Borderline Personality Disorder generates very profound and long-lasting cognitive distortions. Borderlines speak from these thought distortions. "BPD Speak" is an often child-like, futile and extremely misunderstood attempt to communicate their needs. Borderlines further alienate themselves from others and those others are left without much sense of what is actually trying to be communicated.
"BPD Speak" is dramatic and erratic. It reflects the way that the borderline thinks he/she feel. This dramatic language is a self-fullfilling prophecy. The more it is thought and spoken the truer it will appear to be in one's life.
Examples of "BPD Speak" are statements like:"I can't take this anymore" "It's killing me" "This always happens" "It figures" "Nothing ever works out for me" "Look what you made me do" "My life sucks" "It's not my fault" "I didn't mean to ..."
The above statements are black and white, fatalistic, and a complete abdication of responsibility and the reality that you can make choice. Thinking like this in such dramatic fashion contributes greatly to more dramatic, neurotic, stressed feelings which are often then a spring-board for impulsive and self-damaging/ sabotaging behaviour.
This "extreme" and dramatic thinking becomes a habit. I did for years without having a clue that I was doing it. It contributed to a lot of my pain and problems. I had to take responsibility for my cognitively distorted thoughts before my experience of life could change.These dramatic thought patterns originate from thinking that is predicated upon many of the cognitive distortions commonly seen in those with BPD. These cognitive distortions are the result of maladaptive coping skills learned in stressful life situations such as splitting - all-or-nothing thinking, projecting, and transference to name a few. These maladaptive coping skills are the result of the failure to have developmental needs met. As the borderline becomes an adult their prevalence and pervasiveness is then the result of the borderline not having the ability to meet his/her own needs.
In order to recover, those with BPD need to learn how to pay attention, objectively, to what they are thinking. It is at this thought level that (in my experience and according to many experts) one's concept of reality is generated which then lead to feelings and actions.
For many with BPD, there is an incredible lack of awareness of what is actually being thought. Many with BPD also do not allow themselves to feel their feelings. Between this lack of conscious understanding of their thoughts and this inability to feel their own feelings many borderlines are totally unaware of the foundation and reason behind many of the actions that they take. Recovery involves linking these three aspects of one's experience of reality together. As long as they remain fragmented, chances are very good that the borderline will remain dissociated from self to the point where they are not able to take personal responsibility or make choices for his/herself that others without BPD, at the same life stages are making. It is crucial that one come to know what ones thoughts are, where they are coming from and what they mean as well learn to feel the feelings that they have. Then, and only then is there truly hope to change the actions/behaviour which most borderlines will readily admit is causing them great pain and or alienation in their lives.
Though it may sound over-simplified the way to begin this process of awareness is by paying attention to the language that you use to talk about how you feel or what you think. "BPD Speak" is a lanuage alienated from self that seeks to convey to others needs that aren't even understood by the borderline in the hope (conscious or subconscious) that the "other(s)" will meet those needs some how for the borderline. It is this reality of expectation that leads to such strong, dramatic and even violent impulsive outbursts that seem to come from nowhere on the part of many borderlines. They are experiencing and re-experiencing the agony of frustrating unmet needs and all the while no one around them has a clue that they have been "asked" in an almost secret and undetectible way for such a deep level of help, or rescue.
"BPD Speak" is a language born out of pain and unmet needs. It is a language that is expressed from the emotional maturity of a child no matter what one's age is. It is often a language, that to the outsider, to the non-borderline will seem to be in code with lots of gaps. It is a poorly-communicated lanuage that in spite of its often demandingly-dramatic and erratic presentation deserves to be heard and to be understood.
© Ms. A.J. Mahari - March 25, 2001