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When Borderline Makes You Your Own Bully

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

“You’re weak and pathetic.”

“You’re worthless.”

“Everyone hates you.”

“No one cares about you.”

They say that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. But they’re wrong. The words do hurt me.

Being bullied affects your self-esteem. The constant put-downs rattle around in my head, making me cry, self-harm and have suicidal thoughts. If I am really as bad as the bullies say, then I deserve to be punished.

If someone else was saying these things to me, at least I could have a break from them. Maybe I could challenge the thoughts, or walk away from the criticism. But it’s hard when the person doing the bullying is me, and when I totally believe what that voice in my head is telling me about myself.

If someone asked me if I’m a bully, I’d say no. I was never one of those kids who picked on the other children for being different. I like to think that I would never be that kind of person. But in reality, I am a bully. I admit it. However, the person I’m bullying is myself.

A couple of years ago, a colleague asked me whether I physically or mentally self-harmed. I’d never heard of mental self-harm and didn’t know what he was talking about. But I’ve since realized that yes, I do mentally self-harm. I know that telling myself how useless I am is going to hurt me. That’s partly why I do it, because I feel like I deserve to be hurt.

I don’t just do it in my head, either. I write these thoughts down.

“I’m worthless. Why does no one care about me? I wish I could just kill myself. Everyone would be better off without me.”

By committing them to paper, the thoughts are strengthened. The bully whispers negative things into my ear when I’m already feeling at my worst. Compels me to write them down, kicking me when I’m already down.

When I’m feeling good, I can dismiss the bully…tell it to shut up. Sometimes it goes away for awhile and leaves me alone to get on with my life, only popping up occasionally when someone doesn’t reply to a message or says something slightly critical. The bully will amplify that criticism, whether it’s direct, implied or not even there. It says, “See? They hate you. You’re useless.” But when I’m feeling bad, the bully is on fine form. At these times, it’s hard to get a moment’s peace.

Therapy has helped diminish the bully, but it’s never really gone and came back in full force recently. As I continue to work hard in my therapy sessions, I hope that one day I can expel the bully for good.

Photo credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Originally published: July 31, 2019
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