Mental health rap.

Literally.

I laid down my first rap the other night. Since Kevin and I started dating six months ago, I’ve been inspired to write and perform a rap song. Kevin and his friends (Jesse and Matt, to name a couple) have been rapping for years. Listening to their stuff made me realize that the way I’ve been writing my poetry, its cadence and flow, suits hip hop well.

Regardless of my profession, it’s important to me to continue to raise awareness about mental health, to dismantle the relentless stigma around it. This is my first mental health rap, yo.

 

Demons are not yours.

Check out my latest post on my relationship blog, xo, O:

Kevin doesn’t have depression. His knowledge of depression — first, second, or eleventh-hand — is limited. Sixth months into our life together, he’s spent time with depressed O at least half the time. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression for about three of the past six months. The struggle I’ve been grappling with and have held onto as a ‘my’ struggle for the better part of my 37 years has, in six months, become a ‘we’ struggle.

Every now and then,  when I emerge from the dark dizzying sticky slumber of depression, I ask Kevin, “Are you sure you want to move forward in this relationship? This is how it’s going to be the rest of our lives. I will always fall into depressive ruts.” I feel like I need to regularly give him an out, let him know that I get it if he decides that it’s too much for him to manage. I would understand if nurturing a relationship with someone who cycles through depression as often as I do is too overwhelming for him, for anyone.

Each time, Kevin squares his shoulders and steadies his eyes to mine as if to convey, if you don’t hear my words, feel the conviction of my presence.  “Yes. I’m sure,” he says. “I want to be with you.”

Continue reading this post here.

This tousled hair for you.

Here again in this dark pit. shit. fucking back again.

All those times. the energy. the feeling free. those weren’t me. yes they were. no, they weren’t. they aren’t. they’re not. they’re not. They’re not?

They are. They’re me. I’m caught. caught in depression’s throat. gurgling complaints of pain on pain on pain and pain. soaked in shame, blame. it’s all the same. the same as it was 20 years ago. the same as it was 10 years ago. 4 years. last year. yesterday.

I’m a circle. i don’t fit. into the box of society’s expectations. my contributions are lacking. why they don’t send me packing, I don’t know. It’s gobsmacking.

Again? this is happening again? she feels down again? Again? Yes! AGAIN. Friends, this is the way of it. the timeless tide. unexpectedly expected. it’s a ride. with a hefty toll – regret.

regret. there’s no time for that. no time to sweat the things remembered; not remembered. I remember all those times. the times in bed. in my head. the dread. of being human. acting human. pretending human. but what’s more human than being in the depths of despair? This tousled hair. I’ve been working on it for days. for you.

for you I’ve fallen down the hole again. it’s unending. I know it won’t end. so much back bending to appear normal. to look ok. to be social. to force interaction. there’s an attraction to this hiding. this pulling away. this get-my-face-out-of-all-that-air-out-there. it isn’t fair. it’s not. but who said anything about that?

***

I’ve been holed up for a few days. mostly sleeping or awake-worrying.

I’ve been living with depression for years. it waxes and wanes. I’m in one of those stages. whichever one goes down.

I’m OK. Really, I am OK. I know this. but I want you to too.

Each time I share this part of me. these scary experiences. when depression strangles my self and life for as long as it does each time. when I feel most judged. most unsure. most shaky and shy in anxiety. I’m nervous. I’m nervous to share these things. to write them is part of my therapy. to share them is too.

I share them with you because it’s important. because sometimes I need to publish my crazy to the public. to make it more real – self-imposing paradoxical intervention.

I share them with you because I’m not the only one hiding and afraid. others have their dark clouds too. when they hover overhead, it can feel unbearable. it feels unbearable.

You may not understand this feeling. this fear. the strength involved in being here. but I hope that my exposure, my self disclosure. I hope it helps. It’s why I do it. It’s why I will continue to. even when I’m most afraid. especially when I’m most afraid. because vulnerability is key. it’s free. vulnerability is humanity.

Appropriate shapes. at apropos times.

I don’t have the luxury of knowing I’ll feel OK today.

I’m not assured that my confidence won’t waver
to an adolescent level tomorrow.
or that I’ll cancel plans tonight

because I feel like I can’t get up.
because showering and picking out clothes.
and seeing my image in the mirror
all sound so exhaustingly exhausting.

socializing would be frightful.
and I would be the plastic wall flower
on the fringes again.
bench pressing smiles on my face.
desperately lighting synapse wicks in my brain
trying to keep up with

what’s going on around me.

around all of these smiling faces
and laughy laughs.
listening for cues
to scrunch and stretch my cheeks.
lips.nose.forehead.chin.eyelids.

into appropriate shapes.
at apropos times.


– Written Friday, March 21st, 2014.

Leave little gifts for you.

My parents are moving into a smaller house so they’ve started the process of going through their things. Things they’ve accumulated over the past 40 years or so. As a lot of children do, I’ve stored things of mine at their place over the years so I’ve started looking through them. Some I’ve packed and unpacked between multiple countries from the time I was in elementary school. One treasured item I thought I’d lost in a house fire almost 10 years ago was in one of the boxes – a leather-bound journal given to me by a friend. I probably hid it away in a box because at the time I’d had it, I made some very poor decisions and treated friends (and myself) terribly. I needed to store it away for a while, to keep the writings at a distance, I suppose.

I am so glad and thankful that I still have it. I read through it quickly last night. Some powerful stuff in there. Painful. Painful and beautiful. I can see my determination to ‘sort things out’ and overcome in the words. I had this journal at a time when I ended up in an ambulance to the hospital because I’d taken an overdose of medication at home alone during a workday. I remember laying on my bed. Staring at the door and imaging my mom finding me there. I cried. And pounded on the mattress a bit, I’m sure. I became frightened as I imagined the strength of my heart beating in my ears weaken and slow. I leapt up to call 911. I didn’t want to die.

Most people who attempt and commit suicide do not want to end their lives. But consequence and impulsiveness oftentimes brings people to kill themselves. It’s an impulsive act. One that happens at a time when a person feels hopeless, overwhelmed, worthless, and perhaps many more terrible things. Or numb. But these, as all emotions on the spectrum, are fleeting. As are impulsive actions. But suicide is irreversible. It’s a permanent decision if succeeded. It’s important that that you or someone you know reaches out when feeling this way. If experiencing suicidal ideation, please please PLEASE reach out. If someone talks about thinking of taking their life, take it seriously. It’s a serious thing regardless of how they tell you. It may seem non-challant. They may bring it up jokingly. Take it seriously. Ask straight up if they have an idea of how they’ll take their life and whether they have the means. Assess their safety. Call 911 if you must to keep them safe and keep them on the line until help arrives. Do the same for yourself. Help someone or yourself get through those horribly painful times.

I’ve shared this video before, a TED talk given by a man, JD Schramm, who attempted suicide and miraculously survived a jump from the Manhattan Bridge. His words are beyond powerful and provide a unique insight. After committing himself to following through and surpassing suicidal ideation to action, he survived. He survived and had the rare opportunity to commit to rebuilding his life. His message to those who may feel suicidal is simple and true, “It gets better. It gets way better.” Take it from him.

I wasn’t planning for this to be a heavy post, but here it is. The unearthing of things. stuff. from years past does that sometimes. You realize that your body and mind have moved past or forgotten the reasons behind the associated sentimentalities. You realize that those difficult times when you felt that your situation wouldn’t get better, or the pain you felt has seeped in to your bones and won’t go away – you realize that those experiences leave little gifts for you. All it takes is getting through. These are some little gifts I found:

why does hair look so beautiful
when it’s carried by the wind.
trees fluttering leaves
like butterfly wings.
I want to go somewhere
naked and pure
that’s never been seen
I want to feel the earth with my toes
close my eyes when the wind blows.
I want to smell it on my skin
when I’ve returned home.
bring that feeling back.
the vision in colors and shapes.
I want to listen to the birds for a while.
share smiles with the sky.

Written Sunday, September 15th, 2002 @ ~12:30pm in Port Townsend on the hammock in my parents’ backyard.
*

you love me
because you want to.
esteem is found in self.
not eyes or kisses.
it makes sense
when you stop looking for things
that you’ve taught yourself to need.
you have to pull those thoughts like weeds.

Written Wednesday, September 18th, 2002 @ ~4:30pm, Metro #105 home.
*

Mom can’t find me
like this
fresh cuts and a belly full of loathing
wine and veggies in a grocery bag
dirty sheets, snowstorm on the t.v.
music playing in the background.
what would she have found?
broken, withered, silent.
sing me a lullaby, momma
sing yourself to sleep.
rubber kisses
icicle fingers and shiny rings.

Written Tuesday, December 24th, 2002 @ ~5:15pm on the Kingston ferry.