By: Brenna Renée Prather
Theatre Design/Art Portfolio: brprather
I’d have to say that this has been one of the most difficult weeks I have had in a long time. Not only have I been grieving, which is like trekking through an unknown jungle – you don’t know what it’ll do to you – but I was also going through an interview process for a new job doing custom alterations. About two hours after Rosey passed on, I got the phone call asking me to come in. Since then, I have accepted the position and had my first shift yesterday.
In a way, I feel as though Rosey passed on in order for me to really start becoming the person I need to be, and who I always wanted to be. I miss her so much and love her with all my heart, which is quite evident through all of these poems and excerpts, but I am excited and intrigued to see what the world has in store for me now.
“When a chapter ends, a new one begins.”
Here are my poems and excerpts from Week Three:
A sniffle. And a cough.
My tiny little friend, I worry about you often,
but especially now, as you sputter little garden hose & hack up slime.
Poor baboo. Get well soon.
Cannot write tonight, because without you, I am nothing.
….and there you were.
Rubbing on me.
Gods, it felt so real
Today was a lot of firsts,
But I know now that you will always be here.
I love you ❤
Counting the days I survive
Hoping one day
I don’t need
to count the days away.
…Thank you for visiting me in the night. Please don’t stop.
So much laughter. So much new.
“When one chapter ends, another begins.”
I know you are with me always.
I love you. ❤
A Dust in the darkness,
a walk alone.
Through the sands,
toes covered in sand,
White dress dancing
And a calm.
Thanks for stopping by and having a read. Lots of love.
Stay safe and stay insane.
Your recovery is a commitment. It is something that you must commit to, wholeheartedly, every day, for the rest of your life – regardless of whether your world came crashing down, or the land is filled with daisies, unicorns, and sunshine. Otherwise, you accept death immediately. You are choosing life or death. That is your commitment.
It is important, however, to remember that sometimes, much like other parts of your life, you fail. You fall down. You scrap your knee. You lose yourself to the pain.
And you know what? That’s okay. That’s okay, so long as you get right back up, wipe aside your tears, slap a bandage on that knee, and keep trudging along to a better moment, a better day.
Recently, I had a stumble in my own recovery. A hiccup. I was constantly stressed and anxious due certain pieces of work in my life. I was eating nothing but junk. My mood shifts were drastic. And on two separate occasions, I almost relapsed.
I have since brought myself back up, but for anyone out there who is struggling with recovery, I just wanted you to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to not be alright all the time. It’s okay if you fall into a dark place sometimes.
Because here’s the thing – mental illness is not like a cold. You cannot take some medicine to make it go away. You cannot sleep it off. It is there, and it is always there. It is a part of your soul and who you are, and you must work with it if you are ever going to be happy. Whether you do therapy, take medication, go to support groups, or do something else that eases your personal ailment (exercise, hobbies, journaling, etc.), you are working on being a happier you, and that’s what is important.
Remember to never be afraid to ask your support system for help. Be sure to know who that is. It is not for the faint of heart. In this stumble, I have seen the people who will withstand the tests of time with me, and those who I will definitely not be writing home about. And that’s okay.
Does it suck knowing that certain people will never understand you? Yes. Is it better to know now rather than later which of the people in your life will love and appreciate you, no matter what? Oh yeah! And don’t worry, people who can’t handle it, we don’t hate you. It’s a hard job to support someone who suffers from mental illness. Better to be honest than to cause unintentional heartache.
Never settle for people who don’t love you for who you are, and don’t try to save people that you can’t.
And most importantly, never ever forget to love yourself. You are you, and that is special and beautiful.
To the guy who thinks I’m too stuck on myself to talk to anyone, you are probably not alone in that opinion. I don’t talk much. I tend keep a serious look on my face when I can. I am not the kind of person who runs up and starts a chat with just anyone. I just generally keep to myself.
To the guy who thinks I’m too good to talk to him, you might not know it, but I have PTSD. Years of manipulation, threats, and emotional abuse from a man I looked up to has given me generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and issues with depression. My natural response to people is to keep my distance, to stay away. The serious look on my face? I use it to deflect social interactions.
I do try to socialize, given that is what humans are – social creatures. Alas, in the past, I have spent hours pouring over every conversation I have in a day, in a week, over a year. Hating every word I ever say. Doubting myself. Agonizing over everything I ever said to anyone, driving to the end of my sanity.
You’ll understand if I don’t always want to jump head first into the nearest conversation.
To the guy who thinks I am being a stuck up b—-, my abuse taught me to hate myself. He told me I was fat, laughing at my eating habits. He told me I was ugly, but yelled at me when I decided to cover it up with make-up. I snickered at every sneeze and cough I ever uttered. Pointed out every outfit I wore and ripped it apart, the words being his shears.
To this guy who thinks that the problem is me and not him – it’s not me, it’s definitely you. I have made a lot of headway in my recovery. In the past few years, I have learned to love my body. I wear whatever I want, put on make-up if I feel like it, and don’t feel self-conscious when I sneeze. In the past few months, I have taught myself to enjoy conversations, and not to overanalyze them afterwards.
But here is the catch – I only feel like conversations with people I genuinely enjoy talking to.
Now, of course, my anxiety has kept me from talking to people I’d like to, but to those people, awkwardness would come into play. But you and I both know that our meetings are met with coldness, and that would be because you are LGBTQ-phobic. You made fun of the first plus-size model on a magazine cover, and said all women should be eating well and staying thin. You are more irresponsible than a kid on his 21st birthday, and you generally make everyone around you uncomfortable.
So yeah, maybe I am too stuck on myself to talk to you. But maybe you should figure out why that is before ignorantly pointing fingers.
Trickling down from the dark blue
into wild violet
blending into passionate red
feeding into the oranges and yellows that are the last memory of
I look at that moment happen every day as I take the long walk back to my apartment.
Men scream slurs and derogatory terms at me
a touch of loud radios
the screech of a motorcycle
That is the symphony.
Breathing in car fumes and softly cooking food, I walk. I think.
A cold customer, imagine of a cake in their face comes to mind.
I wonder what tomorrow brings.
Will I see you again? Will we really tango this time?
I walk from day into night as the sun makes its exit,
the moon takes its place –
sitting in its guard tower as
We walk mischievously through the shadows it cannot reach.
I walk through the night, hoping to see your face.
I walk through the night.
It was small, a little paragraph. Someone might read the first sentence and not think much of it.
It describes the interactions this person who is stuck in a deep, muddy hole. They are having difficulty getting out. Possible rescuers come, who simply stand there and instruct the victim, telling them to just keep trying. But the victim slips and falls, and the rescuer yells at them, calling them pathetic, a quitter, and then walks away. After a few visits, the victim is left unattended to, all alone in this dark hole. They try and try to get out on their own, but repeatedly they fall back to the bottom. Soon, they just sit there, letting the mud pull them further down. After all, what is the point of going on, trying to get out? By the end of the paragraph, you learn that this is a representation of depression. You take from that what you will.
It hit me hard. I was going through my own rough entanglement with depression, the first of several stints. High school, the breeding ground for fucked up hormonal outputs. My home life was trash, and the lack of there actually being one did not help. I poured myself into school and after school activities.
I was running away.
I don’t think I ever stopped running.
Not even when I opened up. Not even when my condition was made aware to me. That was 3 years ago, when I transferred to UB. My past was more or less shoved into a box under my bed, into the darkest corner. It was meant to be avoided, in order to find happiness. To define structure.
“Remember that your interactions with your fellow collaborators will affect your future. Your enemy now will be your boss later. Choose your words carefully.”
I did try new things, as per college life requirements. I changed my style. I drank a little much sometimes. I made out with friends I knew well, and acquaintances who barely knew me. I did ridiculous and foolish things, and still managed to get up in the morning to pay my bills.
But I was a hollowed out tree trunk. My life made me a shell, nothing of substance. I gossiped. I partied. I stopped writing. Silence. And so my anxiety and depression sank me back into the deep, muddy hole. I was in a sea of tree trunks with nowhere to go.
Cleveland was the last straw. I spent a lot of time looking for a way out down there. Radical paths. Trying to avoid suspicion. Though. Some part of me knew that no one there would have held me back from that jump.
Thankfully, I returned back to my true home – to my pen, my writing, my muse, where I keep my sanity.
Loneliness still plagues me when the moon silently approaches, and when the sun shines so bright that I am blinded by its typical beauty. Few comment on my photos, like my Facebook posts, answer back my phone calls. Sometimes I still wonder – would they noticed if I just picked up? Walked out of their lives for good?
I still wonder, as I attempt to choose between my love for the arts and design as extensions of my being, and my dependence on writing for salvation and survival.
Today, I get up for myself. I enjoy myself.
It will all work itself out eventually. It always does.*
Lying on the floor.
I am crying.
He’s screaming, fist approaching my face.
All I wanted to do was watch an episode of Gilmore Girls before I did the dishes.
I am alone, still on the floor.
I can’t breathe.
Getting up, I see the knife set.
I go for the largest one, the kind you use to slice off a fish’s head, slamming down with all of your might like a human guillotine.
On my knees.
The floor is wooden, smooth.
Still crying, still breathless.
Poised above my left forearm, palm up.
White, pale skin quietly interrupted by green veins.
Slice up, and it’ll all be done. You’ll be done. You’ll be free.
Everything is slow. A millennia passes as I prepare for my fate.
You can either end your last chapter at your lowest, or get up, and make the chapters of freedom, far from this darkness.
I don’t move. Time continues by slowly.
Lowering my arms. Getting up. The blade has been sheathed.
I walk away…..
Two days later, Mama signed the lease to our new apartment, and I moved out. He sent thoughtful e-cards, displaying his sadness in me leaving.
Was this normal?
That same day, I revealed my night in a fight with Stacey, and was sent to the counselor’s office. It was my second time there in two years. I returned for a follow-up visit later in the week, and it never came up again. Little was solved or sorted through.
In some ways, that was probably my fault. I always made sure to persuade them that I was fine. I was afraid of being locked up in a mental institution, like so many of my friends. I also was afraid of what they might find if they investigated my life. What it would mean for me.
Was it normal?
However, it can be easy to trick people into thinking you’re fine when all they are concerned about is avoiding a lawsuit. I saw the women who counselled me that week a year afterwards. She looked right through me. She didn’t remember. The school is her priority over anything else, much like it is for everyone there. I was not surprised, but I was hurt. I had hoped that perhaps maybe, someone had thought something was wrong. After all, it was my second time there for suicidal thoughts in two years. Perhaps he was right. I deserved what I was getting.