Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How to be a friend to someone who is depressed.

I can remember being depressed since I was a little kid. I remember the dark feelings that were hard to shake, the prayers for sudden death, the emotional highs and lows that had seemingly unpredictable triggers. Into high school, I was loudmouthed, fun, and had a lot of friends. But I was hiding a closet in more ways than just my sexuality. My heart was dark and I didn't understand why.

Things started to get worse after a road trip I took in college. It seemed as though my depressive symptoms became amplified beyond my control. Getting out of bed required super human strength, my grades began to slip and I even started failing classes. My life seemed too heavy to navigate though sober, so I got high all day and partied all night and there were months that went by that I rarely spent a significant amount of time completley sober.

In 2010, I found another "high" that kept depression at least at bay for a while. It was a Jesus high. It's sort of embarrassing to admit to now, however, the high was real. I was sober for an entire month, and while I struggled occasionally with drinking, did not take any drugs for almost two years. I even got on a nice little regamine of anti-depressants that seemed to be working well.

Well, for a little bit anyway.

 That emotional religious high did not last long, though, and soon enough the depression returned with a vengeance. I tried to reach out to my new Christian friends, but without much avail. I wasn't praying enough. I wasn't believing enough. I wasn't reading my bible enough. It was my fault. I had heard this language so often, I started operating as if my depression was my fault, and since I couldn't control it, I allowed myself to become depression. Friends would mention my dark eyes, my fast weight gain, my constant drinking, the blank stare that started to appear on my face. They were confused by my promiscuous sex, the starting to take drugs again, the constant stream of somber words that seemed to spill out of my mouth.

I didn't care. This was me. This was it. It was not controllable at any point. The anti depressants stopped working, and I remember distinctly that I was going to stop functioning as a human being. I started to deteriorate pretty quickly. I was a fuck up. I managed to fuck my only shot at earth totally up. And there was nothing I could do about it. The shadows that lingered above my head closed in on me. I couldn't see. Or hear. Or breathe. In October of this year, I ended up in the psych ward for a suicide attempt.

When I got out, I was actually sort of happy that I didn't die. Unfortunately, when I got out, I lost a pretty good chunk of my friends.

I wasn't really surprised by it, actually. A majority of my friends where the type of people who had Pintrest perfect homes, read their bibles with diligence, and did not try to kill themselves. Or at the very least struggle with depression. It became painfully, and embarrassingly obvious, that I didn't fit in with them. At all. I was such an awkward little thing. With a morbid twisted heart, with dark eyes and a strange ability to begin crying for absolutely no reason. Me, among a picture perfect family who, for lack of better terms, appeared to have their shit together. 

The demise of our friendship was bound to happen. I just wasn't good enough.

After a hard loss of friendships, I began therapy sessions. For the first time in my life; she mentioned something to me that has been sticking with me. My depression is not my fault. 

Woah, woah, woah. What? Depression. The dark dingy creature I have carried around with me for my entire life...isn't my fault? Not only was it not my fault; she believes that I am STRONG and SUPER HUMAN to continue to push through life despite my depression. ME?! Strong? Super human?!

Never in my entire life has anyone used those words to describe my depression. Especially my Christian friends, I was not strong. I was weak. And wasn't enough. And if I just pushed my self a little harder, read more bible, prayed more goddamn fucking prayers God will help me. And if you fall, it's because you are a broken human being.

And I am a broken human being, but I was so enamored by the fact that someone praised me for getting up out of bed that morning. For washing a dish in my sink. For not quitting my job yet. For being a responsible pet owner. For washing my hair. For not driving my car off the bridge on the way home from work. Someone was proud of me. Despite my manic episodes. Despite my consistently negative comments. Despite my tears. Despite my completley fucked dating life, despite my drinking habits. Someone was proud of me for staying alive. Someone knew how hard it is for me to stay alive.

It was what my heart had been craving for so long. Understanding of my disease. Understanding of how truely fucking heroic I am when getting out of bed every morning requires super human strength, and for the most part, I get out of bed every morning. I am a god damn warrior. A fighter. I fight the snarling, angry monster of depression with vigor, and this has to be done down to seconds of my day.

Am I angry at some of my former "friends" for not understanding this? Yep. I get really pissed off. But, I have to remind myself, like with any disease; you can't know unless you experience it. So, for those of my friends who have stuck by me, or for those who struggle with the age old question on how to love my ever so depressed friend, here is a list of some dos and don'ts for you.

1.Tell them they are amazing for getting out of bed. Or washing their dishes. When you have depression, even the most mundane tasks such as putting a way your shoes, or picking up an empty beer can off the table can become a task so daunting it feelings like knitting a tapestry or running a marathon. Maybe you don't get a fucking party every time you clean your house, but a person with depression at least deserves a pat on the back. Because they fucking rocked it.

2. You wouldn't tell someone their cancer, or diabetes, or lupus or whatever other disease was their fault, and you certainly wouldn't tell them to just "get over it." Depression is real. And it hurts real bad. It's effects even escalate to actual physical ailments such as stomach aches, back aches, and sleep deprivation apart from just feeling fucking sad. If you treat your depressed friend as if they are the cause of their depression, you are setting them up for failure.

3. Don't tell a friend they need more Jesus. That's setting them up for the biggest failure of all. I think spirituality plays a huge part in a wholesome life. But it won't save you from depression. God doesn't normally save people from cancer, or diabetes, or magically grow back their missing fucking leg. He won't help you with depression. Because so many people, for so long had me convinced that if I just prayed enough, God would heal me- I once again believed it was my fault. God wasn't healing me because it was all my fault. Nope. There might be about a million other reasons why God won't heal a sick person (that's a topic we can divulge in another blog) but it being your fault is NOT one of them.

4. There is no motivation like someone who believes in you. If you see a depressed friend's house has gotten so out of control messy that you don't know how their living it in without contracting a serious bacterial infection, go over there and help them clean it. Wash a dish for them. Paint a picture for their wall with them. Hell, get in the shower and help them wash their hair. The whole time, do this with a YOU CAN DO THIS attitude. They won't believe you, but once they've actually done it, well, eventually they'll have to.

5. Don't lose hope when they fuck up. They might fuck up for a while. They might drink too much, or call their ex girlfriend. They might end up back in the psych ward, they might become manic and yell at you for no reason at all. I'm not saying these things are excusable. But they will happen. And don't lose hope. Firmly remind them to cut it out- but love them dearly through it. They will feel a tiny bit better knowing you're still there, even after you've monumentally screwed up again. And again. And oh wait, jesus christ, again. With depression it's always again. But it'll be ok.

6. Remind them of their strengths and talents. They'll be embarrassed and shut you down- but deep down we want to hear it. We want to hear to genuinely and frequently that we are not dark fucked up little beings and that we actually have a space in this world.

7. We understand when you need space. But try to imagine, if you need space from us, how the hell do you think we feel? We're stuck with us all the time. 24/7. We don't get to escape (but god damnit we will try!). We will be sad if you ask for space, but we will understand. But come back.

8. Unfriending someone who has depression because of their depression is just as shitty as unfriending someone because they have cancer. There isn't a way around it, so don't pretend like you did someone a fucking favor. If you must unfriend someone because their depression is too much for you: make that clear. That this is about YOU, not them. Without this assurance you are speaking nothing but the same rhetoric in which they struggle with constantly, "you are not enough, this is your fault."

9. HAVE FUN WITH THEM. Laugh at their jokes. Laugh at their depression. Laugh at their messy house and strange obsession with their cat. Go with them to the forest, climb in bed with them at 10am on a saturday morning. Paint with them. Hold them. Cry with them. Entangle yourself in their sad little life. They will thank you for it. And we need it.

10. We understand more than anyone when you fuck up. We get it. Fucking up is sort of our thing. We know when you're trying.We do.

And thank you, to the friends who try. To the friends who tell me I'm amazing for walking three feet across their kitchen floor, who are happy when I'm in their house, who order pizza for me because they love me, and I love pizza. You guys are gems. One of a kind. My true family. My loves.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Small Wooden Boat

Small Wooden Boat

Yesterday, a stranger rubbed my back for about three seconds
when she thanked me for telling her
that the bookstore next door to my work
had closed down.
She had driven there with her family all the way from Michigan.

It was the happiest I can remember being in months.

What I'm trying to say is,
I miss being touched so badly
that the warmth of a strange woman's hand on my back
was it's own month long affair.
with mistakes and beauty and concert halls and
waiting by the phone
and waiting by the phone
and waiting by the phone.

Last night,
I saw your picture again.
The details in your face,
exactly how I remember.
The wrinkles from laughing too hard,
the space between your slightly parted lips
reminded me of moonshine
and looked as pretty as the night you first let me touch you.

I don't need to look at your photograph anymore though,
because the image of you is forever burned behind my eyelids.
It seeps in the cracks of my broken heart,
it is my song now-
I am my mother's daughter.
I can't tell the difference between love and rage
and nooses so often look like marriage proposals.
and gunshot wounds look like red lipstick kisses.
I am the broken-hearted.
I am the fool
that fucked a married woman
and fell in love with her.

I fucked a married woman and fell in love with her.

She invented a woman's body.
She invented brushing her finger tips along my collar bone.
she invented nipples and heavy breathing and sex shivers.
She invented my internal organs closing in on itself
every time I miss her.
and I miss her every time.

I miss her glasses
and her soft shoulders,
and her drippy faucets and broken windows
and how her ship couldn't withstand raging waters.

But, I believe ships were meant for sailing,
so I remade a small wooden one from the leftover scraps of me.
My achor has since been rendered useless,
but, my small wooden boat lets me cry
and sails me slow.
It lets me be alone,
lets me spell out star words and moon songs
and never scoffs at me for missing you.

I believe that time heals all
but time is too fucking slow
so I'm taking my boat across seas
to find me a new coast.

I want to be cleansed of everything that speaks you.
I want the salty seas to rub the dirt of fucking you off my body.
I want to lay on it's naked shores and believe in God again.
I want a new song.
I want a new poem.
I want a new mouth and new eyes
and I want to be able to get out of bed in the morning.
and when it do, it having nothing to do with you.

Because I still had hands before I met you,
and they still know how to hold a paint brush
and point to constellations
and write vigorously in water stained notebooks
and move like a conductor's when I talk about
feminist theory
or how much I love Cher
or how humpback whales sing to each other
in a language we were never meant to understand.

Look at me living without you.

So I'll take my wooden boat.
and I'll sail the seas and point to constellations
and paint the colors I see
and shout broken heart poems to Orion
and he'll stick them all in his belt
and thank me for my wooden ship words.

I'll shout back "but it's so tiny!"
and he'll say, "I know! that's what makes it wonderful!"

So to the shattered hearts,
build your tiny wooden boat
and sail the blood red seas,
like you were born the captain of your ship,
The stars and oceans will thank you for your vigor.

and you will have never looked so beautiful.

So sail, Goddamnit. Sail.

Friday, September 20, 2013


It was 1997 when I first heard the word
That same year,
two small boys with water guns
accidentally got my third grade teachers white t shirt soaking wet,
I realized I was one.

It was also the same year
I understood that even the uttering the word 
made others crumple their noses in disgust,
and made me crumple like trash on the side walk.
It was the year I started to recite the same prayer

over and over again

like it's rhythm and repetition
would somehow take my
dangerous, twisting dancing DNA
and flatten it straight.
I prayed that prayer till my hands bled and my knees were sore.

Then, my prayer started sounding a lot like
a secret I'd take to my grave.

And for the next fifteen years
I learned that silence is the loudest noise you'll ever hear.
for the next fifteen years,
I was imprisioned to posters of male Abercombie models
and short skirts
and letting a college football player
disregard my virginity
and use me the same way he used barbells
in his beloved fucking gym.

See to me, being defiled was a part of being straight
and I thought it would be easier
than to speak the truth.
Because I thought
telling the truth would be the same as regurgitating razor blades,

So in it stayed.

In the closet.

It wasn't until I spent my last four years of college
attending a christian church,
when I decided a closet was no place for a human being.
And church was just another closet.

when my jesus-loving friends said, “i'll pray for you”
I pretended they meant “I'll pray you'll be accepted, "
or "i'll pray you'll finally experience your first love"
or "i'll pray you have awesome amazing earth shattering lesbian sex.”
But I knew what they were praying for.
Because it was the same prayer I used to recite in my bedroom when I was nine years old
Dear God, please don't make me gay
God please don't make me be gay

I don't recite that prayer anymore.

Because now, here's what I know about God,
he his bigger than heterosexuality.
Because there is nothing holier
than another naked woman's body entangled with mine
moving rhythmically like ships in the sea
and that rhythm and repetition,
we borrowed from the sky,
we move together like moons move tides up and down the shore.
And God made that shit.

It's beautiful.

And if that's what I have to say every single day
to urge women hiding underneath the ship,
to get out on the raft, and look at the fucking stars
I'll scream for oceans.

If that's what I have to say to dislodge a bullet about to shatter another gay teenager's skull,
I'll whisper it into every hand that ever held a gun to her own temple.

Today, I am out
Today, I am gayer than ever.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

a poem for the broken hearted.

This is a poem for the broken hearted.
For the abandon.
For heavy eyelids,
and led boots.
This is a poem for those who wonder
if they'll ever be able to shake the thought of their ex-lover.
But pray they never do.

This is a poem for those who's hearts have been broken so much,
that it only pumps sawdust into your veins.
For the constantly hazy eyed,
constantly drunk,
constantly stomach punched
constantly hurt.

Constantly changing the songs on your ipod
because every single one reminds you of her.

Because she has branded a hole the shape of herself into your soul.
Left you so fucking broken,
even God looks at you and shrugs his shoulders.

Somedays, you will wish your snooze button was a noose.
Somedays, you the only thought more unbearable
than the ones about her,
are the ones where your mother is watching your bloody shirt
tumble in the dryer.
And somedays, youre worried even that thought won't keep you alive.

But listen,
you are not a human sacrifice.
I am not a human sacrifice.
I will no longer bleed in your name.
I will no longer drive past your fucking house,
and I will no longer look for you every time I go to a coffee shop.
And I will no longer look at red ford focuses
hoping you're behind the steering wheel.
You're never behind the steering wheel.
I will no longer cry after I have an orgasm.

I will no longer imagine that the girls I fuck are you.
I will no longer fuck girls.
See, I'm 24 years old and I still think love
is in the front drawer of a one night stand.

Every morning for me is empty,
dwelling in a place where the sun never rises.
Because some days, I still think you were the one who put the sun there
in the first place.
This is a poem for the broken hearted.
I know that time is your friend now,
and it seems like she even broke the hands on your clock,
but the crow bar she jambed up underneath your ribcage,
will rattle loose again.
And that shit hurts even when it's coming back out.
And every time someone says to me “it gets better”
I kinda want to punch them in the throat,
but it gets better.
after a while.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


When I was in the fourth grade,
I had to go to school with a brand new,
black and blue accessory.
A big fat lip.

Teachers and pupils alike
would cock their heads to one side and ask,
“what happened to you? Why is your lip bruised?”

Oh nothing, I would say.
I fell off my bike.
I had a crazy dream about a magic carpet
and fell out the top bunk.
I fought the school bully and won,
and she was only able to swing one punch
before I creamed her.
I was out late at light wrestling wolves in my backyard
after a night of running toward the moon
and howling at Orion's belt.
I saved a family of drowning deer by stretching my body
across a raging river,
and those deer weren't very careful with their feet.

I climbed Everest in a hailstorm,
The turbulence in my rocket ship to the moon was pretty rough,
I lent my face to a group of bees
who only knew how to dance on lips,

God Himself reached down from the heavens,
to kiss me right on the mouth,
forgetting how small I was compared to Him.

What really happened to my black and blue lip
in the fourth grade?

My tiny freckled body was just at the wrong place,
at the wrong time
like too often children are,
and my own mother bounced my face off a sliding glass window.

Her bony and sleepy fingers on the back of my neck,
was burning hot,
made me feel like a baby calf being branded.
And after my teeth met glass,
and I couldn't believe the blood pooling in the palm of my hand,
was mine.

But I know there was nothing harder,
than trying to raise a son and three daughters
when your husband is your own personal prison warden.
See, my father loved my mother
like he loved a punching bag.

Her heart was his dartboard,
and after so many darts,
you just can't feel your heart anymore.

And you hurt the ones you love,
no matter how helpless.

I know how that goes, momma.
By now I'm an expert.
I know that if hearts really did break when they were broken,
mine would be gun powder.

And yours might be flour.
And our guns and cupcakes were loud,
but my father's anger was louder.


I forgive you.

Because every punch is a poem,
and every poem is reprieve
and every reprieve is forgiveness.
And sometimes words from a nine year old girl with a fat lip
are heavier than a dying star.
But we are not dead yet,
so don't lay down like you are.


Shine like Andromeda just got a new haircut,
and is dancing to salsa music and sipping wine
out of the big dipper.

Shine like you just got your braces off.
Shine like you have enough rocket fuel to reach to the moon,
and you still got more.
Shine like the cute girl in class just got a locker assigned next to yours.

Shine like you finally realize you don't have to hide your scars,
or your cellulite
or your pubic hair.

But, don't shine like the fireworks on the fourth of July,
shine like the fireflies
who were still not embarrassed to light up among them.

Shine like you have no where left to go.

Because we will always wrestle wolves in the night.
And you will always be my mother,
and I know we were never meant to save each other,
but the bees will dance on our lips,
and we will always have a way of seeing home
like we were looking at it from the moon.

Our poems are forgiveness,
and my father is a different story,
but, mom, I forgive you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Delete this if I die.

Delete this if I die.

Before she left I asked her,
“kiss me.”
What I wish I would have said was,

kiss me everywhere.

Kiss my eyelids
kiss my fingernails
kiss the the scars on my arms
kiss the part inside where my knee bends.
Kiss the marrow in my bones,
the air in my lungs,
and kiss the tendons that hold it all together.

I want your lips on every inch of me.
I want my body to be the hiking trails
for your mouth.
I want your lips to graze over my cellulite mountains
and my stretch mark rivers.

I want your tongue to read my goosebumps like braille.

Because your lips are the Sunday morning I spent in bed,
when I should have been in church.
Your lips are the moment lighting meets sand
to make the stained glass in the windows,
that I want you and I to shatter.

Your lips are the moment I forget to breathe.
And I want your lips them all over me.

You are a woman I really like
And by like
I mean your wind stripped the shingles off my roof.
And I thought your tornado to be sweet.
It ripped me apart,
but made the sound of a moth fluttering around a light bulb.
Your tornado tore my identity to shreds,
and it was better than heroin.

And if my friends knew,
I'd be burned at the stake.
But I don't give a fuck now,
because you have set me on fire.

Set me on fire, baby.
I want to be ashes spread across your bones.
Because I'd rather be ashes than to never know
what it was like to have your body on top of mine.
And I'm glad I do.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


The sun burst through that morning as if it nothing to hide. “I am the sun.” it said with such vengeance and pride, my heart skipped a beat. I clutched my left nipple ring, as I often do, when I think about the way your body looked in your red pea coat. The way your body looked in that pea coat at the Tuesday afternoon meeting. You were unapologetic, just like that six in the morning sun. The way you spoke through your red lips absolutely set me on fire. Now, though, you speak nothing to me through those lips. And the silence is like a jail cell. I ache to set them free. I ache to part your lips, help you speak with my tongue on yours. I think our taste buds would rub together like fingers on braille and the words would float into the sky like a bird takes flight for the first time; so wild and free and orgasmic. Your body would become a kingdom at which I am merely a peasant, yet I would make use of every part of it. I would dress up the living room, make cozy the guest room, and I would fuck the living day lights out of you in our bedroom.

I would touch every bit of you. You would whisper my name at every square inch. Your red lip stick would have since evaporated away, but I still know those lips. Those lips are my pipe dream, my main artery, my soul. Like the wings of Samothrace. Your winged victory ignited this world. This passion. My clit.

My part swollen and crying and only, you left. You left. You left. Not the way a bird leaves slowly and patiently. Not the way the leaves fall gently from the trees of Autumn. You left like doors slammed shut, like glass breaking, like me carving “unloved” into my upper thigh with my Swiss army knife the night I couldn't sleep. You left like the way a house burns down unexpectedly, or a heart stops for no apparent reason. You left. And with you, took much of me.

You are only a smoke signal of a memory I can barely hold on to. Mainly because it never happened. The phrase, “I still love you” marks the novel of my everyday. Like a cobweb of my bones, they are settled in the crevasse of my everything. I push my tender legs through life, still. I wake up, I go to work, I come home, I cook dinner, I go to bed with a book and a miller light. But you still manage to seep your way into the margins. I didn't ask, though, you leak in. You are nothing but a dirty syringe. I found you in the pocket of a drunk. I touched you gently, you were smooth to the touch, and nearly painless to my skin. But, when I injected you, God sent me straight to hell on a rickety old railroad cart.

The problem was, that railroad cart vibrated against me in just the right way. Your sin, your evil, your war, touched me only in slight jest, how could I have known the difference? Your lips where a holocaust disguised as a sunrise.

How was I to know?

Merely a human being on a earth of deities. Merely a slave to your every breath. How. How was I to know? I am a big girl, yet have proved to be so weak in the flesh of my own body. The skin, the organs the sinew, in which I live with everyday. I have somehow managed to be captive of my very own self. To my very own name. A slave. A slave. A slave.

And a slave never hears freedoms brush across her ears like the cool breeze of today. A slave is shackled, torn apart, unloved. A slave bows down to the very essence in which she hates.

But, there is a twinge of hope that rests between my lower abdomen and my diaphragm. I can barely feel it, as it is the size of a mustard seed. It only barely sometimes scrapes up against me. Causing my nerve endings to rustle like wind blowing through a soy field. So slight. Almost unnoticed. These words:

what is a servant, but a slave?