When I got my borderline diagnosis I was almost even relieved. Relieved that I am not alone, that my condition and dissociative experiences actually have a name. That there were others who self-harmed. Others who have felt suicidal for most of their lives. That I wasn’t just a standalone individual who was affected by an unrelenting curse others seemed to have evaded. Every question I ever had about myself seemed to be answered as the pieces of the invisible puzzle were finally grafted together. But it turned out this diagnosis will hurt me more than it helps me. It did not take long to take notice of how people treat borderlines. I remember reading a website that told you to run if your significant other turns out to be borderline, Christian pages that insisted borderlines are destined to hell by nature… and most sadly ”professional” articles that made us all look like attention-seeking, manipulative, promiscuous, unbearable drama-queens who do not deserve to be cared for by mental health professionals. The media did not help us much either. Almost every film depicting borderline employs unlikeable characters, who pose an immediate threat to everything they touch. At first, I wanted to write about how I don’t fulfil the stereotypes, but then I thought of something different. The story I want to share is how it feels to be stigmatized. How it feels to never be taken seriously even when you get to the verge of suicide.
It feels like being buried alive. Just imagine it. You wake up in the darkness. At first, you are just confused. You don’t know where you are, how you got there and how you will get out. Then you tap the four walls of the coffin and slowly realize you’ve been buried alive. Suddenly the air runs out. Not because all air is gone but due to the panic that chills your bones in an instance. You scream with your heart in your neck for hours but then you have to make the terrible realization that no one is going to hear you. You are just buried too deep. You don’t know if it is night or day outside but inside it makes no difference anymore. You start scratching the lid of the coffin as if to claw your way out. It takes immense effort. Meanwhile the thoughts just race through your head. Thoughts like ”Has no one seen I am still breathing?” or ”I have to die now just because people thought I was dead”. In the end your strength leaves you and you just don’t fight anymore. Years later they exhume you… just to find the marks of your nails on the lid. Then come the ”should have-s” and the ”could have-s” but that does not save you now does it.
It feels like becoming a ghost. The people shift by you, step through you… talking about wishing you were there. Wishing you were something else. Visibly present. They reminisce on how different you were before. So full of life. So pleasant for the eye. They wish they could get through to you but in reality it is you who cannot get through to them. You wave, scream, shake your head frantically… Try to tell them you are still there. In vain. You are no longer one of them. They can no longer accept you.
The only difference is… when you are a ghost no one blames you for becoming one. When you are a borderline you have to face such a vast amount of shaming. Blame. Suddenly everything you say is a lie and everyone who encounters you should just run for it. Suddenly your condition is your fault, and you just don’t get better because you are not trying hard enough. Even today these sentences make me want to crawl into a hole and hide. But I will not hide. I will no longer succumb to silence.
Because maybe you have the same experiences, which is why I want to leave you with some good thoughts. You are not a monster. You are worth caring for. You are lovable, and I wish you would join me in standing up against the stigma in any way you can.