Of Two Minds

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I don’t normally over explain my work as I’m happy for people to find their own meaning. This is a pretty personal piece as it’s a self-portrait.

I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder since ’09. Before that, they thought it was depression, and before that, schizophrenia. Since I was correctly diagnosed and got onto the right medication, things have been more manageable. I still have highs and lows, but I’m a bit more balanced.

My psychiatrist has been very supportive of my artwork as it has become a form of therapy for me. Combined with some lifestyle changes (no alcohol, no meat, no excuses), art has made a big difference in my day-to-day life.

“Of Two Minds” is the name of a really good documentary on BPD, and my piece is a nod to that as it helped me in my recovery, too. The piece itself is really a bipolar Venn diagram with the purple face representing mania, the blue face representing depression, and the space where they interlink is where that ever-elusive balance is hiding!

 

 

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The artist, Chris, with his piece

A huge shoutout to Chris Eaton, otherwise known as Stanley Sprays, for sharing his story and this phenomenal piece of art with us. For many, creativity and art can be essential in our recovery. We are so grateful to Chris for sharing that message and showing how art has helped him manage his own struggles.

If you want to see more art from Chris, you can find him on Instagram and his personal website. Chris also has a really fantastic clothing line; you can find that on both Instagram and their website.  Be sure to give lots of love to Chris in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration, and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

A Lens Into Our World dear hope

1 in 4: a selection from “Behind The Mask” by Rivka Korf

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Hands of Dread

 

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Relief at Last

 

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Screaming Hydra

 

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Mask of Hands

 

A big thank you to Rivka for sharing her beautiful artwork with us. These four pieces were part of a larger exhibition called Behind The Mask, a solo exhibition highlighting the inner struggle of 1 in 4 Americans. You can find the full collection on her website, and more of her artwork on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to give Rivka lots of love in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Artwork dear hope

you are loved

stay with me.

right here,

right now.

 

it’s so much easier to love you

when you aren’t so far away.

it’s so much easier to hug you

when you aren’t so far away.

 

i love you over here

i love you over there

but most importantly

i love you everywhere.

 


i love you to the moon and back.

back to the moon again

and then far beyond that.

 


you may be asking

who is this for?

i’m not even sure.

 

my love is for everyone

and everything

and everywhere

because nothing

and nobody

deserves to feel unloved.

and i love everyone with passion

 

 

 

Thanks to Rachel for sharing another of her beautiful poems. You can read her previous submission here. Be sure to give her some love in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Creative Pieces dear hope

World Suicide Prevention Day: a conversation

What’s most agonizing about suicidal thoughts are not the thoughts themselves, but the confusion behind them.

For what it’s worth, I want to live. There are hundreds of things I haven’t done, places I haven’t gone to, people I haven’t met, feelings I haven’t felt. Sometimes just the vastness of my “haven’t done yet”s make me so anxious, it cripples me into doing nothing at all. Motivation: lost.

I want to live, I do. I haven’t finished my first book (ETA, December 2017). I haven’t road-tripped across the country, purchased a piece of furniture, or learned how to rollerblade. I still haven’t broken my nail-biting habit (it’s gross, I know, okay?), and I still haven’t mastered ASL (working on it, though). There are things I want–maybe even need–to do before my time on earth is up, things that keep me up at night (maybe not the rollerblading thing, but definitely that impending CC-road trip). There is so much left to say, to do, to feel. I want to say it all, do it all, feel it all.

I want to live.

But sometimes? I just don’t.

Sometimes I convince myself that I am not worthy of love, of friendship, of the opportunities I’ve been given, of the oxygen flowing into my lungs. Sometimes I convince myself that those around me see me as nothing more than a burden, a nuisance, a blemish they cannot get rid of. Sometimes I convince myself that they will be better off without me. Sometimes I convince myself that my bedroom contains all I’ll ever need, and that leaving the comfort of it will bring me only anxiety, only sadness, only more feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes I convince myself that it would be easier to disappear than it would be to continue trying to find comfort in visibility, that it would be easier to end the cycle of misery at my own hands than to continue living a life I will never truly love.

On today, World Suicide Prevention Day, I want to open up a dialogue about suicidal thoughts and ideation. An uncomfortable conversation that many people are afraid to have, myself included. But not having the conversation at all has proven to be less-than-ideal. That almost innate refusal to speak on the things that are difficult hasn’t helped anyone suffering from mental illness.

It took a long time to feel comfortable enough to even say I dealt with suicidal thoughts and ideation. I was ashamed, embarrassed, and scared. I didn’t know what I was feeling, I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, and I didn’t think anyone should have to listen to me attempt to explain what was going on inside my head. Living alone with my self-deprecation felt easier than burdening anyone else with those morbid thoughts I couldn’t even explain to myself.

So, openly offering my support to those who may need is is the step I’m taking today. I don’t want anyone to feel as if they are alone in their more difficult emotions, alone in dealing with the urges they bring up, or alone in their confusion behind the things they are feeling. I want to be the person I needed when I was younger, a sounding board for the suicidal ideation thrust upon me that I didn’t quite know how to navigate despite feeling everything so harshly and so deeply.

Open up a productive dialogue with your loved ones today. I know I’ll be doing the same for mine.

“Suicide prevention is important to me because I am alive because of people who cared enough to make sure I was okay” – TWLOHA.com

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

 

Article dear hope

A poetry selection: Ali Z, part 2

**Trigger Warning: mentions of self-harm, death, and suicide

 

STRAWBERRIES AND JELLY BEANS

The past few times I have scoured my scalp for grey hairs, I have found white. The last time I checked, three stark white hairs grow in the roots among my curls.

I do not grey.

So why white?

One white hair for my grandmother whose hair was white at sixty and gone at seventy when the chemo treatment was unsuccessful. White for her thin pale skin, for the teeth before they rotted inside out, for the bedsheets she died in, for the dress she was buried in, for the lining of her coffin, and for the snow on the January day she died on, white.

My grandmother held our family together with paper-flaking fingers. It took her feeble body caving in for us to see her as the solid pillar she had always been. When my grandfather argued with his children, including my mother, over petty rings and inheritance, I went to the fridge to find comfort in strawberries and jelly beans: grandma’s two favorite things. He didn’t know how to keep it stocked without her. All that was there were white empty shelves and black licorice flavored jelly beans left.

That was when I knew she was gone.

The second for my father’s hospital room, for the clean blank slate on which we started over, the white for the van he worked in, the white for his knuckles when he held onto the white kitchen bowl, spilling red from his mouth in the back of my car.

I hated myself for hating hospital rooms. I realized he was sick when I forgot to visit and had to be reminded that he missed me now. I realized we were friends when the concept of him missing me seemed strange and friendly. I bought him a card once, and couldn’t think of what to write, so I left it blank but for my name, a cold, empty white.

And the third, for me. For the mountain of papers that shut me up, that said “you’re healed with this money, so stop being sick.”

For the robes of the doctors that operate in heads and minds, white for the piano keys that made me feel alive, for the moments of light in a sea of black, for the sheet music I couldn’t read, for the class rooms and waning moons that gave me any routine, for the pills when they left the red bottle, for the label that defined me, and the white lies that reminded me I wasn’t worth the truth to some.

I do not grey.

~

NOTHINGS

When I was in 7th grade, I heard that a fellow female student had written a bomb threat on the bathroom mirrors with her menstrual blood.

My first thought was that I hoped I got my period soon so I could hate the school has much as she did.

So long as our class criminal intended on blowing up the entire school, I didn’t mind, for if my bullies suffered, I’d pay the price and sacrifice my own life for justice. At 12 I felt I’d seen enough.

When I did, eventually, get my period, I wondered how she used her body’s ink, as it didn’t seem easy to write with.

On the days we were doomed, the police officer who taught me ‘boys will be boys’ stood guard by the entrance, irritated, another cry for help painted on the mirror.  Another lie, another false alarm, another girl reaching into her pants and using her only resource to scream to the reflection because it was the only one who listened. Another day and nothing to worry about.

Nothing to worry about, echoed the parents.

Nothing to worry about, echoed the teachers.

Nothing to worry about, echoed the administration.

I was nothing to worry about, echoed the corpses with cut wrists, the gentle giant of our school toppled and rocked the foundation with his suicide. The RIP statuses, the funeral preparations by parents burying a son. Blame it on his state of mind and not the environment. We, said the town, are not the problem. We had our rules, you see; we don’t want our children involved with police. If one life falls in between the margins of the anti-bullying laws and the stacks of homework, who’s to say who’s to blame?

My friends at other high schools joked that their school was built by an architect that designed prisons, therefore modeled after such.

I said that my peers were designed after prisoners, and acted as such..

My prison gang was the rejects, the uglies, and the disabled. We were not the blonde hair cliques trading lunchboxes with red apples, we were not the tattooed and the badass, we couldn’t rap or breakdance. We still excused ourselves for cursing.. We were the ones that watched the populars stroll from the view inside a locker and the bottom of the stairs. They always looked taller when we were pushed at their feet but I swear to God, they were not giants.

We rioted in the quiet stalls when we wrote poetry and foul language; we rioted with blood on bathroom walls with things we didn’t have the strength to say yet. We gauged our ears with sharp bracelets until life’s ink told us to stop and we leapt down stairs so no one could push us We laughed on every painful step so as not to give the prison guards the satisfaction of seeing us break.

We were the nothings they always had to worry about.

 

 

Another big thanks to Ali Zagame for sharing her beautiful poetry with us and our community. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 of her poetry selection. You can find more from Ali at her website, Facebook, and Bandcamp. Be sure to give her some love in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

 

Creative Pieces dear hope

A poetry selection: Ali Zagame Part 1

**Trigger Warning: mentions of self-harm, death, and suicide

 

IMPORTANT THINGS I LEARNED BEFORE I PROBABLY SHOULD’VE BEEN LEARNING THEM

The first thing that I ever learned as an infant was how to keep myself from choking.

Reason being: I refused to eat bite sized pieces of anything. I wanted to rip fruit from the seed with my infantile, underdeveloped teeth and rejected meat unless my mom put the slab of beef, pork, or lamb on my highchair, bone, if applicable, attached. Cheerios? Hell no Give me an adult meal and no fork, thank you. When my grandmother first came to visit me, she was appalled until she watched me slap my own back and continue on eating like I wasn’t a baby, but a competitive eater with sauce or blood dripping down my chin. I loved my food rare or raw, which only made it a tad more gruesome and alarming.

But I never choked.

The next thing I learned was how to save money. I learned that store-brand orange juice is 37 cents cheaper and still just as good. I learned that white lies aren’t so harmful because it’s better not to tell dad that you need new clothes and simply buy them instead, let him explode all at once each month, try to hide the fact that you’re growing, learn not to feel so guilty when mom takes the blame when you know it was you begging for that shirt, learn to love the words “you’ll grow into it,” fall in love with two pairs of sweatpants and trade them off, learn to ignore the comments asking if you own anything else because you don’t need to if it makes dad angry at your mom–it isn’t worth that because a peaceful night is priceless, learn to laugh at the surprise on that one day when you were 13 and wore that old pair of jeans in the back of your closet because mom was sick and couldn’t do laundry.

But I never choked.

I learned my pain is not the worst, and will never be. My hospital visits, my crying on Winnie the Pooh beanbag chairs screaming “Will I always feel like this?,” my sleeping on slanted beds and migraines and my burning throat became a splinter at the sight of her. The girl a couple grades above me. The one with the dark brown hair who lost one and a half lungs to a bad inhaler and sounds like she already met God. I can’t remember her name now but I never felt pain when I saw her in the waiting room.

But I never choked.

I learned from the nice police officer who visited us in middle school that your boyfriend can’t sexually assault you. If you’re dating him, then him stealing first kisses, grabbing you by the waist, and dry humping you in the townhouse basement when you squirmed away to the sound of your friend’s birthday party upstairs is considered dating troubles. I called the “nice” police officer and had to apologize for wasting his time because I didn’t recognize that my relationship was immune to the word “no,” I didn’t realize my willingness to hold his hand gave him permission to struggle with my training bra; I learned what rape did to someone the next school year when a girl in gym class told me the same boy lured her to his home. I learned sympathy doesn’t break popularity ranks when I asked to sit next to her at lunch and was denied. I thought I would never let it happen to me and learned later that it wasn’t going to be a matter of “letting it” because it wasn’t my choice.

But I never choked.

I learned that cutting yourself is difficult with nail clippers when there isn’t anything sharper in reach. I learned that sometimes your blood looks orange when you’re sick, and that missing your period because you starved yourself is not a goal, but an illness. I learned that if your mother finds out, she may force feed you cereal and Bible quotes, trying to fix your stomach, not knowing that it isn’t broken, but simply tired. I learned donuts have never tasted so good until you give up self-loathing.

But I never choked.

I learned the only way to get over your father calling you “worthless” and meaning it is when he apologizes for it on a hospital bed after having a stroke, and even then, it may take some time. I learned the only teacher you have that is going to make an attempt to understand why your homework is overdue is the one in the wheelchair because he wasn’t always in that seat and he knows what it’s like to feel unable to stand. He knows the difference between you passing out in the corner of the classroom after driving your father to the ER to cough up blood and the student with the Blink-182 tattoo sleeping after watching Adult Swim down the hall from his healthy parents last night.

But I never choked

I learned the difference between walking and marching for change; I learned that Title IX is a fancy way of saying fuck your trauma. I learned that PTSD isn’t just for soldiers and even if I never saw war to get it, that doesn’t mean I’m not fighting. I learned how to swallow worry and drink it down with cold sweats. I learned what the fuck a cold sweat was. I learned how to lie to a psychiatrist and pretend so well you almost believe you’re healing yourself until you look in the mirror and realize how fake it all is. I would wonder why my hair wasn’t greyer and how I still had all my teeth. I learned how to live.

But I never choked.

 

~

 

SCARS

Brandi was the last resort friend with a reputation preceded by the tears in her jeans that ran just an inch too high up her thigh, shirts that pushed dress code buttons and left gaps in the ones straining to keep the tissues of her push-up bra in place. Brandi taught me biting is fair game when you’re fighting, and not to trust the friend that bites you. Brandi drew my blood, but left scars in less easily healed places. She drew blood with what came out of her mouth, rather than the skin her teeth latched to.

The first time I cut, Brandi told me that I couldn’t be serious about hurting myself until the scars were vertical.

That’s how you know someone’s in trouble: when the lines on their wrist are less like morbid bracelets and more like a parody of veins.

The second time I hurt myself I whispered “don’t be a pussy about it,” and made sure that shit was a vertical line. “You don’t cut yourself to feel the pain,” I said. “I cut to die.”

I wanted someone to know what I was capable of; I didn’t even wear those gothic fingerless gloves that made me feel like I was hiding something. I tucked my hair behind my ear when it was already resting there; I pretended to look embarrassed. I held that wrist with my other hand. I raised my left hand when the teacher called on me that day because I wanted the world to know I was serious.

In making my statement that I wasn’t doing this for attention, I begged for attention.

My neon pants said “notice me.” The downward gaze said “but don’t talk to me unless you’re actually going to help.” I was motherfucking sick of youth group leaders and homeschooled snobs saying they’d “pray for me,” washing their hands clean with the smile: problem solved. Maybe I was dirty to them, but you have to get your hands dirty to help someone who has spent the days wading through bullshit.

My large, broken-heart choker necklace shouted that I was already halfway to strangling myself. My attitude became the stereotype for the quiet girl in the movies that is screaming internally for human interaction. Prove her wrong that you’re just another “friend” that hates the sound of rain when it sleeps. You won’t stay for the bad weather, so why bother? In my town, it is flooding.

You do not cut to see the blood, to feel the pain, the force that cry upward. You cut to die. I cut to die.

I wish I knew then that it was okay to ask for help.

But more importantly, I wish I knew then that it was okay if someone refuses help.

It’s not okay that they leave you drowning. It’s not okay that they don’t give a reason and expect you to know why the relationship you grew died. It’s not okay when they’ll teach you the difference between laughing with and laughing at by accusing and pointing fingers. It’s not okay that they say, “You’ll go to hell.” It’s not okay when they wish you there. It’s not okay that they tell you to speed up the process and cut a little deeper.

But it’s okay, because you’ll be okay.

 

Ali Zagame, the author

 

This is part 1 of 2 in a poetry selection written by the extremely talented Ali Zagame. You can find more poetry (and some music!) from Ali on her website, Facebook, and Bandcamp. Be sure to check in next week for part 2, and give lots of love to Ali in the comments!

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

dear hope poetry Thoughts An Anonymous Diary: Poems Prose Lyrics and More

A poetry selection: Mouse

**Trigger Warning: suicide, self-harm

 

do you

do you know what its like to always wonder
to always worry
to always fear
to always second guess
to always wander in your mind
do you know what its like to cry because you have
no one
or what its like to want to die because you have
no one
and do you ever wish you had someone
but all you do is avoid everyone

 

 

the note

i didnt realize how bad id gotten
sitting in my car
1:23 am
tears running down my face
like an infinite waterfall
sending silent prayers to anything out there
deciding i wanted it all over
i needed it to stop
while everyone fantasized about their future
i fantasized about my ending
rope
blade
pill
bleach
anything sounded fine
1:37 am
running bath water
writing a note
i find one already written
1:41 am
draining bath water

 

 

Big thanks to Mouse for sharing her work with us. We love being able to share such vulnerable, beautiful poetry like this. Be sure to live some love to Mouse in the comments.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Sandra

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

Follow us for more posts, inspiration and art on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

dear hope poetry Thoughts An Anonymous Diary: Poems Prose Lyrics and More