Girl, Interrupted

“When you’re sad you need to hear your sorrow structured into sound.”

“Why did she do it? Nobody dared to ask. Because – what courage! Who had the courage to burn herself? Twenty aspirin, a little slit alongside the veins of the arm, maybe even a bad half hour standing on a roof: We’ve all had those. And somewhat more dangerous things, like putting a gun in your mouth. But you put it there, you taste it, it’s cold and greasy, your finger is on the trigger, and you find that a whole world lies between this moment and the moment you’ve been planning, when you’ll pull the trigger. That world defeats you. You put the gun back in the drawer. You’ll have to find another way.

What was that moment like for her? The moment she lit the match. Had she already tried roofs and guns and aspirins? Or was it just an inspiration?

I had an inspiration once. I woke up one morning and I knew that today I had to swallow fifty aspirin. It was my task: my job for the day. I lined them up on my desk and took them one by one, counting. But it’s not the same as what she did. I could have stopped, at ten, or at thirty. And I could have done what I did do, which was go onto the street and faint. Fifty aspirin is a lot of aspirin, but going onto the street and fainting is like putting the gun back in the drawer.

She lit the match.”

Borderline Personality Disorder:

An essential feature of this disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of self-image, interpersonal relationships, and mood, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

A marked and persistent identity disturbance is almost invariably present. This is often pervasive, and is manifested by uncertainty about several life issues, such as self-image, sexual orientation, long-term goals or career choice, types of friends or lovers to have, and which values to adopt. The person often experiences this instability of self-image as chronic feelings of emptiness and boredom.

Interpersonal relationships are usually unstable and intense, and may be characterized by alternation of the extremes of overidealization and devaluation. These people have difficulty tolerating being alone, and will make frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.

Affective instability is common. This may be evidenced by marked mood shifts from baseline mood to depression, irritability, or anxiety, usually lasting a few hours or, only rarely, more than a few days. In addition, these people often have inappropriately intense anger with frequent displays of temper or recurrent physical fights. They tend to be impulsive, particularly in activities that are potentially self-damaging, such as shopping sprees, psychoactive substance abuse, reckless driving, casual sex, shoplifting, and binge eating.

Recurrent suicidal threats, gestures , or behavior and other self-mutilating behavior (e.g., wrist-scratching) are common in the more severe forms of the disorder. This behavior may serve to manipulate others, may be a result of intense anger, or may counteract feelings of “numbness” and depersonalization that arise during periods of extreme stress.” (Quoted in the book from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd edition, revised 1987, pp. 346-47).


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