sisters – a poem

me and my sister never really got along. but we were civil enough until something happened that just fucked with my head a little too much. she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. and i was just really fucking hoping that she would use it as an opportunity to repair our relationship, because i had been working on myself a lot, and i had tried to be a better sister, but no. i can’t forgive her. since then, we basically haven’t spoken at all. it was really getting to me last night, and i cut a bit, but i also wrote a really angry poem about it. i don’t really know what to call it yet. some mix-up of the typical sayings about sisters. like instead of “sisters are flowers from the same garden” maybe like “two weeds from different plots” or something, i dunno. anyway, yay, a poem. i also intend to perform this one so if i can figure out how to upload a recording you might actually get to hear me read my poetry… but only if you don’t judge my bogan west aussie accent.


it was supposed to be the done thing

the sisterly thing

the siblings walking side by side sort of thing

the playing princesses in old bridesmaid’s dresses

acting like we actually got along sort of thing.

i had already picked a perfect gown

the burnt orange one

the one the colour of rust spots

or our collection of stolen ochre rocks.

C the synesthete had always said

my voice was rust coloured

so for once the inside of my head

would pair well with how i acted instead.

everything i know i learned from books

but books could never teach me

how to be a good sister,

they taught me only stigma.

they taught me to be ashamed of myself

so when you repeated the words

on that glossy white cover

the dangerous strokes of scarlet

warning of the lies

that would soon smother

my story into a smaller size

when you told me that it sounded just like me

and then i fucking evaporated

you never could quite connect the dots.

you never could quite remember things

the way that i could, the way that you should.

well K, i have a long fucking memory

and here are some of the things i remember.

after i got that detention

you mocked me for my bravery

without daring to ask

why i had needed saving

after you saw my scars

you stopped speaking to me

as if my shameful past

stopped our future trajectory

after buying a house in which

to start your family

you neglected to tell me

probably because you thought

i would be a shitty aunty.

well here’s the final touch

the cherry on top

that will seal away our sisterhood:

i will never remember your wedding.

and that’s probably because

i won’t

fucking

be there.

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.

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.

That thing I never talk about

When I was in high school, I went through several severe stressors all at roughly the same time.

First, I was already suffering from anorexia nervosa, which isn’t exactly a great way to kick things off. Then I was bullied incessantly. And by incessantly, well fuck. I was physically and verbally abused every single day, from 8 until 3, and sometimes for even longer because of these magical little objects called mobile phones, and I withdrew further and further into myself the more she hit me and called me names. I felt helpless, and by helpless, I mean that no one helped me. I was hopeless, and by that I mean death seemed the only solution. And don’t let me forget to mention the fact that I was blamed for bullying her, after hitting her once on the thigh of all damn places, after she had been taunting me for months already. Don’t sit here, she would scream. Bitches can’t sit here. Don’t look at me you fucking bitch, bitch bitch bitch bitch. And that’s how I lost all my friends. ‘Cause you know, I had so many to begin with. Oh, and after that, my brother got cancer, and I started cutting, and the words “guardian invalidation” became my biggest trigger, and I got diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and a whole plethora of problems I knew I had but didn’t want to face including comorbid major depression, generalised anxiety, anorexia and bulimia. But because of the bullying, and this basis of self-abuse I had already sparked in myself via starvation, I developed this fun little thing called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What a scary set of syllables.

I knew what I was experiencing. I absolutely, 100% knew that experiencing nightmares and flashbacks by hearing a word or visiting a space was called “recollection”. I knew that isolating myself, and deadening myself to all emotion, was something called “avoidance”. I knew that I was hypervigilant, and terrified. But to hear my doctor say those eight syllables aloud – to me, a fourteen year old – was a shock. Like I had been electrified. Like, fuck, not only am I dealing with all this other bullshit in my life, but now my trauma can be equated to experiencing war and torture?

And the stupid, most fucked-up thing of all is that once this special diagnosis was dumped on me, after which my life continued to spiral out of control, not a single thing changed. I didn’t start therapy. I wasn’t medicated. The fucking school I went to didn’t change a single fucking thing.

I’m coming to realise how fucked up this all is. Today, of all days, when I’m studying stress and PTSD and the management of anxiety disorders for a neuroscience exam at university. Because where else would I learn more about a condition that intruded into my life and then was just wiped away, like a coffee stain on a countertop, never to be mentioned again, because apparently I wasn’t traumatised enough or some bullshit. It appeared in my medical record, and then it didn’t. That’s some fucked up shit. Surprise yes, just because I’ve gained weight now, my eating disorder hasn’t disappeared, and surprise, yes, just because the source of my trauma is no longer around doesn’t mean that the post traumatic stress part goes along with her. 

I’m ranting.

I’m sorry.

I’m honestly enjoying myself. It feels good. It feels good to relive hurt, when you’re being constantly reminded you’re not supposed to be hurting yourself anymore. There’s more than one way to self harm. There’s more than one way.

This is that thing I never talk about, and it feels good to get it out.

 

Anorexic is not an adjective

This week, I saw something that frustrated me.

It frustrated me to the point of ‘borderline rage’, the kind that hasn’t consumed me for a long time, and the impulsivity that accompanies this. In this case, the impulsive act didn’t cause much corporeal damage – I posted a long, deeply personal post via Facebook. The outcome was that I felt more hurt than I had to begin with, and guilty, and sad, and nostalgic for Ana, and everything that I left behind when I recovered. Anyway.

The topic which frustrated me is a topic which has been in the media so much lately, too much. It is a topic dear to my heart, too dear. It is a topic that is being promoted, and that disgusts me. And yes, despite being weight restored, despite fulfilling the psychiatric definition of “recovered”, the anorexic behaviours, thought patterns, distortions, obsessions and compulsions still consume me.

Anorexic is not an adjective. And it is one used as such too often, by people who don’t understand, “celebrities” like the Kardashians, who have the reach to make real change, but are instead the ones blocking the way. It doesn’t matter who you are: you do not get to joke about an illness you have never experienced, an illness which takes more lives than any other. In fact, the more famous you are, the greater your capacity to create change by not stigmatising the illness any more than it already has been. I’m not one to “keep up” with these particular ladies, but what they said amongst themselves hurt me. It hurt me because they joked over an illness that nearly killed me. It hurt me because they joked over the mental illness with the highest mortality rate of them all.

Anorexic is not an adjective. Anorexic is being hypothermic in summer, and collapsing from exhaustion every night. It’s losing your childhood, your womanhood, your friends, and laughter, and smiles. It’s looking at your reflection and counting bones from your clavicles to your hips but believing you still need to lose weight. It’s yellow skin and a gaunt face and sunken eyes and hair that falls out as you stroke it. It’s wearing children’s clothes because nothing else will fit. It’s being controlled by numbers and calories and food and weight and exercise and a voice in your head that compels you to behave in certain ways, all whilst maintaining a facade of control that you yourself still believe to be true – even as this control spirals away like the soup you’ve been pouring down the drain. It’s hiding beneath baggy clothes, and a web of lies so intricate that a single breath could cause the whole system to come crashing down. It’s eating a single cracker, and punishing yourself for days and days or crying over a carrot that you’re being forced to eat. It’s narrowly avoiding hospital admission by convincing yourself and your doctor that you’re fine, that everything is fine, that nothing is wrong, despite the fainting, the collapsing, the low blood pressure and the anaemias, and the messed up hormone counts and missed periods and reversal of puberty that you brought upon yourself. Being anorexic means having a life cemented in obsessionality and despair and anxiety over the smallest changes to a rigid routine. 

Being anorexic means never being quite enough: not thin enough, good enough, smart enough. Just never enough. Being anorexic means giving up your life, physically, emotionally and mentally; and for some, even literally.

Anorexic is not an adjective. So please, don’t use it like one.