what is splitting?
Splitting is defined as a rapid change of emotions, but that’s not very specific. Despite the fact that splitting is an almost universal symptom for BPD individuals nobody really has put out the best description for it. I remember being very confused when I first heard of it and even more confused when my google searches came up without any real answer to what exactly splitting is. Truly the best way to define splitting is to describe it, but it tends to manifest itself in many ways, so I’ll do my best to cover them all.
Rage Split: A sudden anger that courses through the body sometimes without warning. Your chest will tighten and your vision may tunnel. A burning, aching feeling usually blossoms in my rib cage, like my heart is trying to break out and attack. Generally the primary emotion felt is anger. I become downright infuriated at someone or something for what could be no reason at all. This kind of split usually causes me to act impulsively, say things, I shouldn’t say, and lash out violently. It’s almost like catharsis in that it’s a release of emotions, or just this one overwhelming emotion. Sometimes I can’t really remember what I did or said during the split and looking back the memory is usually a blur.
Preparation Split: This is a split that usually isn’t acted on. Usually a scenario is imagined in the head of what somebody might say to you and how you’d respond. You start to gear up for this situation as if it’s actually going to happen. You begin to hate this person in question, despite the fact that what they ‘did/said’ was purely in your head. Then when the time comes and nothing happens you feel almost disappointed. Most importantly however the feelings of imagined anger and betrayal linger.
Isolation split: This is a split brought on by an extreme fear of abandonment and usually blindsides you unexpectedly out of nowhere. You could be at home, in school, at work, or even with friends and have the overwhelming feeling that everybody hates you. Not only that, but you have the desire to prove yourself wrong so you do the most rational (or in this case irrational) thing you can think of in an effort to get somebody to notice you: you cut yourself off. Now, for some borderlines this is just straight up cutting people out of your life aggressively and for no reason and then wondering why nobody is checking up on them. For others this might be withdrawing casually from social groups and conversations, desperately hoping for somebody to notice and ask if their okay. In both cases the borderline is either noticed, which brings on a sort of euphoria, or is unnoticed and will rage split on themselves (self harm, suicide attempts, risky behaviors, etc).
Those are the main ones that I come across, but here are some little ones!
Sadness split: A sudden feeling that the world had gone cold and empty and that nothing will bring you joy, ever. This could be mistaken as a symptom for depression, but usually these little splits resolve themselves within a matter of days or even hours.
Apathy split: The borderline no longer feels any emotion whatsoever. For borderlines this is a little bit of heaven that quickly turns into hell. We’re so used to experiencing everything at once that we don’t know how to cope with this new numbness, so we try to force ourselves into experiencing something. This may include self harm, dangerous/illegal activities, etc.
Silent split: Like a rage split in that it is anger fueled, but normally the impulsive behaviors are controlled. This is more common in quiet borderlines.
Euphoria split: This is a sudden ‘Everything is good and wonderful! Nothing will ever make me sad again!’ kind of emotion that results from getting the desired attention we crave. Borderlines will then become so wrapped up in this feeling that they neglect their real responsibilities, convinced that they will be okay and not having the permanence to remember the consequences of their actions.
Okay, I think that just about covers it. Just ask if you have any more questions!