A Broad View: You want fries with that story about your ex?

Posted inCreative Voices

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?


I can never remember the acronym. It’s like the brain afflicted with the illness refuses to acknowledge the diagnosis.

PBJ? No.

BD? Not that one. Not bipolar.


That’s it. That’s the one.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

*A couple months ago*

“Are you interested in a diagnosis?” my therapist asks in the middle of a session, as if inquiring whether I want fries or onion rings with my hamburger. I don’t say that to imply he is unkind in any way. I like him very much and look forward to the hour we spend together every Tuesday. It’s just… I wasn’t expecting a diagnosis. Who is?

You want fries with that burger? You want a diagnosis with that story about your ex?

He pulls out a small yet ominous, biblical-looking book, gently flips to a page, hands me the book, and asks me to read a list of symptoms to see if any apply to me. I flash on passing around a Book of Mormon as a child when we took turns reading scriptures aloud in Sunday School.


Fuuuuuuuck. I glance desperately at my therapist who is nodding at me and the book like a first-grade teacher encouraging a struggling reader. Go ahead.

Fear of abandonment, I read.

I mean, I guess? I don’t know. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? Isn’t jockeying for love and acceptance an intrinsic part of the human experience?

Unstable relationships.

In the past, yes. But I was young! Not now, I think. Not with Cory. But everyone else, yeah.

Unclear or shifting self-image.

Well, yeah. Check.

Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors.

I prefer to call it spontaneous. But I’m not self-destructive! I don’t think?

The rug slips. Just a little.

Self-harm, suicidal thoughts.

HA! Not me. This isn’t me.

Extreme emotional swings.


Chronic feelings of emptiness.

The rug slides farther.

Explosive anger.

Fuck this! This is bullshit! I don’t want to be mentally ill!

Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality, dissociation. “You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.

Rug pulled out, I crash to the floor.

This essay was originally published on Monica Danielle’s blog, A Broad View, a real-time memoir about starting over in mid-life. You can keep up with her work here, or join her community at Substack.