The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Tigerchelle of Borderline and Beyond.
THE WORST AND MOST PAINFUL BPD TRIGGER!
One of the things that all those suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) deal with a variety of times throughout their life is just how insanely tough it is dealing with this element in relationships, and this can happen with friendships/family/romantic relationships:
The real/perceived rejection and/or abandonment trigger.
Yes no doubt you’ve read this a number of times, and glossed over and thought, “wow, why don’t they just grow up and deal with it like everyone else?!”
Well I am here to explain just what goes on in a BPD’s head, and explain in very descriptive language just how difficult this really is for us.
Please keep reading…
First of all, it is extremely painful and confusing for the BPD once hit by this kind of trigger, because on the one hand, they expect to be rejected, because they have by many in the past, (even perhaps by their first caregivers and people who were supposed to love and protect them), but they also fight with the fact that someone has now rejected them again, and how unfair and unjust that feels inside to them.
They have trouble believing it, and accepting it, not because they do not feel they should be rejected, but because they find it so difficult to deal with the absolute tirade of extreme thoughts and feelings that this trigger has now produced within us, IF we accept we have been rejected/abandoned.
Imagine trying to fight quicksand. Or trying to fight whilst in quicksand. The thought comes that they are rejected, then other thoughts begin to mount up, like they are useless, worthless, and they deserve nobody, and it literally just happens so fast, and as much as we grapple to stop this quicksand, the thoughts and feelings do not stay at a level, no they get bigger and heavier!
We will find it extremely difficult to stop these thoughts and feelings once in motion, it is akin to trying to stop a train at short notice – once the carriages are all moving, (the carriages all full of heavy emotions and thoughts), they only gather up speed – and weight – as they go along… so trying to stop that train is near impossible once in full motion!
It has to be stopped way before that if there is going to be any real distress tolerance!
We are talking here about one of our main triggers and therefore, this one is the big momma of them all!
The raw emotion felt by a BPD when you block /ignore or abandon them, even if this is purely percieved, is very real. We are not just feeling it from this one source of rejection either. We are often feeling the full force of ALL the rejections we’ve had in life, as if they’ve all grouped together.
If you imagine the core of the earth being like our core, and the emotions/thoughts being the lava… it only needs a trigger powerful enough (volcanic eruption) to start the lava (extreme thoughts and emotions) spewing out! That is how it happens!
We naturally want to fix this broken relationship. We often are not patient or want to wait. The reason for this will become clear as you read along. The closer you are to a person the worse it can feel, and the more you care about/for them and know them, the more difficult it is to let go.
When we get to know someone, we do give them our all, so once we feel they have ignored or rejected us, it really does feel like we have lost a huge piece of ourselves. For many of us there are codependency issues at our core that we are either aware of or not, and therefore when someone has left us, we feel we ourselves have disappeared, as if we are lost, and empty. We do not know how to carry on without them.
Our thoughts go round and round like a broken record, thinking of either ways we can fix it at first, but then turning to the other extreme where we want to reject them and hurt them because of the pain and loss we now feel.
Mixed messages are often prone to happen here. And it will be very difficult to actually decipher what is true and what is not – for us, as well as for the other person. We are often in turmoil and very torn.
What we need is reassurance.
We may not receive this from the person who has rejected/abandoned us, therefore we will often seek it from someone else.
If we come to you in this type of situation where we have been triggered badly by a significant other, here are a few tips:
We may need to talk the situation through with someone, cry, and blurt out how we feel. And no doubt it will be “wild talk.”
It’s important not to take sides, and to stay neutral, and unbiased. But at the same time, be reassuring and supportive toward us.
We will be angry and hurt, and may start projecting our thoughts and feelings onto you.
Remain calm, and do not react. Try to separate us from the illness, especially at this time.
Do not take anything we say personally! Be patient, and let us air out our feelings.
Perhaps it may feel to you like you are an emotional punching bag, however, you are more like a heavy blanket, and this will become clearer why further along in this post… but emotionally right now, we may need to let off steam before we can calm down and think more clearly.
By you allowing us a chance to do this, you help prevent the situation from escalating any further, and by acknowledging our pain in listening to us, this helps us to calm down.
Getting back to the Borderline who is triggerred…
Often we will want the person who has rejected/abandoned us to know just how much it is hurting us, what we feel you have done to us (even if it was perceived). Yes, we should just walk away and accept at this point (and we know this), but depending on how far into our recovery we may be, many will find this very difficult to just deal with it in that way and move on. Those muscles in our emotional learning may not be there yet, or exercised well.
So… we may leave messages, emails, or try to call, or see you, and even leave messages with others to give to you, and we may well be frantic in our efforts, because we desperately seek answers to what we have done wrong and why and what we have done to make you go away. What was so bad about us that you left? We are so crippled by your departure, that we just want it to be OK again.
So this is what’s going on inside of us. Do not underestimate, that we are so HURT inside and it’s like you have ripped our heart out and gone and stabbed it several times over and then given it to your dog for breakfast! You cannot possibly know the damage that has been done.
For us, our world has gone to pieces! It is like someone has literally died.
I mean can we actually have some acknowledgement here of just how bloody painful this is for us? We feel everything on a much more intense level. But this just is the mother of all heartaches rolled into one!!
I read articles about how we are “sensitive” to rejection and abandonment “triggers” us. It’s true, but it sounds so lame, and of course there is not the power behind those words to actually convey what’s going on here… it annoys me because people do not get a sense of what we are actually going through.
It HURTS like you would not believe. And anyone that says: “well ya know, if you self-harm and whatever, how is that going to help things?” Or “stop having a tantrum” or whatever thoughtless shit they wanna throw out there, is NOT helping the wider world get to grips with just how painful this is.
Whoever says these things, obviously has never felt this kind of pain to the extent that we as Borderlines feel it. So DO NOT BELITTLE IT!!
OK, let me put this very clear here and put my version on it:
We feel like we are being tortured from the inside OK?! So much so, it often makes us self harm to deal with the absolute raw and vivid emotion that we feel.
Just because you cannot see this pain, does it make it LESS REAL to you?! You cannot see the wind either can you? But you can see its damaging effects when it is rough, right?! You know when it’s a hurricane, do you not?!
Well, this is our hurricane! And you WILL SEE ITS EFFECTS!! And do not underestimate what hurt people do, especially to themselves when under extreme duress and in desperate pain.
So I really cannot put this clear enough to the world! But my goodness, just so you have a very clear picture in your heads of what this again is like for us…
Let me use one more illustration here:
A person is on fire… Yes, FIRE!
(This is the BPD reacting to a trigger of rejection/abandonment).
You would be literally rolling on the ground in agony, and no doubt screaming trying any way possible to stop the fire to get some type of relief, right?!
The fire is literally burning into your flesh, and getting down to first, second or even third degree burns… you can smell your own flesh being burnt… the pain is excruciating!!
Now, how would other people approach this situation?
Would they say:
“why are you making so much noise?”
“Look, you’ve been on fire before, it’s okay, you’ll get through it”
“You are making rather a big deal of being on fire, just let it go!”
And my favourite….
“Just take some deep breaths, and give it some time…”
I’M ON FUCKIN FIRE HERE!!
I am in pure agony, and trying to get ANY relief I can find.
Either get me water, or fuckin shoot me! Get it?!
Are you starting to realise just how critical and painful the situation and trigger is at the time for those with BPD?
Now please answer me this?
Is a person in this much pain, going to be reasonable and clear thinking?!
Are they going to make constructive decisions and take everything into perspective??
And more to the point, would you even expect a person in this desperate state to be able to make clear and sensible decisions?
What we need at this time is a fire blanket. Not judgement nor criticism, nor negative comments!
I want to make it vividly clear to everyone that this pain is visceral! It goes down to our very core. And we will show that pain. And take it from me, we will do crazy shit, because at that time, we just want relief from the searing pain and torture we feel inside.
Please recognise the sheer magnitude of what goes on within us when we are hit with our worst triggers!
Be a fire blanket for us!
I hope through my words somehow even just a little bit, I have been able to accurately describe how our worst triggers affect us.
Thank you greatly for reading!
I’m Tigerchelle, and this is my blog, if you would like to subscribe and read more from me:
Thanks so much Tigerchelle for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.
Once or twice a week I’ll publish emerging blogger mental health-themed guest post(s) by bloggers who are early on in their mental health blogging evolution, with priority given to those whose blog has less than 50 WordPress followers. The focus is on community-building rather than just a one-off guest post.
If you’re interested in being featured in the emerging blogger series, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com with a brief description of what you’d like to write about and your blog name/URL. I’m looking for bloggers who have already had some form of connection with me or my blog, who have blogs that are focused on mental health, and who will contribute posts that are relevant to a broad mental health blogger audience. Although I may make occasional exceptions for bloggers that I have an established relationship with, generally blogs that serve a primarily commercial purpose will not be considered.