It’s Your Fault That I’m Still Alive

Have you ever wanted to die, but didn’t want to hurt the people you love? I know that feeling very well. I once had a conversation with a friend in which I accused her of forcing me to stay alive, simply by caring about me. This poem focuses on the connections that anchor us to life (whether we want them to or not).

 

Like a tree, I stand in place
My branches are burning
But my roots hold me down
So that I cannot run from the flames
No one else knows what it’s like to be a tree on fire
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Not Free: Original Song and Lyrics

This is a song I wrote about a year ago, frustrated and feeling trapped by my Bipolar Disorder. It is very hard to know that it will always be there, and that I often can’t trust the thoughts in my own head. That I have to take pills every day just to stay safe, and that I have to accept my limitations, which, most days, are many. The lyrics are below, following the audio file.

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Remembering Your Love

In a single moment, I forget the breathing exercises, and the rational thought practice. I forget the therapist’s direct line, and the holding-ice-in-your-hand trick. I forget the Ativan in the medicine cabinet. And, most of all, I forget your love.

Instead, I make things up: that I annoy you, that you hate me, that your life would be so much better without me in it. I know it; I believe it—I am ruining your life.

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The Difference Between Sadness and Depression

There was a time when being sad was as uncomfortable for me as for the next person. When I dreaded facing an event that would send tears spilling down my cheeks and leave me with a pile of crumpled tissues. Enter depression, and everything changed.

These days, I can honestly say that there are times when I look forward to being sad. When tears of real sadness stream down my face, I am so grateful to feel an emotion that I am supposed to be feeling, given my surroundings. I literally smile, relieved by the knowledge that I am sad, not depressed, and that I have learned to tell the difference. Because once, long ago, I felt sad all the time, and I didn’t understand why.

So, what is the difference between sadness and depression?

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Does Mental Illness Make Us Who We Are?

Today, I’ll start out by stating my conclusion: My mental illness is not who I am, but it makes me who I am.

It is common for those with a mental illness diagnosis to assert that they are not their disease. They have an illness, but it doesn’t define who they are. I certainly agree that no one “is” their mental illness. But, because of the particular struggles we face and the ways we go about overcoming those struggles, doesn’t living with a mental illness ultimately make us who we are?

Mental illness affects our everyday experiences, and shapes the way we see things. Living with a mental illness requires a great deal of strength and determination. So, I put forth that we are not our mental illness, but it does make us who we are.

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