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Painted Brain | What Is Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder?
When asked about BPD, most people who know about the disorder imm
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What Is Quiet Borderline Personality Disorder?

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bpd graphic world mental health awareness month

Feature image created and designed by Alex Steinke.

The full DBT infographic collection can be found on:

When asked about BPD, most people who know about the disorder immediately think of the “classic” symptoms: impulsive behavior and episodes of rage. The same holds true for many mental health professionals.

So what does it mean to have quiet BPD?

Probably, you still suffer from extreme mood swings and emotional reactivity, self-harm and suicidal ideation, chronic feelings of emptiness, paranoid ideation, dissociation, lack of identity, and the intense fear of abandonment we love so very much (disclaimer: we hate it).

And it may well be that your relationships are stormy as well – even if the other person has no freaking idea how distressing said friendship is to you.

How is that possible?

dragon animation bpd grapihic

Well, we feel the same things that others with BPD feel: we idealize you and become deeply emotionally attached to you, then suddenly we become emotionally cold and distant toward you over a minor disappointment.

We’re kept awake at night by paranoia that you secretly hate us because you didn’t text us back immediately, and we spiral into crushing depression over the littlest things you say and do.

The real difference lies in how we express it.

With “classic” BPD you may tell the other person what you’re feeling. You may accuse the person of lying to you, avoiding you, abandoning you, etc. You may display anger toward the other person or get into arguments. The other person becomes aware of what you’re thinking and feeling.

Not so with quiet BPD.

I almost never tell my friends what’s going through my mind unless they ask.

I’m too terrified of being a burden to them. I internalize this tempest of dysphoria, letting it fester for weeks and months. I will drop off your radar, distancing myself from you without you even noticing. Unless you reach out to me, you’ll never hear from me again. I’ll isolate myself, forever convinced you hate me and that you’re better off not dealing with my burdensome self… even if there’s no evidence to suggest this.

Even if we’ve actually been best friends for years.


You may not notice this shift at all, simply because I don’t express it. The friendship may not be distressing for you, but it’s sure as hell distressing for me. I’ve cycled through so many friendships in this way, in near-constant agony as a result, and the vast majority of my friends have had no idea.

I’m obsessed with this idea that I’m a burden. That my very existence is an annoyance to everyone, and so I frequently deny myself the very emotion so often associated with BPD: anger.

I loathe myself so much I feel I don’t have the right to be angry for myself.

Sure, I can feel anger, all right. If you slight a friend or family member of mine, I cannot begin to describe the rage that wells up inside me.

But if you insult me? I’ll sink to depression and probably agree with you (this has happened to me many, many times).

People with different types of BPD respond differently to the same triggers. For some, if they feel you’re going to abandon them or that you don’t care about them, they respond with anger. Others act impulsively in the hope of relieving some of the pain. I respond by turning inward.

I justify these “signs” that everyone in my life hates me – the same signs recognized by people with “classic” BPD – by deciding that if I’m going to be abandoned, well, it’s because I deserve to be.

If you do hate me, it’s because I am, in fact, absolute scum.

My BPD takes these signs and twists them into reinforcement of my extreme self-loathing. If anything, I’ll be angry with myself.

it hurts by bugk

“it hurts” by bugk

This translates into “acting in” behaviors that aren’t as obvious as impulsive behaviors. I self-harm and don’t tell a soul about it, I lock myself in my room and cry for hours, I become so emotionally numb I just stare at the wall all day,

I’ll sleep for an entire weekend to escape my pain, I’ll even deny myself food because what’s the point of extending my lifespan, especially if I don’t deserve it?

Any kind of BPD sucks, quiet or otherwise. But raising awareness about quiet BPD is crucial: professionals may not realize we have BPD because we don’t fit the “classic” model, and thus we end up spending years misdiagnosed or in treatment that doesn’t address what’s actually going on with us. We could be spared years of additional suffering by getting the correct treatment as soon as possible. So let’s raise awareness, shall we?

Tequila Mockingbird is an undercover correspondent for Painted Brain News and a member of UCLA’s Active Minds program.

For more information about Active Minds, here’s the link to their Facebook page:


bpd graphic world mental health awareness month

Feature image created and designed by Alex Steinke

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  1. October 30, 2017, 6:19 pm

    Literally took the words right out of my mouth! Thank you so much for this post!
    like it makes so much sense to why I behave in a certain way. whether its friendship or even family relationships I now understand that it because of my quiet bpd that I do things differently than most “normal” people would do. I remember reading this before and just not understanding much, like what was black and white thinking or what do you mean afraid of abandonment, etc. and it wasn’t until I took a detour and really reflected that I realize that it was because of quiet BPD that, again, made me do things that a “normal” person wouldn’t do.
    For me thought, I don’t think the obsession of the whole “i am a burden” will go away, but I have learned (and it took SO much time, it took me 19 years actually) to discipline myself to shift the idea of obsessing over being a burden to wanting to be grateful and be more of “i want better for myself so instead of being a burden, I want to be grateful for everything in my life because I want to grow”
    this then lead me to doing stuff that me with this personality disorder would never do.
    I began exploring my fears.
    why was I so afraid of being a burden?
    and then I started to open myself up, not to people, but to myself.
    i think that was the most important thing I learned about me, it was that in order for me not to feel like I am a BIG burden to people, I had to go back, dig deep, and find out why i was feeling this way.
    because, for me, it wasn’t because I was burden to people but because I already felt like a piece of shit to myself i thought that everyone would think that too, so I worked SO hard on myself to fix that mindset. and although I do still think shit of myself, I can say that because I try to befriend myself that I am slowly accepting who I am.

    I think one of the biggest thing is because I wasn’t able to understand the way I acted (because it wasn’t normal. like most would say who care if they dont like you . who cares if they think of you bad. but ppl just don’t understand that I care so much and its because I don’t ever want people to feel that intense feeling of people abandoning them, because it hurts A LOT.) Thus, I begin to focus my energy into understanding myself more so I could guide myself and others into a better mindset. It is a challenge, it really is, but it’s a good process for me to understand myself more.

    because in the end,
    (my philosophy anyways LOL so dont have to agree) i know my BPD will always be there (but now it’s getting a lot better) but without it I don’t think I would have ever taken the chance to understand what mental health would be about or even try, because reality is, some people just don’t care, but for me,
    as long as I am doing what is best for me, then I think I am enough. because what I learned in the end is that I honestly had to cherish myself before I stepping out.

    over the passed year, I learned quite a lot about myself and there is still so much that still needs to be explored, but once again

    thank you so much for this post!
    much appreciated!

    (hopefully this made sense LOL)

    • October 30, 2017, 6:52 pm

      i remember always asking everyone in my life:
      am I a good person?
      for example, I would made a rude comment to my sister because i was annoyed at the fact that she just couldn’t understand me (like I was trying to help her understand my situation) and all of a sudden felt ashamed and that I do not deserve to have friends or even be liked because i was like OMG, now she hates me, but she is right to hate me because I am so evil. i deserve this hatred. I am bad. I wish i was good. Like wow!
      I didnt even understand what black and white thinking meant until now. I remember reading this other article a couple of years back about this mental health, but never understood the meaning of black and white thoughts.

      then over the years, after and during the end of high school, I wanted to understand myself more so i did research and began to accept things in ways where it took a lot of dicipline and just relax and try to find ways to see why I acted a certain way or why did I do that when what i meant was to do this? LOL that kind of thing.

      and omg!
      i started to understand honesty and how being honest with my feelings really helped me be at ease.
      like just a month ago, me and this friend of mine stopped talking. and for me it was because i was like holy i am so annoying I think i should stop talking to them because they probably think that too and just dont want to hurt me. So i stopped talking to them. Then a couple of months passed my feelings for this friend became intense. I all of a sudden felt like they were leaving me. I was scared. what did I do? I didn’t want them to leave me! why did I stop messaging this friend?! so i messaged my friend again and asked him if he hated me and that I am so sorry for everthing I have done.

      whenever I do tell my friends that they all like: ‘why are you sorry? you didn’t do anything wrong.’

      but i think that was my mechanism of understanding myself where I accepted that i did something wrong (for me i felt like i did) and in order for me (and I keep saying for me, because everone’s situation is different) to get pass that fearful thought of abandonment I had to accept and value that I was wrong or that i did something wrong (whter i did or did not, but in my mind i did) in order for me to let go and move on.

      So after, I realized that I care and feel a little bit too much. I overthink too much which causes anxiety for me believing people will hate me and leave me because i am bad.
      but me apologizing and me doing what I usually wouldn’t do (accepting that he, if i felt like I did something wrong and that I felt like I made them feel like I was a burden) kind of helped me conqured that little voice in me saying that I am a piece of shit and that I don’t deserve love.

      so i challenged myself.
      if I am a piece of shit and don’t deserve love, then what do I have to do to make myself be better?
      that’s right,
      you know what, I am a piece of shit and may not deserve the love from others, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell them I am sorry for treating them like shit (again in my mind of me feeling like I am a burden)
      it wasnt just apologizing but it was COMMUNICATING that helped me control myself a bit better.

      im not going to lie, but there will be some times where I let the negative mindset take over and that sometimes that burden feeling can be stronger than my rational thinking, but in the end, I try to remind myself that sometimes it’s okay to cry if you feel like a piece of garbage, because it the disorder way of letting out it’s own fear as well.

      like sometimes my mind is honestly just trying to protect me from getting hurt.
      like how I protect others from me being a burden by cutting them out of my life.

      tbh, I am still understanding how this all works, but yea.

      honestly, thank you so much for your post!! again, 100 appreciate it!

      (hopefully this also makes sense, because the last thing I want is for people to misinterpret what I say, but if anyone has a question please do ask because I don’t want any misunderstandings!!)

      • October 30, 2017, 7:18 pm

        in the end,
        i think the one thing that I just wanted was for someone to understand and because I was the first one to understand myself (through reading and researching, basically thank you for the post hehe), it made me feel a lot better because i can help people who are my friends and family or people who just are wondering about me and my condition, understand how important it is to understand ourselves.

        everyone experience traumatic events differently, but I just remember always feeling like a burden to my parents because “i was born, they had to stay together and fight” I always felt that my existence caused my parents to hate each other and just always argue. and that it was my fault that my parents could never have a good life. I shouldn’t have ever been born. I cause so much pain and bring so much misery, i dont want to, but I just felt like i did. I remember this one time I felt like the biggest burden that I just wanted to run away. to leave, so they could be happier. What if I just opened this car door right now to jump out and just end my life so they could feel happier, because fml, why did I make my dad get angry or why do i keep arguing when I should shut up and just FOR ONCE listen. BTW, THAT WAS ALL BEFORE!!!
        although these thoughts do occaisonally occur, I learned that I had to be more patient with myself.

        especially in arguments with my parents. sometimes yes, they can be wrong, but just take a hot minute and just RELAX and listen to WHY they are yelling. why are they mad. like were not perfect and sometimes I yell and lash out too, but I learned that I had to listen and understand them as well. in the end, they just wanted the best for me, even if it sounds like hatred upon me, I had to really hold myself back and hold my mind and thoughts back in order to get their message through and it’s because they just care.
        then after listening and AGREEING to the ones I AGREE WITH I told them that
        “hey, your right, i am an idiot and I waste my time a lot and that I just want to let you know that sometimes, I prefer that you talk to me in a calmer manner or at a better time”
        because sometimes i wont be able to hold back and will lash out too.

        anyways I also began to write a lot of journal and I read a lot of things related to self-help and all those research about my disorder.

        sometimes, I do feel like puking whenever I do anything too emotional, but I think that it is just my BPD reacting to how much i changed and puking at the fact that “damn, is that really me?” or “damn, i am just too much sometimes” and its just the body and mind working together concluding that “damn that is too much”
        it’s weird, but idk that is just my thought anyways.
        and it’s up to me to decide whether I want in with the nausea or i want out and to step back.


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