Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

Cringing white,
terrified,
I anticipate
the swift slap
of ink & metal

just before
the key
strikes,

crushing into
my thin, blank chest

a mark
that will be here
forever.

I just got a newsletter from the suicide bereavement group my sister and I attended last summer. The statistics posted below make me sad. I know that they’re right and I have felt the immense difference between the types of “compassion” shown to families where the death is accidental or natural as compared to drug overdose or suicide. This last year, my father died. The same week, two of my cousins died too. One was an alcoholic and no one seemed very upset by his death. His brother, on the other hand, died of complications from pneumonia. His death was a shock and was far more devastating to the family than the cousin who died of an alcoholic related disease. Why? Both were my cousins. Both were loved. Both had virtually the same background. Neither were expected to die any time soon. Why did everyone seem sort of relieved that Kevin died, but sad that Kenny did?

It just brings up so many bad feelings about the way my family and I were treated after Ty’s death. Especially at work. We weren’t allowed to grieve. People we thought were our friends accused us of causing Tyrel’s death by either inattention, by being “bad examples” due to our own mental illnesses and all sorts of other ridiculous, but incredibly hurtful things. Voyeuristic vultures wanted to hear every detail. I just recently had someone ask me if Ty died as the result of autoerotic asphyxiation. I just stared at them for a long moment then said “No. ‘He killed himself’ doesn’t mean he died accidentally trying to get off.” Dumbass, but sadly all too common.

When another nephew’s friend died from a congenital heart defect while they were staying at the family’s cabin with another friend, the rumor-mill ran rampant. Three boys alone in an out of the way cabin…clearly they were using drugs and one had ODed. It’s such bullshit that it makes me furious. When the autopsy results came back, it showed what we’d known all along. Jesse had no drugs in his system. The other boys were tested by the police the day that Jesse died, and had neither drugs nor alcohol in their systems but the rumors continued. I’m tired of people being so judgmental. Even if Jesse had died of an overdose, should being a normal kid wanting to try something new be a death sentence? I don’t believe so. Ok onto the study results before my head explodes from fury induced high blood pressure.

“In this study, the authors compared and contrasted 571 parents who had lost children by various causes— suicide, drug-related deaths, accidental deaths and natural causes in terms of their grief difficulties, post-traumatic stress and other mental health problems and perceived social stigma. In comparing parents whose children died by suicide or drug-related death with those whose children died of accidents or natural causes, the suicide and drug-related death survivors had appreciably more difficulty in grief and with poor mental health. The authors conclude that powerful social stigma against drug use and mental illness remains a pervasive challenge for these parents as they experience less compassionate responses from others following their losses.”

from
“Parental Grief After a Child’s Drug Death Compared to Other Death Causes: Investigating a
Greatly Neglected Bereavement Population.” By William Feigelman, John R. Jordan &
Bernard S. Gorman, Omega, 2011, Vol 63 (4), p. 219-316.

My sister says she misses you.
I wish I could agree.

I don’t miss you.
I hardly knew you –
at least any “you” I liked or respected.

To me, you were The Bogeyman;
origin of my self-loathing.
I’m relieved that you are gone,
happy that you’re dead.

Not because
I hate you, though, and
I thank God for that.

All those nights, alone with you –
You could have been my victim too,
a bitter role-reversal.
But I made a different choice.

I rubbed your back, held your hand,
changed your bedding, clothes and diapers.
I loved you when you were helpless,
because you couldn’t love me when I was.

When you died,
I was happy that you’d escaped the pain,
free from that worn-out body.

I too, was freed:
released from a lifetime
of hate and fear;
your whipping post, no longer.

We went our separate ways,
finally at peace.
Who could ask for more?

Then why do I feel so envious
that my sister had something to miss?

That darker dawn is coming.
The light of remembered lies;
lies I was told, lies I told
to protect my innocence.

It’s gone anyway,
shattered in a hundred
different ways.

I hide in the shadowed warmth
of the old bathtub,
shower curtain half drawn
to keep out the light,
the eyes.

The lavender curtain
turns skin to bruised petals,
soft and wet,
as if from spring rain.

The faucet drips constantly,
accompanying pain.

Nothing will wash this away.

Creature born,
fully grown;
not like a foal
on shaky legs:

invincible warrior,
claws honed
for tearing
truth
from the flesh
of unreason.

Innocent
need not fear
this spawn,
which grew,
undetected,
for years;

crawled at night
from my belly:

a force intent
on saving me.

From myself
when necessary.

It germinated
in the lush jungle
of secrets;

grew stronger
every day
until
it pulled itself
from me,
fully-formed.

Stroked
my face
with claws
like obsidian blades,

whispered
“We are one
in purpose.
I will be
your savior.”

And I believed.

I spend my time
trying
to fade
into nothing,
like stars do
at dawn.

Feel the edge
I’m dropping over.
Wonder if I care.

If I’ll miss anything
when I’m no longer here.

The brush of a hand
in passing,
warm breath
on my cheek.

Indistinct burr
of voices
through the wall
I press myself
against.
Rough stone
pushes back.

I listen,
hardly breathing,
but can’t make out
the words.

Like a wire
in my head,
slowly twisting
tight.

Like a shove
between my shoulder-blades,
as I try to flee the night.

Like a faucet dripping
in the hollow of my chest;
restless echo, tapping
in between my breasts.

Like a bright red
sneaker,
at a black-tie affair;

like a balloon caught
on an updraft
of cold air.

Always where
I shouldn’t be;
never where I should.

I’d live life
like I’m supposed to
if I thought I could.

 

 

© Coin and Feather Press

Is it possible
to become
human,
after all this time
as a beast?

Learn to walk
upright,
speak
with crooked tongue.

Can I forgive
and forget,
move on
with my life;

learn
to stand tall
in ill-fitting shoes,
wearing the garb
of a traitor?

Or am I condemned
to run
barefoot
through grass so tall
it hides
what I really am;

makes me look
almost real?

Stand casual,
alert,
beside humans
sleepwalking.
Compare myself
to them.

I am full.
They are hollow.

We are different
species.

Photo credit, Brian Snelson

Eyes,
two.
I have them:
blue –

or grey
depending on
the day.

Grey hair
at my temples,
blends so well
with blonde,
few can tell
how old I am.

Two lips too,
do what lips do.
When they’re
not uncertain.

Other pieces,
fairly standard:
just one nose,
two arms and legs.
Things line up
correctly.
From an outsider’s
perspective.

Inside’s where things
get tricky.
There are more people
in here
than there should be,
and that’s not counting
me.

Who am I?
I’m one of many.
All sharing the same
crooked smile.

Same lips
have other
voices,
and these ears
hear singular things.

We all share
this body.
But we have different
friends;
unique habits,
age and gender.

Figure that out,
if you can,
and if you do,
tell me.

The whole thing
has me puzzled.

With so many
we’s in me,
I’m not even sure
who’s confused
anymore.

Is it only me?

Nowhere
is a good place to start
having nothing.

I am no longer yours.
Your problem,
your angst.

I never really was,
but you made
my problems yours.
My life became
all about
how it affected you.

Now there is nothing.

A good place
for something new

without you.