inwards vs. outwards: no one is better, no one suffers more

I came across a bdp discussion forum last night discussing the notion of the Quiet (or Inwards) Borderline. A post there expressed disagreement with bdp subtypes, and criticism of the notion that Quiet Borderlines either a) Suffer more than “outwards” and / or b) Are somehow less ill or easier to deal with.

painting by tammera

painting by tammera

Some of my writings here on this blog might inspire similar reactions, as if I am demonizing outward bdp and making saints of inwards.

I don’t think it’s useful in any contemplations of bdp to compare levels of suffering — that is completely subjective, and impossible to ever really know or compare.

I think there are indeed many outcomes of the underlying patterns that define bdp, but those underlying patterns are the same in all of us, and we all suffer greatly with them.

Some of us turn our suffering inwards. In my case, it can be impossible for those around me to know what is going on for me until I become desperate enough to let it show; and in my case, I must decide to do so. Consequently, I often feel like I am a fraud, “dramatizing” my feelings in order to receive support that maybe i don’t deserve. Am I over-dramatizing or minimizing my experiences? It is a different reality in every day, or every moment at times. I feel the chronic aloneness, emptiness, self-doubt and fear of abandonment of any borderline; and my sense of confidence, status, personality and role in the world are as unstable. I am inconsistent in mood, energy and personality; which is often devastating to my relationships, and perpetuates my aloneness, self-doubt and abandonment fears in an endless cycle.

In my experience of being an inwards borderline, no one would say that I am a difficult person. I think what some might think (though they would never say it) is that they do sense something a little unsure or unstable, something i am hiding from them, and they therefore do not deem me trustworthy, and are not very comfortable around me. There is a sense of caution, like there is something dark and scary beneath the surface that is scarily subtle and ominous enough as to make people quietly and sneakily distance themselves from me. No one would think that I am mentally ill and may just require a little extra patience, support and encouragement; they just think i’m a little “off” and aren’t really drawn to get to know me too well. Some of my friends are probably saying this is a load of crap, but my recovery depends on my own ability to validate this experience I have, intentionally let it show and receive the treatment that I need around it. I have to choose and work at living more honestly in the world to escape the endless isolation that swallows me whole. It is the degree of this, the intensity to which i feel it, and my ability to hide it that qualify this a dangerous, precarious and pathological reality. The hardship of this outcome of bdp, and the common misconception on the parts of friends and mental health professionals, is the assumption that because I can control what I show, I cannot truly need treatment. This leads me to thinking that I am a fraud, until I read about others this way, and the term “quiet borderline.”

compassion painting

the heart of the matter of living

While the quiet borderline (in my experience) experiences subtle social isolation, invalidation and abandonment by the mental health profession for not being “ill” enough; the outward borderline, it seems to me, experiences overt social isolation and abandonment by the mental health profession for being “too ill to treat.”

Both borderline outcomes end up feeling the same thing–isolation, hopelessness and unworthiness. Both suffer. Both require and deserve radical acceptance, compassion and support. One is not “better” than the other; and one is not more treatable than the other.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. Please comment!

Love, HJ


just wanted to share the incredible stories on this site, and the inspiring project itself. this man has been riding all over the world to talk about mental illness and end the stigma. he is arriving back home to Vancouver, BC, Canada this fall.

Check out Ride Don’t Hide:

blessings on your day everyone. big heart from hj

ride dont hide logo

1 Comment

to my therapist–“titanic”

The surest way to earn my distrust is to praise or compliment me. Praises are the bars of my cage, the language of denial, abandonment and the chaos of unreality that snapped me in two.

People have been telling me there’s nothing wrong with me all my life; that I’m making things up, making assumptions,  giving too much weight to negative thoughts, “choosing” to see things negatively. If they were right, I wouldn’t be here.

It feels like the only way to heal is to block them out, acknowledge the parts of me that aren’t okay, reassure those parts that they have good reason, and make amends to them for abandoning and ignoring them.

My intelligence betrays my heart, again and again; people think I’m way too (intelligent, articulate, capable) to ever need or deserve support. I was like the titanic. Those compliments stifled the pain in my heart and the confusion in my soul like the second-class passengers locked below while the music played on above.

I don’t want to shine or stand out in any way for a very long time. I’ve spent a half-life overachieving, to at least gain praise if I couldn’t have love. And even that has failed me. Eventually, the water became to heavy; I snapped in two and sank because people thought I was too talented to warrant due human dilligence. I do feel betrayed and entitled. No, it is not entitlement; it is that I cannot pull myself from the ocean floor alone, and I will not. No one deserves to raise the titanic alone.

Leave a comment

what is pathology & what are people for?

What level of aloneness and fear should I expect myself to handle alone? What level is normal? What should I expect of myself and my life? What have I suffered through alone that I shouldn’t have–when should I have asked for help? What is an overwhelming emotion? What parts of my experience are pathological / need some bandaids? What parts should I be able to deal with alone?

If everything I need to know to heal comes from inside of me, what do I need others for? That just says to me that nothing is going to change; I just have to buck up and deal with it better.

I’m sorry, but I do feel a sense of entitlement–for the emotional support and protection I should have received so long ago. I am entitled to not feel alone, and to receive the therapy I have needed for so long.

1 Comment

crazy for thinking I’m crazy

I built my castles on an unstable base that no one wanted to see or believe, and no one knew what to do about. I lived in constant confusion about whether or not the base was actually unstable or I was just being negative and “choosing” to see it that way. No one wanted to be the one to say “I think you really need help.” instead, I failed to develop social networks, and continued to pursue goals that were insurmountable without a solid base. I became chronically abandoned,  invalidated and imprisoned by statements from others that I was supremely intelligent and beautiful and capable and amazing, that I was too hard on myself and too much of a perfectionist.

If I was all that, I must be crazy for feeling so hurt and even crazier for thinking I was crazy; and clearly, if I was all those things, I didn’t need or deserve any help. I just had to think more positively, fake it till I made it, and hide it better until i could make it go away. What the hell was wrong with me that I was all these things but couldn’t get my fucking shit together. It didn’t change, I couldn’t hide it; and for all the growth and revelations and healing I did on my own, the octopus would always and eventually take me down. There was ALWAYS an elephant in the room with me, but no one would admit to seeing it. I thought I must be hallucinating but continued to be trampled by it while having people tell me how brilliant I was. How could both be true.

Leave a comment

a long way down, a long way up

In this time of deep rest, recalibrating and healing, I often feel like a useless human being. Maybe the extreme stress i just went through could be said to have inflamed the “disease” or damaged my brain in other ways. I often wake up with a great deal of anxiety and depression. The pressure of the day. Of fitting in with the norm expectation of being productive. I don’t know what to do, how to be productive; and furthermore, when I try, I get overwhelmed or distracted and I can’t do anything anyway. And when I say anything, I mean like, buying bananas. Moving a table out of the way. Making food to eat.

There is a 6 year old in the next room from me. She is having a birthday party today. She is saying, “I gotta get ready for the party, like … washing myself, picking out clothes …” What is striking me is that she seems to be enjoying having to do something. Having to prepare.  Wow, she must be young. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way. Excited to have something to “get in a tizzy” about. I’m seeing how much joy has been missing from my life.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of the 6 year old jumping and leaping above my head, excited for her special day. I came upstairs to make coffee. Everyone in the house was in a tizzy, and within minutes, I was asked to do something.

It felt terrible, but I just needed a half hour of peace and quiet with my coffee. I got grumpy, feeling useless and helpless and scared and kind of stormed upstairs. Yargh.

I haven’t been feeling excitement to do anything; I feel extreme anxiety that is actually keeping me from doing anything right now. I have a hard time thinking clearly about the practical parts of daily living. I don’t want to see anyone, I don’t want to “have” to do anything. I am completely unreliable and dependent and that is terrifying.

There is a lot of healing to do. There is a long way to go.

Leave a comment

what is mental illness

In short, it’s only a label for a certain experience of life.

But the role that such a label plays:

  1. To offer additional support to those who struggle to lead healthy lives and experience well-being due to emotional and/or psychological intensity.
  2. Naming emotional states also helps to identify and recognize them. By doing this, I can choose to manage myself accordingly, and reduce the harm these states may cause to my well-being.
  3. Illuminates the fact that I am not alone in the patterns and cycles I experience, and sheds light on them.
  4. Helps me to be gentle on myself.
  5. Helps others to understand me.

I guess one could resent the word “illness”. It’s more like an emotional / psychological reality I find myself in, having led the life I have led, with the personality I have. Maybe more later.