A Poem for Lovers of the DSM by Rebecca Donaldson

And what is healing?




Smearing and rubbing off the grime.

The gunk.

The graffiti I no longer wish to wear.

To hear.

To feel in my left foot.

Raised shoulder.

Waist and chest my father never found tasteful.

And what is therapy?

But medication.


Stripping of my identity.

My truth.

My pain — these invisible scars you claim to see, to know, to understand.

My story—one of child abuse, neglect, violence, poverty, drugs, alcohol— you, my therapist, claim to “see this experience differently.”

You know of this story?

The one of blood that stopped falling between my legs when I could no longer bite, chew, swallow, look up, and say hello.

You know of this story?

The one that begins with neglect and abuse and ends with this label, “Borderline?”

You know of this story?

The one of choking, belittling, and desiring to be the one—his chosen one.

You know of this story?

The one of vodka, boxed wine, beige pills, black pills, small, medium, large, broken, crushed into dust.

You claim to see things differently, so please tell me what you see.

A woman?

Yes, I am this. Keep going.


Easy to cry.

Doesn’t date.

Wants a mother.

Possibly bisexual; it must be Borderline.

Bisexual, so it must be Borderline you say.

And what is Borderline, but a label created by white men in white coats used to hide the abuse and harm done by their own hands and that of their brothers?

I am wrong you say.

I am manipulative?


Engaging in black and white thinking.



Oh yes, I do feel this.

At you, at him, at every doctor who prescribes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to regulate the anger of witches that they feel towards a fucked-up system that promotes re-traumatizing, gas-lighting, stripping of one’s identity, voice, and truth.

I think you’ve said enough.

Yes, please be quiet.

I’m speaking.

Yes, me.


Fuck the DSM.

Fuck your witch hunting.

Fuck your system that thinks it’s okay to terminate, lock us up, and guard our doors with police officers and whisper, “she’s getting worse.”

Fuck the system that takes childhood abuse survivors and turns them into medicated prisoners.

Yes, dear lovers of the DSM, fuck you and fuck your system.


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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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