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A Little Contradiction
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Ghosts <- Click to see image

I’ve never met another person with ghosts.

I’m not open about these kinds of things. To think about them is frightening, and to say them out loud makes them real. If I can avoid either of those, I will…but I also know deep down how unhealthy it is to bury it away. Last month I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The first time I heard of it I was thirteen. I didn’t learn about this separately then connect the dots to match it to my personality, but rather once I read into it, I was aghast that it described how I felt with such precision. (This was also before it became important enough to add into textbooks, as even less was known about it back then than what is now.) To discover something that related to me so spot on felt soul shattering. It felt like I saw my face in a mirror, and then watched it crack.

I was scared, I was upset, and I wanted to talk to someone. So I first went to my parents. I don’t think I even got a sentence in. When I brought up that I thought I had this, they immediately dismissed it. They called me stupid, gullible, and ignorant. I was a child who accessed the internet and read into a scam. Besides, only crazy people saw shrinks.

After that I never brought it up again. Of course it escalated in the following years, adopting many other disorders within its path. The ghosts appeared for the first time when I was fourteen, and then they completely took over once I was fifteen.

“The ghosts are eating my brain.”

That’s what I would tell myself until I disappeared back into my mind, and then they would take over again. To an extent it’s kind of like autopilot; I felt I was observing my body from the back seat, too foggy-eyed and wary to take control, but alert enough to know it was still going. It’s truly such a strange phenomenon, to be told things by something you can’t see, by a voice or two in your head that is screaming at you how pathetic and mistaken you are, while at the same time convincing you that certain actions will make things right again.

Fast forward four years and hundreds of scars later, the ghosts began to vanish. I surrounded myself with new people, new personalities, and just labeled it all off as teenage angst and depression. Over the next three years the ghosts would fade in and out in whispers, though sometimes they would begin shout. Unlike when I was younger, however, these episodes would only last briefly, ranging from a few hours to the rarity of a full day; but I never felt like I had completely lost control to them…not until recently.

The pre-semester started out so nicely! I was as happy as I’d ever been, the one year mark of not having a relapse was approaching (which had never happened before), and things were all falling into place. Add in a new romantic interest, and it got even better. But every rose has its thorn. The ghosts were back, inching their way to return to my life in the form of this thorn and I didn’t even realize it. Within a week they grasped this new relationship by the throat and squeezed til its blood vessels popped. Within a day it all fell to shambles and I was back to pick up the pieces.

But they didn’t completely leave me hanging. The ghosts destroyed this and they had me convinced they would fix it. But this time I wouldn’t let them; I cut the cord and decided to do it my way…and that’s how I was diagnosed. I’m working it out, seeing professionals and getting treated, but I know they’re still there. They’re definitely not in control —and I won’t let them be— but I also know that they’ll never truly go away either. To keep them at bay is to keep them static. It’s the best I can ever do to keep me and those around me safe.

I thought they were a metaphor; I thought they were a way to describe something about me, not in me, but they’re real. The ghosts are real. They’re apart of me and they’re in me, just as I had known from the start.

So I guess that’s why I have a love/hate relationship with this image. After seeing the artist’s portrayal of other disorders, (insomnia, social anxiety, PTSD, etc.), coming across to this one did it in for me. It’s the mirror, it’s my reflection, and I watched it crack.

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