You're not freaking out about THAT, are you? | BPD & Overreactions

Although I technically no longer meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, I still meet some of the criteria and remain (and probably always will be) an emotionally sensitive person.
And, like any other human being, whether you have any type of mental health diagnosis or not, I from time to time become emotionally dysregulated.   For the past week or so, it has been brought to my attention that I've been overreacting to relatively minor things.  I hadn't really noticed.  I knew I had felt more stressed than usual, but I hadn't connected this with anything in particular and scape-goated my emotional sensitivity.
What I came to realize upon reflecting is that, in this case and most others when we overreact to seemingly miniscule or not-so-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-life things, is that SOMETHING else is going on, and this issue (or combination of issues) is the true source of our emotional dysregulation.
If something that matters to us is put on the back burner for too long, not given validation, and not attended to, we can become emotionally vulnerable in the sense that our resilience and ability to cope effectively and skillfully to minor stresses throughout the day can be compromised.
Sometimes it's very difficult for me to admit (to myself or others) that I still struggle now and then with things like this.  I tell myself that I need to be some type of Mindfulness guru, since I teach online DBT classes.   I should have my act completely together.  (Yeah right!)
If anything, my reflections this past week will give me stories to connect with and relate to my peers who are also working hard on their own recovery.  If opportunities allow, I'll talk openly about how I cried over my cell phone needing to be exchanged and how I snapped at a loved one because I misheard what he said and then snapped at him based on what I thought I heard (and then felt quite humbled afterward). 
I'll talk about how I began to escalate into anxiety, worrying that my lack of consciousness around my irritability meant that I was going crazy or that I was backsliding.  I'll also talk about how I began to shift, using Mindfulness and other DBT Skills, into becoming compassionate, did damage control by sincerely apologizing to those who I had treated less than kindly this past week, and how I realized that there are some issues in my life that need attention.
Next, I commit to addressing each of those.  My goal is to work on these and to create manageable goals that I can achieve to get the overwhelming items in order.
If you find yourself repeatedly freaking out and getting irritated over things that you might otherwise be able to handle in stride, and/or if a loved on points out that they've noticed this change, please consider what you can do to reflect while taking care of yourself.  At first, I was offended and wanted to fly off the handle at such an "accusation."  I took a few deep breaths and used DBT Opposite Action, a DBT Distress Tolerance skill to use a kind, slow, soft voice to, rather than yell and tell the person he was an a-hole, and how dare he?! ... I said, "You know, I'm going to take that into consideration and really reflect on that.  Thank you for telling me, and I'm really sorry if I've mistreated you."
I hope this post helped you in some way.
Thank you for reading.
More Soon.
In kindness,


  1. Thanks for this Debbie!

    This week has been so horrible for me, I lose control of myself all the time. I really hate myself these days, feeling like giving up on life all the time.

    On a more positive note, great article! You're an inspiration for many in your beautiful imperfection.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and sharing Sarah! ♥ Please have compassion for yourself. We are all only human.

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  3. I put the issues on the back-burner, and what you mention occurs. But with me it's an even bigger issue, it seems, having bpd - "Back-burner" is putting it lightly. Major avoidance issues is more like it.

    But I know that's another article. :) And I'd love to read something like that from you sometime.
    I am so proud and thankful to you for sharing your life journey with this world.

    1. Oh, thank you so much Melissa -- and thanks for sharing and for the topic suggestion.

  4. Debbie,

    I started a year-long DBT program in November, and am stuck in a beginners stage of OOH, I see how all of these skills can help me... but in times of distress I don't remember them or how to use them yet. I really appreciate that you provide real examples of DBT skills in use. I might have to write this down somewhere and memorize it for later, "I'm going to take that into consideration and really reflect on that. Thank you for telling me, and I'm really sorry if I've mistreated you."

    It's not always easy in group to get such articulate examples of tackling a situation. I'm positive your blog will help me along my journey.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Billy -- Oh I am so glad to hear this. It really means a lot to receive this kind of feedback, and I truly hope that this blog does help you along your own personally journey. I also co-facilitate online DBT classes at DBT Path, as the skills helped me so much in terms of recovery. For some who attend, DBT is completely new, but for others like yourself, it's something they want to practice and see come to life (perhaps they previously studied.) Thank you again for your kind words!



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