for my final essay in advanced creative writing – my final essay i will ever write in my undergraduate degree, my final essay before i start my thesis next year – i am writing about bpd, which is number 301.83 in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders fifth edition.

this is how it starts:

To diagnose a personality disorder there must be significant functional disturbance of an enduring and inflexible nature of long duration leading to undue distress and psychosocial impairment. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition(DSM-V) classifies ten distinct personality disorders into three clusters based on descriptive symptomatic similarities: A – odd or eccentric; B – dramatic, emotional or erratic; and C – anxious or fearful.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a Cluster B psychiatric condition with difficulties manifest in persistent patterns of disturbed cognition, emotional experience, emotional expression and maladaptive coping mechanisms. The typical features of BPD are instability in the areas of self-image, personal goals, and interpersonal relationships. Characteristic dysfunction is therefore apparent in areas of identity, empathy, and/or intimacy with accompanying impulsivity, hypersensitivity, and/or hostility

In a clinical setting, borderlines are notorious for a pervasive pattern of abrupt mood swings and affective instability. Thus, extreme care should be taken when handling such patients, particularly during suicidal crises which are often both regular and prolonged. Implementation of the 2007 NSW Mental Health Care Act is recommended for treatment-resistant individuals who present as a danger to themselves and/or others. Physical restraint is preferable to chemical sedation when treating these revolving-door patients.

Ultimately, BPD is an emotional dysregulation disorder with marked impulsivity and instability across a variety of emotional and social domains emerging by early adulthood, as indicated by the presence of five or more of the following symptoms.

it’s supposed to be tongue in cheek but i don’t know if it’s quite tongue in cheek enough.

the rest of the essay is made up of memories / crises according to symptom. so i talk about my worst dissociative episode and that section of the essay is called SEVERE DISSOCIATIVE SYMPTOMS AND/OR TRANSIENT, STRESS-RELATED PARANOIA AND/OR PSYCHOSIS-LIKE EPISODES IN SITUATIONS OF EXTREME AROUSAL and i’m trying out a new style of writing and i want to know what you think of it, it’s inspired by a memoir i’m reading by james frey called a million little pieces and its un-put-downable.

today i drank coffee for breakfast and wine for dinner.

i’m going to be thin again.

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


be there.

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.