How to Avoid Borderline Rages, Angry BPD Tantrums

One of the most unpredictable aspects of BPD is the expression of anger. It can come in many forms: some people outwardly explode in front of others and make dramatic scenes, others direct their anger inward and abuse themselves. It’s also worth noting that these two reactions are not mutually exclusive. Many BPD sufferers, myself included, have had both outward AND inward BPD anger episodes.

I’ve always wondered, how can I control my BPD anger? How can I avoid public BPD tantrums, which are usually the most embarassing for me, and have sent me to an in-patient psych ward? I’m Irish-American by descent, and a running joke in my family is that I have an “Irish Temper”. I think this is a creative way of saying that I have a short fuse, that is often very unpredictable.

As a result, I think the answer to heading off BPD rages lies in recognizing the warning signs that you’re about to crack.

The best way to explain my thought is by example, keeping in mind the fact that there is a small build up phase that leads to a completely unpredictable explosion, over the course of minutes or hours:

1) I’m using my computer’s printer, and for some inexplicable reason, the paper jams. Fixing this mess takes longer than usual, and I end up spending 30 minutes trying to print an email that should have taken 1 minute. Anger Level: Annoyed

2) Next, I hear from a business client, who reports that he can’t pay me for my month’s work due to lack of funds. This upsets me, because I’ve worked very hard for this client, and I deserve to get paid. Instead, he casually brushes it off as if I was a mosquito, suggesting he “might” be able to cover the bills next month. Anger Level: Insulted, Very Upset

3) To appease my stress level I go to the kitchen for a snack. While I reach for a plate, I accidentally nudge a group of glass cups, one of which hits the floor and bursts into hundreds of pieces. At first I’m just really FRUSTRATED, but this gives way to complete anger as I realize that it will take nearly an hour to clean up this mess, not to mention it is very possible that I might step on a shard of glass at a later date while up a night or preparing food in the kitchen. Anger Level: Pissed Off, Very Agitated

4) An hour later I need to make a run to the grocery store. I go down to the garage and open the door. As I’m backing the car out of the garage, an absent minded person driving by gets in the way and we end up having a minor collision. In truth, the damage is minimal, but by this point in the day, I’m LIVID. Anger Level: BPD Tantrum: I curse, swear, violently threaten the other driver, and begin to make a scene, such that random peopl around me are frightened and shocked, over what appeared to be a purely accidental car bump

At first you might say, well this is just having a bad day. In truth, my example above would lead many to this conclusion, but the point I’m trying to make is that the build up phase(s) to a BPD tantrum occur in a sequence of events over hours, days, or sometimes just minutes. Also, it’s important to note that emotional stress, arguments or disagreements with others, losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc, also act as catalysts for BPD outbursts, even though my example above may convey more innocuous accidental, “bad luck”. In reality, I find that emotional stress is sometimes more troubling than having a misfortunate day.

How can one control BPD anger? Honestly, once you’ve popped, that’s it: you’re flying off the handle and there’s not much that can be done.

The trick is to recognize episodes that lead up to your breaking point. Again, they can be in the form of any sort of stress: an annoying co-worker, you get yelled at by your boss, or maybe you had a fight with your spouse.

As a result, after having a couple of complete, full fledged BPD tantrums, think back and analyze what led to your outburst, or “inburst” if you resorted to self abuse, cutting, or otherwise harming yourself.

When you feel your stress level rising, even spiking, immediately leave the scene and find a tranquil place where you can sit down, exhale, and let some steam off. Kick the wall, punch a pillow, yell out loud, or if you’re really peaved break a plate. Whatever you do, don’t start hurting yourself or blowing your stack in public, which will only lead to even more stress and guilt afterwards.

If you’re at work, just leave the room and get away from the scene.

If you’re having a bad day, lay down for a nap.

If your spouse hurt your feelings, go for a walk or talk with a friend or therapist.

Most importantly, if anyone questions the fact that you’ve left the scene, criticizing you as “weird”, “strange”, or “immature”; do your best to ignore them. If it’s a boss, friend, or other person that you interact with on a frequent basis, resolve that you will talk with them MUCH LATER WHEN YOU’RE FULLY CALM. During your meeting, explain that you’re dealing with a lot of stress in your life and needed some space to avoid getting very angry.

Also, ask them rhetorically: “What would you prefer: that I storm out of the room and leave the office for an hour, or I start punching a co-worker and breaking office equipment?” Again, it may sound completely odd to the person you’re talking to, but they’ll get the point.

Remember, the fact that you have BPD is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS, unless you’re speaking with a spouse, son, daughter, brother, family member, or other person that is deeply connected to you in your life.

Random people will forget that you acted strangely one day at work, but they won’t forget you if your BPD anger got the best of you and the result was violence, property damage, and severely hurt feelings.

When it comes to contoling BPD anger, put YOURSELF FIRST. Afterwards, you’ll feel better that nothing damaging happened, and that your interpersonal relationships will continue forward as normal.

21 Replies to “How to Avoid Borderline Rages, Angry BPD Tantrums”

  1. I have a forum about the life itself, I would like to you be part of that new forum, about also borderline. thanks and I hope you can come on and visit my forum: it’s for spanish and english speakers, don’t worry =)
    best regards

  2. What else can I do to help myself. I am about to lose my family due to my BPD. My son’s father is already fed up and I do not know how to elp myself, nor does he.

  3. Jenny,

    I would advise immediately seeking out treatment for your BPD.

    By immediate, I mean literally checking yourself into a psychiatric hospital for a few days of intensive therapy and focus on mental health. Tell your employer that you’re sick and can’t come to work. It’s really none of their business anyway.

    After that, look into a DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) group that meets in your area, so that you’ll have some support once you leave the hospital.

    The only way to show others that you want to get better is to actually go out and do what it takes to help yourself.

    Good Luck!

    SR WROTE: SR on April 13th, 2010 9:39 am
    *I work with one of these freaks. I hate her.

    How dare you call somebody with BPD freak. You are so ignorant. Why would you even be on this Blog if you are bashing BPD.

    To the author of this blog. Thank You! Thank You!

  5. I have a sister who has BPD. She will not try to help herself and she is extremely resistant to the idea of therapy or help of ANY kind. She just had her latest outburst of hatred and anger towards me. I have reached a point that I can’t take her anymore. I love her but I feel helpless to help her. I’ve reached a point that I don’t want her in my life anymore. We are both seniors, over 55 years old. This has gone on most of our lives. Is there any last ditch effort I can try to help her?

  6. As a non surrounded by BPDs, more by happenstance than by choice — brain tumour; could no longer afford, financially or physically to live on my own — I know that most of my musing on the whys and wherefores of BPD have been nothing more than observation, conjecture, wishful thinking, the result of rage precipitated by a BPD’s rage, since none of the BPDs I know have the patience, insight, self-awareness to articulate why they do what they do, which can be downright maddening. I am so grateful to you for evincing these qualities, for showing me that they are not beyond a BPD, and for vindicating a lot of my hypotheses, and teaching me where and how I’ve been wrong. I can’t tell you what a relief it is, and a great comfort to get answers right from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Thank you.

  7. I would like to thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart. This is really a huge help to me. I often struggle with anger that I hold inside. I see my ex and I get in a huge rage. I thank that you noted leave the area to calm down. That is what I will most def be doing. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. To SR:

    She probably hates you as well!! To be completely honest, your the freak for even bothering to research about BPD when it has absolutley nothing to do with you. But my guess is that you have some sort of illness yourself, considering you ended up on this site! Hmmmm just a typical hypocritical human being.

    ๐Ÿ˜› love,

    The so called “freak”

    1. Just another perspective on that from a BPD person from a freak LOL when we’ve hurt somebody enough or if we don’t know them very well and we have a freak out of course they’re angry of course they don’t want to be around us depending on what was said they might hate us especially if it’s a repetitive thing and that particular person is not in any kind of therapy and is very destructive in the work environment. People need time to stop being angry and perhaps she’s researching this trying to find a way to cope with it. It can take people a long time for them to understand or accept us, if ever. I’m very BPD and I’ve tried to be friends with people who have BPD and even I can’t do it. I don’t hate them although when I start to feel very angry and disgusted with somebody it’s definitely a mirror, I learned things about how I’m causing other people to feel. When a BPD person does all that BPD stuff to me it’s a very good therapeutic thing just can’t do it for very long

  9. i have struggled with this my whole life and sometimes it isnt easy to control.

    People will always find a reason to hurt others if they dont want to understand their problem.

    Like SR, too scared to say anything upfront but pathetic enough to make an anon comment on a site for kicks.

    atleast we are dealing with our problem strong enough to face it.

  10. Hi, thanks for posting this. I have a bad habit of not wanting to leave when I should and staying past my boiling point, which often doesn’t take much. I’ve noticed that the closer I feel to a person the more likely I am to blow up on them. Do any of you have this problem? And thanks to my fiancรฉe who has so much patience with me and sees me as someone he loves who needs help and not just some crazy woman with her panties in a wad nearly every day. :0)

  11. Oh. And to SR,

    Please do try to be a bit more sensitive to others. This really is a very difficult disorder to deal with. You wouldnt like it if ppl talked about you like that. I’m sure your mother raised you to be better than that.

  12. This is a nice website. I have BPD and a working on a book to try to help people understand this disorder from a BPD’s perspective. It’s not easy. I come across a lot of “SRs” who make me feel like I don’t want to explain it to the non-BPDs a all. I have found n my experience that there is a lot of hypocrisy on this subject. I went to therapy and am on medication and people still expect me to be “normal” be ause of me education and speech. They “act” like I don’t have it even when I have been clinically diagnosed. Anyway, I am babbling. Thank you so much for this positive website with the deception of that comment which I think was not only inappropriate but also insensitive and grossly inaccurate.

    1. Hi BPDer,

      Thanks for your comments and good luck on your book! Discussions about BPD need to become mainstream to increase people’s awareness and understanding of the condition. Feel free to reply to this comment if you want to discuss anything else!

  13. It’s supposed to read…”…in my experience…be “normal because…of my education…

    A BPDer

  14. I have BPD and the older I get the harder it seems….. I have DCF in my life and its so hard for me to open up to anyone because of fear of them taking my children….. My anger and rage is out of control and I Dont know what to do…..

  15. I have BPD and and its seems to be getting worst especially my anger and rage….. I have DCF…. Which has made it very difficult for me to speak with anyone do to fear of them taking my children….. But I Dont know what to do….I am scared and I feel so alone….

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