What Do You Want To Hear?

I have seen many online articles that tell you the top 10 things to say or not say to someone with depression, anxiety and bipolar. I eventually began wondering what a list for BPD would look like. I find the potential for this list to be very important given the extremely negative beliefs people have a BPD. I thought that this list would be something I include in the book I’m attempting to write.

I want to open it up to you!

If you have BPD: What do you  WANT to hear someone say to you? What has been helpful that someone HAS said to you? What do you NOT WANT to hear?

If you love someone with BPD: What have you found EFFECTIVE to say? What has NOT been effective?


I know for myself one thing I would like to hear is, “It’s ok to be angry”. One thing I do not want to hear is, “You’re being dramatic/stupid/irrational/selfish”.


Leave your comments below 🙂


25 thoughts on “What Do You Want To Hear?

  1. These are possible triggers.

    This goes for anyone with any mental illness. They are conversation enders.

    “all you need is the lord” or “if you had jesus in your heart everything would be fine”

    “what, did you go off your meds?”

    “WTF is wrong with you”

    “you’re so sensitive”

    “instead of talking about dying, why don’t you just do it and stop talking about it!”

    “Good, die, give more air for the rest of us to breath”

    I’ve heard all of these either spit in my face or said to others within my earshot.

    “people like you waste my time that i could be giving to the really sick people” This was said to me by my nurse in ICU after I OD’d.

    • Sadly, a great list.

      A friend of mine, after her attempt, was told by a nurse to “get it right next time”.

      When I was using drugs I had a “friend” tell me she hoped I’d get raped.

      I don’t understand people.

      • Awful lists.
        I have been told very crappy stuff, too. From “friends”, parents, nurses.
        An example, “You’re one of those morons cutting themselves, aren’t you, uh?” – a nurse prepping me for an ECG.
        The list goes far worse.

        Anyway, if I’d have to suggest a cliche sentence that I definitely don’t want to hear, here it is: “you’re always exaggerated”, because it condenses a lot of misconceptions in only four words.
        On the other hand, what I have really liked to hear was “it’s okay if you cry”, as well as “it’s okay to be scared”, and “you have the right to be angry”.

      • A nurse called you a moron….I’m not shocked but at the same time I am. I just always expect better from our helping professionals but that comment just provides more proof that the profession is filled with discrimination.

        It makes sense that validation is something you and we all want to hear. It makes the bad moments less so when you know that it’s ok.

        Thank you for sharing!

      • What shocked me the most was the natural way in which she called me a moron. Like it was an obvious fact.
        I believe she would have never called me a moron if what I had was a, say, hemodialysis fistula scar in place of my self-harm scars. There’s still too little respect for mental illnesses, but yes, as you say, there’s nothing to be surprised of, sadly.

      • I would LOVE to give a anti-stigma presentation to healthcare providers. I would gather all these stories, like yours, and just ask them, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING TREATING PATIENTS LIKE THIS?!?!?”

        My first trip the ER for mental health purposes, the intake doctor was so mean! He like growled at me “You know you shouldn’t do this right?” (self harm). I was 13! Why was he angry?! Every time I went to that stupid hospital I was treated like I was a waste of time. My parents are still furious about it to this day.

      • Your ER story makes me remember another ‘good’ one. I was at the hospital, in a crisis, and a healthcare provider (I don’t remember if he was a nurse or a MD) told me to stop it, stressing the fact that I had to because at the hospital there were «people suffering for real». Clearly, I was not, in his opinion.

  2. I’d like to hear that it’s ok to be upset. When I share some not-so-cheerful pics with my family, I don’t want to hear “What do you want to look at stuff like that for?” That makes me feel bad for feeling upset, which I need to be allowed to be upset and be validated for feeling that way. I’d like them to accept all of me, not just the happy parts.

  3. When I make a big deal out of something which seems trivial to others I want them to acknowledge what I am feeling instead of trying to dismiss it. An example of this might be if I am mad at someone for some reason and I tell someone else about it. I don’t want them to try to make me see the situation from the other person’s point of view or to try to explain their behaviour away. I want them to agree that the situation sucks and that I have every right to be angry.

    • Yes, I understand what you’re saying. I have felt the same way. In the moment we need to be validated. I have found that after I am validated I am better able to see other perspectives because I know mine is not being attacked and I am more calm.

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Ugh yes…the “grow up”, “you’re acting like a child”….I think I smacked someone once for saying that. Might have “proved” their point but oh well. I know I take care to not describe my rages as toddler tempter tantrums but people seem to think I’m joking when I say that I get really angry and that description seems to demonstrate the intensity.

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. I want to hear: if you love me and if you do tell me! Unlike others we don’t just know it we need to hear them say it. Maybe more than once, maybe enough so that it gets into our head and stays there.

    I don’t want to hear: “you will be fine” “there are people worse off” it might be true but it invalidates how I am feeling and I have done so much of that over the years.

    • I don’t know about you but I have found over the years that I need my love to be very physical. I need to hear it and see it (ie: hugs, hand holding, personal conversations). The actions need to match the words.

      “There are people worse off” has always been a pet peeve of mine. I’ve tried to explain it to people that where I live there are certain expectations for a standard of living and that I do not meet them. for example, I live in Canada and I am told that if I go to school then I will get a good job. When I do not meet this standard, it is upsetting and there are consequences (ie: poverty). While I deeply care about, for example, that there are villages that drink contaminated well water, that does not make me feel better that I am unemployed, have student loan debt, and living off the charity (and love) of my parents. Sometimes this offends people but what they say offends me.

      Thanks for sharing!

  5. I would tell them some things like the following:
    – What is important is your personal story, and what is going on around you right now, not the fictitious BPD label that has been forced onto you.
    – No genetic or biological basis for BPD has been proven; in reality, there is a much stronger argument that the so-called BPD disorder does not exist at all as a reliable or valid “illness”, than that it does.
    – What your goals are for getting better and healthier is a much more helpful way of looking at things than “coping with BPD symptoms”.
    – You are a unique person, not a label.

    I realize this view is controversial and will not be accepted by all. However, I believe there is much evidence to undermine and dismantle the psychiatric model of “diagnoses” of which BPD is but one particularly negative example. I write more about this on my blog.

    • I understand where you are coming from and feel very similarly about my own BPD label. I very much like your second last point about getting better and healthier instead of just “coping”. That is something that has bothered me and I know at least for myself, coping with symptoms has just been another way for me to surrender to the label.

      Thank you for sharing!

      I look forward to reading more on your blog!

  6. wow people can be so hateful…those comments from the nurses are awful.

    Some more I’ve heard and NOT to say:
    “How can someone do that to themselves that is disgusting.” – thats about my self harming when my mom found out.
    “This is just a phase and you’ll get over it soon.”
    “You are playing the victim”
    “It’s just your hormones” – I even got my hormones checked after this one bc I had to prove to my dad it wasn’t that. I was right.
    “You need to pray and find God/Jesus.”
    “You just let it control you and don’t do anything about it.” – about anxiety

    I have so many more, but yeah that is most of them. All I WANT to hear is someone say they truly understand or empathize…that is all. Not try to “quick fix” me or whatever just hear me out and listen.

    • I have heard some of those as well. A psychiatrist, in the beginning when I was caught self harming at 13, told my parents is was hormones. Thank you so much for sharing!

      How did you deal with these comments?

      • Ohh the hormones its always the blame for everything! Then it was vitamin deficiency…seriously.

        As for dealing with them…I didn’t deal with some of them too well and blew up at the comment on my self harm and the “its just a phase” but I taught myself to just ignore the comments. I’m not the best with coping strategies though, but I do my best to tell myself that they just don’t understand and its how they go about something like that.

  7. I just want to say that it’s terribly sad that you and the other commenters have had to experience such hateful and hurtful words. I am especially appalled that some of those words have come from so called health professionals.

    I don’t know anyone with BPD so I can’t comment on what not to say. But from my own personal experience with my disorder I can say that the most helpful thing I’ve ever heard come from someones mouth (my old boss) was “what can I do to make thing easier for you here at work?”

    • Your old boss sounds like a good person! Especially given the fear many people have about sharing their mental health issues, it is great to hear that some employers care and want to help their employees succeed!

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