The Thoughts & Feelings Of A Borderline, While Receiving The Silent Treatment

As a recovering borderline, my emotions are generally kept in check, and my thoughts are pretty rational. But receiving the silent treatment is a deadly trigger for my fear of abandonment. Especially when it is given by someone I deeply care about.

Just a couple of days ago, I had an argument with a friend of mine who once abandoned me. Our argument, over a topic we have different opinions about, unleashed my rage. Which lead him to give me the silent treatment. It didn’t take long for me to realise I’d lost control of my anger, so I tried to apologise, but he kept ignoring me.

As a result, my mind reverted back to distant memories of abandonment. I kept replaying these memories over and over again, reliving them. All I could feel was this intense despair like someone was physically choking me. I was terrified of being abandoned again. I’d lost control of my thoughts; trying to rationalise the situation was impossible. I just felt this overwhelming emotional pain and fear.

But after an hour or so, I devalued our friendship. My fear transformed into rage. I hated my friend until he finally apologised for ignoring me.

Along with anxiety, irritability, and sad and angry thoughts; an individual suffering from BPD may have other thoughts and feelings when given the silent treatment.

1. Depression

A mentally healthy person would probably feel a little sad when given the silent treatment. In comparison, a borderline individual suffers from intense emotions due to their inability to regulate their emotions. So for them, this sadness is amplified into feelings of despair and depression.

2. Devaluation of a relationship

Many borderline individuals have a distorted way of thinking known as splitting. This “everything is all good or all bad” thought process can lead them to devalue a relationship when they feel hurt or angry. The person who has given them the silent treatment is viewed to be “all bad” in the moment.

3. Explosive Rage

Who isn’t a little angry when given the silent treatment? As stated in the first point, borderline individuals suffer from intense emotions. So naturally, anger is amplified into explosive rage which they have difficulty controlling.

4. Fear of abandonment

Due to childhood neglect and/or abandonment, many borderline individuals have an intense fear of real or imagined abandonment. Receiving the silent treatment can trigger this fear, causing them to do whatever they can to bring the perceived abandoner back to them.

5. Self harm or substance abuse

Self harm or substance abuse are negative coping mechanisms which many borderline individuals use to deal with events they cannot handle. Since they already struggle with interpersonal relationships, receiving the silent treatment can wreak havoc on their mind, leading them to partake in harmful behavior.

6. Stress induced paranoia or dissociation

Receiving prolonged silent treatment can be pretty stressful for a borderline individual. Through intense stress, they may obsess over the incident or believe that the person giving the silent treatment is “out to get them”. The stress of silent treatment can also result in a detachment from reality.

Regardless of whether you suffer from borderline personality disorder or not, receiving the silent treatment is pretty painful and unpleasant. Click here to read a blog post by MJ @slothspeedrecovery about the thoughts and feelings of a borderline, while giving the silent treatment.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. mirrorgirl says:

    I will probably be working with personality disorders next year, and was wondering if you have some tips on what people with the disorder can do to heal ?


    1. S. K. Bosak says:

      Personally I only started to recover when I understood the disorder and why I suffer from it (childhood trauma). It gave me better insight as to what triggers my symptoms.
      I’m in the process of writing a self-help book, hopefully it will help a lot of people suffering from BPD when it’s published.


  2. lizzy grace says:

    very good description of what the silent treatment feels like to those of us with BPD.. thank you.. very well explained


    1. S. K. Bosak says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yara Aiko says:

    Very interesting read. When you devalue somone so quickly, do you idealize them again just as quickly when you’re no longer upset? For me the devaluation process takes much longer.

    I too used to struggle with receiving the silent treatment. A lot. It makes me feel I’ve lost control. I too experienced the fear of abandonment but as an NPD I would never give the other person the satisfaction of letting them know that. To do so would make me feel like I look weak, which I avoid at all cost. My defense would be to wait for them to come back, then rage on them. Or give them the silent treatment longer and more intensely. Somehow they would feel it worse than what I felt. I’d want to exact a revenge or punishment. I think this is one reason I married someone who has a higher level fear of abandonment than me. Makes me feel secure, that I don’t need to worry about them ever trying to leave me.


    1. S. K. Bosak says:

      It seems to vary. Some people I idealize just as quickly, but some it takes longer. It doesn’t make a difference if I’m close to the individual or just see them as an aquaintance.


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