“Are you sure?”
*slams head into desk*
Is anyone, ever, one-hundred- percent certain?
This is a poem I wrote some time ago and published here in October of 2015. I’ve re-written it. I’d take the previous one down, but that feels ingenuine. I often take what I’ve made and rip it apart, before stitching it back together with different thread.
Since writing them, I’ve gone through many of poems and changed them. Without telling anyone. Just so you know. 😉
So without any further fuss
I give you –
They won’t walk right
They don’t shift light
No meter, no rhythm
Guess the lies never mattered
Beautiful how the truth can be.
Daringly sinister, you see.
The beauty it can create.
Hearts it can incinerate.
Depending on the paintbrush
Using oils or lye
On which canvas
Even as the teardrops drip
And lips pout red
Something grows inside
As this truth is fed.
It’s really quite simple, darling.
Though that doesn’t make it easy.
It’s really not that hard.
Rather filled to empty.
Balances what’s inside me.
If I can’t be real
I can’t be free.
But now and then
I rummage and shuffle
Pretend I’m not me
Hide in this muzzle
Tips the scales and down I go
Falling until I hit bone and bow
When it comes to me,
Well, you see
Only hurt can smother the doubt
Always seem to take this route
So, I sit here and burn
Fight myself at every turn
Forget to breathe
Struggle and seethe
Scrape at the dead skin
Beg the truth not to win
Drowning in plastic again
I slam the windows
Barricade the door
But truth drags me by the feet
And I wash up on the shore
Drowning in flames
Dancing in the darkness
In duality’s likeness.
If only I’d remember
If only I’d learn
What always is salvaged.
Death can be lovely
And flowers can be damaged.
If only I’d listen
I cannot hide pieces
And not be stricken.
The sun doesn’t always shine
The moon sometimes takes her time
I cannot smudge parts of my soul
And expect to live whole.
Truth cannot speak, only strike
Dormant matches in my chest
My beast never hides
Truth burns me best.
If only, if only
If only, I’d learn.
I choose to burn.
by Daphne Shadows
(this poem is disjointed instead of flowy, on purpose)
If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…
If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…
Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.
A person who is missing a limb can pray to God for help all day and night long. I’m pretty certain God (insert your Higher Power here, if not God) isn’t going to grow their limb back. We aren’t lizards. Not how it works.
Mental illness challenges are much the same. Not saying they’re the same as having your arms blown off, but you get me.
I get told to pray to God and He will take away my sadness.
One – depression and sadness are NOT the same thing.
Two – God gives us challenges on purpose. So we can figure out how to live with them in the way He wants us to. As well as help others who suffer from the same challenges. These things help us grow, challenge ourselves, rise to the occasion. Pretending like being bipolar is something I can just pray away is an insult to God and to myself. He has trusted me to handle this.
Perhaps it will go away. That happens.
Or perhaps it will be more like getting a knee injury. Occasionally, that knee will act up and I’ll have to deal with it.
There is no one way that mental health challenges work. Different person, different life experiences with mental illness.
But none of us can simply get up, decide to no longer have mental illness issues, and *poof* be healthy. Doesn’t work that way.
A cancer patient doesn’t get the diagnosis, decide to stop having it, and *poof* no more cancer. Uh-uh. They have to fight it. Give it everything they’ve got.
Sometimes the disease kills them.
Sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it goes into remission and comes back, only to go into remission once again.
If you aren’t sure how to approach or talk to someone with mental health challenges, consider how you’d talk to a friend who has fibromyalgia or is in the process of going blind.
Mental illness isn’t a choice.
Yes, making good choices can alleviate it or even get rid of it. But that’s a process. And is true of all illnesses. Get diabetes or cancer, you’re going to have to change what you’re doing, eating, etc. Get panic disorder and you’re going to have to do the same.
We can all make good choices.
That includes aiming for understanding, empathy, kindness, compassion. Instead of telling someone with devastating depression or a mood disorder or any host of other mental illnesses, to simply “knock it off”, “get over it”, “choose to be happy,” “pray and trust God to take it away”, etc.
Perhaps your Higher Power will take it away. Just as He might take away cancer. But that’s not going to happen without the person trying, working for it, making changes, and suffering through a lot of pain that they didn’t choose to have.
We can be happy and depressed at the same time. Because happiness is the opposite of sadness. Not depression. Depression is an illness.
You wouldn’t tell someone to just knock it off and quit sneezing when they have a cold, would you?
SO IF YOU’RE UNCERTAIN whether or not to say something to someone who struggles with mental health issues (anxiety, depression, personality disorders, dissociative disorders, mood disorders, etc.) a pretty good guideline is:
If you wouldn’t say it to someone with cancer…
If you wouldn’t say it to an amputee…
Don’t say it to someone with mental health challenges.
When there is nothing to separate the night from the day
No borders in the ether
No fences about our cells
No boundaries for our skin
We are lost
Everything the same
Words without meaning
Form without shape
When we only know the lack of walls
The terror of free falling
We don’t even wonder
Are those lipstick marks or bruises?
There is no distinction
Only blind attempts
We don’t realize
We are all in the morgue
In dull hospital gowns
Bare feet and teeth unbrushed
Pretending to have a pulse
by Daphne Shadows
Where do you choose to put your head?
What do you choose to put in your head?
What goes on in our heads makes A HUGE difference.
What goes on in our heads can change something amazing and wonderful and beautiful into something boring, stupid, horrible, ugly, and painful.
What goes on in our heads can bring something ugly up to something possibly gorgeous.
We don’t know everything.
We don’t know what everyone is thinking, wanting, needing. We don’t know what everyone else has been through.
Half the time we don’t even know OURSELVES. What we want. What we need. What needs we’re getting met in unhealthy ways. What dreams and hopes we’ve buried alive.
We can program ourselves. Our minds.
We can’t control what emotions zing into our heads and bodies and hearts.
We CAN control what we feel. About emotions, about others, about situations, about ourselves.
Let me repeat that one again.
WE CAN CONTROL WHAT WE FEEL ABOUT OURSELVES.
Emotions are signals FROM OURSELVES being sent TO OURSELVES.
We need to look at what our emotions are telling us.
Are we angry because we need to say no? Because our ‘no’ was ignored? Because we need to draw some lines in the sand and set some hard boundaries? Because we’ve got loads of suppressed emotions we’ve not dealt with, tried to ignore? There are loads of reasons.
We most likely already know what the emotion is trying to tell us. We know and we ignore it because we don’t want to feel it. We don’t want to slide up beside Reality and be like, “hey, what’s up dude?”
Oh no, we’d rather hide from Reality inside the nastiest sewer and peek out to see if Reality can see us. Only, eventually, we’ve stopped even realizing we’re in a sewer. While we in the bottom of the sewer drowning and hating life.
Well, gee. GET OUT OF THE SEWER AND DEAL WITH REALITY.
Now, we all get their in our own time. But sometimes we stay in that sewer of our own making for far too long.
Most often, to avoid pain.
Life comes with pain.
If you feel it, it goes away pretty fast. If you try to ignore it, you feel it every single freaking day and pretend you don’t. Until it gets so bad you have to deal with it or die for one reason or another. Let’s not forget stress really can kill a human being.
Let’s not get their, k?
And if you are there, don’t forget you can back away from the edge of the cliff at any moment. Your feet, your brain, your body. Your decision to make.
What most people do with emotions is avoid them.
If we don’t feel anything, we’re going to end up exploding eventually. We’re going to go numb, which is a next level pain, and THEN we will end up exploding, but we’ll get there eventually. Or you know, die.
Or we try to just keep feeling our emotions over and over again as if that’s going to do something.
Sometimes we really just need to get over it. Or reframe it. Or make a decision to not know what we’re doing in life and just move forward in a healthy direction we want to go in. We need to do something new. Make a different decision. Ask for help from a safe, trustworthy source that knows what they’re talking about.
What we almost always have control over is what goes on in our mind. I’ve got a bipolar mood disorder, intense bipolar anxiety, and depression. Along with a host of physical medical conditions. Like a digestive disease that causes me to need a prenatal vitamin because my body literally will not accept the food with the nutrients it needs. So I eat a limited amount and work with what I’ve got. What are most social settings revolved around? Food. I’m an emotional eater. I eat something my body doesn’t want and I’m in Hell for a week at the very least, not to mention I then get stuck in negative thought loops about how stupid I am for doing what I knew would hurt me. Again. So guess what Daphne doesn’t do a lot? Attend social gatherings.
Life is bloody hard. It’s hard for all of us. We ALL have something or multiple somethings that CHALLENGE US. But we can either see these things as problems or puzzles. It’s either the end of the world again or a challenge.
This can be hard when you grow up brainwashed into believing that the world was ending every moment of every day. I understand. It takes A LOT to change the way our brain is wired. Especially if we’ve been abused in such a way that we didn’t know we were being abused/brainwashed.
But we can change ourselves.
It takes time. But it happens. Baby steps.
We can assume responsibility for what is going on in our own mind, for what we do, for how we respond or react to ourselves, our issues, other people, situations, etc.
We cannot control others. But WE CAN CONTROL OURSELVES. We are responsible for our feelings. Our words. Our actions. Our decisions.
Today I went into exercising without having a routine pinned down. Which was irresponsible of me because I know that irks me. I like to know what I’m doing, how many reps of each, and what muscles I’m targeting. I like this because then I can hit it hard and go, go, go (with healthy resting periods of course) and I really feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted to.
Instead, I ended up agonizing over what I’d do next, how many I needed to do, whether or not that would be too much since I’d just used that muscle group pretty heavily yesterday with weights, etc.
And I got pissed. Frustrated. There’s a physical and emotional rage that just hits me and sticks into my pores with grappling hooks made of steel and stubbornness.
So I went for a jog.
The entire jog I was just negative in my head. That rage just building and building until the jog was no longer satisfying.
I got almost all the way home and realized what I’d done.
First, I’d done something I KNEW would upset me.
Then, I’d gotten stuck in negative thought loops and made it worse.
I started attempting positive self-talk. And guess what? I felt better. I came home feeling great. I did some yoga, thinking positively. I meditated for like three minutes (which is better than zero minutes and it was my first day back to it in months).
I am by no means saying I am a pro or even good at positive self-talk. And I can’t even say that I always believe it. But I’m trying. And I believe that if I want to change my beliefs and what I believe I’m worth and deserving of… I believe that if I want to achieve a quality of life I can enjoy… then I need to change the way I think. I need to change my decisions about how I feel about my emotions. I need to change the stories I tell myself, about myself and others.
I truly believe that if I can rewire my brain with positive thoughts, I’ll live a positive life.
I mean, why not? Negative thoughts have given me a miserable life.
What goes on in our head is paramount to the quality of life we live.
We laugh about positive affirmations. We get snarky, call it ‘woo-woo’ or ‘new-agey’ or whatever else.
But let me ask all of us this question…
How did we get miserable?
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. NEGATIVE FOCUSES. NEGATIVE FRAMING. NEGATIVE FEARS ABOUT THE FUTURE. NEGATIVE MEMORIES REPLAYING OVER AND OVER AGAIN, BRINGING UP THAT INSTANT NEGATIVE AND DISGUSTING EMOTIONAL FEELING ATTACHED TO IT.
We tell ourselves we’re ugly, fat, stupid, not good enough, too skinny, too loud, too quiet, too pale, too slow, incapable, not capable of doing what others can do, yada, yada, yada.
We feed ourselves negativity.
So we feel terrible.
Shocking. Really. *heavy on the sarcasm there*
We can reprogram our minds. I love what Kristen Lamb says.
“The mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie. What we tell it, it simply accepts and obeys.”
WE CAN UNDO NEGATIVE BRAINWASHING.
And we can brainwash ourselves.
Into having a positive mind.
And while we’re at it, smile. Physically. I know it’s goofy but just do it.
Get up. Move. Do some squats. Do some pushups. Even if you think you stuck at physical fitness stuff, do it. Do jumping jacks.
It’s pretty hard to be full-blown miserable when your body is in a motion that reminds it of joy, sex, etc. When we exercise we release endorphins, we FEEL better almost instantly. Try it. We no longer feel stuck or stagnant or trapped. Because we’re moving.
Try other healthy stuff.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
If we really WANT to feel better, live a different life – we will figure out a way to do it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t need help. Let me be real with you.
I DON’T CARE WHO YOU ARE, WHAT YOU ARE, WHAT YOU BELIEVE, HOW YOU IDENTIFY, WHAT YOU WANT —– WE *all* NEED HELP.
From the right people. The right support groups, therapists, books, videos, etc.
Never feel ashamed for needing help. We need each other.
Weakness is masquerading as strength, walking among us with flashy muscles and a hollow heart.
What’s worse, is it rubs our noses in it.
is some stay silent.
Weakness has slithered into our
Subconscious and rewired our sight
It has ripped from the corpses
Of its victims
And fashioned a strong looking Giant
And we don’t turn away
We don’t fight back.
Is that why some join in?
For the lack of having to care
Exerting energy, compassion
The possibility of vulnerabilty
is it really
the a person would prefer
to burn another alive
so they never
have to learn what
a paper cut feels like?
Those who cry from the loss of a loved one
Or a life they thought was real
But found to be lies stitched together by the soul of one who
Pretends to have no heartbeat
They are eaten alive
By this instant gratifying, short lived pleasure dripping mask
They are weak.
We are told the ones who are weak
Are those who fall down
More than once
And sometimes don’t tell
That theirs is slowly breaking down
And they don’t know what to do
We are told the weak ones
Are those who
Wake every day
With the knowledge
That their demons are still
Inside their blood, their skull,
In the marrow of their bones
And they have to fight them off
Or cede one moment and
Never return to breathe
Those who feel
I mean Really Feel
And live like it all matters
Those who find life
Worth fight for
Worth spilling would-be murderous blood
Worth dying for
Those who hurt
When another hurts
When a human is ripped away
From another soul
When a dog is
A cat set on fire behind that building
Those who sob at home
When they see the pain
On the children’s faces
Those who ache
Because they can do nothing
For their love
Battered and broken and treated
Like so much trash
Those who want life
But don’t know how to fight
Those who cry
Rage in their heart
Wish for some
To make it all better
We are told that these people are the weak ones.
That the people who
Shoot for fun
Who hurt because they can
Rape like its a rite of passage
Lie to get what they want
Pretend they feel nothing
They are bleeding from every cell
That feeds into their
Hardly beating within a hollow
Cage made of bones and paper scraps
The people who give up on
Those who aren’t strong “like them”
The people who ressent those who
Who can’t get back up right away
Like they pretend to
Who have to fight the same battle every day
Like they don’t bother to
Who keep getting hit with the same car
In their living room
Where there are no streets
No reason for someone
To drive through their home
Because they think it is fun
Because it feels good to hurt another
Because they no longer truly feel
But blood lust
An urge to strike
To force down
To hold mouths shut
and remove another’s power
We are told that these people are the strong ones.
Because they pretend they don’t feel
Until they don’t
Because they take what they want
By erasing another’s life
We are told that the people who are weak
Are the ones
Asking for help.
What scares me most, is when we believe their lies.
When we don’t stand up
We don’t cry
For people to see
We don’t step up to and beside those
Who have echoed what we know is truth
And speak truth with them
Even thought it is terror in our blood
And our bodies shake
And our hearts pound
But that’s the difference
We let the fear flow through us
as we stand for what we know
What scares me is when
We don’t grab the hand
Of those who can’t find the words
Or the sense or the hope
And are seeking an anchor
In another soul
So theirs doesn’t
Like Gandhi once said,
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”
We are all strong and we are all weak. Simply in different places and at different times.
To pretend apathy, hate, the cold heart… is strong, is to end any chance we have at a life worth living. At a world we can attempt to call humane. To pretend we are not who we are, is to put the gun in our own mouths, pull the trigger, and keep walking around, like we are somehow real.