Mental Illness vs. Education

My high school was a cheesy 80s movie

My friends and I smoked cigarettes under the bleachers and in the dugout

Once even in a girls bathroom, nearly setting the school on fire

Three of us broke a window, forcing the school to bolt them shut the next year

I spent half of my high school career in detention, making it a miracle when I didn’t get any my senior year

Many of my high school teachers saw through it all and knew I actually had a brain smart enough to get into college

Many panic attacks in bathrooms, hospital visits, days spent in the guidance office, therapy sessions, psychiatrist appointments, and hallucinations in hallways later, I got to a university I never thought I had the chance of going to

College enjoys trying to break me down

The counseling center cannot take people like myself

Those who require “extended care” are referred to a center a town and a bus ride away, a place I cannot squeeze into my ever busy schedule

Friends have needed police aid to not end it due to inadequate care here for people like us

Getting out of bed is one thing but falling into the pit of despair is another

I cannot count how many times I thought of leaving this world since arrival, having to pull myself out of the darkness enough to know my problems will not be solved by ceasing to exist

I have not seen the world yet, no matter how many lovers leaving make me think that I have

No combination of booze and drugs can fix you but damn does it feel so when you are laying on your floor out of your mind

I thought it would all go away but some days it feels worse than years spent being a fly on the wall

I am lucky enough to still be in the world I built myself

Aftermath

You quoted George Orwell saying “We will meet in a place where there is no darkness”

To which my response was “baby there will always be darkness”

 

For months I beat myself up for not leaving earlier when the first warning signs appeared

Lamenting that I was the only one hurting

You said we would have a future, just skirting around “love” to be someone who once was

I daydreamed of walking down the aisle to promise forever

The white dress leaving our friends and family gawking

Daydreaming about the way the sun shone in our kids hair and the reflection of the ocean in their eyes

I wanted it so badly to last beyond its expiration date

 

These days I tie our memories to balloons to watch them float to anywhere but here

They will see how I gave you so much in so little time

I am still trying to forget the small details

The kids you wanted, the names you already picked, the freckles written on your body you preferred over others

I wonder if she tastes sweeter than I did

Or if the moon told her all the secrets that I gave her nights you soundly snored in my arms

Dear Trump and Co.,

My brain does not regulate chemicals the way it should

I thought someone turned out all the lights in my brain, causing me to only think in darkness

My parents watched my body shrink to nothing

Bugs crawled under my skin without actually being there

Threats whispered in my ear and blips of figures that weren’t there

You do not want to hallucinate with nothing but your illnesses being the perpetrator

I would have died by 15 without treatment

Insurance was the crutch that helped pay for years of therapy, psychiatrist appointments, medication, and a stint in the psychiatric ward

It has been nearly 10 years since the first bout of abuse was gifted to me

No, it was never on any birthday or Christmas lists

Since then I was handed two more on top of that, amounting to 4 years of my life handed to people I did not trust with it

I still flinch when someone reaches for me

When I hear his name or see his face, I feel my throat close up, my chest tightens, my hands burn bright red, shaking, I cannot stop the tears

I still can’t visit his work nor our high school

I can tell you it is not the fun and games it is made out to be, being mentally ill and being a survivor of abuse on multiple occasions

I am an addict

I am considered learning impaired because I cannot sit still enough without staring into space

I call it a different wiring of my brain, I am still smart enough to attend university

I just find ways to let my brain do what it is fully capable of that is different than what you want it to be

Do you still think I don’t deserve insurance?

As an infant I had multiple severe seizures, likely causing trauma to my brain which caused a dystonia

If none of you monsters know what that is, it’s a movement disorder

It is defined by tremors, convulsions of muscle, and involuntary movements

Some people cannot walk, but I am one of the lucky ones who can

I rely on medication to go through my day to day life without these involuntary movements

Do you want me to describe what its like having many of these throughout a day?

These movements for me last 5 to 10 seconds maximum

An arm and a leg freeze in awkward positions, both on opposite sides of my body

I am conscious and I can still move, but I cannot talk

I am fully alert and aware

But you don’t care about people like me

You had to protect people like yourselves from this inhumane legislation because you knew it was bad enough

But that wasn’t a hint for you guys not to pass it, now was it?

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why the book and show of the same name is full of shit, from a mentally ill person

  1. When I was going to kill myself I did not have the energy to write myself into the follicles of explaining why I was no longer, never mind record 13 tapes for the people who buried me
  2. You could fold me up fragile as tissue paper, the most colorful part of me was the blood I fed to the drain, my skin was already the color it would become post mortem otherwise
  3. If I had the energy to record those tapes, it would have gone to finishing work because wanting to die all the time is exhausting, people are still baffled I always made it to school when I was 10 feet underground, numbed out to the world moving around me
  4. Love does not cure mental illness of any facet
  5. No I’m serious – the love I felt overpowered everything but my illnesses, I still vividly remember how his hands felt in mine and the reassurance that I wasn’t alone in the cold that inhabited my chest, but death breathing down my neck didn’t cease for a lover
  6. Pretty imagery does so much to erase the grimy reality of being mentally ill
  7. Bullies are not all jocks and popular kids, trust me
  8. No really, trust me on number 7. Enduring two years of bruises unexplained to my parents and eyes of those around me averted each time one of my friends hit me, I lived in fear. Another two of a lover filling his poison love into my lungs. All already outcast, they needed to feel power over someone.
  9. Not everyone dies, but not everyone lives comfortably after diagnosis either. Many of us float between, living in discomfort most of our lives until deemed “cured”, if our illness can be.
  10. You will never be fixed by someone else’s love. Seriously. I can’t stress this enough.
  11. Mental illness isn’t pretty, it won’t be flowers and muted colors. It will be patchy cheeks from crying and anxiety attacks severe enough to render you unable to speak until it’s over.
  12. No one is affected the same, I slept for 10 hours a night while my best friend didn’t sleep. Both avoiding food, bones hollow as a baby bird freshly hatched.
  13. The scars you leave probably won’t fade, no matter how much miracle concoctions and creams you try. Do not take a blade to your skin to be edgy, do not do it period. Take it from a serial self harmer. It becomes an addiction you cannot drop. Do not do it because you think it’s cool.

 

Allergen

The spring allergies developed 6 months after leaving the man who promised me forever

Coincidentally, his birthday is in the dead of spring

My body tries to rid itself of percieved toxins

Or the remnants of his touch months after dusting his fingerprints away

His poison words decorated with flowers twisting into “but I love you”

Lowering my casket a little lower with every argument crucifying me

Having me paint you in the likeness of a god

So that when you left no one would listen to the girl who cried wolf

The only compliment I have left for him is that he is a wonderful actor

His fake tears in the spotlight so no one would see the ghost he left behind

The shell of me pried open with his delicate fingers working in time with the poison oozing from his lips

Dotted with poems illuminating his love for me

Because I was the only one his heart was tangled up in

I guess you were tangled up in me, you left behind some thorns

Each time I see you my heart bleeds a little more

Cheeks stung by tears that flow as rivers

Y’know I just blame the pollen now

Hands

My hands don’t keep quiet

The twitching started after the years I do not talk about

Always waiting to run away

Asking for forgiveness each time I tiptoe around the secrets I keep in a chest by my bed

The obituary my betrayed hands wrote my then dying body lying at the bottom

Waiting to resurface at the perfect moment to remind me where I came from

There is no easy way to cry in public

My legs often forget that the time to keep running has long passed

Itching to move every time I sit down long enough to tear my chest open wide enough to let me bleed for the world to see what they did to me

Blame has nowhere to settle down but on the scars left where no one knows to look but me, faded to white but still visible enough to know the graveyard remains

Tears no longer flow rivers from my eyes

Many days I feel evicted from my own body

I trusted them

The acid of their names drops my heart to my knees

My heartbeat keeps my leg bouncing – my heart had no road map back up to my chest

Maybe my hands were never meant to sit still

Only created for them to create in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane

Because only then did I pick up a pen and begin scratching my life story in poems

Names

My name is hand-me-down re-purposed by my own hands

My maternal grandmother was born to a family of artists in 1931

Weaving yarn together with needles on the couch is how I remember her through my childhood

I started crocheting 2 years after her death because my hands didn’t know how to sit still

I have been told neither could hers

Painting was one of my first loves in life, always being the one in class to have paint on my face, my clothes, in my hair

Throughout the house her paintings hang like a warm reminder that I’ll carry her not just in my name but in 14 years of memories I try so hard to not let go of

The name I wear as a locket around my neck, paint dotting my clothes as the photograph inside

Some days I wonder if she would be proud of me now

But I am also very much my father’s daughter

Unapologetic in brute honesty, I am not a lady like she was raised to be

I talk with the rhythm of my ancestors, too fast, too loud, too uneducated

Maybe she beams proudly that I fight tooth and nail to get where I need to be and I can’t see through the stubborn eyes my father gave me

I still wear her name proudly, not giving anyone the satisfaction of claiming it doesn’t fit in their mouth, so I should find a new one easier for them to pronounce

It’s been five years since you left and all I can hope is that between books, you see my laughter returning, voice booming, and succeeding

 

For Ainslie Sr., from Lil’ Ainslie