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Borderline To-Do List

Checklist With Green Checkmark IconTo my psychiatrist…who questioned my motives…and was right.

I have had so many psychiatric hospitalizations. So. Many. It’s a hazard of being Borderline, and we both know it. What we DON’T know…is how to make it stop.

Several weeks ago, you and I had a talk about how I act in the hospital. We talked about the behaviors that I consistently display on the unit, and why oh WHY it is that I keep doing these “crazy” things.

I hurt myself. A lot. I break anything plastic…flatware, cup lids, used creamer cups, toothbrushes…and use it to dig scratches into my arms and legs. I ligature-strangle myself. I tie pants around my neck…or I use an anchor…a sturdy chair or a bathroom door…and tie myself into a simple-suspension hanging. Not for long. Not long enough. With ligature I might leave it for a minute or two. Hanging I have only tolerated for barely ten seconds. I painfully bruised my throat this last time.

You said “Is it like a game to you?” And I immediately answered “No!” Then I went home and thought about it. I thought and thought, and during this past hospitalization I thought about it even more. And yes, it’s a game. A really messed-up, life and death, game.

I compulsively test people. I want to believe that the hospital is a safe place, but in order to believe it, I push it (and the staff) to the breaking point. I am what I now recognize myself to be: honest but not forthcoming. Another great word for that is “manipulative.” Another one is “pragmatic.” I set them up. I steal flatware in hopes that they will find it. I make suicidal gestures when I know a 15-minute check is coming, and someone will be there to stop me.

And then I do test runs. I set up my apparatus, and I pick a time when I know a 15-minute check is far off, or staff thinks I’m in the shower, and that I’m okay, and so they won’t push for a visual check. This was my pattern on my last admission. No one knows I hung myself. Except, now, for you. It was a test run. This is actually probably my highest-risk behavior.

So what is the solution? Other than the obvious “Well stop doing that.” And with the knowledge that I do these things in the hospital, is it still a “safe place” for me to go?

When I left the hospital last time, my caseworker held my hands and told me “Keep your head down, get through the holidays, and we’ll figure it out in the new year.” It was the kindest way possible of saying “I know you’re not okay, I know you’re going to bounce back, but you CAN do this small thing, and it’s better for you to have this time with your family…but good GOD stay safe for me.”

Someday…someday my life will be measured in something other than “weeks/months since last hospital discharge,” or “days/weeks since last self-injury/cutting/scratching.” But while I’m working toward that end, what is my next step?

This is my “Borderline To-Do List”

  1. Stay out of the hospital…refrain from explicitly baiting people into Baker-Acting you.
  2. Don’t cut; don’t scratch. Don’t hoard innocuous weapons (broken plasticware, etc.).
  3. Eat normal food like a normal person.
  4. Chill.

Dear…sweet Doc. You have put up with so much from me. Please read my words and be comforted that I am indeed trying, even though I still often come across as being ENTIRELY off my rocker. Thank you for sticking with me this far, and I promise to do my best not to revisit the scary places we’ve left behind. I respect you and everything you have done and continue to do for me.


Liz Briggs

Borderline To-Do List

Liz Briggs

Liz Briggs: Writer and thinker…stark-raving Borderline in the throes of ECT, striving each day to accomplish ONE THING that makes me feel like a responsible and contributing member of society.

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APA Reference
Briggs, L. (2018). Borderline To-Do List. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 26 Dec 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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