Borderline Rage: What I Wish People Knew About BPD and Anger
I will be one of the first to admit I have a fiery temper. Whether it's just my nature or a character flaw or the borderline illness, I don't know. But every so often, given the right (using the term loosely) mixture of provocation, physical state and emotions beforehand, I explode into a fit of rage. Think Donald Duck meets Incredible Hulk meets a doorslammer and you've got an idea.
One: Borderline rage is extremely powerful.
According to Healthyplace.com, one of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD) is "inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger." That's like referring to a tornado as an "air disturbance"--an accurate understatement of epic proportions.
The wrath of a person with BPD often comes on quickly. The intensity of the rage is extremely strong; it can quickly escalate into homicidal thoughts. Depending on the self-control of the enraged person, people or property can be damaged.
Two incidents from my time at Larue D. Carter Memorial Hospital come to mind. In the first incident, a female patient began throwing things. As objects shattered and the pieces ricocheted, we sought shelter. I closed the door to my room and used my body as a weight to keep her from coming in. The tantrum then went into the kitchen, where she destroyed two or three five-gallon jugs of water and overturned the chairs and tables. The episode was so bad that armed police officers were dispatched to the unit.
In the other incident, a 400-lb. patient cussed me out. I was about one-third her size, and I told her I didn't appreciate it. According to my friends and staff (I don't remember much about what happened), she shoved me. I went airborne, sailed back "a good four feet" and bounced upon landing. I suffered a concussion and multiple bruises. Staff were surprised I didn't crack my head open. This rage, especially when uncontrolled, can be destructive.
Two: Borderline rage is scary for the patient.
Although rage is a familiar feeling for me, it still scares me every time. I'm afraid of my anger. I'm afraid of what I might do, what the consequences might be, of what might happen if I actually tried to hurt someone. Factor in that I'm a pacifist and it becomes especially distressing.
Because I'm scared as well as angry, it does very little good to tell me to calm down. I'm terrified that I won't be able to. I'm frightened that I'll lose control. What does help is offering medication, offering to listen to me, trying to keep me talking until I calm down. Be with me, stay with me. Help me calm down, don't just tell me to calm down and expect me to be able to do so.
The rage, thankfully, does not last long. However, for a person with BPD, sometimes an extreme emotion overrides memories of feeling any other way. We literally forget that we won't always be angry. This is why it helps for us to talk--it allows time for the anger to dissipate, and it allows us to feel something else. Time is critical in calming an enraged person with BPD.
Three: We can improve on our angry reactions.
My temper was a lot worse as a child than it is now. I've had a lot of therapy and for the most part have learned to control my anger. It takes considerably more to set me off now than it did when I first began treatment. Although I still get angry, I've improved. I don't fly off the handle all the time.
Anyone can improve given the right combination of medication, therapy and anger management techniques. But first they have to believe change is possible. Counseling can help a person get to that point. So can spirituality (it did in my case).
We're not doomed to go through life constantly ready to explode.
Oberg, B. (2012, January 3). Borderline Rage: What I Wish People Knew About BPD and Anger, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2012/01/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-bpd-and-anger
Author: Becky Oberg
"The comparison about bringing a gun to a knife fight? I bring a thermonuclear weapon to a bridge game."
It’s happend!! My partner has bpd which he don’t admit but I know. , and when he is in rage attack it’s enough for him to see police officers even in the other side of the road or one of his freind that he respect .....
I hear you. I don't know where you live, please contact community mental health in your city. You can get treatment, and even get help getting to and from appointments. DBT is short for Dialectical Behavior Therapy and it was developed for people with BPD. It truly can help you live a more hopeful life. It's difficult work sometimes, most anything worth while is...and I am certain your daughter is and that you are as well. Community Mental Health programs are in every county of every state. It's a place to start. Best of luck!
a person in a wheelchair understands the physical toll it takes on someone to help them in and out of their chair but they still need that help. and it doesn't mean they'll never get frustrated and lash out because they need it, sometimes (or often) at the very people who are trying to give it. i certainly do. and i feel miserable about it every single time but controlling it is like sopping up the tide with a tissue.
that's the difference between someone who has a mental illness and someone who doesn't -- yes, we all have the same provocations and triggers and bad days and shit feelings. but where you have a bucket and a towel, we have an ocean and a flimsy scrap of paper.
the other difference is that, regardless of your circumstance, you more than likely have the choice to walk away from it. that's not necessarily a choice you would want or like to make or even feel you can but in most cases the carer does not have a legal obligation to stay and deal. and even if they do, they don't have to deal with love. but we can't walk away from it, it's always ours. no matter where we go or who we love, it's with us. sometimes, yes, that reliance can cause resentment because you also have a control over this person that makes them vulnerable to you in absolute ways, ways you are not vulnerable to them. it's true that, in many cases, the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down and that grasp tugs from both directions. but the fact that you can bail either physically or emotionally is not a mystery to the person you are caring for. it's a terrifying understanding and it is with us always. in moments of peril, it is sometimes the loudest thing we can hear. caught between the fear of rejection and desperate need for acceptance, sometimes we push back. sometimes, we all but demand you leave us already before we need you even a single bit more. and at the same time, how dare you promise to be there only to take it all back when it gets ugly. of course it got ugly, we told you it would. it's always been ugly. and if we can make you leave us for that, then we were right when we swore we were unlovable.
all the things you do for that person are all the things they cannot do for themselves -- those tasks are monumental to them, ones they sometimes can't even imagine handling alone. that you are doing it at all is probably nothing short of a mystery to them, in many cases a flat out miracle. they might not be at a point in their treatment where they can identify and speak it to you but it is a tremendous gift to choose to be someone's caretaker, and we are almost always aware of it even when we can't bring ourselves to believe that, or act like, we deserve it.
i'm not trying to excuse any of the way you've been treated -- it's difficult and exhausting and bless you for bearing the burden of caretaker. and i am so sorry for your pain, what you've given up and given over. i'm just hoping to maybe help better define the correlation between reliance and fury and, as you said, the provocation of those we love.
I am cPTSD which a euphenism for BPD. I also have Bipolar and Asperger too. Quite a mix huh?
What has worked for me was some....some DBT.....but mainly Neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback has helped me a lot. After 29 sessions now....I fond it very hard to use my previous go to tool..disassociation....
Also check for MTHFR issues too......
I have made very good progess.....I have Everest to claim and nothing expect my death will stop me...
You may not perceive this as being very helpful, but I will really encourage you to look more closely and critically at your first paragraph in this article, where you describe the circumstances that lead to your experience of a rage explosion. I will encourage you to try to understand that people who do not ragefully explode also experience these events of provocation, physical states, and different emotions that result in a rage explosion for people with BPD. However, speaking as a person who has been a long term carer of a person with BPD, throughout psychiatric hospitalisations and many other events, it sometimes seems looking from the outside in, as though a person with BPD will deliberately gather these circumstances to themselves in such a way that the sufferer will explode ragefully. I really encourage you to think about your own role in causing your rage explosions.
I am the mother of a 23 year old son who suffers from BPD and also experiences dissociation. As a care giver I am surprised to read that you think the BPD sufferer is “unwilling” to moderate their own emotional state. A person who suffers from BPD isn’t always able to recognize their emotions or behaviors as being unusual or destructive. My sons mood swings and self harming have become such a part of him that this is his norm. It’s his brains way of dealing with stress and fears. My husband and I have spent many days and nights chasing him around the home to keep him from self-harming or trying to kill himself. He also says mean hurtful things to us and others. Yes, it is exhausting but he did not choose to have BPD and if he could control it he would. We have been lucky to recently find a psychologist who is applying DBT concepts and we can see a definite improvement. BPD is such a complex disorder that many therapists are unwilling to treat it,or will only take on one BPD client at a time. He has stayed in Mental Health facilities when he is suicidal, they usually keep him for 3 days and then they release him. Now he is angry and suicidal when he comes home. He is not able to understand people are trying to help him and still not a choice. He earned a full academic pre-med scholarship to college and was a starting football player in high school with many friends. He has lost all of this due to his disorder. It’s not a choice to be suicidal, self harming, or suffer from anxiety , depression or dissociation. If he were able to think about his own role in his rage explosions then we wouldn’t be having this conversation and he wouldn’t have BPD.
I feel for you. I too have BPD (diagnosed by a psychiatrist) but my counsellors and mental health workers and doctors that I see in the ER after a particularly bad episode always want to tiptoe around the real issue. The only help I've gotten is with one-on-one counselling and having a good counsellor to validate your feelings really helps. It's not a fix, I am not fixed after 10 years of counselling and trying to change. I also have "a lot of social anxiety issues and depression. It’s hard for me to truly connect to people" - I can relate to you for what it's worth. I actually think I am unable to truly connect to people - whenever something happens that I perceive as disrespectful towards me or my children I go back to not trusting that person no matter how close we've been and I become paranoid that they're using me or they're out to get me or they're in my life for some reason that suits them but not because they actually love me. I just can't believe that anyone actually loves me except my two children and my pets. I just can't believe why someone would love me so therefore I don't believe that anyone actually loves me, they're just using me for their own purposes :( I agree, it's a very lonely way to live. There are good moments though and we have to live for those. For the most part, I'm only alive right now because my kids need me - otherwise I would have offed myself a long time ago. I'm sorry this wasn't particularly uplifting, but I hope that knowing that there are other people out there who "get" you and your experiences helps a bit.
1/ anger is just the 'froth' on top of the real feelings (& will be old long held feelings that are triggered - open the dam gate so to speak). learn to find these feelings &, slowly, deal with them & the anger, eventually, is dealt with. a long, difficult journey, but.
2/ anger doesn't have to be 'acted out' physically, it can be done just as well with speech (not yelling) that cuts deeply psychologically & hurts just as much as physical pain, if not more so
In therapy I've learned to recognize my behaviors, but controlling them is on another level entirely. Sometimes I can feel it coming on; a strong emotion my logical mind rejects, but it happens anyway. So it hits me like a wave, and I'm left trying to dig my way out of it. Logically, I know it's not appropriate. It's almost like being drunk. Somewhere in your head you know you're being really stupid and humiliating yourself, but in that moment, you are helpless to do much but minimize the effect until it passes. I'm getting better at it, but in a way that makes it worse for me, because whether or not I'm handling the urge to rage or cry, I absolutely feel like doing so. Sometimes the realization alone makes me lower my guard and burst into tears over the fact that it's still happening, even though I'm doing my best to act right.
I'm always either drowning inside or spilling my feeling everywhere.
BPD is hellish.
How I wish I knew people irl that went through the same agony as me.
My bpd sucks
My bpd shucks