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2021 Fall Poetry

phototropism   peat moss swells with water ready for new life seeds are placed, labeled carefully   a lesson from the year of twelve yellow tomato plants left to rest. no light needed   little sprouts begin to appear a wisp of green surrounded by darkness   sprouts grow until they are ready for a …

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Tempests

By Rena Lesue-Smithey

I sometimes lost my grip on gratitude, on optimism, when my husband’s debilitating depression dropped like an anchor in the center of the house. For hours, sometimes days, Rick would shut himself in the bedroom. The purple and red sheets I had jimmied into curtains would be drawn across the windows, a menstrual shroud over …

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We’re All Mad Here

By Kellie Purcill

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum’s Reasons for Admissions, late 1800s

I found the above picture a fair while ago, snared by the bewildering reasons people were put into insane asylums. Asthma? Novel reading?  Really? I stopped counting after 20 possible reasons I could admit to, and I wasn’t even halfway through the list (there’s about 90).  Maybe “insane” meant different things back then, or the existence of asylums created different behaviours or needs? It seems human nature to put definitions on things, both sleek and clunky. There’s a quote that often makes the rounds on Facebook that I can’t stand. It says something along the lines of “depression/anxiety/crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong too long.” I think that’s a load of stupid piled onto a mountain of useless.  The first part I know and believe – depression (or the others) is not a sign of weakness. Far from it. But it certainly is not a sign that you’ve been strong too long.  We’re all mad here, we just may not know if we’ve gotten there yet.

Nearly two years ago, a tower was built way down the bottom of a mine shaft in my mind. Of course it doesn’t make sense – it was depression and that is one slippery, sly sucker punch of sneaky jerkitude that has the superpower of making the nonsense seem totally rational and acceptable.  I found myself spending longer and longer in the tower, noticing distantly that part of it was being walled off. Within months, there was a section totally blocked off from light, from peace, and while “I” would be going about my day hanging out laundry or baking a cake or attending classes or work or praying, I could hear the broken, constant sobbing of myself on the other side of the wall. Nonstop. All hours of the day and through my nights. A noise more constant and way louder than my own heartbeat, my conversations, my common sense. I couldn’t outrun it, drown it, ignore it, do anything about it… except accept it. Depression sure messes with your senses and ability to make sense of anything, let alone what you’re feeling.

Turns out, my ovaries has mutinied.

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Mad Pride

By Justine Dorton

There are people in various places in my life with mental illnesses. There are a also couple of people I love with autistic children, some with ADHD, some others with various developmental delays. So it was with keen interest that I read the following article. Then, only a day later, I read this. A quick google search led me here. Both articles assert the same basic premise – I have a mental illness/autistic tendency, but I choose to embrace it as a cultural construct rather than cure it.

The argument runs similar to one in the deaf community, which states that deafness is part of a cultural identity rather than a condition to be treated.

I really don’t know how I feel about this.

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