Poetry

The Restless Mind of Betrayal

Streaming

My mind is restless

both focused and not

at the same time;

quiet and still

yet I remain

worried and discouraged.

My ears imagine on their own

hearing noises and voices,

knowing that they’ll never occur.

My eyes catch glimpses

of shadows and of light,

knowing that nothing is there.

My arms long to hold you

knowing that they won’t,

preferring disappointment.

My heart aches

creating a you to admire

building a pedestal,

then watching it collapse.

That which is not felt

is more appealing.

That which is not heard

which is not seen

which is not experienced,

is more interesting.

The known is unfulfilling

it brings no satisfaction

no truth.

 

I want to imagine,

I want to be

just outside of your reality,

I don’t want to be involved.

It’s all illusion,

and all so empty.

Waiting for something

that does not occur;

trying to reach something

that cannot be grasped.

My mind is restless

both focused and not

at the same time;

quiet and still

yet I remain

worried and discouraged.

A Poem About Reverse SAD

I wrote “Slipping Under Spring” to bring awareness to a poorly understood type of depression, Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (RSAD). RSAD is also known as “Summer Depression.”

RSAD resembles its better-known cousin, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), since both occur annually and appear to hinge on modulations of sunlight and the impact on serotonin and melatonin. However, SAD strikes as the days grow shorter and darker, while RSAD snags its prey in open sunlight.
I fall back just as others spring ahead.

My account of living with RSAD comes with full disclosure. To make meaningful headway into our understanding of mental illness and the possibility of new treatments, I believe I must present my experiences in an “unvarnished” form.

In fact, reading honest accounts by others with mental illness played a large part in saving my life. If they could make it through, perhaps I had a shot.
— Heather Cook

Slipping Under Spring

By Heather Cook


I dread spring, I always have.
Summer’s worse: I despise it.
I know, I know:
what a weirdo, a spoil sport.
“You’re so crazy!”
I’ve heard it a million times –
“How can you hate spring? It means summer is coming!
Flowers are blooming; the birds are singing!”
No shit.
Do you think I strive to be as abnormal as possible?

I mean, C’MON! Who dreads spring?
The grey clouds crack open, spilling
 winter’s remains. 
The days grow brighter, pushing
 twilight off so long that it takes us all by surprise.
Kids extract their bikes from cobwebby garages,
and dig for their bats and balls, 
while their parents cluster and curse the winter --
how much snow we had! Oh, the storms, the ice,
cabin fever, winter blues…on and on…
We’re all so glad it’s spring, aren’t you?
Ugh.
Even the neighborhood cats and dogs are happy –
finally warm, they roll on their backs with their pink tongues
lolling, and soft bellies exposed.
They curl into an S  and dream of daffodils. 

But, me, I feel the first sparks of terror:
I’m lonelier. 
Whatever control I thought I had, whatever resolve I‘d built,
another six months of therapy – where’d it go?
The conscious work, the hard work, mood therapy
and meditation: I prayed that this year was the year.
After 35 years, this might actually, finally work. 
I’ll finally be normal. 
I’m ready. I’m ready for spring!
I’d (in my mother’s words) finally “grown up.”
I opened my arms, and welcomed the sun!
But, no. Nothing at all.
I still hated spring. 

You know, 
I don’t get the sun, its appeal,
the love of its color, its lemon-dropness,
the banana-ness, its baby chickiness.
Then, the birds start screaming, waking me at 5:00,
reminding me it’s spring, and soon summer. 
Reminding me that, once again, I’m strange, so separate
from the pack – the minivan majority, the neighborhood normals.
I am supposed to find joy I can’t locate with a compass
or a map – 
I’m supposed to revel in a simple relief that most feel, 
one I can never find. 
I’m disappointed in myself.

I’m disappointed because I really do get it.
 I understand. 
I understand why people love it.
The truth is – I’m envious, envious of the cashiers who smile and say,
“Beautiful day, isn’t it? So good to see the sunshine!”
like I’m in some sort of club I never applied for,
or else I applied, and got turned down.
The I Love Spring Club!
It’s just another reminder that I’m not normal,
and that I don’t belong with people who smile,
shake out their rugs, and polish their windows.
The joy of spring cleaning!
It’s like I’m missing a switch – one that welcomes sun,
the burst of flowers, and trips to the beach --
just more incongruence.

So, for the cashier, I force a smile. 
I understand her happiness - shoveling snow sucks.
I’m sure she hated losing her power and
worrying that she was stocked with water and batteries. 
As much as I can get her, and get that - 
I don’t get me. Well, I do. 
Maybe that’s the point. 
Maybe I just don’t want to face it.
Maybe I can’t take more of it: more of what’s wrong.
It’s not human to choke on spring.
It's hard for me to let winter go.
(Again, not particularly human.)
Winter’s a season I can hide in: it’s a season of coats, and blankets,
grey skies, and storms. It’s a stay-inside season, 
a bundle up season,
an it’s OK to complain season. 
As the earth turns green, I can’t hide fast enough; 
I pray for a three month long illness so I don’t have to make excuses
for why I don’t want to play in the sun again.

So, I try and dodge two seasons of the year,
but it.never.works.
They always come, like taxes, like tears, and
all I can do is brace and beg for change.
Maybe this year, but again, I know better.
I’ll just make it to August when the last days flicker –
the light struggles to stay, stretching its shadows 
across the lawn. It’s stubborn, but not enough – 
it taps out, loses hold, and the leaves crunch and die, and 
every minute is one less minute of sun.
It feels like me, and that’s so damn sad.
It’s so damn sad that I can’t enjoy
something I know is probably so great.
Something that’s been kept from me for so long now, 
something I desperately want, 
something maybe again next year,
Something I’ve never found.

Instead, I slip beneath the surface
just as the world comes out to live.

 

Heather Cook is a 44 year old educator and writer who graduated from Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University. She lives in Maine, hates lobster, and is terrified of the ocean. As a teenager back in the 1980s, Heather was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A bottle of Lithium was put in her purse and onward she went.

She has so many stories.



Body Dysmorphia and Poetry

 

TRAPPED 

By Liz Marable

 

She's only happy when she's looking in the mirror.

The girl starring back with hollow eyes and a bleeding wounded mess of aortic emptiness. 

She is hungry. 

For perfection. 

For acceptance. 

For an exit.

The door she passed through to get to this place is lost to her now. 

Imprisoned in the pretty exterior and consumed in this,

Her waking nightmare.

The illusion and lightness of her chains and the heaviness of her burden were not fully felt until it was too late. 

She voluntarily suffers as she looks out of the mirror at the girl who's free to go.

She screams at her to run from this lie, 

To unlock her gilded cage and seek light and love and freedom.

But she's only happy when she's looking in the mirror.

The lie is so much prettier than the ugliness of truth.

Being Alone

Alarm Clock . . .

 

Life got in the way of my life

it continued to take place even though I wasn’t ready

it kept moving along while I was distracted

while I was ignoring and denying it.

Life moved forward unconcerned

and I got older

not looking at yourself doesn’t prevent it

not acknowledging it doesn’t change what has happened.

 

While I was brushing my teeth and shaving

my hair turned grey.

When I was at the grocery store and the gas station

my body began to break down.

I aged while doing the dishes and vacuuming and while the washer was running,

while I was surfing online and writing emails, my youth ended.

 

You were out, meeting new people, learning how to socialize,

I was at home, reading about ancient cultures.

You went out on dates, learned about yourself and about others,

I was watching PBS specials about cathedrals.

You had meaningful relationships

you experienced love and were important in someone else’s life;

I was listening to Sun Ra and Elmore James, while folding my shirts.

 

You traveled, went to concerts and sporting events

created memories with a circle of close friends;

I did some yoga and went for a jog, came home and went to bed.

 

Why didn’t anyone warn me

why wasn’t someone there to save me

now I have nothing.

You’re buying rings and getting married,

I’m wondering why I don’t have any friends

and how to make them, I don’t have the energy to be normal.

 

All of my decisions have been wrong

they led me astray

they were wrong

they have to be, because my present is so sad

and it grew from those decisions, one after another

I have nothing, I know no one, barely myself

my window has closed, it’s too late to start this game

I’m a generation too late.

I’ve lost, I was wrong, so wrong, so sad, what do I do now

it was so wrong

all of it, everything, everyone,

just nothing, until when.

Nothing, nothing, nothing

beeping like an alarm clock in my head.

 

This must be it then, this, this is what it’s going to be like

just me, just some words, just some thoughts;

no spouse, no friend, nothing to take pride in

just nothing

beeping like an alarm clock in my head

I am nothing, I have nothing, it’s all nothing.

 

 

 

Ponder

Skits Zoid

Poetry MATTHEW SCOTT HARRIS

 

THE JOY OF BING SKITS ZOID ™ 

When just a whippersnapper of a little boy
Me late mum and octogenarian pop agreed
For doctor removal of my adenoid
Less to prevent their only son from being coy
Than fear of said male heir to the Harris carnival throne
Becoming an android
A less than agreeable likelihood, especially
In tandem with predilection of goy
This fateful outcome unfazed this now green giant,
Not the least bit annoyed
As captain crunch (before childhood end)
Beckoned yours truly with “A HOY”
Horrified that my parents would be so blithe
To steer their son clear to avoid
Psychotic outcome to deliver obliviousness
And thus bring inner joy
So, they sent their peculiar male progeny
Believing he to be residue of Pink Floyd
Who found himself evicted desperately
And in sore need of gainful m ploy
So he began his therapy
In the orifice er office of maudlin Sigmund Freud
Who bore a striking resemblance
To a wooden pecked prickly shaped toy
This mental analysis delved into past – outcome
I felt less than overjoyed
Despite boss be addressed
As Oedipus wrecks and pay verbal homage that did cloy
Dredging layered past devoid
Of love, yet
Flush with fallacious prevaricated abuse
From mister Lloyd Lavinsky,
A male lore demon of a grade school bully
forsooth sanity he destroyed!

My Bio-Chemical Romance ™

klonipin and prozac stepford wives vis a vis stimulants
offering an emotional uplifting dalliance
cathartic against the depredation of panic attacks
melancholia and obsessive compulsive disorder
bearing down hard
against psychological maladies delivering a near ecstatic
state of mental health
wresting these mailer daemons long symbiotically fixed
within mental cortex
damning up the recent debilitating physical paralysis
to enjoy life, liberty and pursuit of happiness
thus pharmacologically affianced with consciousness
like twin ephemeral mermaid rooted sirens
teasing out malevolent forces
that long ago found egress into the nether worlds
of my then very precariously perched psyche
sapping the cellular level juices
extant within this body politick of two score + three years
whose internal dependence on these synthetic medications
allow, enable and provide much sought after relief
from chronic diabolical ejaculatory phantasmagoria
for the last few years restrained as near meaningless dupes
feigning themselves as agents provocateurs
essentially powerless against encapsulated digestible
prescription medication far more endearing than any
previous paramour or current spouse
hermetically sealing outrageous plague
of pestiferous schizoid locus
parasites totally invisible to any observer
yet (in their heyday) wreaked havoc greater
than any biblical maelstrom
affecting bizarre psycho-social behavior
(particularly during prepubescent chapter)
exhibiting complete isolation from people
with mindset to terminate life (when about thirteen
journeys round the sun) thru anorexia nervosa!

Relapse

Brandon Beckelheimer:  My Thoughts Before Relapse

 "Meth.

No. NO. Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up. Don't even think that word. I am a month clean. I'm doing so well. But I'm doing so fucking bad. Every moment is agonizingly long. It's like waiting for this second to just end already so I can proceed to the next second and beg for that one to be over. This pain. Where the hell is it coming from? WHERE THE HELL EVEN IS THE PAIN? WHERE IN MY BODY IS IT LOCATED? AM I JUST "PAIN"? THAT'S IT??

 

I'll just talk a walk and listen to music

take a walk and listen to music

listen to music take a walk

listen to music.

Oh fuck this shit again

again fuck again this shit again.

OK just stop repeating words

stop repeating just repeating

stop OK just stop repeating words.

There's no need to repeat words

there's need words repeat

words no need words no need to repeat words need to repeat words need words words

WHY DOESN'T MY HEAD MAKE SENSE?

HEAD MAKE SENSE?

WHY DOESN'T MY WHY DOESN'T MY HEAD MAKE

HEAD MAKE SENSE SENSE

WHY CAN'T I CONTROL MYSELF

WHY CAN'T CONTROL

MYSELF CAN'T I

I MYSELF

CONTROL MYSELF

NO. I'M NOT MY THOUGHTS. I JUST NEED TO OBSERVE THEM AND LET THEM GO.

LET THEM GO.

OBSERVE THEM LET THEM GO

NEED TO OBSERVE THEM LET THEM GO

I JUST NEED TO OBSERVE

FUCK STOP. STOP. FUCK. STOP.

FUCK STOP FUCK.

I NEED CONTROL.

I WANT TO CONTROL MY HEAD.

METH.

METH.

YOU'RE A MONTH CLEAN

MONTH CLEAN YOU'RE A CLEAN METH MONTH CLEAN

*buys meth*

'I found a liquid cure

For my landlocked blues

It'll pass away

Like a slow parade

It's leaving but

I don't know where to'

 

 

SOCIETY AND OTHER DISAPPOINTMENTS

Native to the Washington DC Area, I’ve been influenced by the DIY attitude that the city had while I was growing up and by the current underground art scenes in Baltimore City. While my work takes on different mediums, the underlying theme of awareness and mindfulness remains constant. Whether it is political and societal awareness, or personal awareness into your own motivations and state of being, I try to have my work be as pared down as possible; expressing large ideas or emotions without complexity.

I always encourage people to do two things, to make their own art and to buy the art of others. Artistic expression and appreciation is one of the few things that gets us out of our selfishness; it brings us empathy, understanding and a closeness to others, all things of which society is in desperate need.
— Ponder

Society and other disappointments . . .

I walk by you, but you say nothing

as if I’m not there.

I look at you and smile, but you scowl and turn your head

I say hello and ask how you are,

but I get no response.

I give an invitation and ask you to join me

but you are never available.

I watch while you ­make plans with others in front of me,

because you don’t understand that I’m real.

 

With no one to confide in, I have no confidence.

With no one showing interest in me, nothing interests me.

With no one to hold, I’m having trouble holding on.

 

Why did you have to reject me, not you, not now

I was ready this time, I was sure

you would have made me happy for once, forever.

Instead you made me into nothing,

a thousand shattered pieces that bear no resemblance

to the life I had imagined.

What am I supposed to do now

now ­­I know that you’re here

it hurts me even deeper

it was better to think that you didn’t exist

than to find you

and be told that I’m not deserving.

 

I hate this, and you

and your life without worry

and you getting to determine my future,

why should you have the power to do so

why am I left without a say.

 

At your mercy

high on love

an addict to the feeling

who knows they won’t ever feel that way again,

how can you be excited about life

when you found her

and she said no.

 

I’m not lost

being lost means you have a destination

I have nowhere to go

no memories of joy

no memories of love

finally finding it

and being rejected

I won’t find it again.

My mind is no longer a refuge

because it is tortured.

And every day I walk by you, but you say nothing

as if I’m not there.

I look at you and smile, but you scowl and turn your head

I say hello and ask how you are,

but I get no response.

I give an invitation and ask you to join me

but you are never available.

I watch while you ­make plans with others in front of me,

because you don’t understand that I’m real.

Narrative of Self-worth and Solidarity

nina colombo:  Narratives and poetry

Mental illness has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I have been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression.  My writing is inspired by the dissonance I experience when trying to fit in.

'Parallel Worlds' speaks to my emotions while offering others a chance to examine their own perspectives.  The poem reflects my affection for someone dear to me, and then discusses the loss someone else has endured half a world away.

 

'Inner Messages' is a look inside my mind and the lack of self-confidence that colors my experience.  One can know that they are capable, inquisitive, or powerful, without truly believing it.  It generally takes many years for young people to feel at home in their own skin, and I see mental illness as another hurdle towards self-love. If one is different in any way, shape, or form, others may prey on that, especially in the follies of youth. I wanted to write a message to myself, but also share it so that others could be reminded of their worth. 

For me, #ToBeReal means learning how to embrace my authentic self.  I like to collect paper products (stationary, for example), pens, pencils and erasers. I love to dance when the mood hits me or be silly and give levity to my friends' lives. ToBeReal means to not apologize for what you like, as there is a community for everything in life. You just have to find your people.