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Mind Matters | Fear of abandonment

Mind Matters | Fear of abandonment

Query

I am a 21-year-old woman who was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder five years ago. I have been taking medicines since and though my condition has improved, I still have a problem with my abandonment issues, one of the BPD’s symptoms. I constantly feel like my loved ones are abandoning me, when that is patently untrue. Even if someone does not pick up my call, I start thinking that I am being ignored. This constant need for attention and validation is annoying. Despite being fully aware of this, I am still unable to shake it off. How do I convince myself? —R.M 

Answered by Tashi Gurung, Counseling Psychologist, Happy Minds

I appreciate the fact that you are aware about what is happening to you. Not all are able to identify, let alone accept, what is happening to them. Many are in denial. So you should give yourself some credit for being aware.

Now about you feeling abandoned, I suggest you validate your emotions. Most of the time we try to suppress our feelings and avoid addressing them. So when you feel this way next time, ask yourself this: Would you ignore someone who is feeling terrible and tell them their emotions aren’t valid? You wouldn’t. Rather, you would sit them down and have a deep conversation, show them kindness and compassion. It is necessary for you to treat yourself the same way. Be kind to yourself the way you would be to others. 

You have mentioned how even a small issue makes you feel anxious and abandoned. In this case, have a conversation with your loved one. Rather than being vague about it, be precise. Tell them what you want. For instance, I believe the reason you panic when someone does not pick up your call is because of the uncertainty involved. You are not certain about when you will get a call back, or why your call isn’t being answered. In such a case, you can explain to your loved ones about how you feel and maybe find a common ground that is comfortable to both of you. Perhaps you can ask them to leave a text message saying when they will be free, or when they can accept your call—something to give you a sense of certainty. 

Another thing, rather than blaming others for ignoring you, explain to them how their actions or lack thereof make you feel. It could be a way to start a meaningful conversation, rather than turning into an argument. 

If you find it difficult to employ these practices, you can seek professional help. Make an appointment with a counselor who can instruct you. There are also mindfulness exercises and cognitive behavioral therapy that could help you. 

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