2. You are calm on the outside but suffer on the inside
Since you do not feel you deserve attention and care, you hold things in. You are incredibly good at camouflaging— saying what others need to hear and presenting yourself in a socially acceptable way. People think that you are doing well, and may not reach out as you struggle in isolation.
You may suffer from what is known as Alexithymia—the inability to recognize or describe emotions. Research has found that people with BPD are highly responsive to other people’s feelings and can feel other people’s pain as their own, but since they do not have the language to identify and express these feelings, they come across as unempathetic. (New A.S. et al., 2012)
Since you do not have the language to channel your pain, you ‘express’ your anger and hurt through a series of self- destructive behaviors including alcohol or drug abuse, binge eating, compulsive stealing, reckless driving and etc.
3. You appear to be ‘High-Functioning’
It may be due to your childhood or social conditions that you have developed what psychologists call a ‘false self’. You hold up a ‘happy, successful, and normal’ image even when you are paradoxically crumbling on the inside.
You maintain a facade of perfection and keep up with your external achievements, because somehow somewhere, you have learned that you are not fundamentally and inherently worthy of love. You trade your time for recognition and your soul for external approval.
As you hide behind the socially successful persona, others do not get to know the real you and do not see that you need help. You lock yourself in a glamorous-looking but lonely place. This leaves a void in your heart, and the pain of not living a full life would eventually erupt.
4. You socially withdraw
Socially, you feel as though you are sleeping on a bed of nails. As much as you would like to engage, being around others fuels your self-doubt and anxiety. Disagreement at work, an indication that your partner is unhappy with you, or if your parents compare you with someone else, can push your buttons to an extreme degree.
Eventually, you would rather socially withdraw to avoid shame and emotional storms. You become increasingly disconnected from the world.
You may engage in a common BPD symptom called’ splitting’— where people become either ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, or when you go from intensely loving someone to hating them. When someone offends or hurts you, they become someone you hate (all bad).
In quiet BPD, instead of confronting them or bursting out in rage, you shut down. You may disappear, ignore the offender, unfriend them on social media, or give them the silent treatment. If you don’t give others a chance to explain or to try and mend the relationship, they may not even be aware of what has happened. As a result, you might have lost friends and feel aggrieved and isolated.
5. You mentally retreat or Dissociate
Because avoidance is your primary coping mechanism, you avoid not just social situations but also your inner world. You tend to shut down when feelings get overwhelming. When you dissociate, you become empty and numb.
You may experience depersonalization and derealisation, where you feel out of touch with reality, like you are observing yourself from the outside, or experience reality as unreal. When things become stressful, you run your life on autopilot while feeling nothing on the inside.
Not just emotionally, you may physically feel numb, unable to taste, or sense anything. You feel like you are living in a movie or a dream, or are living someone else’s life. You might have forgotten a big part of your life story and suffer from part amnesia, not able to string together a coherent narrative of your life.