What I wrote when I was sick——


I promised to begin looking at the years when I was most sick with bipolar disorder, the most symptomatic.  During part of that time, I attended a day treatment program for the chronically mentally ill and wrote the following poem about theat experience:

Day Treatment  (Poem #1)

It’s Monday and again
we sit in chairs, sprawled
against straight backs,
mid-morning group at day
treatment, talking about
black holes:
                fear of abandonment
                fear of non-being
the endless longing to return
plato’s parable about the cave
                the dark place
                the shadow
                the holy
                the horrible
                the hot coal
carried close to
each of us
so we are, all of us,
                always
                burning

28 thoughts on “What I wrote when I was sick——

    • That is precisely my goal, to give voice to an experience many have had but don’t have the words to communicate. And I hope it will help other folks like me, comfort them, to see their challenges mirrored in this way.

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  1. I’m again blown away by the power, the intensity and the deep meaning of your words. ” . . . carried close to/ each of us/ so we are, each of us . . . “

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    • Thank you, Lisa. It means so much that the poem communicates in an ordinary way, as well. That’s really the point, isn’t it? To show–my experience is not so different from yours–to normalize–an important way to reduce stigma!

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  2. Hi Kathy, your poem is very moving. Your bravery and courage to share your story inspiring. You are offering a great gift to many, of whom most you will never know. Keep up the good work. Marlene

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  3. I so appreciate your honesty and bravery to share this painful part of your personal history. This poem struck me as both utterly powerful…but maybe also skeptical? In the beginning, it seems as though the narrator isn’t sure this “day treatment,” spending her Monday “sprawled/ against straight backs,” will actually work. But maybe as she listens to the feelings of her group, she realizes that “each of us” also struggles, and maybe that’s good enough for group day treatment–coming to a place of camaraderie. Thank you for sharing this with us. I look forward to reading more and to seeing where your journey takes you. 🙂

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  4. Kathy–
    kudos to you for grabbing hold of your Pandora’s Box…
    and letting loose the loveliness of chaos and illness and the journey to understanding, of finding equilibrium.

    you are very brave, mucho bravalina… 🙂
    blessings
    jane
    http://www.nexttonormal.com/ (if it is touring ANYWHERE near you…please see it…)
    http://www.amazon.com/Next-Normal-Original-Broadway-Cast/dp/B001VRDRFG
    and you can hear the opening song from the show here:

    and Diana’s song about missing the highs and lows of bi-polar life…

    ok–inundating you with next to normal…but. it must be done. 🙂 This is powerful…powerful stuff…and now you have the broadband to hear it, to feel it…
    much love to you, sweet friend.
    jane

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  5. It must be harrowing for you to look back upon these poems and these particularly intense chapters of your life. Kudos to your courage and bravery in sharing! I appreciate it, and I hope the process of exploring and opening up will be amazingly therapeutic for you (not to mention informative, encouraging, and enlightening for those who read your work).

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  6. So great to shed some light on mental illness, as more and more people do this it helps to reduce the stigmatization.
    You are brave and courageous, and clearly getting stronger by the day. Keep up the open door policy and let your light shine!

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    • You have hit the nail on the head, Deanna! That’s it exactly. The more people who share, the more mental illness is normalized in the eyes of folks who have not experienced it and the less stigma!!!!! How great that you see that! Thanks for noticing, my friend!

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  7. The image of the “hot coal”…wow, Kathy, this is truly moving. The others have said it already, but bravo to you for your courage. I know several people with bipolar disorder, and I know they’ll appreciate and relate to your words.

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      • You are welcome! You know, I’m in the process of starting a new self-hosted WP blog called, Miracle Mama. It will feature miracle stories and magical moments. I’d love for you to contribute your miracle stories. Let me know what you think about that. Hoping to get a first post up in the next few weeks.

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  8. Your comment that, “”—there is soooooooo much room for improvement in the way we treat the chronically mentally ill” rings so true to me. My brother had bi-polar disorder (w/ schizophrenia tendancies) and my mother works with the mentally ill and I’ve seen this to be true so so often.-heartbreakingly often. It was moving to read this. Thank you for sharing!

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    • Sounds like your brother has the same diagnosis I do. My official one is a bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder. Sounds like that’s what your brother has.

      And, yes, there truly is so much room for improving the way we treat the mentally ill, it’s sad–so sad! I wish I knew how to make that change happen.

      Thanks so much for reading! Hope you’ll come back.

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