Catastrophizing – Exaggerating the situation, making it seem more catastrophic than it actually is.

This can be a scary experience for someone with BPD. Believing situations are worse than they are can cause anxiety. But also thinking that things like conversations are going to go terribly wrong and that the situation is going to result in an argument or that things are going to be said. Imagining the situation to go many ways, but focusing on the worst way.

An over reaction of the situation can cause those around you to react saying things such as “yeah what ever” “your looking too deep into it” “don’t be so stupid” “stop being so negative all the time” “gosh be positive will you”. Catastrophizing can take a lot of energy and time, as focusing on the worst means there isn’t any time to see the best case scenarios. This is exhausting for the person with BPD and the people around them.

The loved ones and those close to the person with bpd are often most attacked. Situations that arise that normally wouldn’t cause any reactions are blown out of proportion. Loved ones can be told that they are cheating even without any evidence, or just because their loved one spoke to someone of the other sex. Friends can be accused of ignoring the person with BPD and can come under attack because the person started off thinking that they are ignoring them, then that they don’t want to talk to them, then start texting said friend, without thinking of the consequences then thinking of what could happen in result of the text, then thinking oh god what if I’ve just ruined the friendship, and start thinking about rejection.

Catastrophizing can also come from small thoughts. For example, watching the news and someone got raped in a daylight attack, this can cause a person with BPD to then start thinking, one thought can lead to another which leads to another and before you know it, they believe that they are going to be raped, all within a few minutes. This can lead to fear and paranoia. Should I go out every again, and start judging every man around them. Even leading to shouting to all men, I know what you are and if you come near me I will scream.

Recognising a person with BPD that they are catastrophizing events and situations, that they are coming to conclusions that are very unlikely and quite possibly will not happen, is vital in helping them to deal with it with the support of those around them. Listening to their concerns and helping them work through what they are thinking, is it justified? If so then fine, but if not, work through the thought process without judgement.

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