What is borderline personality disorder? Joe Tracini shares his experience in powerful Zoe Ball interview: 'I'm not fine'

Joe Tracini pictured at a red carpet event, who has opened up about borderline personality disorder. (Getty Images)
Joe Tracini explains what living with borderline personality disorder is like, sharing 'the hard things'. (Getty Images)

Joe Tracini has opened up about his mental health in a powerful new interview sharing how he "can't find a reason to live most days, but can always find a reason not to die".

Appearing on BBC Radio 2's The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Tuesday 13 December, the actor-turned-author, 34, was asked by Ball about what it's like to live with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

"It's like bipolar. Essentially I've got an emotional disorder, so I feel things wrong and I often feel too much at the wrong times," he explains.

"To the point where life feels often unbearable because my plane of existence is very different to the common experience, and so yeah, that is basically what I'm doing, I just keep walking around trying to tell as many people as I can that I'm not alright."

He adds, bravely, "If you see me, I'm not fine."

Read more: Roman Kemp urges Brits to stop saying they're fine: 'There are devastating consequences'

Ball then praises his book, Ten Things I Hate About Me, describing it as "incredible" and "emotional" and that he "holds no punches", also referencing his acknowledgement within the book that he hates 'self-help' books.

"Really what the book is, is just me going, 'This is all of the awfulness that I feel, that I am and that I've done' because my brain tells me awful things, it tells me to do awful things and it tells me that I am even worse things," says Tracini.

"So my book is essentially me saying, 'This is how I live with me,' and if somebody else gets any help out of reading how I live with me then that's great. But the book was not essentially written to help anybody else, it is quite literally a self-help book, I needed to help me."

Zoe Ball attends press day at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at The Royal Hospital Chelsea on May 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Zoe Ball says Joe Tracini's book has helped her. (Getty Images)

Ball responds, becoming emotional, "I know, having had loved ones in my life who struggled with mental health and keeping themselves safe and keeping themselves here, how I know this book is a book that I think they would have got a lot from."

In terms of this experience, Ball may have been referring to her ex-partner Billy Yates who took his own life in 2018, a loss she has spoken about previously.

"And I do know that lots of people will read this book and they may not live with exactly what you're going through," she continues, "but they will understand so much, and your honesty is really going to help a lot of people. It's definitely helped me, Joe."

"I really appreciate that," says Tracini, "thank you, because it does make the awfulness worth something."

He adds, "What I am trying to do is just listen to the fact that people do care about me, more than I do, and I know it's really, really difficult to put across to other humans about any sort of level of self-hatred in a way that makes sense without another human wanting to help, or say 'It's alright because actually you're lovely'.

"Actually I'm not, but I know that you think I am, and that is fine, and that is enough."

Tracini also explains what he tries to focus on to help how he feels: "It's important to remind myself that I'm the only person that doesn't want me to be here, and when you say that you like me, you are not lying and I need to try and pay attention to that while I'm in front of you, because when I leave I'll forget."

Read more: Kathy Burke considered taking own life during menopause: 'I’ve always had bouts of depression, but this was something else entirely'

Watch: Madison Beer felt 'afraid' to acknowledge BPD diagnosis

Ball goes on to discuss (relatable for many) that when you have loved ones who are struggling, it can often be difficult to know what to do to help or say, asking Tracini for advice.

"Unfortunately there are zero ways to assist, really, even if somebody has the same thing in my brain as me, the rest of my brain is mine so it will always come out of me in different ways," he answers frankly.

"There is nothing you can say to help anybody, apart from the fact that you just listen."

He later adds, getting emotional himself, "The only sort of positive that I could offer is the fact that I really, really struggle with being alive, and that is not my fault, but even on my worst days... I can't find a reason to live most days, but I can always find a reason not to die, which is that I don't deserve to die alone."

"No," agrees Ball.

"It's a hard thing to sit opposite you and say, but I know that sometimes it's worth saying the hard things," Tracini shares, with Ball again agreeing, "You're so right, you're so right," before adding, "It's important that you talk about these things".

Playing some music, she says, "Joe you are wonderful", to which he responds, "Thanks, so are you."

What is borderline personality disorder?

Man having therapy. (Getty Images)
Treatment for borderline personality disorder could be psychological, which may involve individual or group therapies. (Getty Images)

BPD is a disorder that affects mood and how you interact with others, and is the most commonly recognised personality disorder, according to the NHS.

Generally, someone with BPD will differ significantly in how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others.

Many people with BPD may also have other mental health or behaviour related conditions, such as anxiety, bipolar, depression or substance abuse.


BPD symptoms are made up of four main areas:

  • emotional instability – 'affective dysregulation' is the psychological term

  • disturbed patterns of thinking or perception – known as 'cognitive distortions' or 'perceptual distortions'

  • impulsive behaviour

  • intense but unstable relationships with others

Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and usually emerge in adolescence, persisting into adulthood, the health service explains.


The causes of BPD aren't known for sure, though it appears to result from both genetic and environmental factors. While those living with the condition come from a variety of backgrounds, most will have experienced some kind of trauma or neglect as children.

Read more: The most common mental health conditions - and where to get help

If you think you may be experiencing BPD symptoms, speak to a GP, who can rule out other mental health conditions, assess the risk to your health and wellbeing, and refer you for treatment if you need it, which could be psychological or medical.

The NHS points out that over time, many people with BPD do overcome their symptoms and recover, with additional treatment an option for those whose symptoms return. As it can be very serious, often prompting self-harm or suicide attempts, don't delay in seeking professional advice or help.

For more information on the condition, visit the NHS website.

Mind's infoline can be reached on 03001233393, open 10am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays), and Samaritans can be reached on 116 123 any time, day or night, or via its email at jo@samaritans.org for a response within 24 hours.

Experiencing suicidal thoughts can be complicated, frightening and confusing, but help is out there. See this page on what to expect from talking with the Samaritans. For more information on how to support someone with suicidal thoughts, please see this Samaritans page.

For urgent care, call 999 or visit your nearest A&E.