The good, the bad, and the ugly dichotomy

I am in utero, and by the hands of chance and genetics, my brain will flood with serotonin. It will dampen the impact by impairing receptors. I will have had no say in the matter.

CW: mental health, disturbing artworks, brief mentions of abuse.

I am six years old. Constantly bullied by my peers, I entertain their antics; I am curious to see what will happen. They sometimes hurt my feelings, but my fascination overrides all else. I will want to understand what mechanisms fuel them in an effort to understand myself.

I am nine years old. I will become angry at my mother’s partner for buying us too many things. I will explain there is no need to spoil us so we like him. I will think about that event for most my life and wonder how a child came to that conclusion, which was later established as correct.

I will play a lot of videogames. I will take particular interest in the dark ones. The ones that are comfortable in horror, but which do not condone it. The ones that accept it just is.

An open letter, 2016

I am twelve years old. We have owned many pets by now- I will have personally trained all of them. I will be sad when they die or run away (but not sad enough, by some people’s standards.) I will not react with horror when my cat returns home missing a leg. Instead, I will assess the situation and make sure she is comfortable. I will alert my mother, and wonder why she reacts in a way I do not yet have context for.

I am thirteen years old. I will become tired of people- I will think them cruel and useless. The intrigue outgrew me. I will sit alone reading books, ordering anyone who sits next to me to fuck off. Some people persisted. Kind, patient ones. For the first time, I will understand what friendship feels like. I will be surprised to know they continue to be my friends to this day.

I am fourteen years old. I am asked by my peers if I ever feel lonely. I will erroneously answer no. But I do; it is a crushing emptiness, a longing to feel connection without the hallmark desire for company. So I will draw sad things.

People connect with my art, and that staves off the emptiness, for a while. I will be unaware of the mechanisms behind this, but I will continue with it nonetheless. Thankfully.

Desecrated ground, 2016

I am fourteen years old, and a man who was jailed for horrific crimes speaks coolly about them on television. I understand his actions as wrong but I will find his demeanour comforting. I will have finally found someone who is the same kind of not-emotional-enough as I.

My family members will walk into the room. They will laugh and treat him like the bullies at school treat me, so I deduct that I too must be an unlovable creature. I will develop borderline personality disorder. It will wreak havoc for thirteen years.

I am fourteen years old, and I will sink into a depression that envelops two whole years of my life. I will create characters so that I can hide all of my ugly parts in them, so I can pretend I am not a monster. They are. They are.

I am sixteen years old. I will perpetually be abused by older men. I will develop cracks. I will become angry. I will be called weak for letting it get to me, so I adorn my traumas with band-aids. They come to feel more like barbed wire fixtures.

Gabriel, 2017

I will seek psychiatric help for the first time and I will be​ told nothing is wrong, that I am not an atypical configuration of human. I will deduct, then, that other people are the problem. I become obsessed with fixing them, much to their detriment; but I have always been taught that being useful is the most important thing.

I will spend eleven years searching for an answer. For the reason I am so resilient, despite the abuse and neglect. For the reason I am so observant- why I find people predictable. For the reason I am so absolutely okay when I so absolutely am not. I want other people to be like me. I will believe that if I am capable of it, they must be too. Bless my huge cold heart.

I am sixteen years old and I will no longer see the point of filling my heart void with the things I love. I will instead turn to recklessness. I will become a violent vitriolic hate machine, a spitting image of the worst kind of troll- but of course, they trained me. I will become frustrated that I cannot fix people so I will play with them instead. I will quickly cease the violence, for I will harshly learn that “boys will be boys” did not apply to me.

I am nineteen years old. I will sink into the familiar abyss of depression. I will sleep until four in the afternoon and only stop there due to the demands of work, where my boss will abuse me and his wife. She spends most her days crying. I will want desperately to comfort her, but I will no longer know how.

Photographs, 2016

I will burn a lot of bridges. I will abruptly cancel income support because I am not allowed to be useless or vulnerable. I will try my hardest to fit into the boxes I’ve been dealt- neurotypical, unbreakable, female. I am none of those things.

I am twenty-two years old and I will be misdiagnosed with an array of acronyms. It will be insisted that my paranoia is remorse and that my dread is fear. Only bad people don’t feel those things. I will erroneously believe them. To be fair, I had no frame of reference.

I am twenty-four. I will find social justice and have so much of my barbed-wire-pain validated. I will become obsessed with being The Best Person, but not the best me; I found the latter concept unattainable. I will secretly know the word used to describe myself. I have secretly known for a decade by now, but it has long been buried under layers of denial.

I will become angry and indignant, a different kind of vile, but I will be convinced it is for the “greater good”- convinced that all of this beautiful, intricate, painful world can be categorised by only two boxes. A binary. I will fight them elsewhere and remain comfortable in my ignorance.

Down for maintenance, 2016

I am twenty-four. I will cling to nonsensical labels placed on me; Slytherin, Aries, INTJ. I will not feel they wholly encompass who I am, but they are the closest to a home I can afford. I will become suicidal for the first time in my life out of rage. I will feel so very lost, and it will almost entirely consume me.

I am twenty-six. I am diagnosed with ADHD and borderline personality disorder. I will feel slightly more whole. But there is still a piece missing. I will take solace in the fact that my psychiatrist does not shy away from labels, except for the time he once did.

I was twenty-seven. I had begun medication which caused my brain to defragment. I dragged things from the depths of my mind and brought them to my psychiatrist. I splayed them out. I asked him what to name this collection; I asked him to call it something more tangible than ‘Gabriel.’

He refused. He insisted that as long as I did no harm to people, animals or property, I would be okay- assuming I was of the neurotype to identify “harm” correctly. I was, luckily, armed with an upbringing by lawyers. I was, luckily, privileged with intelligence- in what way I am unsure. It is a nebulous concept.

I knew to do no harm already, and yet it did not help me. I have known to do no harm my entire life.

So I asked him if I am a psychopath.

“Yes” fell twice from his mouth like one hundred bricks, the weight of which betrayed the death sentence he felt he had delivered me. I detected a strange tightness in my chest, and I was suddenly sad. I wanted to cry. I suppose that is what heartbreak feels like.

I was twenty-seven when I found the answers to why I am so resilient, so observant, so absolutely okay even when I absolutely am not. I could accept that I am the outlier, and that I am at my most useful when I use my strengths to support- not change -the people around me. I am rare, I am valuable, I am roughly one percent of the population.

I could accept that I am not equipped to supply emotional warmth beyond friendliness, and I could accept that I am better at deconstructing emotions and intellectualizing them, so I could stop trying to be the friend I was never born to be. This will cause me to be wary of closeness; only the emotionally apt have access to that, and I am not one of them. I will never be one of them.

I was twenty-seven when the ugly intrusive thoughts became easier to live with because I could stop burying them. Every time they command me to be vile in sneaky, manipulative ways, I take the opposite action. Their incessant noise is a whisper now, one of which I am wise enough to still listen carefully for. I have psychopathy, but it does not have me.

Phoenix, 2016

I will tell close friends, first- some of which will flinch, ever so slightly. I will insist I was seeing things because they love me. Except the word “psychopath” is reserved only for the worst of us. And I can see microexpressions.

I was twenty-seven years old and borderline dissipated when I came to terms with this new label and saw that it did not fundamentally change who I am, except for the better. I could finally accept with absolute certainty that yes, I am deserving of love. More would have helped me, and others, sooner.

I am twenty-eight years old, and I am writing this because my desire to be accepted in my entirety is more important than my sense of self-preservation. Because there are so many people less fortunate than I suffering constructed lives due to widespread ignorance. Because it is my duty to protect the less fortunate.

I have always been taught that being useful is the most important thing, but I have added the addendum “compassionately”.

The monsters in this world are constructs, concepts, not people. Those who chastise an entire group from the moment they are born are the closest living thing. My story is not unique; I have just learned to quiet my arrogance and to become comfortable with vulnerability. A state of being I still wonder if I ever truly am.

I am twenty-eight years old, and I still feel uncomfortable looking into my own eyes. But I know there is a human in there. I will forever, and always, keep looking.

A letter to a part of me, 2016

N.B: I want to thank all of you for the love, I was certainly expecting the opposite. And I should clarify some things.

I only ever purposefully compartmentalise “me” and “psychopathy”; one of the reasons it was caught was due to my never attempting suicide or experiencing a loss of reality despite my BPD. My morals are at odds with what is often called my nature. I do not experience a dissociative state or voices not my own.

For additional information, I recommend this long but worthwhile interview with neuroscientist James Fallon. I am working on a more studies-based article meshed with my experiences. But that may take some time.

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