bright girl, dull future

i used to be the girl who everybody talked about owning the world. the one who would be the boss of all her bullies one day. the girl who could be anything she wanted, with all the opportunities life could afford her. she could be a doctor, a vet, a physiotherapist, a surgeon, an astrophysicist, a chemist, a writer, an actress, a make-up artist, a painter… anything.

the world was my oyster, but the pearl never formed.

i think maybe, that the constant, relentless weight of expectation contributes more to my mental health than people may perhaps realise. it’s the sense of relief from receiving a high distinction, before realising that people will only ever focus on the 3% of mistakes, not the 97% of knowledge. i love learning. i love studying. i kinda even love exams, in a very nerdy way. but i despise the comparative competition.

it hurts.

for the 97% of my life to be ignored, and the 3% ostracised over and over again.

lately, i’ve given up on things. i still study, because who would i be if i wasn’t studying, but i no longer give a fuck about that 3%. it could be 50% for all i care. because i can be fucking anything. the world is my oyster and if it hasn’t formed yet then i will damn well force it to solidify.

i can sense the disappointment in the air. as if the bright girl has discarded her future for writing poetry, and body art, and self harm.

they think my future is dull but i don’t care. i have seen and done things in my short twenty years that most people will never experience in a lifetime (thankfully). i have been ridiculed, i have been restrained, and hospitalised against my will, and attempted suicide ten times, and am having a relapse with my casual love of self harm. and i’m trying to convince everyone that i’m struggling.

but all they see is the dull future. they refuse to see the bright girl down there. they would rather be disappointed than intervene. i have survived, and i am surviving, and i am slowly learning how to live and if that doesn’t make my future seem fucking bright then i don’t know if anything will.


This was supposed to be a city

synonymous with starting over.

Somewhere to reinvent myself

with ink and piercings and an undercut,

with the kinds of things a bright girl

would use to dull her future.

Not only did I remake myself,

I redesigned my body,

ploughing furrows over

the fertile flesh of thighs,

burning crop circles

into flammable forearms

and transforming wrists

into rivers and rivulets

running scarlet.

This was supposed to be a city

of embrace, of exploring

the beautiful brutality of being.

Somewhere to learn

that worth is not earned

with grades and blades

and perfection hunting,

with the kinds of things a bright girl

like me relies on to build her future.

Cuffed, battered, and bruised.

As with the other times I have been forcibly restrained, being handcuffed and held down by four (five? six?) police officers against my will was not a pleasant experience.

My hair is (still) full of leaves. My mind is full of trauma. Not only is my body a patchwork of pink and silver scars, but now purple and green and brown patches mar its surface too. There are rings on my wrists from fighting against handcuffs, before they were replaced with softer restraints in the ambulance. My eye is black from punching myself repeatedly in the face before the police held my arms by my sides. My elbows, sides and thighs all ache from attempts to wriggle free. My throat is hoarse from screaming at them to stop, to let go, to just let me die.

They didn’t let up, not until I was “more compliant” after being sedated.

On a somewhat lighter note, the police thought I was very strong, which apparently I was supposed to take as a compliment even while their palms pushed at my body and hands held down my head. I could hear them joking about it. It didn’t feel good to be laughed at, laughed about, while my rights were violated at the same time.

The next thing I remember is waking up on Monday morning, hungover, and drowsy from the remnants of sedative coursing through my circulation. I remember ambulance officers, but I don’t remember getting in the ambulance. I remember being restrained, but I don’t remember those restraints being taken off. I remember talking to the mental health team, but not what I said.

What I do remember, very clearly, is the anguish of being restrained once again.

Just another traumatic chapter added to my life story.

Scars, sisters, and scarred sisterhood

I have a sister. Although I don’t mind revealing my identity, I want to keep hers private, so let’s call her K.

K and I were never close. K and I never talked. But recently, K got engaged, and then her fiance’s dad passed away.

And, suddenly, I was receiving middle of the night texts when she couldn’t sleep, asking if I was up and wanted to talk.

For the first time ever.

Since she was having a tough time, I welcomed her into my life for a day. We hung out. It was nice. She has never been to Sydney, so in typical tourist fashion, I took her to The City, for some classic selfies with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. I think she enjoyed it, but honestly it’s hard to tell. I always thought I was the closed off one, but maybe I retreated so far within myself I never noticed the similarities between K and I.

I haven’t seen her for nearly two years. And in that time, as regular readers will know, my mental health hasn’t exactly been great. I have been self-harming since I was fifteen or sixteen, but until this year, I never self-harmed on my wrists. So K was pretty confronted today, when she saw my scars.

Some of what she said upset me, and I could tell she was upset, as she asked me why with tears in her eyes. So I told her: I hate myself, and I hate being alive a lot of the time, and I deserve to be punished for making mistakes and taking up too much space.

Those aren’t real reasons, she said.

That hurt. (It also made me want to cut… which I know is the opposite of what K would have wanted, but it just hurt so much, and I needed to make that pain apparent. I didn’t though. I binged instead. Which will probably lead into some self harm later anyway, but then at least K isn’t directly responsible.)

But I suppose, seeing your younger sister for the first time in a long time, with her mental health finally visible for all too see, would have hurt too.

Like my flesh, I suppose our sisterhood is scarred in some ways. I know we didn’t get along well when we both lived at home, and I know I was often provocative. But I also know that I felt entirely inadequate next to her. I also know that sometimes, the things she said made it seem as though she knew my struggles and was just another person bullying me about it.

A sister, scarred, and a scarred sisterhood. Hand in hand, I hope we can heal each other.

Justice Seeking

Does it ever achieve anything, really?

Will filing a complaint, spending so much time regurgitating the last few months that I rely on my journal to remember, since I dissociate so much, actually change anything for anyone?

It certainly won’t change what’s happened to me. It certainly won’t change the string of emergency department presentations and immediate discharge that have occurred over the past two months. People say that when you feel suicidal, you go to the hospital.

They never told me the hospital wouldn’t help.

In the past two weeks, I have attempted suicide three times, presented to hospital five times, and been admitted only once. Even after absconding from police schedule, I was discharged a few hours later. Even after being stitched up, and confessing I probably would do it again, and I probably wasn’t safe by myself, I was discharged again. Again and again and again I am seeking help, the most proactive and the most compliant I have ever been, and still that help is denied to me?

Does that shock you? It shocks me, as the person saying they were unsafe. It shocks my friends, as the people who take me to hospital, and as the people concerned when I am discharged repeatedly, and proceed to hurt myself some more, repeatedly.

Something is failing here.

It could be the three letters that emblazon my file, those three unfortunately stigmatised letters: bee pee dee. I wonder, without that diagnosis, would the same thing have occurred. If it was depression, and only depression, driving my suicidal acts, would that change things? Are clinicians really so misunderstanding of Borderlines? Still?

I am not seeking attention. I am seeking help. I am asking for a safe space, when I can’t find one anywhere else. I am asking for a safe place because I make every other place dangerous. Because my head is trying to kill me.

I’m seeking justice not for me, but for the people like me: the person who is discharged proceeds to kill themselves successfully, because they’ve been given another opportunity. There is the very, very real possibility that I could have been that person. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem to stick with those charged with keeping me safe.

Three Storeys

This is going to be a messy post. I’m struggling tonight. So I’m trying to cope with words. Trying to vent out the pain.

i’m giving up on capitals, and most of the required punctuation too – who needs capital letters anyway? not me.

i have been in and out of hospital more in the past three weeks than i have in the other twenty years of my life. in and out of the ambulance. in and out of the arms of paramedics. in and out of restraints and the comatose state of sedation that i find myself in, as i crawl across the floor searching for knives and bang my body into the ground repeatedly, as if that will stop them grabbing me.

why does it always end up like this. why am i always seeking death when i should be celebrating my twenties, celebrating life, enjoying my studies and my friendships and all the dumb shit that twenty year olds do, like party and drink and act recklessly.

all i want to do is jump off my balcony. but i dont think it’s high enough to cause serious damage. it would probably just hurt. three floors to fall doesn’t seem like enough.

fuck. i am one useless, worthless, hopeless piece of shit. i’m pathetic. i can’t even kill myself properly. not with codeine, not with alcohol – not with the poisons that are supposed to do the job. and why do people keep insisting on saving me. I DONT WANT TO BE SAVED/

I NEED A PERMANENT SOLUTION.

if i had a gun, i would have been dead years ago. what can i use that will be more permanent? swing off my ceiling fan? stab myself repeatedly? slice an artery? drink ethanol? or turps? or methylated spirits? or down a bottle of bleach? i have the sickest fantasies – of being so non-compliant that i find myself restrained face down for just a little too long, just long enough for my body to stop working. or of walking into the traffic of the busy highway in the dark, and being crushed beneath the wheels. or maybe i need to jump from the top of the wall at the rock climbing centre, head first so i compress my spine, except the mats might save me, and we wouldn’t want that (i don’t deserve saving)

what. will. work.

you expected something pleasant and hopeful didn’t you? you came to this blog expecting my usual eloquence, the normal banter. well no. fuck that rosie. tonight’s rosie wants to die. tonight’s rosie sees death as her only option and she is so ready to be dragged away in a body bag.

poison, knife, balcony. the trifecta. drink drink drink. stab stab stab. and then fall, down down down all three storeys. cross my fingers and hope for the best.

but i’m a useless piece of shit, so all i’ll be left with is a dissociative mess to clean up. i’m all words, no action, so no wonder nobody ever takes me seriously. just kill me. ffs, just fucking kill me.

Declined

M, yeah, not much I can do with this, sorry.

Aren’t discriminatory doctors the absolute worst?

They see me as three letters, as my abbreviation; they see me as the negative adjectives in my notes, in the words “aggressive” and “sedated” and “self-inflicted”.

They don’t see me for what I am: hurting, and in need of help.

This is not true of all doctors, but sadly, it is very true to some. I had a rough night yesterday (Thursday). I contemplated whether or not I needed to go to hospital for my cuts, because I didn’t want to wait and wait and wait only to be turned away and told there was nothing the doctor could do about them. I spoke to a friend who is studying medicine. I spoke to a friend’s mum who is a doctor. I used my own very limited knowledge of wound care and The Internet to figure out that yeah, it was pretty deep, and yeah, it probably wouldn’t heal nicely without stitches.

That’ll heal on it’s own.

Look, I get that I put these wounds on my body, I get that I did this to myself, but do you think I like the scars? Do you honestly believe that in one, two, five or ten years, that ragged wound that you left hanging open will have healed nicely?

I don’t think so.

I think that you’ve been caught in stigma without even realising. I think I’ve been unlucky this night. I think you, the doctor delegated to me, doesn’t understand my condition very well – if at all – and I think your punishing me for punishing myself. You just poked and prodded me, turned my wrist over, checked both arms just in case, then dropped it back at my side. You didn’t even clean it. You didn’t even dress it. You just sent me away again.

This is one of the reasons, the strongest reason, why I wanted to study medicine. Because what happened to me in the emergency department is not okay. It is not okay to treat me as a diagnosis, and not as a patient. It is not okay to fail to offer me adequate care just because my wounds are self-inflicted.

I don’t care what you say; what you did was not okay.

And every time a doctor like you succumbs to the stigma, it makes going to the hospital that much harder. It makes seeking help that much harder. It makes the lives of people like me, of us borderlines, but also of everybody else suffering from a mental illness who needs medical attention, that much harder.

We don’t need that. We don’t need to be rejected more than we have been by our friends, family and colleagues. We don’t need our traumas regurgitated by your invalidation and stigmatisation. We don’t need to be afraid of going to hospital, when the hospital is supposed to be there to care for us, no matter what condition has brought us there. We don’t need any more difficulties piled on top of all the other ones we face, every single fucking day. We don’t need you.

We need your compassion. Your care. Your empathy.

We need to be treated like people, not like letters. We need to be treated like any other patient. And maybe if you got talking to me, like other doctors and nurses sometimes have, then maybe, just maybe, you’ll see we aren’t the Big Bad Borderlines you’ve let yourself believe we are.

Learning German: The Bildungsroman

As most of you may or may not know, I’m currently in my third year of university (or college, if that’s your thing). This semester, I decided to give myself a break from science to look after myself and focused instead on the literature part of my degree. One of my courses is about a very specific genre: the bildungsroman.

That’s a fancy German way of saying a story about development. A journey through adolescence. A coming of age story.

We read a wide assortment of contemporary and classic novels, from Middlemarch by George Eliot (who is a woman FYI!) to the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (the reading of which will become another blog post, because day-um was it incredible, but also incredibly triggering).

Simultaneously, it’s important for you to know that I’ve been writing a book. I’m attempting to gather all the different chapters of my life into a single story. Not a cohesive one, more of a nomadic ramble down the garden path of my life, which is dead for long stretches, and fruitfully blossoming in others. It’s bringing me a lot of joy to collate my patchwork of experiences into something that lives and breathes of its own accord.

It’s becoming it’s very own bildungsroman.

Today, the sixteenth of April, is world semi-colon day. A semi-colon is used by an author when a sentence could have ended, but instead they allow it to continue on. My story isn’t over yet. My bildung is not complete. It rambles, it lapses, it exists in fits and starts. But it exists; between letters and punctuation marks.