Diagnosis By Meghan O’Hern


I have borderline personality disorder,
at least that’s what the doctor says.

She explains the symptoms:
dissociative episodes, unstable self-image, self-harm
a checklist of my existence
walking the border of psychotic

It’s bipolar without mania
she says with a saccharine smile
I’m pretty sure that’s depression, but I don’t say anything

A too-bright pamphlet “Borderline Personality and YOU” is sitting in front of me
I flip through the pages
easily crosses lines between depression and anxiety
both neurotic and psychotic
written in colorful letters
as if that washes away the stigma

She hands me a prescription
in the same breath tells me medication may not work.
She lists the potential side effects and asks if I understand the diagnosis
I don’t, but I nod anyway.
Stumble home lost in sea storm speculation

Maybe google can make me feel less alone.
What causes borderline personality?
Treatment for borderline personality?

The search spits back calloused responses.
Trauma in childhood, heredity, neglect
Therapy. Hospitalization. Medication.

When I finally tell someone
he listens to the string of symptoms
agrees with the diagnosis.
I am swallowed by rage and sadness and confusion
he wasn’t supposed to agree with the doctors?

I’m not crazy, I just feel so much
Reminds me all the two a.m. calls to a suicide hotline aren’t healthy.
Promises me this isn’t a death sentence,
just a word for all this feeling.

By Meghan O’Hern


Meghan O’Hern is a graduate of Bradley University’s English and Creative Writing Program. Their work centers on mental illness, identity and healing. More of their work can be found on facebook and tumblr at Meghan O’Hern Poetry.

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