Hello Me, it’s You.
I’m imagining that you’re in front of me. Instead of staring at a screen, I’m watching your fingers trace invisible lines on a table that sits between us. Your upper lip is scrunched, signalling that you’re uncomfortable, and my brows are furrowed in frustration. I imagine myself commenting that you, too, might furrow yours, if you had any. Perhaps you’d laugh. If you did, we’d sigh our relief. She’s not the enemy, we’d realise, and reach for our mugs of tea.
I can imagine how I’d look to you. My hair, undoubtedly, would be your first disbelief. It’s curly, its natural state: something you haven’t seen for quite some time. I’d bite back a smile as you stared, dumbfounded, and watch your eyes grow wide with realisation. At some point in the future, not too far from now, you’re going to stop running from your heritage. I’d take your hand in mine, so you could see the difference: your yellowish skin that avoids sunlight, and mine, unashamedly glowing with melanin. Not only is it curly, you’d admire with a grin, but short. Really short. We finally got that cut; much to the horror of our parents.
Your arrogance evaporates with the steam rising from your tea. There is no need for it here, with me. Without it, you’re weak. Without it, there is nothing to keep you upright, and I imagine you slumping in your chair, like a flower folding in on itself at night. It’s hard to know what to say. Neither of us want to discuss the things that have happened: you, because you’re still so caught up in it, and I because I’ve ran away from it, leaving it with you. The only condolence I can offer comes in the form of three words I know you cannot understand. You’re two years away from your first diagnosis - five years from the latest - and I don’t want to scare you. You watch my fingers trace invisible lines on the table that sits between us.
Twenty-one is not what you envisioned it to be.
I imagine you begin to choke on your tea when I admit we don’t rent an apartment in Paris. Perhaps, until now, I’d been speaking in a faux French accent, but my west-country twang would almost certainly fail me as you wipe the dripple of Chai from your chin, and get up to leave. I’m Sorry. I’m still not fluent in French (j’ai besoin d’un autre année puis, peut-être), that novel isn’t even close to being finished, and we’re not even half-way through our degree. I don’t have a five-year plan, financially we’re… precarious and, if anything, our repute as “the late one” has only strengthened. My failures are painfully apparent. I wear them against my will, like a bell hanging from the neck of livestock. What went wrong? I imagine you spitting through your teeth, and I’d suddenly become fascinated by the spread of escaped tea leaves at the bottom of my cup.
Three months ago, I sat in the artificial brightness of a psychiatric ward, posed with a question that made me think of you. At first, the question floated weightlessly around the room, spiralling upwards in the breeze from the rotating fan. It was a question I had been asked a thousand times. When did you first feel like this? Slowly, with indifference, I’d recite the dates of my first anxiety attack; the first time I harmed myself; the first night I went without sleep. I hadn’t, I suppose, ever paid much attention to the question itself. That day, my eyes must have trailed from their usual spot on the carpet, and I acknowledged the question that now hung, motionless in the air. When did you first feel like this? I thought of you, and of the things you did, and by the time I left the hospital, I had forgiven you.
Borderline Personality Disorder is the most commonly recognised personality disorder
I’m asking now, that in return, you forgive me.
Symptoms include: chronic feelings of emptiness, stress-related paranoid thoughts, and a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
In many ways, you’re just another person I feel I’ve let down. Your confidence - reflected in your perfect grades and extravagant ambitions - has been replaced by my insecurities.
People with BPD can suffer severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality
But that isn’t the only difference between us. I can imagine you shifting in your seat, painfully aware of your surroundings; the way you’ve always felt in open spaces. I’d gather up my things, signalling that it’s time for us to leave, and be solemnly grateful that I am learning to deal with those emotions. Your anger, invisible to everyone but me, has been replaced by my compassion. My acceptance has replaced your uncertainty. I’d reach for your hand before we parted, and place a gentle kiss in your palm. You are a truly magnificent person, Grace. In a few years’ time, you’ll realise it.
Grace is a 21-year-old English student who lives and breathes books. In 2017, following a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, she set herself the challenge to live unashamedly for one year. Six months, one blog and a bold haircut later, she is finally starting to overcome the anxiety and depression that she once felt defined her. She loves tea, David Attenborough and, above all, Beyonce.
Hello Me, it's You
Welcome to the Hello Me, it’s You blog! We are launching this blog with weekly content from different contributors, giving their opinions and experiences on all things Mental Health.