Three-Hundred-Thirty-One Days

The building pressure along several faults finally forced the slip.
Ravines split pale earth wide open;
vermillion rivers rushed forth from each canyon,
converged,
flowed downstream with the pull of gravity.

As one large mass,
it slowed.
Akin to jelly,
it crawled to the ocean.
Eventually,
it dumped into the ocean,
dispersed,
immediately followed by the aftermath of the secondary and tertiary waves of destruction.

When the ground stilled and the dust had settled,
the stains of the disaster were slowly washed away with the rain.
The cracks in the ground filled with the crimson goo unable to escape,
now solid,
forever more scaring the soil.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
The last round of earthquakes had stopped.
The pressures of the plates had eased,
but built again.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
New craters to heal,
lighten,
fade from the landscape.

Three-hundred-thirty-one days.
Only thirty-four days shy of one year earthquake-free.
Three times prior,
they’d returned.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
No warning.
The faults just slipped.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
Again,
dealing with the aftermath.

Only thirty-four days shy of one year.
Why did the earthquakes always return?

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You’re Worried?

You love one whose thoughts slither from a mass of tangled,frayed,
stripped,
severed,
bent,
and warped self-loathing;
one whose dreams dance around the idea of (and sometimes seek out) the allure of an eternal abyss long before one her age should,
as if it were normal that anyone should.
You’ve traveled through the recesses of her mind, only injuring yourself in the process.
Tch.
And you’re the one that’s worried?

You bear the scars of chemical burns,
evidence of the chemical combustion of her mind spitting acid in her words.
You wear your own wounds of the past,
of which she has,
though unintentionally,
dug her claws into and made bleed further,
causing you unnecessary heartache—
unnecessary pain.
And though she is sorry,
she questions your forgiveness.
She does not deserve it.
And you’re the one that’s worried?

She cringes at silly things,
flinches at uncontrollable human reflexes,
withdraws,
hyperventilates,
trembles,
freezes,
and in the past,
even cried,
at the most basic of human needs,
desires.
Yet here you remain beside her,
refusing to leave.
And you’re the one that’s worried?

The majority of her heart is dead,
smothered and beaten,
abused,
neglected.
What little remains is shoddy,
spotty in functionality.
“Condition: mediocre at best.”
She can be cold,
far away in her own mind,
unfeeling.
She fails to find words,
to give meaning to the emotions smoldering in her thoughts.
Only short,
repetitive syllables.
Nothing intelligible.
And you’re the one that’s worried?

She’s worried.
More than you can imagine.
She never knows when that last admitted thought of the end,
that last injury to you,
that last chemical burn,
that last bloody talon torn out of past wounds,
that last shutdown,
that last cold,
unfeeling night,
will drive you away.

She’s worried,
above all else,
that you will one day disappear,
but she will understand.

And you’re the one that’s worried?

Ten Things I Learned as an Undergrad with Mental Health Disorders

Getting through college with any mental health disorder, any number of mental health disorders, is not an easy task.

Sometimes, it will leave you feeling like you’re drowning—suffocated by social, academic, and financial responsibilities.
Sometimes, it will leave you frustrated to the point of tears.
Sometimes, it will leave you so overwhelmed that you want to flip the desk at which you sit and kick a whole in the wall of the lecture hall.
Sometimes, it will leave you feeling so despairingly hopeless that it’s infuriating.

All of these things… sometimes, they will leave you feeling like throwing in the towel—like giving up and dropping is your only option.

Don’t.

Do. Not. Give. Up.

In four years, you learn a lot. And despite the fact I am a senior by credit hour, I will not graduate this Spring. I still have another year to go. Why? Because I am stubborn. Because I learn lessons the hard way.

So why am I writing this article?

Because I want someone else to do what I did not: do it the easy way, save some money (we all know how expensive college can get), and do so with as little stress as possible. Like I didn’t.

 

1. Right off the bat: take a step back and breathe.

Just take a deep breath. Everything. Is. Going. To. Be. Okay. Clear your mind, even if just for a few seconds, so you can come back with an empty space to put everything in its proper mental folder. Get your thoughts, emotions, and priorities in proper place. Write it down if it makes it easier to have it visually mapped out in front of you.

2. Take it one day, one assignment, one exam, one quiz, one paper, one work day at a time.

Sounds impossible in college, right? You’ve got two midterms, a paper due, a quiz, two homework assignments, and a presentation all in the same week. Oh, and don’t forget the readings you’re supposed to do before class because the lectures are “just for review”. It’s all right. Get ahead. Study a week, two weeks, in advance and go back every day, two days, to refresh. The earlier you study and the more you go back to look at the notes, the easier it will be to remember the information, even when you have six other assignments to mentally juggle.

3. Don’t take on more than you can handle.

Each person is unique when it comes to what they can handle in terms of course loads, work schedules (if working at all), and extracurriculars (if any). You’ll only leave yourself feeling more overwhelmed if you do too much. It’s recommended that students only work 20 hours per work with a full-time course load to maintain the necessary amount of study time to achieve desired grades, if at all. I worked 24-30 hours per work during my first two years in university. My GPA suffered, along with my (at-the-time) untreated mood, anxiety, somatoform, and personality disorder.

4. Fact or fiction: You must take 15 hours per semester in college to graduate in four years. You will not be successful if you do not take 15 hours per semester or if you fail to graduate in four years.

FICTION. Fifteen hours in a regular semester is an incredibly heavy course load. If you can handle that, then do it. If not, like myself, take 12 hours. That’s still full time. Take 12 hours in the regular semesters [Fall and Spring] and two classes during the summer. It’s the equivalent of two 15 hour semesters. You’ll still graduate in four years. And if you can’t handle a full-time course load? Go part-time. That’s okay, too. Only take on what you can handle.

5. Talk to your professors

Professors aren’t scary, inhuman, unfeeling robots without hearts. Many of them do genuinely care, and they are willing to work with you. Just talk to them. Disclose what you’re comfortable disclosing. They’re typically in accommodating your situation. Unfortunately, there are those that are not helpful, that do not care, and are not going be very kind, but those are generally speaking, the minority.

6. Utilize Student Mental Health Services

Many colleges have some form of mental health provision for their students, such as: short-term individual therapy, referral to long-term therapy, group counseling, psychiatry, learning disability testing, crisis intervention, student sobriety groups, other group therapies, and other varieties of assistance depending on the size of the college. Don’t be afraid to go. That’s what they’re there for, and they’re there to support your psychological health.

7. If Applicable to You, Consider Filing for Mental Health with Student Disability Services

Filing for Mental Health with SDS can benefit you in leniency with absences if you happen to have counseling appointments that cannot be scheduled outside of class times, debilitating depressive, manic, or other episodes of some type, or illnesses related to mental health or medications. You can take exams in the Testing Services office, a quieter environment, if needed, or be given extra time on exams, if needed. They accommodate mental health needs as they would physical health needs. Professors must comply with the ADA regulations regarding mental health disorders as they would physical health disorders.

8. Do Your Best.

Sometimes your best is only making it to one class… or none, because you couldn’t get out of bed that day. Your anxiety got to you. You had a panic attack. Your social anxiety had you locked in your apartment/dorm/etc. for several hours. You had a psychotic episode. Whatever the case may be, sometimes, your best is just getting out of bed and bathing. And good job, because you did your best. That shower, the fact that you got out of bed and put pants on, you went out and did the dishes, you took out the trash—you accomplished something, and those small accomplishments are meaningful, too.

9. Take Time to Relax

Do something nice for yourself. Do something fun. Watch a couple of episodes of your favorite show on Netflix for a study break. Treat yourself to some ice cream or a beer or a meal at your favorite fast food place with friends now and then. Take a bubble bath. Read a couple of chapters of your favorite book. Surf the web or play video games for 30 minutes. Do something that you enjoy and let yourself enjoy it. Don’t let those worries settle in. Don’t let the “I should be…” or “I wouldn’t have…” creep into your mind. Try not to spoil your “You Time” with that, because you deserve it.

10. Be Kind to Yourself

Remind yourself that it’s okay to have a bad day. We, as humans, are imperfect creatures. We make mistakes. We screw up. We fail tests. We fail quizzes. We forget about an assignment here and there. It’s okay. Pick yourself up. You failed a test? Take that energy and channel it into finding out where you went wrong and study harder. Forgot an assignment? Get a planner and write out everything that’s due from all of your syllabuses. Tedious, yes, but you won’t forget. Muscle memory and maintenance rehearsal are wonderful things. Screwed up at work? It’s all right. We all have our off days. Don’t beat yourself up for it. Take that screw-up as constructive criticism. Remind yourself of something you did well that day, too. You failed that test, but you also remembered to turn in an assignment. Your boss passed along a compliment from a customer on your service. Your mother told you she was proud of you because you were dealing with so much and pushing through.

There are always going to be difficulties. Always. It’s going to be hard, but you know what? Where we, as humans, inherently flawed; however, we make up for it in resiliency and innovation. We are resourceful creatures. You are a resourceful, persevering, human being. And you know what? I believe in you; I believe in me. I believe in all of us.

~We can do this. Together.~

Again and Again

When you first said,
“You make me happy.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
could some pessimistic,
worrisome,
neurotic,
clusterfucked,
disorganized,
self-loathing,
son of a bitch like me make you happy?

I ask why,
remembering every time you tried to be optimistic,
tried to tell me,
“It’s going to be okay.”,
keep me from losing it,
only to be shut down—
remembering each time looking in the mirror,
seeing the jagged,
gnarled,
wounds that have only physically scarred,
thinking of how it will pain you to see those for the first time.

And yet here you sit,
sighing to yourself though with the same jovial lilt in your tone,
still saying,
“You make me happy.”,
again and again.

When you first said,
“I’m the lucky one.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was once more,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
are you the lucky one?
You put up with the tangled,
frayed,
fucked up little ball of crazy that is me.
You put up with the breakdowns,
the ASI,
the PSI,
the mood cycling,
the periods of unresponsiveness,
because I just… shut down.

I ask why,
remembering every night of silence,
every morning of sleepless panic,
every tear I’ve shed,
every tear you’ve shed at my own fault,
every medication rollercoaster,
every manic high,
every depressive low,
every mental break,
every frantic call,
every anxious question.
So tell me,
why are you the lucky one?

And yet here you sit,
chuckling a “For fuck’s sake” under your breath,
still saying,
“I’m the lucky one.”,
again and again.

When you first said,
“I love you.”,
my gut reaction,
my initial response was still,
“Why?”

Why,
how,
could anyone love… this?
A broken,
angry,
tired,
empty,
scarred husk of a… human being.
Am I human?
Who am I?
What am I?

I ask why,
seeing every character flaw,
looking at every physical imperfection,
remembering every shitty thing I’ve ever said,
ever done,
to you especially.

And yet here you sit,
shushing my protests,
still saying,
“I love you.”
again and again.

However,
you can’t shush me permanently,
Schat.

So, no
You make me happy.
Before you,
genuine smiles and true laughter…
Those were but long faded memories.

So, no.
I’m the lucky one.
Before you,
I hadn’t known what love was,
or what it was to be loved.

So, no.
I love you more.
Before you,
I was a lifeless,
shell of a creature,
merely going through the motions—
but you were a jolt of electricity,
striking a cold,
dead,
black heart.
You did the impossible:
you got a pulse.
You showed me that I am,
in fact,
still human.

You make me extraordinarily happy.
I am the luckiest person alive.
I love you very much.
Please don’t ever forget that.

~Little Bird

Please…

Please,
just make it stop.
I beg you.

I’m choking,
but drawing just enough breath to remain conscious.
Frigid water fills my lungs.
I feel everything.
I hear everything.

‘I raised your sister as a single mother in nursing school, you know.’
‘You don’t have cancer.’
‘If you’re that sick, I’ll have to take care of you.’
‘GPA: 2.78.’
‘Won’t make it through the winter… I just thought you should know.’

Though I could only see the fading lights,
shrinking and dying,
as I sank down deeper beneath the surface,
I somehow continued to draw that same breath,
just barely enough,
to remain painfully alive.

Be merciful.
End it quickly.
Let me rest.

My lungs are ripped from my chest,
body trembling.
I have no more tears to cry,
all soaked into the blanket around my shoulders,
down the front of my shirt.
My phone clutched in my hand,
I sit at my desk,
the blue light of my laptop staring me in the face.
Ask for help.
The words dance through Window’s the glow,
mocking me.
I’m stronger than that…
I don’t need to burden them.
I do the helping.
That’s.
My.
Job.

For fuck’s sake,
stop dragging it out.
Just let me die.

I’ve stared at you,
my silver-edged friend,
every night for the last five days.
I can hear Lilith in the back of my mind,
reminding me of the old days,
…offering to listen just like the old days.
Exactly why I don’t take showers after dark anymore,
especially lately.
The offer has been tempting,
but the pinkest of the scars are just beginning to heal.

Stop being a pussy!
Kill me, goddammit!
Just do it already!

I have my instructions all lined up,
legibly printed on clean paper,
stored and ready.
I lack a firearm;
however, I’ve calculated lethal dosages and combinations of my medications.
It’s just…
the letters.
They’re not all written.

I can’t leave anything unfinished—
leave anything unsaid.
And that list…
what was once only ten long and eight written,
is now 22 long and only 14 written.
It grows,
and so,
I stay.
Because I can leave nothing undone.

I fucking beg you,
just let me fucking rest!
Stop fucking dragging it out!
Just fucking do it, goddammit!

I just want to die.

P l e a s e…

Lilith

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I smile, looking back on the first time we met.
I was young… only 12.
I was just starting to hurt.
You called to me; however, I wasn’t ready to listen just yet.
You didn’t give up on me though; you were patient.
You waited.

“You didn’t need me then”,
you later told me. “I knew you would one day, and I was willing to wait; I couldn’t abandon you. I would never abandon you.”
You were so kind.
You listened.
You were so non-judgmental.
You didn’t ask for much in return; nothing monetary.
Of course, I could spare what you asked.

I turned sixteen two months ago, in November.
You’ve been back for eight months.
We spend almost every night together.
The agreement is the same: you lend an ear, and I provide payment.
Tonight is no different.

You travel across my skin.
Sting, drip, splash. Sting, drip, splash.
When you’ve had your fill, and I’ve told my stories for the day, I feel a sense of calm.
I watch the stress, the anger, the burning self-loathing that once pitted in the center of my chest, bleed into the water and wash away.
Not a single stain.
You’re smart; porcelain isn’t a hassle to clean up like carpet or even tile.
My secret is safe.
You are safe, tucked away in your box in the back of the last drawer of my jewelry box.
Everything is in place.
I sleep soundly as I always do on the nights we spend together.

…I awake this morning, and as usual, I wonder why I let you do this.
Why I do I let you tell me what to do with my time?
I can wear only what you tell me to.
I can have only the friends that you approve of.
I can only participate in the activities you say are okay; you’re taking softball and choir, my sport and my music, away from me.
You’ve gotten so goddamn demanding… controlling.

I despise you.

With every ounce of my being. 

I almost toss your sorry ass to the curb; throw you away for good.

…Almost…

I want to laugh in your face as you drown in the remnants of your own sin–the rusty brown tissues hidden under random scraps of toilet paper and old face wash bottles…

But then, in that soft, soothing, musical tone of yours, you speak to me.
I see your beauty–the same beauty I saw that first night we reconnected–and the way you glow under the light in which we first met.
You bring the spark back into my life.
You bring the color back to me when it fades and the world falls into a lifeless, monochrome blur.

It never takes me long to realize that I’m a fucking fool.
I can’t live without you.
I’m sorry.

Can you forgive me?

You only want what’s best for me; you’re trying to save me from myself.
Sometimes, I’m blinded by what I see everywhere else.
I forget what you’ve done for me.
I promise, we’ll spend extra time tonight, okay?
Please…, just don’t go.
I don’t know where I would be without you.
Just… stay….

I need you, Lilith.

Journey Through Depression #2: Anger

Soothing… Music is supposed to be soothing.
But it doesn’t work like that, at least not for me, …at least not tonight.
Papa Roach blares in the background,
but not even the blast of the bass subdues the beast within.

Fists clenched,
I search for an escape.
The metallic edge catches the dirty lamp’s light.
I sigh, relieved.
Tonight, I give in.
Tonight, the beast drinks.

Sliced flesh;
tension dissipates.
Sparkling crimson pours from fresh wounds.
The dulled world clears and brightens.

For now,
I feel no regret.
My self-esteem rises, even if only for a moment.
The pudge coating my bones doesn’t seem so bulky.

I smile; my self-loathing slithering down the drain.
My dark angel smiles back as she leaves.
I’ll be back tomorrow.“, she says

Tonight, I sleep well.

Tonight, my dreams are pleasant.