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Kat 6d
Recently my chronic illness came back —
A collection of symptoms out of many,
That I had hoped would stay gone for years,
Less severe than before
But disturbing nonetheless —
I cannot do my schoolwork.
I worry how my family will react if it gets worse.
I think back on how hard it was.
I think back on how bad it can get.

I’m in a far better place now —
I see a specialist,
And a physical therapist,
And my counselor,
And I understand this far better than I did
A year and a half ago, when it first started.

And despite all this,
I am still feeling okay.
But I am afraid —
Not just for my physical health
But for the power of my mind;

I worry as my symptoms grow and the fear and anger mount,
And inside me flares the tiniest flame of impulsivity;
I fear that under my skin lurks the fire of self-destruction —
Under my skin is a person who throws her possessions across the room,
Cuts lines into her skin and dreams of tears and blood,
Gets out of a car in the middle of the street,
Fantasizes about taking all of her pills,
Shouts and shakes and sobs, consumed by the blaze inside.

I worry this person is not gone.
I worry she will come back to devour me and those I love,
Just as my physical illness is coming back.
I worry what will happen when I change my medication,
Which I know I will have to do soon —
How frustrating that something that is good for my mind
Could be bad for my body;
What will happen if, when, chaos grows with COVID cases and rage rears its head again?

What will happen if, when, I break?

I know I can be too pessimistic.
I know I can be dark, even when I try to hide the darkness —
I listen to songs about death;
I read memoirs about mental illness;
I create D&D characters with tortured pasts;
I write poems like this.

I have been trying to embrace who I am, all that I am, and
I see what I once saw as proof that I was broken
As proof that I am brave, and
I wear my scars with pride.

But it is still hard
When I worry
Like I’m doing tonight.

I need to know that feeling upset, feeling flickers of impulsivity, are not a sign
That I am falling, or failing, or that I have lost control.
I need to know that a relapse of an illness or depression or anxiety or even self harm
Is not a backslide to square one.
I need to know that I know so much more than I did
Even a year ago.

That no matter what happens,
I will be okay.
I will be okay.

I will be okay.
Kat Oct 19
Body —
I love you but I cannot contain my frustration right now.
I tell you I am fine, and happy, and safe, so why do you shake like a leaf in the wind, make me dizzy when I try to read, weigh me down with heavy exhaustion, make me feel that I will faint or fall —

Body —
You respond to fear to the sensations you create — racing heart, shallow breaths, physical symptoms leading to more physical symptoms;
You do not need to panic, so why do you panic so and set my thoughts racing in turn?

Body —
Why do you hurt when you are not supposed to,
When I walk or bake or speak or type or laugh —Teeth aching, muscles tightening, back burning, making me fear that you have been injured again?
You have taken so much from me — couldn’t you have at least spared my hobbies? My voice?

Body —
Was it not enough to make you whole —
The year and a half I spent out of school,
The visits to the hospital,
The meditations and the PT and the acupuncture and the walking and the resting and the dozens of doctors and all the other things I have tried to make you content,
To make you go back to what you were like before?

And maybe this should be a letter to my mind instead,
For it is not my body but my mind that does not work as it should —
My muscles are not torn,
My bones are not cracked,
My joints do not swell;
It is my mind that creates the pain and the tremors and the dizziness and the fatigue and the migraines and the panic and more —
But I feel that my mind has brought suffering enough,
Years of mental illness that I have written about in dozens of poems,
So I will turn instead and write this letter to my

Body -
You are beautiful, not broken, even though some days it is hard to believe,
Hard to believe that you do not want to hurt me,
Hard to believe that you are not some sort of cruel punishment from the universe,
Hard to believe that I can love you as much as I should —

But see, body, I need to remember that you are so ******* strong —
You have been starved and cut and bruised and poked with needles more times than I can count and yet you still allow me to
Write poetry and walk and breathe and eat and drink and laugh and love and this is a gift —
And by showing me what it is like to feel sick,
You have shown me how grateful I am for the things that I can still do.

Body -
You are not fragile, a twig to be broken under a shoe, a feather to be weighed down in rain —
You are stronger than I could ever imagine,
And as the years go on, I know that I will come to witness even more
The capable wonderful thing
That you are.
Kat Oct 14
You say you are a creature of the night;
You prefer the dark where the shadows hide,
For the shadows speak words you can understand —
But please know, my love, they can’t be your guide.

You say you love winter the best, but I know
When you speak to me I’m reminded of spring;
When you walk the blossoms bloom under your feet;
When you smile, seedlings sprout and birds sing.

You say you would live in a world of frost,
With garments of silver, an icicle crown,
But I know it’s a dream spun from fear, not want—
In a frozen lake you cannot drown.

You say you’re at home under moon and stars,
But never forget, stars are hotter than fire —
You say you are cold but your heart burns bright;
Beneath your facade is warmth and desire

To live, love, be happy, to give and to guide;
You can’t stay in this darkness forever, my dear,
And you say you’re alone but you’re never alone;
Just know, my love, I am always near.

You say you are a creature of the night,
But I see through that lie, please don’t try to pretend;
As you walk on this path through your pain and despair,
I will walk with you to the very end.
Kat Oct 2
Lately I have been daydreaming about a perfect life;
I have spent nights listening to music for hours on end and smiling at the memory of former wishes,
And I can’t help thinking, as I attend a club presentation about grad school and take classes and talk to my friends about careers,
How happy I am to be here;

See I spent months avoiding thinking about the future,
Cause it was far too painful to envision what my life could have been
And what it could not be so
I focused on the present moment, away from the metaphorical mountains that I once wanted to climb —
But now I have convinced myself that my suffering has made me who I am,
Has allowed me to have this dream of a beautiful life, and
I can finally see the top of these mountain peaks;
They gleam white with snow, the sun shines bright,
And I think,
How wonderful it is to dream of concerts and travel and cafes and cobblestone streets and campfire songs and kisses in the dark;

But it is hard to see the pathway to my dreams;
They are beautiful but also distant like a mirage and I spend much of my time dreaming but much of my time
Pouring over medical notes and watching medical dramas and reading all about my health conditions,
Cause it’s wonderful to dream and say, “I’ve come so far. I can be patient. It will get better,” and believe it,
Until I am confronted once again with muscles that feel weak and shake and ache,
With the fear of what could happen if I push through it again,
And I am reminded of the days spent in bed unable to stand or walk,
Of typing because it hurt too much to talk,
Of dizziness and sleep and sweat on my skin,
Of hospital rooms and medication and IVs,
Of kind doctors who apologized when they caused me pain and
Kind nurses who helped when I could not stifle my cries —
And most of all, of all the mental pain —
The panic attacks and the suicidal thoughts and the mood swings and the crying spells and the despair that I just wished would end;

And as I listen to my music and dream my dreams I feel the familiar ache of longing mixed with loss,
I think, what is my life but this?
Who am I but a patient, someone who is sick?
I am so happy I am finally sort of happy,
But sometimes I feel I am walking on a ridge that has no end,
Constantly balancing with every step,
But knowing every day I could slip again;
And the snow will numb my hands and the rock will scrape my knees and my stomach will once again feel the fear of falling,
And how hard will it be to climb back up?

So I spend some of my time dreaming of the far future and some of my time stuck in the present and the past,
And I pray that I will look back on this moment,
Years and years from now,
And read my poems and hear my songs and think,
Look at my life.
I am proud.
I am happy.
I am grateful.
And I would not change a thing.
Just some recent thoughts and emotions I needed to get off my chest.
Kat Sep 25
Sometimes I think
Over the past few years
If I had not gone through what I did
I could have been creating my perfect life
But then I think
I would have had no chance at that perfect life
If I had not gone through what I did
I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that I can make meaning out of everything that happens, and that belief has been so important in helping me deal with physical and mental pain.
Kat Sep 19
It gets better and worse, I try not to complain
But my world’s far removed from life not long ago;
I now fear that my life is dictated by pain.

Every day I awake to the same old refrain:
The ache grows with the hours, waxes, wanes, lays me low;
It gets better and worse, I try not to complain.

Feels like war between want and the will to abstain
From so much; try to work, but my body says “no;”
I now fear that my life is dictated by pain.

I’ve tried drugs, massage, pacing, so much more; it’s plain
It takes more than some pills to control this new foe;
It gets better and worse, I try not to complain.

And I’ve seen it improve from results I obtain —
I know this can get better with time — even so,
I now fear that my life is dictated by pain.

So I suffer each day, and so often I feign
A bright smile — no tears for the fight I don’t show.
It gets better and worse, I try not to complain;
I now fear that my life is dictated by pain.
If you are also dealing with chronic pain (especially during this pandemic when some treatments are no longer available, at least where I live), I’m thinking of you and wish you well! Living with chronic pain is tough, but I have learned so much from it and try to stay hopeful, as I know that life can be wonderful even with pain, and that there are many treatments I have yet to try.
Kat Sep 17
To the girl who thought life had no meaning
And that life was not worth living;
Who thought that society was made to suffer,
That the human race was condemned to self-destruction,
That all the bad would outweigh the good,
And she would never be able to tolerate the pain,
That there was no use in surviving if she did not feel like she was living;
Who on her darkest days would play the same refrain over and over and over in her head:
“Soceity is evil and the future is filled with pain and we’re all going to die anyway so nothing matters” -

To this girl
Who suffered and suffered and begged for reprieve
She thought she would not find,
Know this:

Know that there will come a time when
This girl will come to change
Her worldview.

That one day
She will not have to ask her friends to hide her pills
Because she is afraid of her mind every night she wakes up,
Thoughts racing in the dark.

That one day,
Despite the the pandemic and the injustice and the fires and the suffering around her
She will smile at the mystery and the beauty of life -
Of the euphoria of hearing her favorite songs on a shuffled playlist,
Of the fading summer light and the softly blowing breeze,
Of the laughter that doubles her over and makes her cheeks ache,
Of the wonder that is movies and art and symphonies and science,
Of the glimmering gleam that is hope.

That one day that girl will look at her old poems and be so grateful that she is no longer in so much pain
That she thinks that jumping in front of a moving train
Or swallowing a bottle of pills
Are her only option.

That one day that girl will look at her old diary entries and wish
That she could erase years and years of suffering,
While knowing still that the suffering has made her who she is today;
And she will say,
Things are hard but I can do this,
Because I am so ******* resilient,
Because people are so ******* resilient,
Because there is bad in the world but there is also good,
Because there is a chance that I can help people be happy,
Because I don’t want to miss out on the songs and softly blowing breezes and laughter with friends and all the other things that bring wonder to life.

That one day she will write a document called “Making Meaning”
Where she writes out all the reasons why
Life is worth living;
And she will brainstorm for this more often than she brainstorms
Her suicide note,
And she will plan to share this document with the friends
Who need it the most,
Just as she will share
The wisdom she has learned from her darkest days.

That one day
She will come to no longer believe that
Soceity is evil and the future is filled with pain and we’re all going to die anyway so nothing matters,
Becaues if everyone thought this,
The world would not be
What it is today;
Because if you think that life has no meaning,
Life will have no meaning to you.
But it is possible to change your worldview,
To be like all of theose poeple who think
That life is worth living.
It is possible to see light when you thought it was gone,
And then grasp at it again when you fall back down into darkness.
It is possible to be more resilient
Than you ever imagined you could be.
And indeed,
It is possible to be happy.
While my life is not sunshine and rainbows by any means, it is still much better than before, thanks to a combination of factors (medication, therapy, communication with friends and family, etc.). However, I know I am very lucky to be in the financial/living/social situation I’m in and I definitely don’t want to minimize the feelings of anyone who is depressed or suicidal, or all of the suffering that this year’s events have brought — I just want to show that it is possible for someone to change their worldview and to not always feel the emotional pain they might be experiencing at a certain point in time.
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