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People with BPD are extremely sensitive to all kinds of emotional cues, including slight changes in tone of voice, facial expression, dialogue, and body language. Why? We’re hyper-vigilant for signs that people either like or dislike our company, and what helps us reach that conclusion is our ability to determine other people’s moods (even if that conclusion turns out to be wrong!). We’re familiar with just about every negative mood, so we know how you’re really feeling (even when you try to hide it from us).
So, if you look to confide in us, we monitor how what we do and say affects you. For example, if we comfort you, you may disengage a little, and that tells us you just want to vent right now. We won’t force you to “cheer up” because we know that’s like saying, “I’m tired of all this negativity, let’s be happy instead!”
We tend to mirror your energy level and mood, so even if we start out feeling super-happy, we’ll see you in distress and become serious and somber. That makes heart-to-heart conversations all the more meaningful, and we know that. I mean, have you tried having a serious conversation about depression while the other person was visibly happy? It gets awkward fast.
We’ll empathize with you because we know all too well what it’s like to be in the position where you need unconditional support. We know that some things, like signs of affirmation such as eye contact, nodding, or saying “I see what you mean,” encourage you to continue opening up, because these are things we look for when we want support.
Tequila Mockingbird is an undercover correspondent for Painted Brain News and a member of UCLA’s Active Minds program.