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Standing on the Borderlinee

 

Nowadays I scrub myself clean of anything representing a stereotypical mentally ill person. No more will people say I remind them of Harley Quinn or Ramona Flowers, no more will I meet their sexualised expectation of a mentally ill woman. 

I’m dying my hair back, thinking carefully about the tattoos I want, I don’t fall asleep at 3am with some depressing playlist, and I’m finally selling all my lifeless clothes at the Sunday market. I no longer identify with that. I’m not proud of it, I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t me. 

I’m not insulted that I dress “basic” now, I’m not insulted I no longer meet your expectations of me. I traded my chains and fishnets for basic tees, and I feel better now.

 

As I reach for that abrasive loofah, I do contemplate why I can’t accept who I was when I was deep in the trenches, begging everyone to believe that it was a stranger, begging myself to believe that was never me. I’m not my illness, that’s not who I am, but as someone who has walked in my own shoes, shouldn’t I be a little more understanding of the roads I’ve travelled?

Too often I’m sitting on the fence between accepting myself and being okay with it or tearing any resemblance of mental illness and keeping it as far away as possible. How can I be okay with this, do you know what people say about me? 

 

Sometimes I feel like I must carry the agonising burden of being a spokesperson for BPD, those three words come up in a conversation and I feel eyes pierce me like they know a big secret I’m hiding. The desperate need to say something to disprove of borderline symptoms is haunting, cursed with the fear that people think I want this and I’m so quirky. Screw you TikTok.

 

Even the few positive attributes this illness gifts me is something I wish I could get a shovel and weed out of my garden. Everything feels like a double-edged sword, everything is a double-edged sword. A sweet sensitivity that snowballs into debilitating anxiety, compassion, and loyalty like a dog, and will never be reciprocated in any relationship. It is not fun fighting everyone else’s wars yet never being able to stand next to your own army.

Shame is unfortunately ingrained in me, one Google search and there’s more results on BPD being toxic manipulators than there are helpful resources. I walk around with a scarlet letter, people stop and stare knowing I’m a horrible, toxic gaslighter. Constantly scared that those around me walk on my field of landmines, running a never-ending marathon questioning, ‘what if I am the stereotype?’ It’s getting quite lonely locked away with a moat of eggshells and glass shards. 

 

Perhaps this is a perspective that changes with the years, right now detachment feels like a home, maybe I’ll keep dancing with these ideas. I am not borderline; I am not a borderline. No one says I am a thyroid problem, or I am a cold. The less I dwell on stereotypes and playing the painful losing game of trying to change people’s beliefs, the easier it is to cope. Maybe at the core of wanting to appear so extremely unwell is just simply wanting someone to care, not to be immediately seen like a monster.

Erica di Pierro

The author Erica di Pierro

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