We have all met Borderline patients on the ward. We are told they are manipulative; “Don’t trust them,” we’re told. I nod along, agreeing with the words my superiors say. However, I do wonder how they would respond if I turned to them and said “ I have Borderline”. I imagine the responses would be varied; some may laugh me off, thinking I am telling a funny joke. Maybe others would get defensive, tell me that my psychiatrist got it wrong. They struggle to understand how the medical student in front of them, the one that has been keenly asking questions, can be the same as the “crazies” they see. Finally, some may respond by shutting down the conversation and avoiding eye gaze. To them I will be the odd story that they tell their partners when they go home. However, I don’t plan on telling those above me about my diagnosis; instead, I will continue to nod with each word they say.
I feel that many of you are questioning the truth of this article. How could one of the “crazies” infiltrate our ranks? How could we not know this person? Who knows; maybe some of you are looking around at your colleagues trying to see if a neon sign appears above my head? But here I am, sitting in your tutorials and laughing at your jokes. This is not supposed to make you distrust those around you or make you fight your superiors when you hear them make a derogatory comment. Instead, it is to make you realise that we are people too.
Sometimes I wonder if I should have become an actor. To those around me I am full of life and happy. I am confident and appear to have my life in order. However this is not the true me. Instead, I am flat. I feel nothing. My emotions are so supressed that even I struggle to identify as to when I am deteriorating until it’s too late. I used to be labelled as volatile and unpredictable. Now I have become so good at suppressing my feelings that even I don’t feel them. Anxiety takes over my dreams and I have nightmares about everyday situations. However, I have been told so often not to be anxious that I now dismiss my nerves as an over-reaction. Relationships are hard. The last thing I want to do is burden others with my issues. Instead, I isolate myself and hide myself from the world.
My diagnosis is only made worse by that fact that my treating team has told me not to share my diagnosis with others. What job prospects would I have if the wider community knew about my condition? I would be ridiculed and judged from afar by those who don’t know me. Very few individuals know that I was hospitalised over the semester break. Suffering from a major depressive episode, I was hospitalised for four weeks. Walking around the private psychiatric hospital I experienced life on the other side. The stares when I would leave the clinic with my wristband on, the looks of disbelief when I finally let the nurses into my dark mind. Even now whilst the rest of my cohort is studying hard for our final exams, I am in hospital. Getting my treatment early in the morning so I can run to placement. I can’t fail this year because of attendance. However, on Monday when my peers ask me what I did over my weekend, I will respond with a smile on my face and say that I just studied.
This piece isn’t supposed to change the minds of my peers. Instead it is to give me a place to say to those that are struggling with a diagnosis that you are not alone. There are others in this world that are not a “stereotype” and are trying their best just to get through. However there are some battles we cannot win. Do not be ashamed to just nod your head when your superiors judge a person based on their illness. We cannot all be advocates (high five to those who are); it’s okay to just focus on your own survival.