Depressed People With BPD Can't 'Choose to be Happy'

September 7, 2016 Laura Lewis

I have borderline personality disorder (BPD), and I usually cringe when I hear someone say, "Choose to be happy." First I feel angry at the whole world for not understanding me. After I realize that I'm being a victim and blaming others for my pain, I then shift the blame to myself. I punish myself, and think, "It's my fault I can't choose to be happy. Something is wrong with me. I'm defective. I'm not trying hard enough."

Depressed Borderlines Can't Always Choose Happiness

Living with borderline personality disorder and depression make choosing happiness practically impossible. But we can choose to feel better. Here's how.Countless times, my psychiatrist has reminded me that it is not my fault that I am depressed. A few weeks ago I was severely depressed. Someone told me during that time that I need to choose to be happy. I slouched in my doctor's office in tears, unable to bear the weight of my own shame (Feeling Guilty Because You Have A Mental Illness). In anguish I cried, "I want to choose to be happy. I really do, but I can't."

My doctor gently and lovingly said, "Happiness is a choice to people with healthy brains. Your brain, however, is not functioning well because it's depressed (PET scan of depressed brain). You are not able to simply decide to be happy. You work very hard. I don't think you can work any harder. I want you to recognize that and have compassion for yourself. You are a good person." Relief washed over my entire body. I sat up straighter and took a deep breath. Looking into his eyes, which I rarely do, I thanked him for once again telling me that my mental illness is not my fault.

Depressed People With Borderline Personality Disorder Have Other Choices

Choose to End Self-Blame and Self-Stigma

Though I may not be able to choose happiness, there are a few things that I can do that may lighten my burden of having BPD and depression. Most importantly, I can stop blaming myself for feeling pain. The guilt and shame only serve to double the suffering. Borderlines tend to punish ourselves for feeling unpleasant emotions. I want to have compassion for myself. I want to love and accept myself even when I am in turmoil. That is definitely a choice.

Choose Gratitude to Ease Pain

Another choice I can make is to focus on gratitude more often. Sometimes people with BPD can get lost in our emotional suffering, and forget to acknowledge the good in our lives. Some may even say, "There is no good in my life." If you are one who says that, use the statement as a reminder to think of at least one experience, object, person or place that you love, enjoy or have enjoyed in your life.

Though all borderlines may not be able to choose happiness, we are not totally helpless or hopeless. We can make decisions that positively affect our lives.

Don't give up. We can do this.

APA Reference
Lewis, L. (2016, September 7). Depressed People With BPD Can't 'Choose to be Happy', HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 20 from

Author: Laura Lewis

Octavia conley
March, 21 2022 at 3:11 am

My son James has bdp but is such an incredible young man no matter how hes condition affects him ill always try to understand and surport him

January, 22 2019 at 9:59 am

I’ve suffered from BPD for over 20 years. I’ve had three marriages and they all had tremendous turmoil due to my destructive behavior. Through all of this, the one thing I’ve learned is that you must admit that you have a problem and then it makes it easier to identify negative thinking patterns as “abnormal”. This is the first step in replacing these negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Katie williams
July, 22 2018 at 2:13 pm

My name is Katie and I have bpd. It is the worst feeling in the world. I have the most beautiful family two wonderful children and partner of ten years and even though I love them more than anything my head still remains dark. Nothing really truly makes me happy. I don't want to get up but I do I feel so tired all of the time. I feel emotional and sad. I could just sit on silence alone all day. I wish I didn't feel this way.

Tom Grinley
August, 16 2017 at 5:43 am

This is the second article I just read that failed to use people first language. The first referred to "bipolars" and this refers to "borderlines". I would think this would be one forum where we wouldn't have to tolerate this kind is disrespect.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
August, 16 2017 at 7:57 am

Hi Tom,
I'm sorry that you find this disrespectful. As all our authors have mental illnesses, I can assure you, that is not the intent.
We at HealthyPlace encourage our writers to express themselves in the manner in which they feel comfortable and while I understand certain things are considered politically correct, we do not impose that on our writers here.
- Natasha Tracy
- Blog Manager

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 6 2018 at 6:09 am

Natasha, i can gauruntee you 100% that anyone suffering any symptoms of bpd or bipolar will not be worried about the language used. Just hearing the same worries, fears, intensity in love and hate and guilt over so much negative behaviour in what couldve been meaningful relationships is scary, but also some of the most reassuring words i could ever hear. I think (and im sure anyone in same position would think) that stopping the negative behaviour and actually working towards building a positive relationship in my life, is much more important than terminology used to describe a sufferer! I call myself MUUUUCH worse things on a minute by minute basis anyway ;)
Thank you so much for what you do

Gloria L J Casselman
August, 2 2017 at 5:36 pm

Hi I'm Glo I have borderline. I want to kill myself every day, but I don't. The reason why I don't, no matter how badly I want to, is because I have people who love me especially the children in my family. I just had an adhesion removal surgery. All of my internal organs were stuck together from the scar tissue that first arrived in my pelvic region when I was 3 years old. There were 3 men who sexually abused me my sister and my cousin, we had to watch. The first time I tried to kill myself I was 8 years old. Every year that has gone by since then I have added at least one more attempt... I was raped again 5 years ago by someone who I thought was my best friend. We are still dealing with courte and restraining orders. He breeches probation a lot so I always get subpoenas. It's very stressful. I have PTSD depression and anxiety, I also starve myself sometimes. I don't sleep much at night because I have horrible nightmares and I am too scared to sleep. I heavily used drugs and alcohol for many years but I'm sober now. I take my prescriptions when I'm supposed to. I am starting a group therapy DBT in September and I'm very excited to learn some new skills to help me stop attempting suicide, stop thinking about suicide, have less flash backs and nightmares. I hope I can learn to be less impulsive and stop self harming. I want to be healthy. I believe I will succeed because I know I won't give up until I can look at myself in the mirror.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ayla brightlight
September, 21 2019 at 2:37 pm

Hi Glo
I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal.I have bpd too but nothing that traumatic happened to me, I lost my twin sister but cannot even begin to imagine the amount of suffering you went through. I never reply topmasts anywhere but I just wanted to send you all my love and healing thought, I admire your spirit and incredible courage. I feel you are a hugely beautiful person. I hope you can see the light within you, know that none of it was your fault, and while can't be erased, that you can find ways to help other people and create wonderful things even if they come from a place of pain. I know how incredibly hard it is to live with bpd, me I end up hurting the ones I love most and always end up ashamed and terrified they'd abandon me like I was abandoned at birth. I don't know why the world is such a hard place to live in, but I do feel life is a gift, we have one, we should treasure it and there are no challenges we can't handle or we simply wouldn't be here. I learned that my daughter in law had been raped many times when she was 5. I live in Africa and I am aware it might be more common than we think, but she shared this with me, and at now 15, I am amazed at the amazing girl she has been able to become with no one truly there emotionally by her side. my heart goes out to you, your family, and everyone who suffers. they say suffering is a choice, I try my best every day, and hope for a miracle. I am finding joy in writing children s books to try and bring some magic and comfort in their childhood. I know you will find something powerful to do that will help change people's lives. you are so brave and strong, and loveable, always have been, always will be. no one can take that from you. you are a lightbulb that, no matter how many filters or boxes society, people etc have covered you with, you still shine brightly underneath, with the same intensity as when you sere born! I am sending you the brightest waves of pure unconditional love for the pure amazing soul and being that you are xxx

June, 7 2017 at 7:38 am

I've reactly noticed that I have bpd even tho I was dienoced with this two years ago ... I've recently had a baby and I haven't been able to control my depression feeling empty inside & I find myself making up reasons to fight with my bf which is really pushing him away all I want in life is happiness & I feel even sadder when I think I can never just simply be happy ...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Lisa Fore
July, 7 2017 at 1:21 pm

I hate you, don't leave me haunts me. I have accomplished so much in the last 5 years and yet to commend myself is nearly impossible. I need to feel needed and yet I want to show people I am strong. This is the first time I have been on this site. I have all the recommended books, a tool box bigger than the sky and yet I am still missing something. Today I saw a therapist who told me I need to grow-up. I agreed. I am going to be 53.My original diagnosis was chronic depression just a chemical imbalance. Today I spend a lot of time wanting to know why and where and why can't I find it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 24 2018 at 10:15 pm

Seems like you have post pardom depression added to your bpd. Or maybe just the added stress is triggering you more. Hope you can seek help (dialectical behavioral therapy) and be happy again.

May, 27 2017 at 9:31 pm

I am being trolled by a BPD who has consequently let me know she loves to make others unhappy, Anyway- she can, and she can't or won't stop, b/c it feels so good to do wrong to others b/c she herself is so happy in doing it. She actually told me she loves to hurt, or burn others. I laugh now b/c she's worn out her welcome a long time ago, and I've told her many times I don't want her friendship, but she loves me so much, she's always there on every social media, shopping sites, mental health columns, FB on and on. She always establishes several different accounts, so if she's kicked off, she'll use another identity. She's online maybe 18 hours a day b/c her husband left her and she just goes from one site to another looking for ''fake help.'' She pretends she has bipolar, b/c she's ashamed to say she has BPD. There is no mental site she isn't or hasn't been on. BPD is way worse than others know. Her fake names have a double consonant or vowel-fyi She's hopeless.

September, 11 2016 at 5:57 pm

i suffer from BPD and this really hit home. I'm sick (getting surgery in a few days) and haven't been able to work and i feel like a loser and I've been spiraling. i do try hard to be the best version of myself but i feel that guilt too. thank you for posting these

September, 7 2016 at 5:37 am

What's up mates, good post and good urging commented here, I am actually enjoying by these.

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