No one cares. My brain tells me this every time I have a fight with someone who I love, every time I get left out of a social gathering, every time I’m feeling lonely. ‘No one cares’ is a grotesque monster that claws its way into my chest and feasts on tiny slivers of my heart. It sneaks in, barely noticed, and has already wrapped its spiny arms around my chest by the time I hear it. ‘No one cares’ is as regular and as natural as my heartbeat, a mantra that has played out in my brain for years on end.
‘No one cares’ has been my best friend through years of self harm and self-destructive behaviour. It has sat next to me and cheered me through suicidal feelings and impulses. It has convinced me, with bittersweet words, that everyone in the world would be happier without me. ‘No one cares’ has stretched its arms out and thrust my partner away in the middle of a breakdown, yelling at him that he doesn’t care even as he tries to comfort me. It has held my hand steady and stopped me from calling friends in a time of crisis.
‘No one cares’ lies beside me in bed and gently cradles my head in moments of sadness. It whispers to me that it alone is with me, and that I could never get this comfort from anyone or anything else.
‘No one cares’ and borderline personality disorder.
For a long time, I didn’t challenge the idea that no one cares. It comes to me as naturally as breathing. A series of unstable friendships throughout my life has taught me that a lot of people give up on me when the going gets tough. My unpredictable moods, self-destructive behaviour, manipulative words, and closed-off nature drove several people out of my life. I accepted the idea that no one cares enough about me to love me through the painful times.
When I received my diagnosis for borderline personality disorder, I noticed that feelings of isolation and loneliness are common to the disorder. A lot of it comes from experiencing severe emotional fluctuations and irrational thoughts that most people seem not to understand. When you feel alone in your thoughts and experiences, ‘no one understands’ can very quickly grow into ‘no one cares’.
Those, like myself, who live with borderline personality disorder often have a history of unstable and turbulent relationships, which further reinforces this idea. When your relationships and friendships often fail, taper off, or are filled with constant drama, it’s easy to feel like other people don’t care enough about you. When you have a nasty voice in your brain that wants to bring you down all the time, ‘no one cares’ comes very naturally.
‘No one cares’ allows you to self-isolate for protection.
It took me years to realise that believing in ‘no one cares’ keeps you feeling safe. When you are terrified of abandonment and losing relationships, then expecting them to end from the outset is a form of self-preservation. Intimacy is terrifying when you are afraid of abandonment, and ‘no one cares’ lets you avoid that intimacy. When you expect no one to care, you can keep your emotions close to your chest and not allow yourself to be vulnerable with others. When you view yourself standing alone in the world, it hurts less when people don’t meet your expectations.
‘No one cares’ can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The danger in believing that no one cares is that if you keep yourself distant for self-preservation, then no one can care as much as you need. If people don’t know your emotional state or personal aspects of your life, then they can never feel truly close to you. If you hold everyone at arm’s length to protect yourself, then eventually those people will care less about you out of necessity. It’s hard to love and feel closeness with someone who continually shuts you out and shuts you down. ‘No one cares’ can start as an irrational mantra, and slowly warp into something that resembles the truth.
As much as you try to push everyone away and believe that no one cares, the fact is that someone cares. You don’t need to be close to someone for them to care if you live or die. If you consider all the people who you work or study with, you likely care about them. They are not your best friends, but you would care if they were struggling or in crisis. Your friends and family most likely care about you a lot, even if you are reluctant to let them close. If you look at it logically, it’s almost impossible for no one to care about you.
Logic doesn’t sit well when faced with the turbulent emotions of ‘no one cares’, but it pays to remind yourself of the kindnesses of other people. The times that others have reached out to you when they noticed you were struggling. The ways your friends, family, or partner check up on you in times of sadness. You can get so caught up in your head that you lose track of the little things that other people do to show you that they care.
‘No one cares’ is a dangerous habit that feeds into a comfortable negative mindset. It allows you to keep feeling alone and keep feeling bad about yourself. It seems to make a lot of sense, particularly when you have a very low opinion of yourself, but it is very rarely the reality. People are not islands, and I promise you that someone, somewhere, cares. If nothing else, I care.
If you are in emotional crisis, please contact a crisis hotline like Lifeline– 13 11 14.