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Blue Water
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Starry Sky


            “He said you were acting…‘borderliney’”. That feeling, oh that feeling. I’m not even a person when that feeling hits me. No, I am entirely emotion. Entirely the emotions that make me “Borderline”. And what a horrible thing, I thought, to be “Borderline”. I would’ve chosen anything else. Anything but that. Anything but the disorder that is a therapist’s deepest red of red flags. Being reserved and quiet, timid, these things did not conceal my borderline nature, they did not protect me; nothing did. It was the sickness I suffered from so deeply, and a sickness that no matter how much effort I put into hiding it, I never could. It would always come to the surface. And it would be like, wait, what? She gets frantic? Where did this come from? My personality was this chaotic confusion for people who experienced it, and my god, I hated this about myself. I’d be a terrible surprise to people, the dreaded borderline surprise.

            Borderliney. I kept my composure when I heard the word, but only for a short few minutes before I made my escape to the nearest bathroom. Tears, so many borderline tears. The worst insult that would ever find me, I thought, was to be called out for the demons that inhibit me, the demons that call the shots. I hated the word. And I hated me. But the thing is, that I had no idea that the story could ever shift at the time. I had a mind, but it was a mind that I did not have control of; it had control of me, and I suffocated from the emotions that never made sense. Give it a couple years, I can look at that word now. It doesn’t hurt me. It does not send me to the bathroom to drown in a puddle of tears. Borderliney. These words used to make me cry. I laugh. I laugh at that immature boy that stigmatized me with that word.

            “You’re just too much”. Too much. I had heard it so frequently and in the worst of contexts that its reappearances elicited that feeling, entirely emotion. Too much. Don’t say that. Don’t say that. I hate those words. I told him how I hated those two words. I told him not to use them. He didn’t get it, and they never did. They never got it; I didn’t even get it myself. Being a too much, borderliney, chaotic girl with running mascara meant being an alien in a world of small emotions and mundanity. Why I housed so much chaos, I simply could not understand. It seemed, no one else did. I wanted to run away from it, but it was my shadow. It seemed; I was born cursed. I hadn’t always known the name for my curse and learning the name was simultaneously validating and destructive. I had a name for my chaos. I had a name for being too much. Borderline. I’m Borderline and what a horrible thing, I thought, to be “Borderline”.

            I rewrote that story. Being too much is a great thing about me-and I think it’s a great thing about most people that inhibit chaos. If I weren’t too much, I wouldn’t be able to create in the ways that I do and creating was what brought joy back into my life. If I weren’t too much, well, I’d be boring, and nothing scares me more if I’m honest. I love a multifaceted, chaotic human. My world used to be so textbook borderline that it was painted in black in white. Not a stroke of grey to be found, and certainly not a single color. I saw that being borderline was not a curse after all and this realization lifted the heaviness of my suffering. The way I was beginning to see it was that no matter what, I would always live in chaos. I would always be too much. I would always be emotional, “sensitive”, whatever, and that could mean I was trapped by my 9 demons indefinitely. Or it could mean that I dance circles around them and color in that black and white world. But there would be no in between, I thought. There would be no normalcy, no mundane personality that blended in-and for the first time this was comforting to know. I found comfort in this diagnosis because being “borderline” sure meant a lot, but it wasn’t black and white. It did not mean having a broken personality that should come with a warning label. It meant being different and the way I see it, I can do what I want with that.


            “You’re too much”. “You’re so sensitive”. “She was acting Borderliney”. Oh, but it gets worse, every person like me knows that. “She’s attention seeking”. Manipulative. Behavioral. Dramatic. Obsessive. Desperate. Fragile. Intense. Crazy. A liability. A responsibility. A suicide risk. We can’t take care of you. You belong in hospitals. And they all hurt beyond belief. Those words elicited exactly what made me those words-that borderline chaos, my shadow. But I was wrong in believing that I amounted to those words. Those words used to make me cry. For me, recovery has meant a whole lot of taking my power back. I decide what words I amount to. I sure don’t have power over the stigma that provoked so much shame. The stigma that was responsible for my belief that being borderline meant having a broken personality beyond repair, and a life of suffering-or worse, a life cut short. I think- I did not know my value. I don’t want anyone to feel that way. Some of the most amazing people that have crossed my path have had this disorder and I can’t stress it enough; what beautiful souls. Misunderstood souls. But being misunderstood says something about the world and absolutely nothing about you. If those words make you cry, I just want people like me to know, that story can change. If those words make you cry-I challenge you to use a little opposite action; ironically wear it. It doesn’t have to hurt you. And someday, it won’t.

            Liability was a word that made me feel worthless. It made me feel so beyond less than human. I was simply a responsibility no one wanted in their hands. They looked at me like I was a problem, not a human with problems. But I left that environment and worked tremendously hard to begin to take my power back; a piece of art was born, and it consisted of my treatment documentation cut up and pasted into a collage. I think changing a narrative can look different for everyone but for me, it has been about visual manifestations that tell a new story. To them, I was this fragile liability with a body and mind that had no value at all. I put it on paper. And later I put it on fabric. Because taking my power back can look like wearing the word quite literally. It can’t hurt me-it’s written on me. Too much? I’m happy to be too much. “Borderline personality disorder”-those words don’t scare me anymore. I put them on a shirt. I took my power back to anyone that has ever looked at me like I was some sort of foreign alien because of my illness.

I don’t think of BPD as a curse at all anymore. I think of it as a tremendously painful illness that almost took my life. I think of it as the reasons that I have this valuable personality. I think of BPD as empathetic, creative, intelligent, excitable, passionate. I think of BPD as an illness with endless moving parts. It is not black and white, even if that is all you can see. There is always color there. And there was always color there for me, I just hadn’t known that I could make that color myself. I thought I would need help holding that paintbrush, I thought I would need help mixing those colors. I wish I had known; it was never going to be the marks of someone else that set me free. Hope felt unobtainable but it was not in the people I expected to help me; not at all. I colored in those black and white pages on my own, with the very little strength that I had. And let me tell you, if I told myself this a year ago, I would have immediately looked away out of certainty that I was indeed cursed. Liability. Attention seeking. Way too much. Borderliney. There was a time where those words sent me to that nearest bathroom in a puddle of those endless borderline tears. I don’t approach most things conventionally, that is for sure. Taking my power back and standing up to stigma, for me, will never look like sugar coated quotes I don’t believe in or generic phrases like “positive vibes only”. In my recovery, nothing has been more impactful than looking right at every one of those nasty words. I won’t avoid them; I won’t pretend they mean nothing to me. They mean a lot-but not in the ways they used to; I changed the story. Oh, they used to hurt so badly. They could easily ruin a day or two. It brings me so much joy that I can say, those words used to make me cry.

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