You may identify the borderline in your life to be over emotional and dramatic. With ignorance, you may identify the borderline as a drama queen. A drama queen intentionally reacts to situations in a melodramatic manner. They will blow things out of proportion and create an issue out of nothing. This unnecessary exaggeration of their emotions towards a situation is usually just to gain attention.
Although a person with borderline personality disorder may be over emotional and seem dramatic at times, their behaviour is not deliberate. They are not seeking out attention; there is no ulterior motive, it’s just the way they are. It is important to understand that they are suffering from an illness that needs to be taken seriously.
To understand BPD behaviour, you need to understand the basics of emotions. According to the late psychologist Plutchik, there are 8 primary emotions:
These emotions can fluctuate in intensity, from mild and passive (outer circle) to intense and out of control (inner circle). When paired, these emotions result in various secondary emotions (for example: anger + anticipation = aggressiveness).
Now in general, a mentally healthy person is able to regulate their emotions in a manner that is socially acceptable. They are able to gauge when, how, and with what emotional intensity to react to a situation.
For a person with BPD there is no mental processes of perception, judgment and reasoning; unless they are self aware. But even when self aware, their emotional reactions are raw and at times out of control. Their emotions can fluctuate from an intensity of zero (or mild) to intense in a matter of seconds. They just can’t help it. BPD hinders their ability to regulate their emotions, consequently causing great emotional instability. This emotional instability reveals itself through these intense and/or uncontrollable emotional reactions (and outbursts) that often seem excessive and unreasonable.
You need to understand that the borderline in your life is very emotionally sensitive. Little things can trigger intense emotional reactions from them. They are at a disadvantage with managing their emotions because they don’t know how to; they haven’t learnt how to.
Understand that a borderline is not a drama queen. Their behaviour is not by choice, it is because of their illness.