‘The Borderline Diaries’
She felt that it might be of interest due to the Sharing Stories book club that we co-run with the Arts and Minds Network. The book deals with a number of mental health challenges – such as borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and rebuilding a positive mental state after considerable trauma.
An advanced copy of the book isn’t yet available, so I’m not able to offer a review (yet). However, the publisher has been kind enough to include a few extracts to allow us to get a taste for the writing and story.
The Borderline Diaries is a non-fiction book.
Please note – the extracts below contain some very disturbing imagery and may be triggering.
From the Prologue
I felt my sister shove into me, turned around and saw the kitchen knife, shiny, deadly. Then everything was just a flash of images… blood splattered on pastel walls, my sister shrieked “Elisa!” I was on the floor and Otak had his grip around my upper arm as I tried to reach for the door, trying so hard, not for my own life but for my sister, whose screams were of pure horror. Unless you’ve witnessed great violence, you are blessed never to have heard such screams, high-pitched and piercing, screeching out in pain and blood-curdling.
Somehow we ended up in the living room… how? The front door was near the bedroom, closer than close and yet I failed for the handle, I really failed, I failed in every sense that one could. I could see all around the living room setting and I looked at myself, knowing that I had not been injured physically. But then I looked around at my sister who was wrenching over as Otak like an animal made arm thrusts with the knife, with great force. I tried to calm my nerves, telling myself that I was going to be next. When you’re presented with a situation like this, survival is all you think of… if you think of anything at all.
Kim received a hard blow to the throat. The final blow. Somehow, naively, I still thought she would stay alive. My sister was a no-nonsense kind of character, not a weak one, not one who dies… and I held onto this belief until she was on the floor, gurgling. Kim was leaving. And this is when it dawned on me, so slowly and tenderly, so bizarrely, that I was witnessing my beautiful sister helplessly dying. It was happening rapidly, her breaths becoming shallower by the second, until they simply ceased. Just like that.
From Chapter Two ~ Child of the Wilderness
I am not what I appear. I am not the product of a defective home, nor did I grow up on the streets of some council estate built to keep its residents in the same houses for the rest of their days confined to comfortable misery. Some residents never leave their estates, dull from the moment they enter the world until the moment they leave. Well, not me. The dismal streets of Eastmoor would become a kind of puzzle, for how does one escape this life on these stolid streets with rows of houses filled with families with the best intentions but absent of any ambition beyond the town centre? I often strained to come up with any strategy that could deliver my soul from this confined future laid before me. Then I had a eureka moment around the age of eight; I came up with the most rational strategy that I could, being so young and clueless. I would sculpt a parallel universe to my liking.
It went like this. I would ascend into illusory clouds and be transported to a wilderness where I was a survivor of an inattentive family: a stepdad who was a damaging character and my playful sister who would be better off without me around, little me and my prim and proper mannerisms, my selective muteness and my demands to be noticed more. I loved my family, so this is why I stayed and left at the same time.
I got stuck for a long while… In fact, I still am; I am betwixt a fictional world, the fable world of ghosts and ghouls and animated wolves, and the world where I am expected to become a nobody like everyone else. I always longed to make my name more than a word. I wanted my name to become associated with a certain sentence, such as: ‘Elisa? Yes, she is an excellent mathematician’, or ‘Elisa? She is so beautiful’, but not ‘Elisa… who’s she?’
Kim always wanted to be a shopkeeper as we grew up. I wanted to be someone whom people noticed, not a shadow. When I went off into Clementine Woods I would come back with a big grin on my usually glum face. I would then become more talkative but only at home, when nobody could hear me speak.
From Chapter Seven ~ A Waking Dream
A waking dream, a waking awareness,
a surrealist heart, I can, I can’t,
a trance that leads me to depart
from the world that you call home.
I can’t make it all alone,
to slumber I surrender,
I can’t make it through December…
A waking whirlwind of angel dust,
I give in too easily to love and lust,
answers automatic and artless talk
as in reality through dreams I walk.
From Chapter Nine ~ My Fiend Mia and Other Crazies
I am riddled with mental illnesses, it appears, including Bulimia Nervosa.
Yet Mia is very beautiful. We wander together, fingers entwined, into beauty’s painful domain, a world where everybody is thin and beautiful. She is the queen of this land, she and Ana together. Ana is her sister and is like her but a little more highly strung, a very controlled persona, whereas Mia is like me; she lacks self-control and often tells me that she doesn’t care if her oesophagus ruptures because this would be for the best. She longs for perfection and will never reach it until she dies trying.
About the author
As a troubled teenager, Elisa Frank was groomed in her home town of Wakefield, Yorkshire, by an apparently charming asylum-seeker, Ahmad Otak, from Afghanistan. But his behaviour became more and more extreme and controlling until at last, in 2012, Elisa gathered the courage to flee to her sister’s home. Otak followed and, making a pretence of sorrow, was allowed inside.
He then violently murdered Kim Frank, who was seventeen, with a knife while forcing a restrained Elisa to watch. When the girls’ friend Samantha Sykes arrived, she suffered the same fate. Otak abducted Elisa and fled by car to Dover in an attempt to leave the country, but was arrested there.
Otak is serving a 34 year sentence in prison. But Elisa is also suffering her own life sentence, utterly devastated by these events and the abject grief of losing her sister, with whom she had been very close. She spent several months in a psychiatric hospital, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Borderline Personality Disorder.
Hence the title of this book.
Here, Elisa does not dwell on the tragedy save to tell us what happened before her eyes and show us how it affected her mind. Then, with great courage, she describes how she began to heal. Her observation of both others’ behaviour around her and of her own inner states is at times breathtaking, and always humbling.
We should all learn much from this perceptive, talented and brave young woman. Elisa still lives in Wakefield and is determined to honour her sister’s and friend’s memories by succeeding as a writer.
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The Borderline Diaries is available from today for £10.00.
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