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For a minute or more, I was dead as you,

as you were technically dead

before the end was absolute—

before your brain conceded.

For a minute or more, my world was edged in blossoming dark,

engrossing, on the cusp of consent.

Blackbirds congregated, chattered ‘round my head, and

they called dibs on my vital organs—

heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs.

One expressed explicit interest in

my spleen—

keen student of human anatomy,

morbid corvid.

Then a cardinal came with your breath on its wings,

and I breathed.

I just breathed.

I breathe still…

 

© Kindra M. Austin

image: Houston Audubon

 

 

 

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I can’t drive past a dead animal splayed and stinking on the side of the road in the summer heat without thinking of you. The tang you’d left behind inside your apartment is no different than a fucking stupid deer, rotting; we’re all animals, after all. The similarity is incredibly depressing. Makes my mind wander into the macabre. I can’t help but envision you hanged upside down and sliced open in some hillbilly pole barn with your entrails falling from your middle, and plunking into an orange Home Depot bucket.

I scold myself aloud: Don’t think about that!

I can’t help it. Intrusive Thoughts are a part of O.C.D.

You never knew that I live with this condition, and I’m glad I never told you. You had enough to worry about; you weren’t mentally equipped to handle this sickness that colors me dreadful.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: DeviantArt)

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The

sun

came begging again

at my doorstep; I turned him

away. Got no use for gods at play.

Too much decease has grown me up.

I am weeds, immune to

disease, and I only live

in order to survive.

But to what end?

So questions

Depression,

mine. Depression

is the paparazzi—

always trying to catch

me crazy, display me

for eyes, judgmental.

Mental Health Care

is a one line joke.

I am weeds, and I

fucking choke

behind lips

upturned,

lovely.

 

© Kindra M. Austin

(image: Pinterest)

 

 

national-suicide-lifeline

a collaborative poem by Braeden Michaels  and Kindra M. Austin

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Overflowing drops of sadness

crash the grounds of reality 

Waves of anger and frustration 

soar through every vein 

Camouflaging the numbness 

wakens the frozen memories 

Slowly losing the crack of a smile 

shades of grey and black entwine  

A living ghost I am, alone—

all that is left of you

I talk in my sleep when I’m wide awake

In limbo I reach out to you,

my anchor in the fog 

Overflowing mourning bellows 

shattering the reflection in the mirror 

Staring into the depths of your selfishness 

stirring the darkest hurricanes

Consuming prescriptions of self-hatred 

scream at your tarnished soul 

Slowly your existence forever fades 

whirlwinds of chaos downpour into your loved ones  

A living ghost I am, alone—

evidence of your life

I keep together with special effects

And all I want is to touch you,

my anchor in the fog

Overflowing rain of melancholy 

drip into the silence of your grave 

Crumbled walls are now at your feet 

as clouds hang over your torn shadow 

Dwelling into your perfectionism 

dismantles your steel cage 

Slowly your wishes become true 

Your actions speak a thousand poems 

than the words you spoke alive  

A living ghost I am no more—

I’ll breathe for me and you

Laugh for me and you, love for me and you

But still, I want to hold you tight,

my anchor in the fog

 

image: DeviantArt

black italics *B. M.

indigo *K. M. A.

 

Understand me. I wished him dead. I did have half a mind to kill him once, with a cast iron skillet, caught up in the white-hot frenzy. I was fourteen years old, and convinced I was prepared to murder the man choking my mother in the kitchen while a beef roast baked in the oven. He’d caught my arm reaching into the bottom cupboard and slammed the door on me repeatedly until I fell back on my ass and slinked away, screaming.

Screaming.

I was always screaming for Ken to stop hitting my mother; to stop tugging on my sister; to stop frightening us; to leave us alone, and go off someplace to fucking die. The motherfucker was a habitual drunk driver. Why didn’t he ever crash into the trees? Or swerve off a bridge? Never once have I felt a pang of guilt for wishing–praying for liberation to come in the form of this man’s well-deserved death.

During the years my mother and Ken were together, I suffered through my first crisis of faith; and I mean faith in the universal sense. My father failed to save me and Tara. My mother failed to save us all. And what’s fucked up is at the time, I thought I was failing.

I often wished I’d wake up dead, being that Ken was indestructible. And I berated myself for being too cowardice to follow through with any of the suicide plans I had concocted in the night. But then I’d see my little sister, defenseless, and I knew I’d be a coward* to leave her alone; if I didn’t want to live for myself, I had to live for her.

*Suicide is not about cowardice. It is about pain, and the desperation to be relieved of that pain. To say I would have been a coward to take my life is what I needed to tell myself to be strong and fight for my life. I mean no disrespect.

_______

Tomorrow Wendy was part of the soundtrack of my teendumb.

If you don’t have a chronic illness, I suggest you find one, grab hold of it, and hand over control. Life is much simpler when you have something legitimate to blame.

  1. If you feel like cutting out of work early, your illness is the best excuse to walk out in the middle of your shift, head held low in shame.
  2. If you wake up in the morning in so much pain that you cannot move, you can have your spouse call in for you; then you’ll have the whole day free to hurt in peace.
  3. When you decide your place of employment expects too much of you, you can apply for intermittent leave; if you’re approved, you’ll have as many days off a week as you want to cry, and question your value as a productive member of society.
  4. When you realize a life of leisure is better than punching a time clock, quit your job; questioning your value as a member of your family is only a small side-effect of giving up your job/career/income. Money…who needs it? Fulfillment…that’s what Netflix is for.
  5. Did you make plans with your friends, then decide you aren’t well enough to even shower and dress in grown up clothes? Chronic Illness will get you out of that dinner you’ve been looking forward to.
  6. Your daughter is playing her last band concert as a senior in high school? The chronic pain will excuse you from attending. You were never proud of her, anyway.
  7. Don’t feel like fucking your husband? Chronic pain.
  8. Don’t feel like grocery shopping? Or cooking a meal for your family? Chronic pain.
  9. Travelling to Grandma’s for Christmas is going to be a drag? Chronic pain.
  10. Too lazy to tie your own fucking shoes???

The benefits are limitless. Yes, you’ll have to explain yourself to your friends and family who are too goddamned ignorant or uncaring to understand. But fuck them. This is about you. Everything is about you, as it should be. Because you’re special–too goddamned good. This is your life, after all.

Too many people are unsuspected of suffering anxiety and depression.

My daughter is a kind, helpful, happy, talkative young woman. She’s a pharmacy technician, so every day she interacts with patients, both face to face and over the phone. My girl is brilliant–everyone LOVES her. I’m a proud mama.

Despite outward appearance, Nicole is an introvert. And she lives with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Her friends have long accepted Nicole for who she is, and they don’t get uptight when she chooses to stay in on weekends; and when she is out, they don’t question her when she suddenly feels the need to go home.

Before her diagnosis, Nicole had tried a few medications that were no help at all. She’s living on her own now, but before she moved out, I spent many nights in bed with her. She would wake me in the middle of the night, frantic, sobbing, screaming. “It hurts so much,” she’d say. Fuck. Words fail me…

The first time I ever held my baby in my arms, I never thought I’d have to ask her, “Do you ever think about hurting yourself?”

Anxiety, a lot of the time is trivialized. “Just breathe.” “Don’t think about it.” “It’s not a big deal.” “What’s the worst that could happen?” “You’re over-reacting.”

I want to punch these people in their junk. That’s an immature thing to say; I admit it. But I would punch everyone who makes light of anxiety in their junk if it meant they’d gain some fucking respect. Because people like my Nicole deserve respect. My daughter wakes up every morning in battle mode; every moment in her day-to-day is spent over-analyzing herself, and every one else. Imagine how exhausting it is to be someone who lives with an anxiety disorder.

Most days, Nicole does well. There are things unexpected however, that set her spinning. This past Saturday, she was asked to foster a cat called Louie; Louie’s owner is going to basic training until the end of summer. She didn’t anticipate such a violent greeting from her kitty, Minerva. This was one of those things that set her off. She called me, and I went to her immediately. Without going into detail no one cares about, we figured something out that worked well for everyone involved.

The point I want to make is that our loved ones with anxiety need our support and encouragement. They need to know we BELIEVE them, and believe IN them. Our loved ones don’t need, or want useless platitudes. Most times, all they want is to know they are being heard. Because…trust me…they are aware that their thoughts and worries are irrational–totally invented by a relentless monster.

Be loving. Just…be loving. And seek help when they need it–they DO need it, and so do you. Educate yourselves to be the best support for them.

 

 

 

 

 

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You, she, and he tethered to me–a chain gang we be, chain smokers answering chain letters for luck. I’m in the lead–you put me here, but all the bad calls you will make; we stop dead when you see a fancy man you’d like to fuck

over with your madness.

 

That was years ago

 

My desert kingdom

Teendumb

unforgotten

I tried to build sandcastles