Let your voice be heard
(Disclaimer: the purpose of this is not necessarily to make negative remarks about the system in place. It is simply to bring awareness about the invisible aspect of being noticeably disabled. Also, I am not insecure with my situation. This is just the realities of my situation that are hidden sometimes even from myself).
Often times I find myself in an unusual situation. I might be in class, a meeting or just walking around when my brain pulls me from my reality and puts me into a weird thought. Too often I find myself wondering how my life would be different if my physical appearance was different. I fall into the trap of my brain which pushes me to dislike my circumstances. I’ve come to the realization this form of thinking is unacceptable. While I can change the way I think about myself, can those around me learn to look past my physical attributes?
You may not know me and you may not have seen me; but if and when you do, the first thing you’ll define me by is not my smile, it’s not my words, it’s not my laugh nor is it my clothes. You’ll define me by the thing i’m strapped to. You’ll define me by the way I get around my campus or the way I grab my food. You’ll define me by the way I do the things you take for granted. Stop. Stop defining me by these things and define me by my personality, my professionalism, my words and my caring character. My wheelchair does not define me. The fact that I cannot reach certain things does not define me. Every time you choose to wrongly define who I am you miss out on the amazing opportunities I can bring you from my friendship to my smile.
Here’s something you might not know. All of the people who I know who live with some form of a disability can sense when you judge him or her. As much as the judger attempts to hide their thoughts, we know what you’re thinking. To partially comprehend how we can do this you must put yourself in our situation. Imagine you are a high school or college student who has a noticable disability. Naturally, you would likely already be insecure of your body or the way you look, the acne on your face or your weight. Now put having a noticeable disability into that mix. Your insecurities become larger than ever. You begin to notice the stares you receive and the fact that, in certain cases, the girls only talk to you if they have to. And boys, do not even think about talking to a boy because this only happens when it is absolutely necessary. You can also sense the hesitation people have when approaching you. Imagine the fear of approaching every door. Is this door heavy? Is someone going to offer to open this door? Will the “automatic open” button work or will I face embarrassment because it does not work? And God forbid the elevators do not work. While the rest of society has the luxury of using an elevator to get from floor to floor, you would not. Therefore, when you are waiting in front of the elevator and you notice the time you wait is longer than usual the thoughts start spewing in your mind again. Is this going to be one of those times when I have to be seen waiting for an elevator that is not going to come? The people who have the luxurious access to the elevator will meet you in the elevator waiting zone and walk away to use the stairs after they realize what is happening knowing that you were there before them and after them. How would you feel knowing they will meet their friends and bring up the situation in casual conversation? The fear and anxieties of sending your professor or friends an email or text message to cancel whatever plans you had because you are simply trapped and have no means to escape. Imagine that. If there were to be a fire drill or a real fire, you would have to wait patiently in a “AREA of refugee”-aka the stairwells- while the rest of the building population speeds down the stairs. To make matters more tense, you have to select two people who you think will stop to hear you out. One will stay with you until the firefighters can rescue you and the other must inform the firefighters of your location so they can come to you and carry you down the flights of stairs (which is not fun either). Think about the thoughts that would rush through your head in this situation. What are all of those people going to say about me when they address the situation with others? How are they going to describe me?
My point is that I, along with others, must face these fears and more on a daily basis. It is not fun or pleasing or even a joke. This is an enormous part of my life. I live in some constant fear that something outside of my control is going to change the dynamics of my day. When I have to enter an unknown building I cannot help but start thinking of a Plan B in case I cannot reach my destination because of stairs or some other factor which will prevent me from getting to my destination. The biggest fear of all is being an inconvenience to others. In the end, I still move along with my day. I do not let the annoying part of being disabled get in my way of tackling another task. When someone says I cannot do something because of my disability I do it and I do it better than they could have imagined I could do it. You may not understand what I am truly going through as a result of my disability and I hope that you never have to go through them. Regardless of what may happen throughout my day, I still roll along with a smile on my face, a “have a nice day” will still dance free from my lips, and I will still be forced to plug in my wheelchair when it is dying.
The next time you see me or anyone else in a situation similar to mine, remember that they may have just been the victim of some inconvenience. Also remember the people in this unique community are no different that one of your friends or family members except for the fact that we have one more rock in our path that will always need to be jumped over. Our lives have their ups and downs but most of us choose to show off a positive attitude. The physical does not define us because we will not let it.
I am not what you think I am. I am who you do not know I am.
Let your voice be heard Queen
I am embarking on a journey,
It is about my struggle with baldness for the past ten years, most of my life. There is so much hair politics, and hair haters, among African-American women, and that can be, and is, devastating to women like me who constantly have to deal with their hair falling out, while society tells us that "having no edges" or being "baldheaded", means that we are ugly.
I planned on submitting a paragraph, but I just could not stop writing. This process of writing it has even brought me to tears. I have never talked about this part of my life before, so it is a little emotional for me. I think this is because I have just come to accept and love my condition about 3 or 4 weeks ago, which is why I now have a very short hair cut, and why I said this opportunity came at an interesting time.
I have been hiding and lying for the past 10 years, and now I am finally deciding to OWN MY BEAUTY, even if I am bald.
This one was the night before I cut it all off. This is the "good side". The other side is way worse. My hair is thick so it did a good job of hiding it, for the most part, I guess.
I included some pictures that I have in my phone. My mom has all of the good pictures. By good I mean the pictures that really show the extent of my hair loss. I usually send them to her and update her on whether I think it is growing in or not. I immediately delete them from my phone, afraid someone might see. I am going to get them from her because whether or not I am accepted, I NEED to get my voice out there, and I am willing to face whatever negativity or opposition comes my way, if that means that there will be many more who are inspired and empowered by it.
MY HAIR STORY: Bald and Beautiful
My condition is one that is not uncommon, but given societal expectations of beauty, it is one that is rarely, or never talked about--and when it is talked about, it is demonized to the fullest. I mean really, who wants to be bald, right?
I am a 23 year old African-American woman, and for the past ten years, I have been dealing with Alopecia. My childhood hair story was like millions of other Black girls in America--perms, and braids. I remember my hair follicles thinning back then, but nothing that made me self-conscious. Perhaps it was because I was too young to even care.
By the time I was 13, it was obvious that I was going bald, but I still had faith because I was constantly convincing myself that it wasn't "that bad".
When I turned 14, my mom put me on birth control, and that is when my hair really started falling out. The hair on the perimeter of my scalp was completely gone. There were bald patches in random areas all over my head, and day by day, it got worse and worse.
By 16 I was officially self-conscious and went into what I thought would be a life-long, permanent hiding. I wore wigs and weaves RELIGIOUSLY. You would not catch me DEAD without a weave, a wig, or a scarf. People started questioning why I never showed my real hair. Of course, I lied, and gave the generic "It's too hard to do my natural hair" excuse. I always wondered if they believed me or not.
"Do people know I'm bald-headed?" was the question that ran through my mind, every single day. When people made jokes about people not having edges, or not having hair, I always laughed along, but inside, I was crumbling, knowing that the joke was on me.
By 17, I was too embarrassed to go to the beauty salon, even though I have been going to the same one since I was 8 years old. The hair salon was in my home town, and I remember the three times I saw people from my high school come in. The first time my hair was braided up. (I was getting a weave). My edges, or lack thereof, were showing, but she did not respond like I thought she would. She acted like nothing was wrong. I prayed to God when she walked away that she would not call anyone or tweet something.
The second time, it was an ex-friend of mine. Thank God I was under the dryer when she came. I know she would have told the whole school.
The third time is what made me never go back. It was one of the most popular boys in school, and I was in the styling chair, with no weave. I DIED INSIDE when he walked in. He stayed for a good 20 minutes too. I just KNEW the town would now find out my secret. I left the salon with a new weave, and never went back.
I can remember several scary moments like this, some of which left me in tears.
Since I was too scared to go to the salon I was comfortable at, and I was too scared to see a new stylist and show her my secret, I decided to wear wigs. That was probably the worse decision I could have made because all it did was make my hair fall out even more. But, I didn't care, because I was covered, which means my secret was safe with me. When people would ask me why I would always wear wigs, I would say, "I love how they let me change my look every day! They are so fun!" Another lie. But at this point I was comfortable with lying to people about my hair. Anything to keep people from knowing I was bald-headed.
Throughout college, my hair was at it's absolute worse, all five years. I was still wearing wigs on the daily,hiding, even from my own self. Since my hair was always covered, I was neglecting taking care of my real hair, so it became extremely dry, damaged, and defeated. It was pretty pathetic how horrible of a condition my hair was in. I think it was an out of site out of mind kind of thing. And for a while it worked, at least I thought it was working. I was starting to accept the fact that I will probably be wearing wigs until I die.
I wanted to care about my hair, but my bald spots made me angry, and not even want to deal with it at all, or see it. Sometimes to please the people around me I would wear my natural hair out. (Family and friends kept pestering me about why I never showed it, and I was afraid my lie was starting to not work) BUT, please believe I always wore a head scarf to cover where the hair was gone. My natural afro was long enough to cover the other spots. So I would do that for a day, then the next day, back to the wig, like clock work.
These past few months, I found myself getting really fed up with my hair situation. REALLY FED UP. I stopped getting angry at my hair, and started getting angry at myself for putting myself in that position.
"Aren't you tired of hiding Kaila?!"
"You know those wigs are not comfortable. Don't you want to just be free of them?!"
"Throw out the wigs, Kaila. Be proud of what God gave you."
Those were my thoughts every single day. I started to miss going to the salon to get my hair done. I don't remember the last time I felt someone else wash and style my hair. It used to feel so good getting my hair washed, even if I only had about 50% of my hair.
I reached out to a DJ I know that has Alopecia. She is always talking about Alopecia awareness and rocks a baldie all day every day. She was the first person I came out to, besides of course, my mom. After our conversation, I was a little more convinced to come out to everyone. I called another friend who I am close with and told her. She told me to jump off the cliff and embrace my natural beauty. After confiding in a few more people, I decided to make the move. I called my friend Chris back, she took me to her barber, and from there I literally felt re-born.
This was the first time in TEN YEARS that I went to a salon to get my hair done. TEN YEARS. My barber was perfect. He gave me advice on how to take care of my hair properly. He cut off all of my dead hair, leaving me with a dope hair cut, baldness fully exposed. Surprisingly, I did not care. I was just happy to finally be free.
The first day was weird. People staring. My guys friends reacting in a way that wasn't the most encouraging. (You know how guys are). But honestly after day one, I was like "F**K it!!!!!!" Yes, I am bald. But you know what? I AM BLESSED! Because God has given me everything I need in life and more. I REFUSE to cry anymore over hair follicles. I REFUSE to believe that I am not beautiful because I am bald. I AM BALD. I AM BOLD. I AM BEAUTIFUL. That is my new mantra. That is what I hope my story will show the world.
I am ready to go on front street now with my story, because it is long overdue. Women, especially Black women, need to know that your hair does not define your beauty. Women with Alopecia need to know that they do not have to hide. You can be BALD and CONFIDENT. There are young girls around the world who are dealing with this, many at a rate more severe than mine. I would love to be an example for those girls, just as that DJ was an example to me.
My mother is bald, as well as my father. So there is a chance my daughter will be bald as well. She needs to know that her mother is strong, confident, and beautiful. She needs to know that she can be the same. SheWILL be the same.
My plan is to listen to God, believe that He has the plan, and follow what He tells me to do. And right now, this is that path He is leading on. And it feels so good to follow it.
Thank you again listening, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Let your voice be heard Queen
Thanks for being such an inspiration to me.
My story is a little long, so I'll just attach the link to the website I threw it on. The whole site is literally just the text of my story.
It's about how I was sexually assaulted in my freshman year and how I feel about it now.
I'm sorry for the ambiguity, but I'd like to keep my anonymity.
But if you find that it's impacting on you, I'd be happy if you could share it with others.
have you ever ripped open an orange in half instead of peeling it?
well, that’s what he did to me. to rip an orange in half, you kind of have to grind your thumbnails into one spot and then yank the skin around it open when you get a good enough grip. if you do it by the book, you get nice two clean halves, and you usually get away with it without being called out for it because you didn’t leave a mess you can see. except this guy, he isn’t exactly skilled with his hands. so it was a really messed up and uneven kind of rip in half. like the kind where everything sprays everywhere and you lose half the innards to the floor. i mean, i got some of my pulp in his eyes when i hit him over the head with title ix, but that doesn’t really compare to being ripped in two.
emotionally. physically. mentally.
yes. spiritually, too.
i’ll refer to “him” a little bit later on too, so we’ll name him. but we’ll call him something else because he ruined his actual name to the good people out there who share it. regardless, i like to imagine that he can’t really say, “hello, i am uncomfortable with being slammed in this story” without acknowledging that he is the rapist i’m referring to.
no, you keep your head down low and let me do the talking this time, because if you learned anything out of messing with me, it’s that i always win in the end.
this is fun, like naming a baby. except you never asked for it to be born.
i considered naming him classless at first, because that’s exactly what he is, and as far as i’m concerned, he ain’t got no class because he got suspended. but try saying classless five times fast out loud.
so meet the violator. tv, if you will.
i lean on the rail of the bridge just like i did on the rail of tv’s balcony.
except on tv’s balcony, i could see the parking lot beneath me, potentially a lot of witnesses. but now, i am here completely alone on an out-of-the-way bridge. it would probably take them a little longer to find me, but it’s not really high enough so i might still be alive when they do; 2 a.m. and surrounded by nothing but foliage on either side, the ambient light of the lampposts on either end, and the asphyxiating shroud of loneliness.
but i wanted to be alone. so why do i feel so lonely?the rail from tv’s balcony leads to tv’s living room. tv’s couch. tv’s bathtub. tv’s queen-sized mattress that occupies most of the corner of the bedroom. tv’s car in the back parking lot of some fast food restaurant at 1 in the morning. he did it everywhere, wanted it everywhere. and every time, he took a little part of me and discarded it just like he discarded the little piece of rubber when he was done.
why couldn’t i just leave.
i was small. i had been in love but i couldn’t tell her. i grew inward instead of outward.
that’s how tv found me when he picked me up and claimed me. and i latched onto his pinky. and the smaller i became as i got chipped away, the greater his gravity became. i started plummeting straight into the star i thought i was orbiting.
every day that he stuck things where they didn’t belong, i started to realize that i was also stuck in a place where i didn’t belong. the day after he forced open my backdoor, i stored all of his sleeping pills away and planned to run away with them. the police found me first. what was wrong, they asked. where are the pills, they asked. did he hurt you, they asked. is he abusive, they asked. i wanted to disappear.
i got away with it and went home instead, but it was a close call. a close call from the help that i could have gotten then that i so desperately and narrowly avoided.
i look down again at the black void beneath me.
a close call from the help that i could have gotten. one leg is over the rail.
a close call from the help that i should have gotten. my weight is on that leg now and the other one is coming over.
now here i am, a close call from the help that i will never get if i jump.
i am a little surprised that my riverbeds are dry, but after continuous monsoons over the past several months, i guess a little bit of a drought is to be expected.
don’t cry. don’t let them see the tears when they find you.
but let them find you alive, god damn it.
let them find you alive.
the date that is on all the reports is the day that he sodomized me. legally, it’s the only date i have a chance with. it’s the only day i refer to when i tell people i was raped. i said no. he did it anyway. i said no, i struggled. he didn’t stop.
he admitted to it and i had evidence to prove that he did.
there’s no gray area here. there’s no “he said, she said.”
well, there is. but they just happen to tell the same story for once.
but it would be a pain in the butt to try to get him for the others.
in the eyes of the world, there are no others. it’s all in my head. the other ones don’t exist. and for a while, i convinced myself that they didn’t exist too.
after a certain point i started to count how many times. how many times i gagged until i couldn’t control the tears. how many times i looked away and pretended i was somewhere else. the number is higher than how old i am.
i never told anyone the real reason i cut my hair.
when i lay down in bed, the way it fanned out on my pillow was just another reminder of how i looked like lifeless on my back.
hell on earth.
i thought i’d be playing with fire, but the fire’s playing me.
i don’t want to die. i just want to get away from the episodes of acute pain and dull emptiness that i so often oscillate in between. but i wonder if death will help me escape. if only i could just disappear, there would be less to clean up after.
how do you make an orange disappear? abracadabra.
is it curiosity that keeps me here? the word sounds so mild and innocent and inappropriate.
but… what if?
what if i could just dissolve into the nothingness of the universe?
what if there’s a better way that i just can’t see right now?
because it’s 2 am and i don’t have my glasses on.
he holds her close and in that fleeting moment, she feels safe, and loved. her left cheek is buried in his flannel shirt and she smells his scent interwoven in the thread. he smells like he hasn’t showered since yesterday morning but that’s okay, because it’s the first time he’s held her like this so genuinely, like he actually cares. he pulls back the hood from her jacket and looks her in the eye. but then she feels him lowering her arms from their embrace. she feels his pelvis pushing her into the wall. his hands find their way into her pants. suddenly, the uncomfortable heat of his breath doesn’t seem so forgivable and now he’s so close she can see his pores.
it’s too late.
she looks away.
she freezes and she hasn’t thawed since.six
my mind is as numb as my fingertips. i feel my hands and wonder how much colder they would have to be for me to be dead.
the hospital is a blur.
curtains. paper robes. sock shoes.
four tubes of blood.
so much blood…
for a brief second, the image of a mattress soaked with blood takes over my vision.
but then a man comes and pulls my robes off. his hands are large. he puts electrodes on my chest. i look up at him and i see tv’s face. my breasts feel cold.
i wonder how much colder they would have to be for me to be dead.
it’s over, he takes them off. i pull my robes close. i pull my knees in. i pull the blankets to cover my head. a nurse comes and tells me i can’t do that, she needs to see my face. they won’t close my curtain. they are staring and staring.
i stare too, but i’m staring at tv’s face emblazoned on the ceiling.
the police came to my parents’ door at 2:30 in the morning saying that there was an accident and that i was at the hospital. when they knocked, they weren’t sure what happened, only that something had happened. but my father thought i was gone. i was dead. it was over. almost for an hour he didn’t know. later on he told me that he had seen the books i had borrowed. he assumed the worst.
for an hour my parents thought i was dead.
and why in god’s name did i have those books lying around for. what books were they, even.
they come in, and when they see me, physically and definitely alive, i swear that time freezes for twenty years, we all age for the whole damn thing, and then we’re thrown back into the world again.
i need to get help. i need to get help for me, but i need to help myself for them too.
what has he done to us.
what have i done to us.
what have i done to myself.
i’m at the “mental ward.”
giant blue shirt and pants.
i’m in a brightly lit room with white brick walls all around me.
there is a small cot in the middle.
white sheets tucked into the sides.
a hard blue chair in the corner of the room.
i sit in the chair.
i sit on the floor.
i sit on the bed.
i go back to the chair.
i slide onto the floor and kneel for a while.
i sit back on the bed when my knees starts to hurt.
i sleep fitfully.
i sit up again.
i count the tiles on the far wall.
i look out the window for the time.
i sit on the chair.
they bring me food.
i pull at my hair.
i scream into my fist.
i slam it into the wall.
i’m angry. why hasn’t someone seen me yet.
why are they keeping me in this room.
the walls are closing in on me.
why do i have this desire to rip open my skin.
i hear loud gossiping outside from the front desk.
i bear it. for a while.
i pull my hair.
i scream into my fist.
i throw the pillow to the floor and leave the room.
i yell at the front desk.
they tell me to be patient.
they tell me they’re short on staff.
i run in the room and throw myself shoulder-first into the wall.
i want to bash my forehead in.
why did they bring me here.
this is unfair.
i don’t belong here.
my nose bleeds.
i let it run for a while.
i cry myself to sleep.
i do belong here.eight
dad tells me before he leaves, “be positive, okay?”
“don’t ever let them see your tears.”
his voice cracks and he starts to cry.
i know, daddy, you don’t have to say any more. you want to get me out of here as soon as you can. but i just want to let the tears flow in a locked room until there’s enough that i can drown in.
but of course i don’t tell him that. i tell him that i love him and that i’ll be out of here soon. i can tell mom is trying not to cry for our sake. but i know she will quietly sob in her room when she’s alone. my heart breaks at that image. i give them a watery smile and we say goodbye.
they bring me upstairs. it’s not at all what i expect. there’s a tv in the middle of the room. patients are milling around. i watch as the nurses look through the bags my parents brought me. i shuffle to a table.
one of the patients won’t stop talking to me. leave me alone. but i allow a small smile and say hello back.
why am i here. i want to go home.
there are papers to fill out. they show me to my room. i ask for my things.
things i’m not allowed to have right now:
the drawstrings on my sweater.
my pencil case.
things i’m not allowed to have until i get out:
glass or hard plastic.
anything that contains alcohol. i promised them i wouldn’t drink the conditioner, but rules are rules they say.
fine, i can live without floss.
things i’m allowed to have:
i check the curtains and they’re drawstring free.
end day one.
i’m here on the anniversary that i lost my virginity.
let’s pretend that it’s a coincidence and move on.
i need a moment.
this isn’t a coincidence.
i can only describe it as being stabbed.
i cry out.
“sh,” he says, pointing at the walls.
i tell him it’s okay. i’m okay.
a steady stream of tears is running into the corner of my mouth.
but it’s okay. i’m okay.
i cry out again.
he keeps going. this is fine. everything is fine.
he would stop if he thought i was actually hurt. this is fine.
he says he loves me. he says don’t be scared. he says to relax.
so it’s okay.
maybe this is normal. i’m just scared. this is normal. i don’t have to be scared.
as long as i can finally make someone else happy, this is okay.
it’s okay. i’m okay. i’m fine.
oh god, what am i doing.
what is he doing.
i’m sitting in a pool of my blood.
what’s wrong? what happened?
did i break something?
am i hurt?
yes, you are hurt.
did he do this to me?
no, you did this to yourself.
you’re right. i told him it was okay to do it. i did this to myself.
look at yourself. who can you even ask for help.
i could ask him for help. he says he loves me.
he just wants to use you.
maybe that’s all i’m good for anyway. i won’t ever know the love of a woman.
aren’t you ashamed of yourself.
yes. i’m ashamed. i have always been ashamed.
why can’t you just suck it up and get your life together.
i don’t know!! what just happened?!
you lost your virginity to him.
stop! take it back!
you can’t take it back. you can’t really be gay if you lost your virginity to him.
i never wanted this.
i’m standing now. i see the blood. i’m about to pass out. i don’t know how long i’ve been standing there staring. the outside of my vision starts to turn white.
then the sobbing starts.
and he’s the one who freaks out.
“it’s okay,” he blurts. he rubs my shoulders. he pats me on the back. “it’s okay, you’re okay. it happens. it’s okay.” he doesn’t know what to do with himself. he tries to make me comfortable. he sits me back down on a towel.
he keeps those sheets for weeks in a bag until i finally throw them out.
i wake up to a rap on the door; “vitals,” says an unfamiliar voice.
where am i?
i’m groggy and i feel like i’ve gotten no sleep, but that’s not a new feeling.
there’s a crick in my neck.
honey, you’re in the mental ward.
go away, it’s too early.
having dreams again?
they never went away.
serves you right, dumb piece of shit.
yup, that’s me.
i shuffle outside.
no blood this time, though.
i go back to bed.
i dream that i bleed through the sheets and the mattress and they conclude that i’ve been stabbed to death by something invisible.
but i’m still very much alive.
they pronounce me dead at 7:56 am.
i see tv in the corner of the room with his knife.
mom and dad. i put them through this and they still visit every day at 6:30 pm sharp.
you don’t deserve them.
i know, i don’t.
we get one free phone call per shift. i leave messages for the numbers i managed to write down before they took my phone away. when the nurse makes the call my toe is jamming into the floor.
please pick up, please pick up, please pick up.
they leave a message. that first day, i wait all day for a call back.
i imagine myself at 2 in the morning, jamming my foot into the rail with the phone at my ear.
please pick up, please pick up, please pick up.
no one would have picked up for you, like no one’s picking up for you now.
i have another number. should i call her?
high school friends? you’re not even in touch with them. stop contacting them just when you need them, you’re using them too.
no, but i care about them. i don’t want them to worry.
they don’t even know that you’re here. they’re not missing anything.
but i’ll tell them later?
don’t call. she’s busy and she has enough to worry about. fill her in later.
but how do you –
i just do.
zoloft day one.
sense of purpose and self-esteem.
acknowledgement of your efforts, but you’re not going to find them.
“we don’t open things we can’t close here,”
but in doing so, what if we close things that can’t open again? but
i need to remind myself that i’m not here to get closure
because i’m not ready to reopen these scars.
how can i get closure if i leave them closed? but
they will help me gather my strength to do that
when i’m ready
whenever that is.
i don’t want to fall endlessly.
i feel myself getting happier.
they might not open things they can’t close
but they’ll get me closer to getting there –
they’ll get me closer to opening
so they can heal properly.
and close properly.
i sleep better at night as i close my eyes
because now i know
we don’t close our eyes
unless we know we can open them again.eighteen
i tell them not to worry, because that’s all they’re doing and they’re not getting sleep.
“i‘m here because i have a problem and i’m looking for the solution.”
and mom sighs and smiles and squeezes my hand.
“everyone has problems, big or small.
everyone has something broken in them;
our imperfections are what makes us human.”
so i ask her why she thinks i’m here. she says
“because you were brave enough
to ask for help.”
did i ask for it?was i asking for it?nineteen
zoloft day two.
a phone call for me!
from my friends!
i love them so much!
you’re such a burden to them. they were probably busy.
maybe they’ll be happy to see me as much as i’ll be happy to see them.
what? you’re happy?
not right now, no. but i know i will be when i see them.
you’re never happy.
but i was happy.
and they seemed happy to see me too.
zoloft day three.
genuine homesickness is starting to take root. at first, i just wanted to get out of here. but now, i actually want to go home. it’s clear to me now that if i were in the other place, i would not be able to return no matter how homesick i was. there’s no going back from there. here, there is a going back. they send you back when you’re better, and not before.
i need to get better.
last night, mom brought my guitar, and they let me play it in the art room. i used to play to ward off the depression for a little while – a distractor. but the crushing feeling isn’t really there anymore. in fact, i hardly know what else to feel. i sit down with the guitar and i hold it in my arms for the first time in a week. i strum a little. the exhilaration makes me tingle.
i strum some more.
i laugh to myself a little, and then i freeze.
it’s like something heavy immediately gets released and my lungs clear a little, like they’ve done something they haven’t done in a while.
i play like i own the world stage.
i’m going to get better.
hell yes i’m going to get better
emptiness. i need to scream.
i have this urge to sob but i can’t.
everything feels dull.
i went outside for the first time today. it has only been half a week since i felt the sun, but i could not stop smiling for the life of me. i feel insane in the best way possible.
i hope this lasts.
…i hope so, too.
notable quotes of the day:
“it’s a fact that we feel, but our feelings aren’t factual.”
“you get more with milk and honey than with vinegar.”
“first day you come in is when your discharge plan begins.”
and how your plan goes is up to you.
i was absolutely elated to see you today. it means the world that you came so soon, i had only just called you, and i didn’t expect you to be able to come while i was still here. you’re so busy, you’re so involved. i didn’t want to call you, i didn’t want to worry you. but i just wanted to hear your voice.
if all my tears for the month hadn’t already been spent, i would probably have cried when you ran into the room with fifteen minutes to spare.
i felt so truly, genuinely happy; i actually found things to talk about and laugh about. what a funny word that is. hap-py. i can’t say it enough anymore.
your confidence encourages me to be confident here. your energy encourages me to remain positive. you bring the familiar lump to my throat. i’m sorry that i hurt you, and that i could have hurt you more than i already did. i’m sorry that i hurt everyone else that loves me. i try to think and think about how i felt that day, and seeing you here sitting across from me, i can’t possibly think of how i could have thought i was alone.
they had called me a survivor.
YET I WAS STARTING TO WONDER IF IT WAS WORTH SURVIVING.but it is. yes, yes, yes it is, please don’t ever let me forget that again. i’m realizing so many things from being here and just writing and writing and writing. and it scares me so much that it is a very real possibility that i might not be here to make these realizations. i don’t want to be a casualty for the other side to claim. i want to be part of the victory when it comes. i might not be the fastest one or the strongest one to lead with the flag, but i will be there and i’ll be there with you too.
and i’m sorry that you know this pain. together, we have twice the weight, but maybe it’ll feel less carrying it together.
we can love the pain away.You’re just soaked through beauty from your heart and your mind to your smile and your laugh. and that kind of beauty is such a blessing. your kindness to me feels so unconditional and i don’t know what i must have done to deserve it – unless God thought he needed to send an angel to save me. i can only hope that i gain the strength and capacity to give back the empathy and kindness to you and others to the very fullest.
i see the light at the end of the tunnel. i see my parents. i see my friends. i see god’s angel.
zoloft day… four? five?
doc and the team seemed so happy to actually see me smile today. i know they’re advocating for me, and that is so encouraging. this would probably be the first party where i wouldn’t feel offended that the hosts want me to leave as soon as possible. i see the end, so now i’m just trying to run towards it with the longest strides possible.
i can’t wait to go back to the life that i have been so desperately trying to get away from.god bless everyone i love and everyone that loves me, and everyone i hate and everyone that hates me. bless everyone i know and everyone i don’t, and everyone that knows me and everyone that doesn’t know me.
and if you can’t promise me their happiness, please at least give them the strength to find it again if ever should they lose it.
roommate has visited.
she has not set the room on fire yet.
all is well.
i haven’t forgotten about you, tv.
they tried to give me benadryl to ward you off at night. a for effort.
but trazodone doesn’t work on you either.
i have better things to do than to stare at your face on the ceiling for two hours and then fall asleep to see you again in my head.
stop coming back.twenty eight
that was the best sleep i’ve had in months.
doc, i’ll keep this script.
i look in the mirror.
short hair looks better on me anyway.
i’ve been putting my life through a mental filter so severe that the only sediment left was what happened last fall. it’s been coloring my thoughts, actions, behavior every single day. in my determination to not let it control me, i let it consume me. but i’m trying to bounce back again. like i did this spring. what comes up must inevitably come back down. and when it does come back down, i’ll just push off the ground harder so i’ll stay in the air longer.
life’s no sinkhole, it’s a trampoline.
jump all over it.
hundreds of shirts on a clothesline.
you said, “so much hurt and so much pain, but also so much hope.” so much hope. it is impossible not to share in the sadness of the hundreds of hearts behind those stories, those shirts. for each one, there is someone who wore it. some have worn it longer than others before they felt they could hang it up to dry. let the tears dry. we’ll hang in there together. in solidarity. there is pain, yes. but there is so much strength in these numbers when they blow in the wind together.
there was glitter.
we will glitter like stars.you said, “it’s beautiful how people can turn something tragic into something so amazing.”
yes, it’s a beauty that cannot be fathomed.
and i don’t think you realize how much you embody those words.
fifteen minutes outside can save you fifteen percent on car insurance because it just makes you so fucking glad to be alive.
especially after being trapped inside for hours, those fifteen minutes out there is just enough to fuel the rest of the happiness i need to get me through to 6:30. i don’t worry about after that since mom and dad meet me halfway.
the world is so beautiful and precious, and the sun is so warm, and the breeze is so rejuvenating.
i feel like a new orange, world! look at me!
just try sticking your thumbs in me.
guess whose going home tomorrow.
your girl, right over here.
zoloft day frickin five.
official topic of group today: alcoholism.
unofficially, it was: death. grief. losing someone.
getting hit by a drunk driver while pushing your stroller down the street on a red light, only to find out later that you survived but your baby and your little twelve-year-old girl didn’t.
a mother’s grief.
coming home to find someone you love dead without warning or reason.
a lover’s grief.
looking at the ultrasound and finding out your unborn boy will never see the light of day.
a father’s grief.
the sheer hopelessness of losing someone without warning.entire parts of their futures evaporated. gaping, empty, bottomless chasms that somehow need to be filled.
and what about the grief of a friend?somehow i thought my pain was greater than the pain i would leave behind.
let’s do some 4-7-8 breathing.
four seconds in through your nose, hold it for seven, and exhale through your mouth for eight. if you keep going, effective in two minutes. or so they say.
notable quote of the day:
“practice makes better, not perfect.”
“assert your feelings.”
if you have any, that is.
zoloft day six.
time to go home.
notable quote of the day: “hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. invite one to stay.”
thirty eight times,
when i remembered to count,
that i felt violated.
i counted because it didn’t –
it couldn’t feel real to me.
i ran far away to the deep corners of my mind.
and i’ve stayed there since,
and now i’m coming out
and the light of day hurts my eyes.
and i survived.
and we’ll go from there.