I hate you for taking over me
and making me believe this is how I want to be.
Why do I stay with you when all you do is put me down?
make me starve ’til I fit into the smallest gown,
with the loss of each gram I’m closer to my goal,
with your grip tightening over my dark soul.
Filled with fear at every bite I take,
your plan, my plan, would be ruined by cake.
Counting calories, and fearing how much I weigh
I am beginning to feel like you are here to stay.
My reflection has become something I fear,
I dread the time I have to look in the mirror.
The pain in my stomach never goes away,
it grumbles with hunger while in bed I lay.
You tell me you are my only true friend
and make me fear the day this relationship must end,
but I know your presence is here for a while,
so I hide this relationship behind a smile.
Dear eating disorder I know you are wrong,
but how can you make me feel this strong?
My name is Rosie, I am 18 years old and from the UK. I suffer from a variety of mental illnesses however this poem is focused particularly on my anorexia which I have suffered with for many years and has led me to numerous inpatient admissions. During my lows, my highs and my admissions, I have found poetry a really positive and productive thing and it has helped me to make sense of some of the chaos in my head.
My favorite quote is one from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and it is:
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
I like this quote because sometimes mental illness’ can make you feel trapped but it is important to remember you have the power, potential and the ability to be free.
When I first met you, I was just a child. You terrorized me with panic attacks and wouldn’t leave me alone. It was bad enough you entered my life. It was much worse when you visited my nine year old daughter. Picking on children. How dare you!
I think you got pleasure out of watching, as you overwhelmed us with the horrifying symptoms of panic.
Did you think it was funny to see our hands tremble and our bodies sweat, drenched in fear?
Did you get enjoyment out of making our hearts beat so hard and fast, it felt like they’d jump out of our chests?
Were you pleased when my doctor told me I had agoraphobia?
Did you laugh when I had to pull over to the side of the road because my vision was blacking out?
You probably thought it was hilarious when I nearly had to run out of a store because I couldn’t stop my racing heart and dizziness. Didn’t you?
Were you happy when my daughter had to miss three weeks of fourth grade because she was petrified she’d have a panic attack?
Did you want her friends to know how ashamed she was to be different?
Was it fun to see my little girl cry when she couldn’t make herself walk into the classroom, in fear of you?
What about when you saw me cry because I knew how terrified my daughter was?
You always wanted to be in control. And you were.
But not anymore!
I’m sure you were unhappy when I reached out for medical help, after twenty years of dealing with you.
I bet you were mad when I recognized my daughter’s symptoms and took her to the doctor.
I’m sure you weren’t thrilled when our medication worked. I wasn’t afraid to drive anymore. Or go to the grocery store, the mall, or the movies. My little girl went back to school. She was able to play basketball, be with her friends, and even go to sleepovers.
We learned how to get rid of you. Our doctors helped us develop ways to control you. We’re healthy and happy now. Our lives are full and productive.
I’ve had panic attacks since I was a child. I didn’t reach out for medical help until my early 30s. I was diagnosed with panic disorder and agoraphobia. I truly thought I was alone, and that no one else experienced the same scary symptoms that I did. I soon realized there are millions of others with anxiety. My daughter started showing signs of panic attacks when she was nine years old. She’s twenty now, and both of us are nearly panic free. I hope to motivate others who are dealing with anxiety and mental illness.
Two quotes for one, though I am not sure I quite consider either of them official quotes seeing as I have no idea where they originated or if they are accurate or are simply memes which have taken hold on Facebook. They’re both very relevant to current events happening in my life of late so I decided to use them for #WCW anyway.
As you know I’ve been focusing quite a bit over the past few months on mental health awareness as suicide seems to keep propping up in the peripherals of my life. I believe suicide is, in fact, a symptom of mental illness. It may be an acute (in that moment) mental illness (like when someone “snaps” suddenly for a limited period of time, or it may come from something long and lingering like depression, bipolar disorder or any number of other illnesses. I just don’t believe that anyone who is thinking clearly commits the act.
And I’ve been at that edge. I took a knife to my wrists about 12 years ago (I wasn’t home alone. I was feeling under attack by my mother and she was chasing me around the house and I went to the kitchen where my then 9-year-old son and 80-something year old grandmother (and soulmate) were. I didn’t care about them or what they were witnessing. I just needed the pain and anger of my life to end. And, prior to that, over 20 years ago, I was driving an automobile, my boyfriend in the passenger seat beside me and I needed to make it all stop. I lurched the car toward a cliff. God intervened… the automobile stalled. Now I don’t even remember what instigated that (we must have been arguing but certainly it wasn’t worth dying over!) The memory is very vivid (and I’m not a visual person). His instincts were wrong… his legs came off the floor of the car and braced against the dashboard as his hands went down on either side of this seat. God has saved my life by miraculous means more than once. That was the third of four times that I am aware of.
But, back to the quote because this post isn’t supposed to be about my relationship with God or how he truly works miracles. It is about being a true friend.
Mental illness is not a joke. It is not something to be hushed up or ignored. (Same with domestic violence). If your friend or family member needs help step up to the plate and help. Don’t say you’ll be there and then not answer your telephone. Don’t offer hot soup on Wednesday when he is sick with the flu and then cross to the other side of the street when he is being threatened by himself or another person.
It is painful to say but I believe Baily was saveable. I believe that if he had not felt fear of stigma, (which we know he did), if he had shared what he was truly feeling then I know we would have stepped up to the plate and gotten him into the hospital and properly medicated. As it is, people knew he was having a hard time being away from home and at college but he thought he could handle it. He convinced everyone he could handle it. The counselor at his university prescribed a medication that is not meant for people his age. If we knew how dark his feelings were we’d’ve done more. We would not have backed down. He would have been hospitalized and given the opportunity to find the correct medication. He may have survived. He may not have. But it is a possibility. The isolation of being away from his support system and his unwillingness to share how much pain he was in, that’s what killed him. And sadly, he hadn’t planned on dying. He went to all of his classes that day. He took notes. He asked for something to be mailed to him from home. But something happened. A trigger occurred and no one was there and now he is gone. Forever.
(I will state here that I am grateful to say I do not have survivor’s guilt though I know his mom is working at overcoming that.)
Before the end of the week was out I wrote to Chris, a suicide survivor and host of the blog Surviving the Specter asking questions. He comforted me. I consider Chris a friend. He was there for me when I needed someone to talk to even though we had never met. I am glad he is alive. He is helping people every day. And I want to share this quote with you about his decision to commit suicide:
If hopelessness was the mother of my downfall, seclusion was the disfigured child that accompanied Her…was attached to Her. Like some 1943ish sinister Siamese twin experiment. I can’t say that if I was with friends, I would have waited until a time that I was alone to end my life. But I was by myself for the entire day and that made it easier to commit.
So back to the meme at the top of the page. I said I believed it. I believe it so much so that I have risked relationships with friends. One example is that I have a friend, also bipolar as well as a survivor of child sexual abuse, who cuts himself. People who were close to him knew he “used to cut himself back in high school,” but he hadn’t done it in decades. I found out he was doing it again. He’d confessed this to me over the telephone expecting complete privacy. I listened to him and counselled him until I felt confident that he would be safe and then, immediately upon hanging up the phone, I reached out in person to the members of his family that he was closest to. I knew that in doing so I would be breaking his confidence and my word. I knew that it was entirely possible that he would never speak to me again. But this was his life. And his life mattered to me so much I was willing to risk losing him. Later that night he voluntarily checked himself in to the mental institution.
Yes, he was mad. He was embarrassed. But also, he was grateful. We still talk.
Crisis Text Line 24/7: Text “Go” to 741-741 to get started
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
If you or a loved one suffers from a mental illness please visit my other site, Letters to the Mind, and consider contributing. Sharing our stories educates the uninformed. Stigma can only end when we bring the taboo into light and teach the people around us that within our hearts we are all the same.
I shouldn’t even be spending my time, energy, and talent on you right now but it’s time we get something straight. You’ve been trying your hardest for a while now to drag me down, but as you can see, I’m not giving up. I’m kind, talented, loving, and worth a lot more than to be controlled by you. I want to be a writer, I want to help people, and I don’t want to be afraid to live my life. You’ve stopped me from enjoying doing certain things and even stopped me from doing things altogether, but NO MORE! I know that I won’t get cured overnight, but that’s not going to stop me from proving to myself that I’m stronger than you. Because you know what? I AM!
I’ve accomplished so much in my life, even with you trying to stop me. In high school, when you tried to get to me, I pulled through. I graduated and then I went to college. You followed me there, but I still didn’t give in. I graduated. Hell, I made the Dean’s list several times. You may have caused me to take some online classes instead of going on campus at times, BUT I GOT THROUGH IT!
My life is too important to be squandered away by you. I’ve been working harder, working stronger and I’m going to defeat you! I’ve already shown myself my strength and I’m not going to back down!
You’ve tried to make me think that I’m weak and even though I’ve felt like I was, I know better. You’re a liar and you get a kick out of making people miserable, but I don’t get a kick out of it and I’m not enjoying it. So I’m going to keep showing myself that I’m stronger than you and I’m not going to let you continue to control my life. I’ve seen the damage you can do, to me and to others. However, we’re stronger than you think and we’re tired. We’re tired of you trying to take over, tired of missing out on opportunities, tired of YOU. So don’t think that we’re going to let you win, because we’re stronger. MUCH STRONGER! We’re going to continue to practice on a consistent basis, working in small steps until we reach our goal: to be free of your restraints. Whether or not you’re ready to let go of us, we’re ready to let go of you! -B.G.
About the author:
My name is B.G. and I have been struggling with anxiety for several years. I created my blog Getting Through Anxiety in order to help both myself and others who deal with similar issues. I love to write, read, and watch TV. In college I majored in English and minored in writing. I also have written some posts for The Seeds 4 Life and Battle of Mind. I hope to one day be a fiction author.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison
I originally published the above poem on Letters to the Mind blog project. Please consider writing to the mental illness that impacts the world you walk in and sharing it with our new community blog. We are hoping other creatives who suffer from a mental illness or have a family member/loved one with a mental illness will write to the illness and post it on the site for two purposes.
The first is as a way to grow and challenge how we relate to our illness and the second is to educate other people about the various mental illnesses that people live with every single day. With education comes understanding and with understanding stigma begins to fall ill and eventually dies.
For more information on contributing at Letters to the Mind blog project, click here.
We ALWAYS need contributors, any and all mental disorders welcome. No one is turned away and your own blogs, media platforms are cataloged and linked on the site.
Wherever I go, you’re not far behind
You are the shadow cast over my mind
My face is fixed, no twitch no blink
I show no emotion, as I come back from the brink
It took me time to see through your lies
To see the truth hidden in your eyes.
I’ve made some mistakes, there’s no denying
If I claimed anything else, I’d only be lying
I’ve lived my life in black and white
There was no colour, there was no light
I can’t see where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been
I don’t want to return there and see what I’ve once seen.
My name is Matt, and I started this blog nearly two years ago now. It’s been a release from the stresses of everyday life ever since (though I’ve not always written as often as I’d like!). I suffer from both anxiety and depression, but through writing I have found comfort and friends, many of whom have their own struggles with the same illnesses. It’s a constant reminder that we are not alone and to speak out. In silence we suffer.
There’s a classic phrase that we are all familiar with, which is spoken retrospectively, and I am going to use it now.
A few years ago, if someone had told me that I’d be in my third year of university contemplating a career in Journalism, whilst trying to establish myself as a writer by writing poetry on a WordPress blog and working on three novels, one of which would be my dissertation project, I wouldn’t have believed them.
I’ve found that life has a funny way of making you realise how far you’ve come, and how amazing you can be if you just try. At one point in my life, I didn’t try at all. Well, I did, but I didn’t feel like I was doing anything worthwhile. I hadn’t found my passion. There wasn’t a spark in my life that said, ‘Hey, you’re on the right path, you’re doing the right things.’ I felt like I was on the wrong path, doing things that I didn’t really want to do. This meant that I would believe I had to start all over again by taking a leap of faith. It turned out that when I leapt, I landed on the edge of the new path and it immediately felt wrong, and that’s when I realised I had to jump back.
I landed back onto the right path, which is the one I had been walking all along, without realising that I was heading towards the future meant for me.
So, where does anxiety fit into all this? My final year of college (which was in fact an extra year, because the year most people went to university, I wasn’t ready and I wanted to delay the inevitable) gave me so much stress that I got anxiety about what I was doing and where I was going. This, coupled with the fact that I thought I was a terrible friend, and then heightened by the grief I was suffering due to the loss of my Grandad, meant that I felt hollow. I was empty. I had nothing to give myself or anyone else. I was waking up miserable, wishing for a different life. I wished for change, I wanted to be a different person, a better version of myself, because who I was then didn’t feel like anyone at all. I wrote ‘I do not exist’ on a piece of paper and stuck it on my late Grandad’s corkboard.
It got to the point where I had to take a week off college to get my head around things. In my mind, I wanted to leave for good. It scares me to think where I would be if I had dropped out, but I’m grateful for the fact that I realised I needed help and I went straight to my GP and told her how I’d been feeling. Before I knew it, I was having Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over the phone. I’d studied CBT in Psychology in my first year of college and suffice to say I didn’t make it to a second year. Ironically, it was too much for my mind to handle.
Gradually, I started to feel better and began seeing the world differently. It was after my therapy ended that my coping techniques really kicked in, because at that point I was out on my own. I’d got through my exams, applied to university and was awaiting the results. I knew that this was the new chapter I had been aching after. I just needed to wait a little longer.
Results Day was surreal but massively overwhelming in a good way. It was official; I would be going to Nottingham Trent University to study English with Creative Writing. I was shocked, but relieved. Shocked because it felt like a complete accident (I don’t entirely remember selecting that course, or being aware of what course I had chosen) and relieved because I knew I had, somehow, chosen the right course. I realised that I had been lucky not to ruin everything for myself. I very nearly did, but it turned out that although the last few months of college had been some of the hardest, everything happened for a reason, and everything fell into place in a way that I could only have dreamed of.
However, just because I finally felt in the right place, it doesn’t mean that my anxiety disappeared. I was managing it then, and I’m managing it now, but it still creeps in once in a while to remind me that it’s there. Some problems don’t leave or get resolved no matter how hard you try, so you stop trying and it gets worse. Until you end up with nothing at all, and that in itself is a problem. But, change your way of thinking, and you can turn your problem into a solution. I still felt like a terrible friend, but then I realised that it didn’t matter, because I know that I am a good friend. I’m reluctant to write it, but I need to reassure myself that I am a good person and a good friend to the people that love me and appreciate me, those who understand my story, and believe in me and where I am going. I realised that if I was to defeat my anxiety, I needed to overcome the source of it, and this was a losing battle. A conflicting, confusing and, at times, terrifying battle that saw my self-esteem plummet back to square one. When you look at yourself through the eyes of someone who causes you intense anxiety (shaking, sickness, worry) you begin to think that you deserve to feel that way, and that you’re trapped in an endless cycle.
Break the cycle. It’s not a case of quitting while you’re ahead, because getting ahead might not be possible, it’s a case of realising that you’re losing, and the only way you’re going to come out a winner is to let yourself get out. Do it for you, not to get ahead, or to give up, but to stay happy. If you’re sad, something needs to change. If you’re anxious, something needs to change. Until you are happy, you need to look at yourself and ask: What do you want?
I matter, you matter, we all matter, albeit in different ways and in different circumstances. You need to find that point where you know you can be peaceful; smile despite the pain that you felt, or even caused, to get there. It’s not selfish; it’s simply looking out for yourself.
I write poetry to cope with my anxiety. I talk to my anxiety and try to understand it as well as deal with it. I don’t let it get to me anymore. I rise above the pain and try to create something I can be proud of. It has shaped me into the person I am today, and when I think of my lowest points I am thankful for them. I’m thankful for everything that went wrong, and everything that went right, because if they hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here, writing these words now.
I am a good person, I am a storyteller, I am a poet.
I have friends, I have words, I have anxiety.
I have mindfulness and clarity of thought; I have peace.
Right now, I am exactly where I am, and always was, meant to be.
Jade K. Moore
EDITOR’S NOTE:Hi, it’s Memee. Jade was offered the opportunity to guest blog on my site when she won the Love’n Hate Poetry Challenge I held last month. The challenge truly inspired her and out of it came An Open Letter which personified her anxiety allowing her to recognize the growth that her disorder has gifted her which inspired her even further, prompting her to create a project entitled, Letters to the Mind blog. A blog where every one can submit creative expressions of our mental health struggles and triumphs. I am proud to be affiliated with the project as an editor and contributor on the site. I hope you will join me in participating in this brand-new, much needed, project. So, please, help spread the news. Non-bloggers and family members impacted by mental illness are encouraged to participate as well!
To read, follow or join Letters to the Mind project click here.