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Stop Walking on Eggshells

Do you often feel like you are walking on eggshells with a friend or family member? 

Are you on edge because you don’t know when something you do or say will “set them off” to berate you? 

Does this person have intense mood swings where one moment they are happy, but a short time later they are deeply depressed or anxious?


Do they swing from extremely idealized love toward you and then intense dislike the next? 

Does this person have a fear of being alone or abandoned?

Are they impulsive, meaning that they might go on a sudden shopping spree or vacation they can’t afford, or an eating or drinking binge, or take part in another impulsive behaviour that is self damaging?

Do they often threaten to hurt themselves or commit suicide?  Are they miserable and have an inner sense of emptiness?

Some of us occasionally do some of these behaviours in a limited way (especially in our teenage or young adult years).  For example we may experience intense anger or buy something we can’t afford.  But psychologists state that if your friend or family member consistently shows these behaviours they might have a mental illness called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). 

The term “Borderline Personality Disorder” was first coined by psychiatrists in the 1930’s, although it doesn’t accurately describe the disorder, the name has stuck. Today some psychologists are using the term Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (Borderline Type) instead.

In their bestselling book entitled “Walking on Eggshells”, Paul Mason and Randi Kreger state that “it is very stressful to be around someone who may berate you at any moment with no visible provocation.  In an attempt to gain some control over what appear to be unpredictable BP behaviours, friends and family often find themselves on alert.  Being on heightened alert can wear down the body’s natural defenses against stress, leading to headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure, and other illnesses over time”.

Mason and Kreger write that BPD is extremely hard on families and friends since they are bewildered by the person’s behaviour.  The blame, anger, and accusations thrown at the family or friend creates isolation, loss of self-esteem, and a feeling of being trapped and helpless.  Family and friends will swallow their own anger, ignore their needs, forgive the transgressions over and over again, and accept behaviour that most people would find intolerable. 

If you are finding yourself in this situation you can stop walking on eggshells as there is hope for recovery.


Please consider reading Mason and Kreger’s book called The Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder as well as seeing a counsellor.  There is help for both the person with Borderline Personality Disorder and the friends and family members who love them.