Anyone who has Borderline Personality Disorder inevitably has rages. To the innocent bystander, these extremely emotional, volatile outbursts may appear like a temper tantrum. Some people liken them to an uncontrollable fit from a toddler. Usually, the person on the receiving end is complete dumbfounded, and in some cases may not even understand why the BPD is reacting in such a drastic way.
For me, rages usually come from a slow buildup of negative, frustrating emotions. My last rage was in April of this year. I was doing some web marketing consulting for a business owner who was very disrespectful of my time. If we had to discuss business issues, he would always say, “…I’ll call you at 8:00 PM (or any other time we agreed upon) tonight to discuss work.” Accordingly, I planned my day around the call, taking care of chores, going to the store, etc. Of course, the phone didn’t ring at 8, 9, or 10; nor did I receive an email apologizing for not calling and planning a time to reschedule.
This type of behavior went on for months, and as the subordinate employee, I really couldn’t do much about it. He was, after all, the boss and the person signing my paycheck. At the same time, I was really frustrated and pissed off that someone could be so disrespectful and selfish. When someone tells me there’s a call at 3 PM, I’m at my desk with my Skype connection ready to speak with them. I don’t jerk them around and waste their time. If they call an hour late, I tell them to reschedule the call, or I don’t even answer the phone at all.
The flash point for my BPD rage came during some discussions regarding a third party advertiser. Basically, in the fall of 2009, I brokered a deal for my boss that put thousands of dollars in his pocket, and he didn’t even have to lift a finger. Trouble with the advertiser began in the spring of this year when they reported to me that they were not getting any return on their investment. Since I was the point man, I decided the most important step to resolving this problem would be to get my boss and the advertiser on the phone to talk. So, I emailed the advertiser that he could call over Easter weekend because my boss told me he would be around to take a call.
Needless to say, I later found out that the advertiser did indeed make several calls, but my boss never answered them. The advertiser wrote a frustrated email to me regarding this issue, and I of course tried to smooth things over by rescheduling the call. Again, my boss couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone or return messages.
Then, the fuse to the cannon was lit. My boss doesn’t like email and always said “just call me, or I’ll call you if something comes up”. Now, however, he started sending me rude, disrespectful, and angry messages from his cellular phone. In short, they amounted to “you’re [me] not doing your job, you don’t deliver, and you don’t communicate” – this coming from the guy who never answers his phone.
When I read these messages, I exploded. I slammed my hands on my desk and threw papers everywhere. I started cursing and felt my whole body tighten up. The real trouble came when I picked up my phone and tried to call my boss. Of course, he didn’t answer, so I left him a message, screaming at the top of my lungs that I was sick and tired of his bullshit, that he needed to up his mind about his business and stop jerking me around. The thing that tripped the switch wasn’t that he didn’t return my calls, because I was the subordinate employee and not in an authority position. What really upset me was that he used me to make a ton of money and then refused to communicate with the advertiser when things weren’t working out so well.
After I yelled, he called later on and left some threatening messages. I didn’t even bother to return the calls, because my body was literally on fire with rage. I sat down in a chair and thought about my rage as I was coming down from it. My emotions were running high. My body was full of adrenaline, my head was actually starting to hurt. I continued to yell out loud and hit things in anger.
This behavior eventually subsided after about 2 hours, and I started to regain composure. Later that night, when we traded phone calls again, I still felt my body was in high gear, pulsing with each word I spoke. My head continued to ache and I felt as if I was in some sort of seizure.
When did all this fallout from my BPD rage subside? Well, it took about 24 hours. I literally spent one day spitting mad, went to bed mad, and woke up somewhat more normal the next day. This is why BPD rages are so dramatic and at times, scary: they literally explode like an atom bomb, and then continue to radiate outwards for hours, maybe days later. Many non-BPDs don’t understand this feeling because they’re able to be mad for an hour and then can dial their emotions back. Unfortunately, BPDs can’t do this, because we are like bags of black powder next to a big fire, just waiting to blowup.
As a result of this experience, I resigned from my job, and didn’t want to deal with this guy ever again. My rage died off about 24 hours later, and this gave me time to think about my BPD rages in general, particularly other explosions that triggered extremely angry behavior that did not die until days later. My conclusion: BPD rages need at minimum 24 hours, maybe even 3-4 days, to dissipate so that the BPD sufferer can once again become functional.
Truth be told, this rage cost me my job, but in reality I really didn’t care, because I felt my feelings were justified given the way my boss had treated me. Other times, though, I’ve come to realize that my feelings and behavior may not have been appropriate. It’s those rages that are truly the worst.
How long does it take for you, or someone you know, to recover from a BPD rage?