I can handle physical abuse, I’ve always gotten over that pretty quickly. But verbal abuse, that wreaks havoc on my mind. Could this be part of having borderline personality disorder? Maybe. Generally speaking, borderlines are very emotionally sensitive. So for others who suffer from BPD, verbal abuse could be just as painful to them as physical abuse, if not worse.
As stated above, personally, verbal abuse is the worst. A person could make a snide comment, directly say something cruel, or give me full-blown verbal abuse and their words would be ingrained in my mind. All forms of verbal attack can cripple me. In terms of my inner dialogue and reaction, I think many borderlines will be able to relate:
Initially, I am hurt and feel sad. I ask myself, “Why would this person say such a thing? It hurts, a lot. Don’t they realise they are being cruel?”. My sadness quickly escalates into anger. I think, “Who the hell do they think they are?! They have no right to say that! What a ****!”. At this point, my anger transforms into rage and I am a ticking time bomb. The rage can cause me to react to an attack by either imploding or exploding. If I implode, I may self harm. If I explode, I usually end up lashing out in defense and verbally attack the person back. Sometimes it can get so out of hand, to the extent that I end up becoming verbally abusive. Shortly after, despair consumes me. The pain is unbearable and I am internally screaming for it to stop, “Please, stop! I can’t handle it! Please, just make it stop!”. If I had exploded with rage earlier, at this point I cannot even remember what I may have said. My heart aches, my chest feels tight, and I feel like I am being choked. All I can think of is how much I’m hurting inside. I don’t want to feel anything anymore…
Most of the time, after the despair has passed, I feel numb and empty. But there have been times where I am trapped in a vicious cycle of sadness-anger-rage-despair and it only ends when I am mentally exhausted. At that point, I will succumb to the feelings of emptiness and numbness. These emotions can last hours, days even. But once they pass, I feel like nothing ever happened. I feel new again.
Sometimes, when I am verbally attacked, the feelings of anger and rage are not released. My emotions jump straight from sadness to despair. Maybe this is as a result of my efforts to regulate my emotions. Or perhaps it is due to something else, such as low energy levels.
When you have BPD, it isn’t easy to control your emotions. But there are many options you can explore (therapy, mindfulness etc.) to help you regulate them. Commit to the one you find most beneficial in order to truly help yourself. For those who know someone with BPD, be aware of their sensitive side. Their emotions are heightened in comparison to the emotions of a “mentally healthy” person. Any explosive reaction to what you do or say is not really intentional.