a relationship that is troubling with many pitfalls. I do believe BPDs can short change themselves and sabbatoge (Sp?) there very self and relationships. They almost seem destined to guilt, shame, and isolation that is self-created. They can appear very adept socially in some settings, but behind the scenes is there true self that is crying out for love and hopeful of being accepted. How sad that they often shoot themselves in their own foot. Even counselors can not solve their problems with half lies to change. A BPD is like a piece of paper caught up in a dust bowl that never seems to stop twirling around with no place to settle. Sorry, but I am hopeless lost in knowing how to react even with all the advice and things I read…

January 3, 2011 at 3:24 pm
(31) kittie says:

There is a time to say enough is enough! We are not designed to be GOD and always be the all knowing in letting the person kick us around over and over again in order to understand, show compassion, and validate. I did that and I think respect was lost and thereby my validation means less… Plus, he or she is wise to it all. I think we can not give them an open ended ticket to endless abuse. My friend thinks she is entitled to do things because she is BPD and uses that as her hook to get to me in what I am not doing right. I think some BPDs must have an edge on narcissim too. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that BPDs cross over to many other DSM IV disorders.

January 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm
(32) bpd says:

Thanks for all of the very thoughtful comments on here. I feel like I’m learning a lot from this conversation.

To be clear, I did not mean to imply that I think that compassion is equal to resignation. I don’t think that compassion means that anyone should stay in a relationship that’s abusive, or should not tell someone that their behaviors are destructive, etc. Actually, I think that often leaving a relationship or giving accurate feedback on destructive behavior is the compassionate thing to do.

January 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm
(33) bpd says:


I agree wholeheartedly that families have been left out of the community of mental health support, although my sense is that this is changing. Specifically, I’d encourage anyone to check out the work being done by Alan Fruzzetti Ph.D. and Perry Hoffman, Ph.D. and colleagues (here’s a link to some of what’s being done to address the needs of family members: Family Connections)


January 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm
(34) Christine says:

I am so thankful to see this personal comment. Thank you. It really means a tremendous amount to me. It is particularly helpful because this is a time when I feel so horrifically remorseful and awful and full of regret for a transgression with a beloved psychologist who terminated abruptly not long ago for inappropiate behavior and who was so caring and very good with treatment. I wish with the most intense feelings I could go back and take back any hurt felt, betrayal and I wish I could take back all inappropriate behaviors ever made. Sometimes judgement and choices made by people with BPD are awful. And without any doubt any of us who make mistakes must own up to it and work very hard to make amends, correct actions/behavior that were wrong, apologize and critically, work so as to not repeat inappropriate behavior. That really matters.

January 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm
(35) Christine says:

Dear Kristalyn,

I had also meant to say “thank you” for your compassion.

I want to say this (“thanks”) as well to others who have shown compassion to me and didn’t retaliate or become vengeful. Believe me I understand when someone has. If I have been wrong, if I have transgressed I have to be prepared to accept the consequences. But I just want people to know that people with BPD aren’t “bad seeds”. As a whole we don’t want a chaotic, horribly painful life. We do live with vulnerabilities that can make aspects of life far more difficult to walk through, sort of like little land mines everywhere. I am so deeply sorry to anyone I have ever made a mistake with and who has been angry afterwards or felt hurt. It is the last thing I want. I have forgiven others for harm and hurt and betrayals towards me. I believe in forgiveness. It really makes a difference for someone with BPD to be able to resolve a transgression, a difficult situation that comes from inappropriate behavior in a healthier way. When we get that chance it means a lot.

January 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm
(36) A.J. Mahari says:

To Devastated,

What you describe happens often for people with friends with BPD or even partners or family members as well. Sometimes people with BPD will cut other people off because they feel unworthy, or unimportant, or like their needs aren’t being met (needs they need to learn how to meet themselves). Some with BPD simply are hurt and angry by what triggers them in their frienships and relationships and many experience that as coming for the other person when they lack self-awareness and awareness about how they affect others. When someone with BPD cuts someone off or gives them the silent treatment in cycles, or sometimes, as a way of never communicating again they are trying in a rather child-like way to protect themselves against what they perceive as someone else about to abandon them, hurt them, or someone who doesn’t understand them and/or invalidates them. In many cases where someone with BPD cuts it off it can be something they stick to. Two things, it may be diffcult to “get through to her” no matter what you try. Secondly, you may want to ask yourself why do you so want to “get through to her” and if that “wanting to get through to her” might be more about something over which you really don’t have any control. You have control over what you choose and how you take care of yourself. Sometimes, when people with BPD cut people off, “paint them black” as they like to say in some online circles, they will come back to seeing the all-good at some point, but often they don’t ever. Ask yourself what is really best for you. The good news is that you can find your way to your own closure if, in fact, she doesn’t want you to get “through to her”. I understand you care. But you can only do what you can do and if the person with BPD doesn’t want to talk, rather than strategize as to how to change that, ask yourself, what will you most benefit from changing in and about yourself. That’s what you have control over. I wish you all the best.

January 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm
(37) Carol Reins says:

Thank you…my family and friends are waiting for me to be cured and then I will be accepted with open arms….I hope they aren’t holding their breath!

January 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm
(38) A.J. Mahari says:

In response to Randi Kreger: “**Before family members can validate, they need to be validated.*** We who run family member communities have known this for more than a decade. It’s time for BPD advocates to learn this too–and then practice doing this. It will be a great learning experience on both sides.”

I would say that people BPD, who often cannot feel validated if even being validated, are in no position often to validate their loved ones. I, and many other online, in BPD advocacy, as well as who work with loved ones, DO validate their experience and their pain. If a loved ones waits to be validated by someone with BPD who is not in treatment that is setting themselves up for more heartache. I don’t agree that we need to have compassion given before we can give it. People with BPD aren’t as able to express compassion for others, they are too busy just trying to survive. Just as those with BPD need to learn to meet their own needs so too do many loved ones. And, I offer coaching, support, and education that helps loved ones truly heal and recover and understand.

January 3, 2011 at 6:09 pm
(39) kittie says:

I think all your comments have helped a lot. I realize it is about me too. I have found that my record with friendships is high and I must say I wanted to show this person that they really are important beyond their label. I wanted them to know they have many great qualities that I admire. I wanted to go beyond the average person who gives up and shorts out since she said everyone betrayed her and she couldn’t trust them. I felt for her deep empathy. But, now those days are gone… I lost her. It’s okay, but I do grieve for her true side that is alone. I know I didn’t have all the ingredients to make it work. I realized I got hurt and I should have not taken it personally. Plus, I have to high a goal for the impossible. I most likely got my pride shot down. But, that doesn’t matter, I still care. That’s my lesson to contend with now. I sincerely hate to see anyone suffer so much, back to the drawing board for me. I have to learn that all we are capable of are doing the best we can and there are no heros in life.

January 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm
(40) kittie says:

IF I were to do it all over again, I would never respond to hurtful comments or let them bother me. I would practice detachment. I would see it as a bullet that did not hit me. I would see nothing truly can affect us unless we let it. How foolish on my part, but forgiveness for not being the perfect host in this matter is also needed. I don’t know if BPDs realize that the host of their hurts affect others and leave the person feeling like they didn’t do enough or it isn’t done right. We too have are agendas from our pasts, they are not alone. We all face things and part of our past becomes mixed in too. We probably all have a helper bee side that is caring. In the end, we must look at ourselves. I am sure even the BPD (I hate labels) does feel bad too. I certainly I am glad I am not one. However, I am still working on ME.

January 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm
(41) DHFabian says:

I don’t know that a call for simple compassion can do a whole lot, in view of the fact that the public focus is only on the negative (and most severe) experiences with this disorder. Many with this disorder work very hard to avoid over-reacting, or acting in a hurtful way, toward others. Nevertheless, all people with this disorder are routinely portrayed as entirely negative creatures that are to be avoided.

January 3, 2011 at 10:18 pm
(42) Atlanta One says:

I have to agree with Anon (post #6) and I’ll add that the posts about compassion seem to be “accepted/posted” more often than those that discuss the BPD destruction.

January 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm
(43) bruno says:

I have to say after watching my mate work through her emotions over a friend who requires so much time to understand her emotions, attacking comments and name calling, it hurts my heart to see my mate sad over a friendship. At times it has put a damper on our relationship to see my mate grieve over a friendship that may mean nothing in the end to the other person. I saw some of what went on, it was nasty for on reason or seemingly noticeable cause. It seems heartless to say that only the BPD needs compassion. I go along with the remarks in #6. After all, I know my mate went through a very hard abusive childhood as well as an invalidating one. I can’t total side with an abusive BPD that she has the right to attack so heartlessly and leave my mate sad and wondering what she did wrong. My mate has offered her much time, events, and put up with her insults over and over again. I am glad she finally set some boundaries for our lives to be more peaceful or normal. Why should the BPD rule? It’s all sad in the end that it is not a win, win situation.

January 4, 2011 at 1:15 am
(44) cathy says:

I will always feel empathy for all people dealing with emotions that can not be resolved. Forget the diagnosis and forget what caused it. We all must learn to regulate our emotions and not caste judgement on ourselves and others. As I learned, there is a bit of good in the worse of us and a bit of bad in the best of us.

Validating can work for all of us. However, if you ever think of discussing any method for use with a BPD, be wise and careful. You may find that person won’t believe you did it for their interest, but rather a method to manipulate them to like you, hurt them or whatever. If they share their problems, they may run often. Their main MO is to protect at all cost, to keep you at bay and to be safe from hurt, whether imagined or not. Their reactions are far stronger and their pain is high daily.

If you are a BPD, what can a caring family member, significant other, or friend do to have you believe you are truly loved? What is the best approach do you think? What can we all say and do to make you know you are loved?

I wish my sister believed me… Sad sis

January 4, 2011 at 1:48 am
(45) Penny McGraw PMc says:

I know my family has had so many problems. I feel that most have also had problems, so I didn’t feel free to complain or get help.
I feel one of my strongest proplems is: I don’t express my feelings. Like, it isn’t worth confrontation.
I am glad to receive you letters. Thank you and keep them coming
Penny, from WV/NC

January 4, 2011 at 7:59 am
(46) cjpell54 says:

I agree with Randi Kreiger’s comments 100%!
For years, I conducted an exhaustive search to find treatment for my BPD daughter. Most psychiatrists/therapists would evaluate her, and once her diagnosis came to the fore, the treatment was refused. What the heck happened to the Mental Health Parity Act of 2010?

Although I successfully locatedI providers willing to treat her, they were out- of -network. I understand the dynamics involved treating BDP. The “transference” and trust issues are an enormous challenge, particularly because of abandonment fears. It may be years before researchers can locate portions of the brain that present with the dysregulation, and come up with meds. designed to alleviate the symptoms.

I dearly hope that in the course of my daughter’s lifetime, and sooner than later, the neuro-scientists of the world will discover the answers. Despite what I have tolerated from her for years, I adore my daughter, and I know with all my heart, that she simply cannot control much of these behaviors. She is brilliant, engaging, (I could go on)talented in many areas, and deserves to live a productive and successful life.
Thanks one and all. My heart goes out to the sufferer, and family and friends who are trying to cope with some of the challenges inherent in dealing with a loved one, friend’s BPD. Marsha Linehan’s DBT modality should be part of the equation: guys—-DBT!!!!

January 4, 2011 at 9:35 am
(47) mom says:

Having a daughter who tried to kill herself 3x in one year has me still walking on egg shells, even tho this happened several years ago. I am absolutely terrified of confronting her or having a disagreement with her in fear that she again will attempt suicide. Her emotions are so dramatic. My heart is broken that she has to live like this. I ache for her daily. When the phone rings I almost cringe in fear that it is her in a desperate situation. I am trying my best to be there for her. I love her so much.

January 4, 2011 at 10:58 am
(48) kittie says:

I can feel for you, mom, since I heard how deep the pain is and how often death is welcoming. It puts one on edge daily waiting for that phone call. I wish the neuroscientists could stop this illness and figure out what works well. I am not even sure DBT works since it seemed to cause more problems in the one I knew. I like all the cue cards and methods, but perhaps the pain runs so deep, it seems like a game to the one suffering. I am just not sure what works since I saw approaches used and tried, but the one I know still suffers. How does one convince a BPD that they are truly cared for, regardless of their illness? Am I wrong to think that a BPD does not feel empathy, love or compassion for others? Maybe we are all just objectified and seem like pawn pieces. Perhaps, they only feel for themselves in what we do to them and we never will reach them.

January 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm
(49) Barbara says:

Hello Kristalyn
Just want to thank you for this marvellously informative site! I “do” BPD both with a family member and professionally, since I am a newly graduated psychologist. Your focus is both adequate for a lay person as well as elaborative for the academic. I find it fascinating how being on the receiving end of BPD behavior and walking on eggshells with a family member – is constantly verifiable in the text books. It is a crazy, crazy, unfortunate condition and yes! one that requires compassion – both for the sufferer and all parties who “collide” with one. Knowledge is perhaps the most viable option to handling the condition successfully!

January 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm
(50) angel says:

So, who knows what to do if the person doesn’t accept your valadiating messages? What if the person blames you, but can’t communicate their needs or what is wrong? I have been in a situation where I am not even sure what is wrong, or what I did. Obviously, I must have done something wrong or I would not be presented with messages that I am not truthful to my feelings and I should go get help or DBT. Superority and haughtiness were displayed towards me. However, I have had lots of counseling and was never considered a BPD. It seems very confusing as the receiver especially when you are trying your best to validate, understand and find harmony, but the BPD doesn’t want to engage in a successful way even after receiving treatment from DBT and psychologists. I begin to wonder what is next? If you ask the person what is wrong and that person won’t discuss it, what does one do? It seems like there are no shades of gray, just black and white and that’s it. How do you get beyond the black and white thinking? Rationality does not seem to work, it was viewed as excuses or a way out of something. I suggested possible things that might have been upsetting, but all we negated. How do you get to the core of what is wrong? Kreger you seem to know, what do you say? I think asking presents a turn off too to the BPD. Angel

January 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(51) codess says:

I’d just like to say that not all BPD sufferers exhibit these rage/anger symptoms and for those of us who don’t it is so incredibly hurtful to be so pointedly stigmatised by one possible symptom associated with diagnosis. As far as I am aware to warrant the BPD diagnosis a sufferer must exhibit a minimum of nine of the possible catagories of symptoms and each catagory possesses sub-types. BPD diagnosis is in essence and umberella diagnosis for a cluster of symptoms . What I do want to say is that each individual has there own BPD, mine is very different to BPD friends I have, However to read sterotyped negativity about ‘BPDs’ is stigmatising.
It is easy when we are hurt frustrated and tired, to forget or be trapped in our own feelings to stop and put ourselves in the shoes of another and to use our logic and rationality. A disply of turmoil is likely to be a reflection of inner turmoil. Rejection and anger are likely to come as a response to a perception of rejection and anger.

January 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm
(52) Chris says:

Unfortunately this disorder is misunderstood by most. Even Mental health professionals are sometime not able to show compassion for someone with BPD. It’s easy to overlook the fact that people with BPD often act out of their disorder without realizing what they are doing. I find it upsetting that people do not show compassion for what we are going through, especially when it involves Mental Health Professionals. There is no reason for someone trained in the field to drop patients or react negatively towards a BPD patient. People with BPD need other’s to understand the illness, especially professionals.

January 5, 2011 at 11:36 am
(53) cathy says:

Ya, I don’t understand why my sister’s psychologist decided that she should discontinue services. It made no sense to me. I thought they were trained to deal with all sorts of things. I know my sister felt bad for losing her temper and acting inappropriately, but I don’t understand why my sister can’t go back and say she is sorry.

From my own personal history with my sister, she has said sorry many times over. Maybe, the psychologist experienced that and the sorries wore off or the psy. has a set idea about that. I really don’t know.

I do love my sister. She has shared with me in many ways and is sweet. I guess when she doesn’t think I love her, she wants to get back in some way before I abandon her. It’s really hard to know since I have been there always for her many years. She knows that and has even said that. However, whatever sets her off, she doesn’t see that at that time. I have told her I love her at those times, it didn’t matter. It appears her emotion takes over her mind. If I suggest what is bothering her, it’s all rejected. I just wait and wait till the day comes when things are calm again.

Maybe, the best thing to do is just say nothing. Since asking questions or naming events or bringing up comments that may have triggered her response seem to do nothing, maybe being quiet is the best way. It seems she gets bent on pushing away at all cost. She wants to be mad. There seems to be a righteous about it all.

I read mindfulness helps. I know she learned that. I think if we all keep practicing being mindful and watching our thoughts and emotions, it can be helpful. Perhaps, the emotions are way too strong to control in some people. I have thought it is like an electrical charge that is strongly unavoidable.

I just hope she never does herself in as she has suggested many times over. I hold on to that thought and pray.

January 5, 2011 at 11:54 am
(54) kittie says:

I think if the next time comes up, I will ask if rejection or anger is the cause. I certainly didn’t feel rejecting or anger. But, I will state it in hope of keeping a loved one in my circle. Thanks.

January 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm
(55) Brenda says:

I appreciated your column about compassion. After six years of compassion, I ran out. By that time I totally hated my two adult BPD step children. I realized I could no longer continue the relationships because I just wanted to strangle them. I have lots of compassion for their father and for all the other people they hurt. I drew my boundary. I see my nice children. He deals with his kids. I went to a counselor to help me with the hate. I just had to get rid of it. Every day I wrote in a journal – “I forgive, I forgive, I forgive, etc.” I have lots of friends with other kinds of mental illness and I get along with them fine. They may be difficult but they have integrity. Being in relationship with borderlines is like signing up to be a crime victim over and over again. My compassion for myself and my partner is much greater than for the BPD’s who inadvertently entered my life. Now I help my partner but I keep myself out of harm’s way.

January 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm
(56) sue753 says:

Thank you for this article about compassion. I finally found out I had BPD, have read books on it to try and understand what was happening to me and the people around me and have tried my hardest to change my behaviour. I am currently seeking professional help for bpd. I have to say though that I often cry when reading some of the negative comments that come up about bpd people in general. I don’t feel that being on this newsletter is good for my recovery sometimes.

January 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm
(57) angel says:

I wish I could wash away all emotional pain for anyone. I read all these comments and I feel that it is okay no matter who you are and what you feel. I know most people really do love their loved ones and don’t wish any vengence or hurtful things. They do wish they could resolve things and be back together. Many of us forgive and do understand. We have lots of compassion, it’s evident to me. Why else would all these comments be posted. Many of us who feel for someone would love to have them back in our lives, regardless of their problem. I wish I could hug everyone and take the pain away. I think all of us will have to ask why someone is upset or feels hurt. I guess we should never stop asking until it resolves itself. It doesn’t hurt to just listen and not judge. Even if you are attacked, being still within and mindful is the best option. Perhaps, the best option for all of us is to go with our loved one to some counseling sessions and show compassion. Maybe, we too need to learn not to react to emotional comments. If we can do that, we might get to be with the ones we love who are very pleasant also. Afterall, we all have love inside and need loving…

January 5, 2011 at 10:08 pm
(58) joey says:

My girlfriend told me she has this problem. I decided to ask for help. She is a great mate, may I add. I love her. Most of the time we get along just fine. Sometimes, there is a glitch. I had to learn to not put my two cents in when she is upset. I let her say what she has to say or act out in anger. In a day or so, I found it stopped. I don’t ignore her, don’t get me wrong, I just treat her with respect. I listen when she seems angry. I agree to agree with her since she is my partner and I want her around. I wish she wouldn’t call me names and accuse me of things, but I figure if I want her as my lover and wife to be, I better keep quiet. It seems to work, maybe that’s what some of you should try. I learned it’s best to let her be in control, even if I disagree with her perceptions. It’s working so far.

January 6, 2011 at 9:06 pm
(59) cathy says:

Hey, codess, I agree with you. We all need to just stop and let things be. No blame, no gain needed, no ego, no hurt, & no hard feelings. Listen with Empathy, Agree and Respect to Disagree, if needed, but no need to say it. Sorry you feel typed casted. That’s not cool. Take care everyone and love.

January 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm
(60) Lyn says:

Well said..One of the best things my therapist ever told me was that I came across as a very arrogant, haughty b****. I had no clue. No wonder I have no friends!

January 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm
(61) Randi Kreger says:

To AJ:

I may have been misunderstood. WHen I said that family needs to be validated before they can validate, I did not mean that their BPD family member (FM) should do so, or they should wait for their BPD FM to do it.

What I meant (and didn’t make clear) is that the validation needs to come from SOMEWHERE, such as therapists, other family members, etc. Self-validation is where someone wants to get, but outside support is vital.

I also want to clarify that my original post did mention family members taking responsibility for their behavior. I didn’t go into it very much, but it is an important ingredient to having more compassion for both their BP FM and themselves.

January 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm
(62) Randi Kreger says:

Angel, you said, “Superority and haughtiness” were displayed toward you. When you sense this and validation doesn’t work, it may be that the person has traits of narcissistic personality disorder. You can Google for more info.

Also, DBT doesn’t work for everyone: lots of people drop out; it just doesn’t work for others. This fact isn’t well publicized.

January 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm
(63) Randi Kreger says:

Joey, you said that your girlfriend:

“Calls me names and accuses me of things, but I figure if I want her as my lover and wife to be, I better keep quiet….I learned it’s best to let her be in control, even if I disagree with her perceptions. It’s working so far.”

I think the operative words here are “so far.” I am sure you love her and she loves you. I believe everything good you have to say about the relationship. But you are not married yet, and people tell me that after marriage, or after having children, that things get worse.

Also, for now it may be working to let her be in control and not talk when you disagree with her. In the long term, this strategy comes with a great deal of danger. You may lose yourself and any sense of who you are.

You have a great handle on a lot of techniques, like not personalizing her behavior. That’s great! But please continue to monitor how you feel, because that may change, and one day you may decide you don’t want to be called names any more or be accused of things you didn’t do. You’ll need more techniques to deal with this.

January 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm
(64) Lisa M says:

I am woman of retirement age and I have a sister who is a little younger. In the last few years, we have come to understand that our father is a lifetime BPD sufferer. He is a man a who has always wanted to do good things in the world and whose best impulses are kind and generous.We have always known this and so we have not abandoned him. However, that’s where the good news ends. For all our lives, not only has he displayed all the massive, relentless BPD problems, he has never had the slightest ability to understand that those problems are his and not everyone else’s. I believe this inability to perceive his own problem is known as agnosia. Such a person can never seek help because they don’t see the need for it (it’s everyone else who needs it). For decades, the family knew there was something wrong (although had no name for it) and tried on numerous occasions to get help from the medical profession, but were flatly and condescendingly refused.
I applaud those BPD sufferers who seek help and who recognize the damage they will inflict if they don’t change. I would like to know what can be done for the families of those BPD individuals who will never seek help. Those families are the true, life sentence victims.

January 10, 2011 at 6:00 am
(65) Tejan says:

I just lost a most dear person in my life several days ago. She took her own life. She was a BPD sufferer. Laid to rest on the day she was born, 8 January. 26 years old.

I failed her by not finding out enough about her disorder. I always told her she was over-reacting, always thought she was being melodramatic as a few hours after she’d write to me in anguish, she’d seem fine..
May her soul rest in peace..

Please let me know what I can do to help others like her.. Any BPD sufferer on here who is looking for a friend, someone to talk to, to understand, feel free to write me on pillaytt@eskom.co.za. I’ll do my best to help in whatever way possible..

January 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm
(66) Randi Kreger says:

I was inspired by this blog to address these questions in my own blog, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stop-walking-eggshells. It was a combination of this discussion and the one from the New York Times blog post by Tara-Parker Pope (there is a link).

January 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm
(67) Peggy says:

I have not specifically seen the “hateful” comments that “Nons” have left regarding their BPD loved ones. However, I do understand the anger, grief, frustration, hurt and overall emotional devastation and demolition that BPD sufferers inflict on their loved ones. I only had a one year experience with a boyfriend with BPD and it is one of the worst experiences of my life. Yes, I was kind, loving, compassionate, and understanding. Eventually (I googled ‘intense rage’ as I have never seen this level of anger before and finally the fog lifted and I had the ‘AHA’ moment).

The worst for me has been the lying…lying to me, and lying about me. Blaming me for everything. Taking no personal responsibility. Saying extremely unkind and hurtful things.

I can totally understand the frustration and expressiveness of “Nons” who have suffered greatly…verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse. I believe they need a place to vent.

January 10, 2011 at 4:06 pm
(68) Cheri says:

Thanks for everyone’s posts, it is so nice to read through comments on a blog about BPD and NOT encounter hate and vitriol…

About a year ago there was an article in the NY Times that received TONS of hateful comments. It hurt so badly to read through all hateful comments left by so called ‘loved ones’.

It is my belief that those leaving the hateful comments suffer from some axis 2 (personality) issues themselves and are in denial about it. Anyone who would say such hurtful things about people that they don’t even know (i.e. generalizing their ‘loved ones’ traits to an entire population of sufferers) is just not right.

There are 256 variations of BPD – which means that not all people affected are the same…

Randi – you are right, there isn’t enough support for family members, as a social worker I know this and see this constantly, there is also a severe lack of resources for those affected too.

The best we can do is bring awareness so that more resources become available and to fight against the hate and misunderstanding that some individuals try to perpetuate. Hate, no matter who or where it’s coming from, is not helpful.

Thanks everyone for your great comments!


January 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm
(69) Missy M says:

I’m not just angry with my ex husband who was diagnosed with BPD to me (and not to him). I am angry with myself also. This experience with BPD has made me take a deep, sometimes painful look at myself. After the divorce I lost my insurance so I lost therapy when I need it the most.
I agree with Codess that not all BPD sufferers exhibit the rage/anger symptoms. Mine didn’t. He was more like a waif who ate me up due to my codependency issues.
There are some days that I would like to call him and rage about how I just had to validate, validate him until I moved from our home. My biggest anger is that he’s split me to bad and turned my stepson against me. Even knowing the Hell that BPD people live with I still feel that I am left with a big pile of pain and he’s off on his merry way. I understand/but don’t understand the therapist not telling him something about his disorder.
D H Fabian, I don’t know about avoiding all people with a BPD diagnosis and yet I know that I do not want to be in an intimate relationship with another person who exhibits BPD signs and symptoms. I honestly think it would kill me.

January 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm
(70) Kristie says:

I think this is an important discussion about an important issue, and I appreciate hearing what Kristalyn and Randi have to say as respected professional experts in the area of BPD. But even more I appreciate the discussion and comments by the people I consider the true ‘experts’ on this topic, persons with BPD and family members and friends of persons with BPD.

I found this blog through Randi’s own blog on Psychology Today. It is timely for me because I just recently posted my own blog last week on “Personality Disorders: To End or Not To End the Reign of Terror? That is the Question. . .” http://kristietalk.blogspot.com/2011/01/personality-disorders-to-end-or-not-end.html As a counselor who has worked with persons with BPD, wife to a man with BPD. . .as well as a variety of other personality disorder traits, and daughter-in-law to his mother with BPD, I find myself in the constant struggle to balance compassion with limit-setting and maintaining a safe emotional and physical place for me and our three 16 month old toddlers.

In my blog I write about the problem with expressing genuine feelings about experiencing the chaos that oftentimes occurs in BPD relationships because it is not ‘politically correct’ to say something negative about a person who has an illness, and a discussion with the person with BPD can be quite frustrating and dangerous on many levels. It is even more complicated when you are a professional counselor because your spouse may nastily complain that you are NOT his or her counselor or nastily complain that you should be more “understanding” (i.e. allow whatever negative behaviors he or she wishes to exhibit at the moment) because you ARE a counselor. And to say that it is easy to vacillate between anger and guilt and empathy and compassion and exhaustion and apathy is an understatement. Not only is it easy, but I maintain it is normal.

(Continued. . .)

January 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm
(71) Kristie says:

(. . .Continued)

Anger is one of the many emotions we experience when we are dealing with the up and down and back and forth and black and white of the BPD experience. How we express that anger is the issue. You can feel angry without reacting aggressively, and aggression being not just a physical behavior but also an emotional tone and verbal script. If we do not remain genuine to ourselves we can lose our hearts and our spirits. And, ultimately, we can lose the person we love with BPD. I firmly believe that some people end up stuffing their feelings because they feel they cannot express them with full-on empathy and compassion, and this can become toxic and poison the interactions as resentment builds and builds. It is certainly a precarious line to walk because you may very much want to be gentle and supportive while also take care to neither enable nor perpetuate the unpleasant behaviors.

I have experienced the range of severe behaviors one might experience when living with someone with BPD, and I experienced many of the worst while pregnant with triplets. Trying to stay alive in a world that doesn’t make sense at the times someone with BPD is having difficulties managing his or her behaviors can be a challenge, and there may be times that simply breathing seems to take more effort than you are able to expend. So ensuring that you filter all of what you say can be a crazy unreasonable expectation for even the most compassionate of peaceful love-muffins. I desire to be a person who thoughtfully responds rather than impulsively reacts, but the humanity in me allows me to have moments of ugly thoughts and accidental verbal vomiting.

(Continued. . .)

January 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm
(72) Kristie says:


January 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm
(73) Kristie says:

So do I sometimes feel so angry that I can’t imagine ever feeling compassion for the evil monster he can become? Yes. Do I still love my husband even after the unmentionable things I have experienced in the throes of his personality disorder rages? Yes. And one of the reasons I can still find love in my heart and go on after a particular grueling episode is because I have looked within myself and decided that I am not an infallible victim of BPD. What I am is a regular human-being with a full range of emotions who sometimes gets it right. . . .and sometimes doesn’t.


January 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm
(74) Kristie says:

So do I sometimes feel so angry that I can’t imagine ever feeling compassion for the evil monster he can become? Yes. Do I still love my husband even after the unmentionable things I have experienced in the throes of his personality disorder rages? Yes. And one of the reasons I can still find love in my heart and go on after a particular grueling episode is because I have looked within myself and decided that I am not an infallible victim of BPD. What I am is a regular human-being with a full range of emotions who sometimes gets it right. . . .and sometimes doesn’t.

January 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm
(75) Kristie says:

Whoops. Sorry for the duplicate post on the last part of my comment. :( I have been fighting with my browser all afternoon and evening.

January 11, 2011 at 8:31 am
(76) Randi Kreger says:

Thanks for your comment, Kristy. Lots of good points. I will be getting back to you re: your email

January 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(77) Jenealle says:

I think that people with bpd should not get a pass.I have shown compassion but when do I get compassion and when do I get treated with respect??? I believe they have a disorder but they need to get help an not recive a pass to be rude an mean…

January 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm
(78) anon says:

My mother has behavioral symptoms, etc. of NPD and some of BPD. I’ve been the scapegoat (my brother’s the golden child) and I’ve been the target of smear campaigns she’s gone on with other relatives. I’ve tried using “I feel” language to let her know how her actions affect me. She refused to accept or respect any boundaries, so when she went No Contact with me during the last campaign a year and a half ago, I didn’t resume contact with her. I have encouraged relatives not to take sides and to continue the relationship with her, my brother & sister-in-law (collateral damage from her smear campaign). Given I’ve lost the only decent relationship with a living member of my family of origin (my brother) and I’ve never met my niece because of her smear tactics, I think I’m being pretty kind and compassionate. I don’t wish her ill, I forgive her. But I’m angry about the carnage she’s wrought on our family and her scorch and salt the earth policy to anyone who dares not to be her puppet. Not to mention all the damage years of rage and being told everything was my fault have done to me.

That said, I wouldn’t express some of the more intense feelings about this in a forum specifically geared for PDed people, out of respect for the space. But when it comes to general forums, such as a news story, I have the right to express the feelings my experience has given me. If a person with a PD has a hard time reading that, then maybe they need to either stop reading it or take a break. I participated in a The New York Times discussion titled, “When the Ties that Bind Unravel”. Some of the posters there were harsh on those of us who chose to go NC with our parents. It wasn’t their responsibility to keep me safe, it was mine. There were a few times when it was hard to read the comments, so I took a break.

January 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(79) Jayne says:

Get a pass? Living with BPD is hell, everyone else seems to understand why things are the way they are and it’s like we’re banging on the glass screaming “this does’nt make any f’n sense!” and no one can hear us. Complaining about how we’ve hurt you so we feel bad is nothing compared to how much we beat ourselves up inside every freaking day. Why don’t you just be thankful you don’t have it and if someone close to you does and you blame them for hurting you why don’t you just find the door cause you’re not helping anyone.

January 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm
(80) Roomie 67767 says:

Jayne, I have to disagree with you and say that nothing is as bad as being the helpless, voiceless child of an emotionally dysregulated, cognitively distorted, irrationally angry, impulsive, suicidal, punitive, negligent, sadistic mother with personality disorder. Its like growing up in hell, and there is no escape. Small children believe that they deserve the abuse they’re receiving, and when they try to tell someone, often the enmeshed, enabling non-pd parent, they are either disbelieved or actively told to just put up with it. I feel like I grew up in a concentration camp, and ended up severely trauma-bonded to my mother well into adulthood. The entire first half of my life thus far was totally negatively impacted by this. I have gradually come to realize that I did not deserve to be mistreated, and I’m angry that nobody who saw my pain felt compassion for me or got me out of there. Adult survivors of child abuse need to express their anger, its part of the healing process. And I totally agree with Randi K’s posts that we adult survivors of child abuse by bpd parents need forums where our voices can be heard and have our pain and righteous anger validated.

January 11, 2011 at 9:53 pm
(81) Linda Lyons-Bailey says:

I think it’s very important to hear from KO’s in a public forum. On one private forum I belong to a recent topic was, “Why doesn’t anybody believe us?”

Person after person wrote in with stories of how they tried to get help as children in the homes of BP parents only not to be believed. Or how a BPD started a vicious smear campaign against them and friends and relatives broke off relations to side with the BP. Worst of all were the stories from people who grew up struggling in daily parental abuse, only to have relatives tell them years later, “We knew something was wrong with your mother. We felt so sorry about what was going on.” But nobody told the child when it would have done the most good. Nobody intervened. Nobody helped.

January 11, 2011 at 9:54 pm
(82) Linda Lyons-Bailey says:

We really need to start getting it, people. Society as a whole doesn’t understand this kind of mental illness (does it understand any kind?), and it’s desperately important that we start waking up.

If nobody writes about living with this kind of behavior, if nobody shares the feelings and the problems, if nobody confirms that it’s real, how are things ever going to get better?

Now, having said that: I understand that the BP in my life has a mental illness. I have read enough and understand enough and healed enough so that I can write with detachment. It would be nice if every KO of a BP could.

January 11, 2011 at 9:55 pm
(83) Linda Lyons-Bailey says:

But when you’re in the process of figuring out what the … has happened to yourself and your life, struggling with contact with someone whose behavior is all over the map, and trying to figure out what to do with your marriage, your children, or an elderly parent who just isn’t rational and whom you can’t have a workable conversation with, it’s tough. It’s really, really tough. Emotions run high. People are going to get online and vent.

I’m sorry if BP’s who are self-aware enough to know they have a disorder and are getting help see this and feel worse. It’s unfortunate. But the problems and the feelings are real and in some way such postings may help those whose lives this disease has never touched to understand–which they must if society is ever to get any more enlightened at recognizing these problems and getting people, especially minor children, help.

I think castigating people who are struggling in their relationships with BP’s and talking about it openly is overall counterproductive.

January 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm
(84) Jayne says:

Seriously what part of Have Compassion do you not understand. It’s not called How did your BPD mom screw you up?. At least you can accept what happened, get help and move on…those of us with BPD don’t have that choice. Sure I read your comments and think Jesus grow up and get over it but the point is I should’nt have to wade through your complaints to find something helpful..not on this blog anyway. Bringing up all the garbage a BPD person has done to you on a blog will not make that person think about how they wronged you..EVER!

January 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm
(85) bpd says:

I think it is important to acknowledge that BPD family members suffer too, and their suffering is very real– invalidating that pain doesn’t help either.

I actually feel like most of the comments on this post, from nons and people with BPD, have been very well done. I don’t think compassion means that no one should express any of the hurt that a BPD family member has caused them, but rather that the hurt be expressed without hateful slurs and generalizations against people with BPD. In fact, I think that making people aware of the effect their actions have on others IS compassionate. (Heck, this is half of my job as a therapist). If this is done in an honest and kind way, it can be a learning tool. If it is done without compassion, it just causes the other person to shut down and stop listening.

January 12, 2011 at 11:02 am
(86) WTH says:

When alcoholics enter AA, one of the steps required of them is going to the people they have hurt and asking for forgiveness, and being accountable for their actions.

Family members of people with Borderline Personality Disorder, in contrast, often never are allowed to express their own hurt, and are expected to take on a caretaking role. The definition of family ought to be a place where everyone can express their feelings, as long as they respect others. The problem with BPD people inside the family environment, is that their needs take over everyone else’s. And people with BPD often do not aknowledge their damaging and abusive actions. In psychologically evaluative settings, such as counseling sessions, BPDs act differently than the reality that family members see; BPD people are by definition master manipulators.

When family members of alcoholics show compassion, it is called enabling. When family members of BPD people ask that the BP person be held accountable for their harmful and abusive actions, we are told to be more accountable… this doesn’t make much sense. In essence, this article seems to be telling us to enable further the destructive behavior of BPD people, at the cost of our own development and happiness. It is really sad how the psychology profession seems to prefer the caretaking of unhealthy BPDs over the healthiness of family members. Remember that the expression of anger on the part of family members is also an expression of hurt.

Who holds BPD people accountable for their actions? Articles such as these enable the destructive behavior of BPD people, and ask that family members enable that abuse and destruction. I wish psychologists could use their efforts to create more mental health, instead of reinforcing and supporting the abusive people.

January 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(87) Jayne says:

No one is saying that family members don’t suffer. Agian not everyone with BPD is a “master manipulator”. There seem to be a lot of family members on here who have been so devestated in dealing with BPD their resentment spills over onto every post they write. First off no one with BPD wants it. If when dealing with someone with BPD you’ve been “burned” so many time perhaps your expections are unrealistic. A lot of us do the best when can, we don’t sit back and laugh at our families. To add to the AA coments insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So if your in an unhappy relationship with a BPD you are either trying too hard or too little. Most of the complainers on here don’t seem like really happy people themselves so maybe that’s what they should focus on…themselves, cause no you don’t get a big gold star for dealing with us.

January 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm
(88) Roomie 67767 says:

Since this is a public forum open to both those with bpd and non-bpds who have a person with bpd in their life, I have as much right here to express my pain and suffering and the resulting anger over my abuse as you have the right to express yourself regarding your personality disorder.
I am just speaking from my own experience, which is that I suffered greatly and received permanent psychological and physical injuries from having been raised by an (at the time) undiagnosed and untreated bpd/npd mother, and an enabling, enmeshed dad. The abuse I endured resulted in severe trauma-bonding for me (like “Stockholm Syndrome”) up until I was in my mid-30′s, as well as other psychological damage. I slowly began to recover and I’m more mentally healthy now than I was as a young adult. But the trauma and resulting damage negatively impacted my life-course dramatically.
My anger is being focused productively on supporting public service groups that increase public awareness about child abuse. According to statistics I’ve read, most severe and chronic child abuse is perpetrated by mentally ill parents (including those with bpd) and alcoholic/substance abusing parents. That’s why its important to publicly post about our abuse at the hands of our bpd parents, the pain and suffering we endured, and the anger that generates in us. My hope is that more public awareness will help save children currently being abused by their bpd mother or father.

January 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm
(89) Jayne says:

Of course you “have a right” to post whatever you want. Is this the blog for it? No. If you want to help other family members of persons with BPD why don’t you start your own blog and title it something appropriate. As someone with BPD I’ve visted hundreads of sites about it and they are filled with comments from family members who have been hurt. I thought this one might discuss something more positive but well I guess it’s just as depressing as the rest of them.

January 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm
(90) betty says:

I am one of the lucky BPD sufferers that is aware I have it.
I think that NonBPs always need to keep in mind, that our thought processes are completely different from yours that it is like a Chinese man and an english woman falling in love with each other and not understanding a word of each others languages.
The NonBps should be learning about what motivates our behaviour, not focussing on the behaviour itself. And the BPDs need to learn what motivates their own behaviour and how it diverges from normal behaviour.
The BPDs need to do a lot of work to find out why their behaviour differs
As a BPD sufferer I find it very hard to investigate how I can change myself because when you google BPD, the majority of posts are hateful comments about us. I think ‘Walking on Eggshells’ was a wonderful book to discover the impact I’ve had on the people around me. It did it in a very sympathetic way that did not label me as a ‘Monster’
in every second sentence. I think NonBPs should use it as a guide to how they post comments.
I understand that the NonBPs deserve and have in most cases truly earnt the right to vent. I still think that as you are the people absent of a mental illness you should try and place yourself in a BPDs shoes before submiting the post. Or stick to forums where it should have clear warnings that People with BPD should not hang around because we may be triggered.

January 13, 2011 at 2:09 am
(91) Friend says:

#66 Tejan
I cry for you sincerely… OMG! I do understand since my friend would speak of this. It is my fear. Even if the people who love others are hurt, we still don’t want harm to occur. We do listen and we do care, we feel overly responsible for all we do. We feel to the hilt, so if you think we don’t you are very wrong. We feel for you whether you are a BPD/ NPD or whatever… We just feel. I have to say I have grief over failing, I understand you Tejan. We don’t want anyone to feel lonely, sad, empty, heart broken… We have our past abuses too, very similar to a BPD, but we don’t react the same. I am not sure why. All I know is we feel, no gain in blaming… It’s not black and white, it is shades of gray for all, unite, not divide. Be ONE. I know one can feel in a dark place when the real grief you need to feel is still uncovered. Once that is seen and not feared, at first it is scary, but all will be bright in the end. Hope goes a long way.

January 13, 2011 at 9:15 am
(92) Jayne says:

So I took my own advice and set up a blog just for those with BPD. It is designed for those with BPD to be able to talk about whats going on in their life without getting negative feedback from family and friends of a BPD. Its on blogger and is titled

BPD. Doing the best we can.

January 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm
(93) Kristie says:

I think it is great Jayne has created an safe place for herself, and I can certainly have empathy for her and Betty and for others who may be posting or reading and have BPD, but I do not agree that non-BPDs should have to filter what they say to accommodate your illness. As far as I am concerned, non-BPDs are just like any other group of people. There are people who are kind and thoughtful, some people who are mean and thoughtless, some people who are hurt, some people who are at peace, some people who are angry and will shout to the world, and some people who either quietly stuff their feelings inside or have found some acceptance and live without being drawn into the chaos. All of these types of people read this blog, and they are entitled to a voice just as BPDs are. This is not a support group for BPD members only so to request some sort of ‘warning’ label or post a disclaimer so that people with BPD may not be triggered is an interesting idea, but since some BPD people may be coming through here with distorted thinking so that sort of information may actually trigger them before they even read a word. And to ask non-BPDs to filter what they may post in attempts to avoid any BPD crisis is just another set-up for failure that many non-BPDs experience on a daily basis int their lives. Having to carefully craft every benign sentence that comes out your mouth can be quite exhausting, and sometimes everyone just has to put on their big-girl panties and allow others the same foibles that they experience with you.

January 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm
(94) Sarah says:

Isn’t it amazing that someone who has BPD (Jayne) has somehow managed to blame the non for being in an unsuccessful relationship with a BPD sufferer?

January 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm
(95) Matt says:

I’m pretty sure Jaynes point was the article above the blog was called Have Compassion. I could be wrong. I have a BPD in my life and yes sometimes it’s hard but so is loving anyone with a disability. They analyze everything and feel hurt even when not intended. That last few comments almost seem like shaming to me, I really hope that was not the intent. BPD people need out support and help. Many of the people on here do seem to really care about their loved ones.

January 13, 2011 at 11:40 pm
(96) Kristie says:

I just wanted to clarify something I wrote after I read the way it posted. When I said “allow others the same foibles they experience with ‘you’” I meant yourselves or ourselves. We all should be as giving and forgiving as we hope others to be with us.

I apologize if my statement was unclear and came across as unkind toward anyone. That was not my thought as I was typing.

January 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm
(97) Sarah says:

@Matt – I think both sides should be compassionate. I also think that people with BPD should also understand that THEY are not the only ones who suffer at the hands of this disorder. Some people on here have been physically, verbally, and emotionally abused and to automatically expect them to be compassionate to the person who has done this to them is a little unrealistic.

People are human. To expect someone to be beat down either physically and/or emotionally and then have immediate compassion is expecting them to be superhuman.

People who suffer at the hands of BPD (both the one with the disorder and those in their lives) need our support and help…..BOTH SIDES.

January 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm
(98) Roomie 66767 says:

I think one of the points that can get lost in discussion like we are having here is that the power dynamics are completely different when one is speaking of an unchosen relationship vs a chosen relationship. An infant and minor child has no choice regarding whether their primary care-giver is mentally healthy or not. I hope that more public awareness of the very real, long-term psychological and physical injuries that can happen to a child when a mother or primary caregiver has: cognitive distortion, high impulsivity, recurrent suicidal behaviors, intense, erratic mood swings including constant irritability or extreme and inappropriate anger, and transient stress-related breaks with reality, delusions and paranoia… in other words, borderline pd. That combination of behaviors and traits, untreated, virtually guarantees that the child will receive emotional and/or physical injury or neglect.
Randi Kreger has pointed out at her “Welcome To Oz” boards that high-functioning borderline pd is virtually invisible to the psychiatric community and therefor invisible to the statistic-estimators. I want more public awareness of bpd, especially because the effect that the behaviors of bpd have on their children. There needs to be more early detection and treatment for those with personality disorders so future generations can escape the cycle of damaged parents damaging their own kids.

January 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm
(99) WTH says:

Instead of focusing on the emotions of family members, let’s focus on the underlying family dynamics that are causing the problems. Children of BPD people are marginalized enough in this society! Someone needs to have compassion for the incredible suffering going on inside the families of people with BPD. Psychology cannot just look at the mentally ill person in isolation. Because of their manipulation and triangulation behaviors, BPD people act within a system of people, by defintion. Their mentally ill behaviors happen in a group of people. All of the people in that group need to be recognized by the psychology profession.

If anyone knows of any services provided by psychology for family members of people with BPD, please post information. I have yet to hear about any organization or psychology professional that listens to and aknowledges the pain of family members affected by people with BPD. The problem with the entire profession of psychology, is that mental illnesses are viewed in isolation, as the problem of individuals, and family members are expected to be like nurses or doctors, professionals in the background. Family members have needs as well.

In terms of the services offered family members of alcoholics or drug addicts, there are services and public aknowledgement of the pain suffered by children, spouses, and other blood relatives. We as a society are very ignorant of the realities lived by people who have to deal with BPDs all the time, and have no choice. When a person is related by blood to a BPD, there is no choice but anger, because the BPD uses their relationship to inflict hurt, and there are few support services for family members.

Emotions are not the problem; mental illness is the problem. For the BPDs on here, please note, I am not attacking you personally, I am pointing out there is a problem. I know you suffer from BPD as well.

January 14, 2011 at 11:04 pm
(100) Matt says:

Sarah, I realize where you’re coming from, I really do. I think the important thing is to treat everyone with respect, no matter what they’ve been through. BPD can act arouse relationships with people that are inaprop. close or hostile, so many are in abuse relationships themselves but stay rather than be alone, cause being alone is more frightening. My wife went through that. I just can’t bring myself to argue with a BPD on a blog and definitly not one who’s trying and reaching out.

January 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm
(101) Roomie 67767 says:

Quoting WTH:

“The problem…is that mental illnesses are viewed in isolation, as the problem of individuals, and family members are expected to be like nurses or doctors, professionals in the background. Family members have needs as well.”

I think WTH makes some *very* crucial observations and points in his/her post:

Truly, alcohol and drug abuse behaviors are similar to bpd behaviors: cognitive distortion, the lack of emotional regulation, rapid mood swings, projecting and blaming, inability to take responsibility for their own behaviors, inappropriate extreme rages/constant irritability, suicidal/self-harming behaviors, lack of impulse control, transient delusions and paranoia… all of these traits/behaviors result all too often in emotional abuse, violence against, and neglect of the children (and spouses.)

The public and the psychiatric community are aware that the children and spouses of alcoholics/drug abusers are in great distress and even danger, and services are available for their benefit.

We need the same awareness and the same resources to be made available for the children and spouses of those with Cluster B personality disorders. Treating the bpd individual separately is important, but their disorder can negatively impact the entire family, most especially the children and should also be addressed and treated as a family issue as well.

And where there is chronic emotional abuse, physical abuse or neglect, the children’s needs should take priority: children need to be rescued from chronic or severe mistreatment.

January 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm
(102) Kassidy says:

Thank you- I am a 26 year old woman who is battleing with BPD and it really tares me up sometimes. I can’t handle my emotional rollar-coaster and feel horrible for anyone who has to be around me, it is a work in progress but like most mental disorders it takes time. Theres no “magic” pill for BPD and I don’t think “normal” people realize quite what we go through on a daily basis. And I just wanted to say thank you for stepping up and sharing our side to the world.

January 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm
(103) DMS says:

I have been married for 17 years to a man who only recently was “finally” diagnosed with a “personality disorder”. Yes, there have been many good times, however, the bad, even when they are now becoming less frequent, devastate me. However, not until we got in front of a psychiatrist an MD, did I feel like I wasn’t alone. No one saw what I saw. The destructive nature of this behavior is impossible to describe – it is masked from nearly everyone but those closest to the BPD individual. It comes out of the blue, it takes all my strength to live through his “episodes”. He has impacted our marriage in ways he will never fully understand, and hurt our daughter in ways he cannot and will not comprehend. He grew up with a father that likely has the disorder and a mother who denied, manipulated and controlled all of it, which created even more issues for my husband. Only recently, now in his 40′s is he beginning to get it and see the impact they and he are having on the rest of us. Compassion, yes, but it is very difficult and while I am strong, I feel myself slipping into depression and hopelessness when after 2 months of good, he flips, wiping out all the good times, a roller coaster. I brace myself waiting for the shoe to drop. My daughter sees it, I do my best to help us both deal with it. I won’t leave her alone with him – so divorce is not an option. I love the good man in him – I am hopeful each day it can sustain us.

January 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm
(104) WTH says:

In the article, the author writes that she receives emails from people who have been hurt by BP disorded people. The author finds these emails too angry.

Let me ask you this: If those same emails came from someone who was raised by/loved by/related to a drug addict, would you have written this same article? Would you ask the child of a drug addict to show more compassion after they have consistenly been neglected, abused, used, and treated like an object without value?

I don’t understand why people can accept and understand the pain caused by a mentally ill person when they do a horrific act of violence, such as the Arizona shooting. However, for those of us who live with someone comparably mentally ill on a daily basis, we are asked to have compassion. I don’t understand this, it seems like hypocrisy to me.

Let me ask the author, would you have written this article asking the family of the Arizona shooter to have more compassion? Do you think compassion on the part of the family of the Arizona shooter would have prevented the events that happened? Clearly there need to be more services to address mental illness and those affected by it.

January 19, 2011 at 11:07 am
(105) Bon Dobbs says:

Kudos to you! I feel that compassion is the key to understanding and to making the relationship work. I heard something on the radio the other day that said something like: if in a meeting a person stands clutching their chest, we would run to help. But if the same person stands and begins acting yelling, we call them crazy and avoid them. If BPD is a mental illness (which I believe it is) those people deserve our support and compassion. People with BPD have to suffer the consequences of their actions just like everyone else. Yet, if the source of their motivation can be healed, I believe the behavior can be improved.

Bon Dobbs

January 19, 2011 at 11:39 am
(106) anon says:


The key difference is the person having the heart attack is unlikely to hurt you, either physically or emotionally. As the daughter of a likely NPD/possibly BPD mother, I experienced regular emotional abuse, including berating, scapegoating and raging. As well as occasional physical abuse (shoving, punching, hair pulling, etc.). The physical abuse happened when I tried to say the things she was saying weren’t true. That I was stupid, ugly, lazy, etc. I learned it was best to appease her and not argue. Because I wasn’t allowed to speak back and this all started at a young age (I was told I had the “wrong” hair/eye color before I even started kindergarten) I internalized much of what she said. I am still working through what’s “her voice” & what’s mine when it comes to the old inner critic. I have trouble with anxiety, hypervigilance and insomnia even now, even though I haven’t lived with her in over 2 decades. Fortunately, health insurance covers most of my therapy costs, but I’m still paying out a substantial amount of money in co-pays to repair the damage she did. And I was lucky enough to find a good therapist a couple of years ago and have health insurance to pay for it. What about the children abused by PDed parents who aren’t so lucky?

I forgive her, but she wouldn’t respect any boundaries I tried to set so I had no choice but to go No Contact. I don’t wish her ill, but I want nothing to do with her, because her continued emotional abuse brings back all of the old fears, etc. You can’t heal properly when someone keeps ripping the scab off prematurely.

I do agree that there needs to be more awareness of personality disorders as well as help for those who suffer. But I think it’s unrealistic to expect people who’ve been abused by the PDed to not have anger and to have compassion for their abusers.

January 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(107) KO? says:

I am sorry, guys, I read all these and don’t know what is a KO. However, these are highly enlightening to me since I was told over and over again that I deserved the abuse from all family members. Being the runt, I learned to survive in my mind. Of all the things in my life, this site an Randi’s has validated me. I don’t have BPD, NPD, or MPD, thank God! My therapists all said they don’t know how I did it without any disorder of that type. I could have been a MPD, but I don’t have it. I did have anxiety, run, run, run… but I made myself face my fears over and over again. I knew I had to have a profession where I could give back in some way to get out of my fears or I would end up on the streets. I am happy to say with forgiveness, love, empathy and a will to survive in a more healthy way made my life rock. I am unsure why some of us survive with a stronger spirit inside than others. I was do know I was born with enriching LIGHT experiences at a young age and continued. So, I know that is my source of strength and if I could give it to everyone I would!!! May we all come to know the LIGHT that shines in everyone!!!!

January 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm
(108) Roomie 67767 says:

I think that its *behaviors* that need to be addressed, to get away from labeling an entire group of people. Bpd behaviors manifest differently in different bpd individuals.

Some with bpd are only mildly affected by the disorder and have greater control over their acting-out behaviors.

However, some are more severely affected by bpd, have little control over their acting-out behaviors, and are too impulsive, too emotionally dysregulated, have too much cognitive distortion, are too quickly triggered into rage, too easily stressed into paranoid and delusional thinking, too easily triggered into suicidal thoughts and acts… to be even remotely able to handle child-care responsibilities.

If a child is left in the care of a highly impulsive, chronically irritable, easily enraged, frequently detached from reality, physically and/or emotionally abusive parent and suffered two decades of abuse, then that adult child of a bpd parent has every right to be angry about it. The emotional damage inflicted on such a child is devastating. The children of bpds are left with deep emotional scars, such as ptsd, anxiety, depression, neurosis, and more, depending on the frequency and intensity of the abuse and when it started.

The public understands that the children of alcoholics and the children of drug abusers are at high risk for emotional damage; the public needs to know that the children of many with undiagnosed, untreated Cluster B personality disorders are in the same danger.

Here is an example of what being screamed at by my bpd/npd mother sounded like, but her rages would usually culminate in physical abuse. Note there is an enabling male in the video too, who allows the mom to act out and scream abuse at her son as though this kind of behavior is OK.

Imagine this level of rage directed at a 3-year old child. Welcome to *my* world:


January 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm
(109) Carol says:

Thank you for your comment about havng compassion. I am a Christian Counselor, Licensed Pastoral and Temperament Therapist and went to read up on these disorders you write about to learn how to better help my clients. Thank you for teaching me AND reminding me to remind family and friends to be showing compassion. A lot of these disorders originate due to a lack of validation and acceptance in these people’s lives to begin with. You brought up a very challenging perspective! Blessings.

January 23, 2011 at 10:55 am
(110) Kate says:

Reading some of these comments made me very sad. I have BPD, and have been trying to “fix” myself for 7 years now. I have had good periods and bad. I also suffer from depression and anxiety. It feels like a life sentence to a slow, empty hell right now. We are all individuals and will have different experiences with this disorder, but I liked what one person wrote, that there are something like 256 variations of BPD. So let’s all try and keep that in mind. I honestly believe that I am a kind and good person, and my family luckily tells me that everyday and they may not understand my emotional outbursts but they have supported me through them as best as they know how. Also, keep in mind that TREATMENT IS EXPENSIVE/TAKES TIME. Before you judge ALL people who have BPD, just think how it would feel to have this stigma on you, because at least some of us recognize we have it and are trying. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you have BPD and to live with the stigma.
And thank you Kristalyn for this blog it is always very informative and compassionate. I try to learn as much as I can about this disorder that I have in order to better myself and you help me with that, so thank you!!!

January 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm
(111) child of bpd mom says:

With the exception of only a few posters here, I have seen virtually no personal accountability and no remorse expressed by those who state that they have bpd, regarding the psychological injury they inflict on their children. For those pwbpd who have accepted personal accountability and expressed remorse, I think you should be given much compassion and emotional support, but you seem to be very rare.

Instead, in many of the posts by those with bpd I notice a peculiar habit of referring to their own negative behaviors in the third person, i.e. “I know that harm was done…” as though the pwbpd’s own abusive, acting-out behavior was like a drive-by shooting by unknown assailants.

I think that when a person with bpd can openly admit and *own* their negative behaviors, can express heart-felt remorse to those they have injured, show a sincere desire to change by seeking therapy and staying in therapy, and doing the hard work it takes to learn to regulate their own emotional reactions, including examining and reality-checking their cognitive distortions, then they definitely deserve compassion and support. That individual is actively trying to improve and normalize himself or herself.

I feel compelled to point out that those with bpd (and bpd apologists) can’t have it both ways: if a person with bpd states that s/he “can’t help herself” regarding acting-out when emotionally dysregulated, then she is too unstable, dysregulated and irresponsible to be raising children.

Parents *must* be capable of accepting responsibility for their own behaviors, choices, and judgments; their child’s safety and emotional health depend on it.

January 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(112) Mona says:

“Being in relationship with borderlines is like signing up to be a crime victim over and over again.” this was entered in someone else’s comments. I have been married for 38 years to man with BPD (diagnosed about 15 yrs ago). It’s like living with 2 people. The surface husband I see every day is smart, funny, loving. The secret person is currently having the 3rd affair since our marriage – that is, the 3rd one that I know about. He survived – if you can call it that – an incredibly toxic childhood and at age 67 still agonizes over self-esteem issues no matter how externally successful he appears. I hate the term “co-dependent” because it suggests that I am both supportive and enabling his behavior. He is truly damaged and I accept that will never change. For the sake of our 4 children and 10 grandchildren I am just hanging in there. I have considered leaving him, but at this stage in life (retired) it is not financially smart. The pain is incredible.

January 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm
(113) Want to be painted White says:

How does one get out of being painted black by someone in your social network? I assisted someone needing help with their mental health. Now, I am painted black and being left out of our group. I helped establish this group of good friends, how do we both fit in well? I don’t like being blackened by knowing someone. I like our friends too. It isn’t making feel great of late. Why should others exclude me and walk on eggshells due to this current outlook that isn’t a true portrait? I wish I never decided to be helpful or caregiving. I thought it would help, but now it seems that it just pushed me into a corner due to that person’s anger and…. Boundaries can cause problems sometimes… I guess I should have taking the insults and oncoming attacks and not said stop, please.

January 29, 2011 at 6:41 pm
(114) Rebecca Hurley Price says:

Thank you for your blog and opening the discussion. I am one of the family members hurt by BPD spouse, but I think he suffers more than I do. Thanks to Randi Krieger’s book that helped. Thanks to this site that brought me a great friendship with another woman going through similar pain.
Yes its tempting to write hateful things out of one’s pain. so tempting. yet forgiveness, even in the face of the crimes, is the only way go grow and go past the pain.
One thing though, if I had to live with the emotions my BPD x-spouse has, I don’t know that I would function as well as he has…I could have been much worse. I don’t know. but I forgive him and look forward to being friends with him in heaven. (Mona, I left the marriage after our son left home)
Thanks, Beck

January 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm
(115) nonbpd/nonnpd/learning says:

Kuddos to Kate!!! Awesome person for wanting to do all that you wrote. I am with you on that! It is difficult and you are doing your best. Hat’s off to you!!

Forgiveness, less cricitism, less judgements, not minimizing feelings, paying attention, supporting, caring, being accepting, less defensive, self-monitoring, providing security and decreasing anger, irritablity and shame our own part is needed for all. Wish I was an ace all the time too!

You are loved and you give love and that’s the most important message in life.

As, I say, it’s not what happens to us, it is how we react to it.

Reaching for a healthy inside of me and others!

January 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm
(116) Roomie 67767 says:

A.J. Mahari says: :
“I would say that people with BPD, who often cannot feel validated if even when being validated, are in no position often to validate their loved ones. … ”

I think this is a description of cognitive distortion, correct? The individual with bpd *cannot perceive* that another person is showing them love and acceptance due to emotional dysregulation or due to dissociating under stress?

Then I would have to say that the nine criteria used to diagnose bpd, in addition to the standard or general criteria used to diagnose personality disorder should *automatically disqualify* an individual exhibiting these traits and behaviors in chronic, intense and frequent ways, from child care responsibilities.

A child CAN’T protect himself or herself from a parent who is frequently and intensely emotionally dysregulated, has cognitively distorted thinking, is chronically irritable, is highly impulsive, sees the child as all-good or all-bad, is triggered into paranoia or delusional thinking under stress, exhibits suicidal thoughts or attempts, has uncontrollable rages that can progress to physical violence, etc. These behaviors ARE abusive and traumatizing when directed at a child by a parent on a frequent, intense or chronic basis. Its a virtual guarantee of emotional injury for a child in the care of such an individual 24-7.

I believe that those with bpd who are working hard in therapy should be given all the support and compassion and help they require, but at the same time I think that the children should be removed for their own safety and emotional health until the parent can demonstrate over time that he or she has sufficient control of their behaviors.

I am for showing compassion to the kids of those with bpd as well as to those with bpd.

February 8, 2011 at 12:51 am
(117) Annie says:

There is a site called BPDFamily.com, which is a forum where members can discuss various aspects of having a pwbpd in their life, in both chosen and unchosen relationships. In the section called “Coping With Parents, Relatives, or Inlaws with BPD” there is a Topic called “What Is The Worst Thing Your (parent with bpd) Ever Did/Said?”

The responses will make your skin crawl. Each post is more horrifying than the last. The physical, emotional and sexual abuse inflicted on the children of bpd moms and dads is just, in a word, unspeakable. Some of the incidents listed were committed against teen and adult children, who, bless their hearts, had turned to their bpd parent for help when they were in real and desperate need, only to receive a literal or figurative kick in the teeth.

There is post, after post, after post of this stuff that sounds like its out of a horror movie. It will break your heart to read it. These kids of bpd parents tried their damnedest to please their parents, tried to be good kids, tried to be their bpd parent’s rescuer… and all it got them was more abuse, or rejection or abandonment. Many of the incidents described are literally cases of criminal child abuse.

And in not one of these posts do these abused former children say ugly, hateful things about their bpd parent, even though one poster’s bpd mother told her as a child, “I hope you rot in Hell.” (which, along with more spiritual and emotional abuse, gave this now-adult child nightmares for years.)

The abused former kids who try for decades to elicit human empathy from their bpd parents, and try to show love and compassion to their bpd parent in the face of repeated ghastly abuse I believe far outnumber those who finally just can’t take it anymore and feel the need to vent their anguish, anger and deep pain.

I dare you to read that group of responses and then ask your topic question again.

February 10, 2011 at 7:42 am
(118) LKE says:

@Annie – I read that thread, and I read at BPD family often. It is terrible, but I also notice that there is no room in that folder for a child who has a BPD parent who has experienced healing. You will be shut out very quickly if you post that. It happened with me and my Mom. She got help when I was in my 20′s. Therapy and meds have turned her life around. I forgive her. I still feel the effects of what happened durng my childhood, but feel like I cannot post at BPD family because my POV is not respected. I almost never post.

Also, I notice that many people on that site are forced to self dx their family members. In reality, they really don’t know what is wrong with them. Could be BPD, could be NPD, could be that they are just abusive, self centered people. I do believe that such individuals exist. I think that the members are legitimately trying to do the best that they can with the information that they have.

I also feel that there is a ton of misinformation in that folder about BPD, which leads people to believe that it is untreatable (not true) and that everyone who has it is an evil, abusive person (also not true). I think that this is because it attracts people who have had very abusive situations, and that people who did have some sort of positive outcome would likely not be posting to the site.

Does this mean that I think the experiences of the members there are not real? Absolutely not. I think that they are and I think that the members suffered horribly and have every right to their feelings, and to be wherever they are at in their relationships with their family members.

I am all for venting, but I wonder when it crosses the line into a witch hunt, and when it becomes counter productive. Therapy is what helped me. Re hashing it again and again has not.

Just my experience.

February 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm
(119) Bob says:

I have been able to intellectually comprehend that the actions and behaviors of BPs are caused by their condition, not a malicious desire to hurt someone else. But that is exactly what happens to those that love them most. Yes, a lot of nons vent years and years of pent up anger. I almost feel that it is like I have been betrayed by my BPX, even when I decided to end the relationship. I told her what I thought was the cause of her unacceptable behavior, but the defenses went up and now I am demonized for wanting to help, hence feelings of betrayal.

The BPs stir emotions in us that no one but the non can understand. Are they always rational emotions? No. The difference in my BPX and me is that I can see the gray areas, accept her as a flawed but still valuable human being. I am now evil in her eyes and it hurts terribly. Like I said, feeling betrayed.

Yes, we nons are human and some of our frustration and pain will spill out in negative emotions – anger. Anger is not always rational.

I have a handle on that anger and I don’t let it turn into non-productive rants. I have been the target of those for too long to want to inflict it on others, even if it is anonymously.

February 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm
(120) LKE says:

I can totally relate to what you said. I have been so angry that I wished both of the BPDs in my life dead, especially my SIL. But it got to a point where it was turning me into an angry person, and that wasn’t good for me. I still don’t like the way she does or the way she treats the kids at times when she has visitation, but I don’t see her as a demon any more. I see her as a very, very damaged person and I actually have empathy for her because for her to behave the way she does, her inner world must be sheer hell.

That does not make what she does ok, and it does not give her the right to hurt my family or her kids. I am angry at the disorder, not her. I am angry at the people who abused and traumatized her so badly. The same with my mother. I hate BPD, not the people in my life who have it. Taking that step made life better for me.

February 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm
(121) Kara says:

Hi Kristalyn

I am so grateful to have found so much infomation on BPD. My sister has been living this hell for around 10 years. We are very close and it breaks my heart to watch her go through this, knowing i have absolutely no idea how awful it must be to feel so bad all the time.

I could never be angry at her for her sometimes terrible behaviour, she self harms quite regularly and can be very frustrating to deal with but i do it all the same. But i do get angry at the Mental Health System and Health System in general for their ignorant demeanour towards her. Though she does see counsellors and is on medication this doesnt seem to help much and i tend to think that the counsellors just DON’T get it.

She is sick and a victim and that is why she needs urgent medical attention at times. It is NOT just attention seeking as said but many emergency workers and nursing staff. Even a boss of a mental support network used those words, but a scream for help for. I am scared for my sister and feel deeply for all of those affected by BPD and their families i hope that more people can become better educated so we can help these people more affectively

February 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(122) K says:

I have been living with BPD for many years now. I had no idea what was wrong with me as originally they told me I was Bi-polar. My ex husband told me that depression was fake, and flushed my medication down the toilet. Before we married.
He did not want me to get medication, he refused to allow me to make any doctors appointments that he could not go to. To make sure that I wasn’t trying to get medication ‘behind his back.’
He got angry when I tried to have friends, and seemed happiest when I was stuck at home not talking to anyone in the world but maybe my family.


February 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm
(123) K says:

Yet I continued to have issues. I had severe postpartum depression which he told me, again, was fake and that I just needed to ‘suck it up’ and things ‘aren’t that bad’. It was nothing. I was just overreacting. Nothing was ever wrong or bad in the world and it was all just my stupid fault.

He didn’t care about anything I told him, or tried to relate to him, and I suffered in silence until I finally got out of there. Of course, everything is still, to him all MY fault, because he goes to church now and is this wonderful perfect person who could never have done anything wrong.

Not the screaming at me, not the ignoring me, not at the not allowing me to go for treatment because he’d yell and get physical at the suggestion. I was forced to be isolated yet expected to be just fine even though I so desperately needed help.

Now that I know what I have, I can reflect on everything that’s happened, and what results have been from my actions, even if I didn’t intend harm or heartbreak. I also am trying to understand what things aren’t just because I am the most disgusting, useless, unloveable, unwanted person on the entire face of the planet. That I didn’t have to take that kind of abuse that lead up to how I was back then getting worse to the point where I am NOW. The ending of my marriage (I left it, because I finally managed enough of a spine to realize that I could not live that way with him anymore.) was his fault, as much as it was mine. If not more his fault than mine, but I know that I am to blame for some things.

Like marrying him in the first place after he hit me one arm after he started a fight because I wanted to take a walk. Yes, a walk, yes, alone. Yes. I wanted some fresh air and time alone. Heaven forbid.

Perhaps, people need to realize that those with BPD who suffered past abuse, need to have the validation that those who abused them were wrong. Then, perhaps they could move forward just a tiny bit easier.

February 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm
(124) K says:

We, those who suffer from BPD, are not trying to make your lives miserable as we suffer in misery daily. We’re just, trying, somehow, often in the wrong ways to desperately find the help we need even though we often can’t but it into words and rationalities. We’re stuck in our heads, we’re unable to get out without some measure of help.

I’m in Therapy now, once a week for an hour, I have a blog in which I do my best to let out all my feelings so that I do not outwardly get into massive problems. So that I don’t rage, which happens to me maybe 2-5 times a year currently. I’m working at it, it’s not a fast process, but I’d like some compassion in the mean time. Because I AM trying. I’m on medication to help with the depression, medication to help with my anxiety, medication to help me sleep because everyone functions a touch better when they can actually sleep proper, and going through the DBT on my own and with my therapist and actively trying to change.

I have four children, while I do have my problems with how I get at times. I have let them know that I am struggling with a couple of mental illnesses, that if I get angry or upset about something I still DO love them, and I make sure to apologize when I am clear headed enough again. I talk to them about it, I talk to them about how they feel, and I let them know that I understand it’s painful, because I feel so absolutely disgusting and stupid after these episodes… I just do love them, and so we talk about what I may have said or done, even things I don’t realize I may have done. You know? I acknowledge my mistakes. My fallbacks. I tell them that what I did was not okay, and that I am going to do my best not to let it happen again, but if it does that I hope they don’t take it personally, because I just have trouble trying to control things at times.

February 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm
(125) K says:

I’m not sure really what else I can do but do my absolute best to get myself out of all of this, while at the same time making sure my children do understand that NONE of this is their fault AT ALL, and that I DO love them, and I AM sorry for things that happen as a result of my actions and extreme emotions at times.

Hopefully, that is a good place to start. So that they don’t become the hate filled people I’ve seen at forums that make me just believe I should kill myself so the world is better off without another disgustingly flawed, unworthy, unwanted, uncaring, piece of sh*t BPD sufferer.

February 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm
(126) A says:

Hi K,

I can’t help but observe that your comments regarding your children are almost entirely about you: your feelings, and your needs.

Your children probably walk on eggshells around you, afraid of saying how they really feel or what they really think, for fear of upsetting you and triggering an emotional meltdown. From your description, it sounds like they are care-taking/parenting you instead of the other way round.

I could never tell my bpd/npd mother what I was really thinking or feeling, it wasn’t safe. After she would rage at me, she’d cry and apologize and it was my job to comfort her! I had to swallow my own hurt feelings and anger. And later, her promises to not rage at me and hit me were forgotten the next time she’d trigger into another rage, which might just be later on the same day. I grew up hearing apologies and promises and learned that they meant nothing.

I hope that your kids have it better than I did.

February 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm
(127) ALC says:

As an adult child of a BPD parent I can empathize with others who have encountered this disorder in a relationship with a loved one. I eventually felt for the emotional safety of my children that ending my relationship with my mother was necessary. She began to inflict the same pain upon my children that she had me, and I wanted to protect them from that. Seeing my son run sobbing into his room was enough for me to make that choice. However, I have never lost my love for her or my desire to have a healthy relationship. I love her and forgive her, but came to the decision that I could no longer absorb the damage that she inflicted on myself and my family. My mother refuses to seek help and continues her downward spiraling cycle in relationships. It is my greatest hope that some day she will seek help in resolving conflicts from her childhood. Everyone wants to be loved and those with BPD need it perhaps even more….but they also live in fear of it.

June 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm
(128) Christina says:

I haven’t been directly impacted by BPD, but I have had my life touched by Bipolar Disorder. I am constantly shocked by the lack of compassion and ignorance shown in the statements that people make about others who are suffering with ANY mental illness. I wouldn’t wish my son’s Bipolar Disorder, or any of the pure hell we have experienced with it, on anyone, but sometimes, it’s tempting. Thank you for writing this. I know that it was not about Bipolar Disorder, but maybe people will start being more sensitive about all mental illnesses.

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