“Explaining my Depression to my Mother” by Sabrina Benaim
When she recited this poem, it was around 2014, based on my research of the YouTube video attached at the bottom if this post. 3 years later in 2017, she published her well-known book that has helped so many people gain the courage to attempt to explain their mental condition to a friend or family member.
Trying to explain to someone about what is going on inside your head is NOT an easy task, as many of you may know who have been through the same experience. Especially when most of the time we don’t even understand the feelings ourselves. Perhaps that’s why Benaim wrote this poem – to more accurately explain. Her words depict perfect metaphors of what it is like at times to feel yourself slipping into depression, and then being stuck in it. Many people tell you to ‘calm down’ or ‘lighten up’ or ‘give it to God!’ – all phrases that undermine the true experience of what it is like being trapped in your dark shell. In your head, all you can reply is – “Yeah, if it were able to think that way or feel that way, then I would – it’s not that simple – you haven’t lived it.” By reading and listening to poetry, such as Sabrina Benaim’s, it provides us with a sense of comfort that you are not the only one going through something like this and it helps you to relate to something, and maybe even explain it better yourself. If it helps, even try playing the video to the person that you are trying to explain to and tell them how it relates to you.
The advice I can give you is to use an appropriate tone of voice to explain your thoughts/feelings the best way that you can. When doing this, it’s important to set clear boundaries and clearly state what you need or what your expectations out of the conversation are. For example, starting the conversation with “I need to get something off of my chest…I am asking for help and asking for you to be a positive support in my life – what I need is for you to answer the phone when I call and just listen – after this conversation, I hope you understand better about how I am feeling and are maybe able to give me some insight or advice.”
Explaining My Depression to My Mother (Transcript)
One day it’s as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear
The next it’s the bear
On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone
I call the bad days “the Dark Days”
Mom says, “try lighting candles”
But when I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church
The flicker of a flame
Sparks of a memory younger than noon
I am standing beside her open casket
It is the moment I learn every person I ever come to know will someday die
Besides Mom, I’m not afraid of the dark, perhaps that’s part of the problem
Mom says, “I thought the problem was that you can’t get out of bed”
I can’t, anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head
Mom says, “Where did anxiety come from?”
Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town that depression felt obligated to invite to the party
Mom, I am the party, only I am a party I don’t want to be at
Mom says, “Why don’t you try going to actual parties, see your friends”
Sure I make plans, I make plans but I don’t want to go
I make plans because I know I should want to go; I know sometimes I would have wanted to go
It’s just not that fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun, Mom
You see, Mom, each night Insomnia sweeps me up in his arms, dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stove-light
Insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company
Mom says, “Try counting sheep”
But my mind can only count reasons to stay awake
So I go for walks, but my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms with loose wrists
They ring in my ears like clumsy church bells, reminding me I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness that I cannot baptize myself in
Mom says, “Happy is a decision”
But my happy is as hollow as a pin pricked egg
My happy is a high fever that will break
Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then flat out asks me if I am afraid of dying
No Mom I am afraid of living
Mom I am lonely
I think I learned that when Dad left how to turn the anger into lonely the lonely into busy
So when I say I’ve been super busy lately I mean I’ve been falling asleep watching SportsCenter on the couch
To avoid confronting the empty side of my bed
But my depression always drags me back to my bed
Until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city
My mouth a boneyard of teeth broken from biting down on themselves
The hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with echoes of a heartbeat
But I am just a careless tourist here…
#10 Airbnb Users Opening Homes for Free to Hurricane Florence Victims
It’s so amazing to see the world coming together in a time of natural disaster and devastation for so many families. Over 300 homes in Alabama and Pennsylvania are opening up their doors for Hurricane Florence evacuees, for free! Airbnb is closely involved, stating that this option on their website will be open until October 1st, 2018.
If you are someone that wants to get involved and open your home to a family in need, visit airbnb.com/disaster and click “I can offer my space for free.”
If you or someone you know are in need of relief from the storm, you can find a list of all free, open spaces at: Current Open Homes.
Take the time today to reflect on your health, safety, and loved ones – we never know when a natural (or unnatural) disaster will happen. I know I am counting my blessings this week and making sure I stay in contact with a family member I have in North Carolina. If any of you know anyone involved in the Carolina’s, I hope for their safety and peace of mind.
#9 Teen Girl Saved From Sex Trafficking by Local Postal Worker
I recently read a chilling story about how a 40-year old postal worker in Sacramento, California heard a young girl crying behind a tree while he was out on delivery. What he came to find out, it that 16 year old, Crystal, jumped from a car where she was being sex trafficked. Postal worker, Ivan, who is a Father of 4 turned on his parenting instincts and truly was a hero to Crystal, taking her in and helping her call her Mother and the police. All it takes is ONE person to help save a life. Let that person be you.
Read the full story at: Teen Says Postal Worker Saved Her From Sex Trafficking
If you or someone you know have been/are a victim of sex trafficking, call 1.888.373.7888 to speak with someone at the National Sex Trafficking Hotline or visit humantraffickinghotline.org.
#8 Wedding Organized for Man With Heart Failure During His Final Days
The best part about this story, is that it was organized by complete strangers! So amazing how a small community came together in under a week to help a man, Phillip, who had congestive heart failure make his 3 wishes come true; one of them being, to marry his partner, Tiffany. Just a couple of days later, Phillip passed away, however, his dreams came true. Life is all about making the most out of the time that we have.
Read the full story at: Strangers Organize Wedding For a Man with Failing Heart.
What did you do today to work toward your dreams? It’s never too late to start planning.
#7 Homeless Man Lands the Job With Help From a Police Officer
I’ll just leave this here! It makes me so happy when people find opportunity, especially when perfect strangers are there to help out along the way. Click the link: Police Officer Helps Homeless Man Get a Job at McDonalds to read/watch the whole news story. In summary, a police officer in Florida helps a homeless man “clean up” for an interview when they both see a job recruiter on the street…and the results are awesome.
#6 7 Year Old Boy Starts ‘Underground Railroad’ to Save Thousands of Dogs From Kill Shelters
I don’t know about all of you, but I am such an animal-lover! This news story is so lovable. Follow the link for a story titled: 7 Year Old Boy Starts ‘Underground Railroad’ to Rescue over 1,000 Dogs From Kill Shelters.
The story outlines how a young boy and his Mom work together to rescue dogs from being euthanized/put-down and how far they travel to do so. They call it “Project Freedom Ride”. Amazing! Just the story I needed for a little pick-me-up today. Hope you enjoy it as well!
#5 Evidence Proves That Your Dog Cares For Your Safety and Will Run to Action
We all like to convince ourselves that our pets love us just like we love them, even though they can’t say it. Good thing they show it twice as much! Love this article about an experiment done that proves your dogs feel distressed when you are distressed and will go to extensive lengths to get you help or provide you comfort.
(side tangent: people need to be more like dogs)
Read the full, heartfelt article at: More Evidence That Proves Your Dog Will Do Anything to Help When You’re Distressed
HOW TO REGISTER YOUR PET TO BECOME AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL –
I also want to leave this resource here: My Pet Certs is a great website to register your furry lifeline as an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). Benefits include:
- traveling on public transportation with your pet
- housing rights – lets you live in places that have a no-pet-policy.
- allows you to bring your pet in public (only excludes restaurants/stores)
- allows you to feel comforted/more “at ease” with your pet
- many other money-saving reasons
Another way to do this (the way I did it) is to get a “prescription” for an ESA – moreorless, your Doctor can write a letter stating why he/she thinks an ESA will be beneficial for you and notarize it to your apartment/leasing office/tenant/transportation – whomever.
(I am not biased – I am equally a dog AND a cat person) Hope you find this helpful!
#4 Bartender Serves Homeless Man Much More Than He Can Afford
Such a heartwarming, kind, and thoughtful article I read this morning about a homeless man walking into a restaurant asking what he can buy to eat with his only $2.00. The bartender responds by buying the homeless man much more than he could afford. Look at the full article/news story at: Bartender Serves Homeless Man Much More Than He Could Afford.
Simple acts of kindness go a long way! Personally, making others feel good makes me feel good about myself. Try it, and pay it forward!
#3 Stranger Helps Widow Celebrate After Seeing Him Buy Gifts in a Grocery Store
This news story melts my heart and makes me so happy that someone reached out to this older man to make his night a little bit easier. In summary, the older man is buying a bouquet of flowers and cake to celebrate his deceased wife’s birthday. The younger man catches him in the store, asking him what he is celebrating, and it turns into so much more. Read the full article at: Stranger Helps Lonely Widow Celebrate after Seeing Flowers and Cake in his Shopping Cart.
It just goes to show how much both sides can benefit by simply asking “How are you” or making small talk. You never know what someone is going through and how much talking about it can help!
#2 Dog Pushes Disabled Owner’s Wheelchair Down the Street
I think we can learn a lot from animals – they are so compassionate and loving! Take a look at this story and video about a dog in the Philippines pushing his owner in a wheelchair down the street. It makes sense why a dog is a man’s best friend! I wish people were as understanding, helpful, and loyal as animals show half the time. See the full video and story at : Dog Pushes His Disabled Owner’s Wheelchair Down the Street.
#1 Thanking police officers across America
I love this story about a young boy thanking police officers, who so far has traveled to 31 states to do so. Such a sweet and meaningful gesture. He first got the idea when he saw 4 police officers in his local grocery store and offered to buy them all donuts with his allowance. Check out the full article called ‘Donut Boy’ has delivered over 65k doughnuts to thank police officers across the country.
Resilience (noun): the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties
To me, life is all about resilience in the most generic form. In other words, how we respond to events, situations, feelings, etc. determines how resilient we are, and therefore, how overall happy we are. Resilience is all about bouncing back from negative situations, responding appropriately to a dilemma, and communicating with others effectively and in a healthy way. Pretty much, resilience is all about accepting, responding, and building yourself back up to contentment.
Here is a poem I love about the topic to depict it in a better way:
There is nothing beautiful
about the wreckage of a human being.
There is nothing pretty
What is beautiful is
as they display an ocean of courage
when they pick through the wreckage of their life
to build something beautiful brand new,
against every odd
that is stacked against them.
– Nikita Gill
The Journey by Mary Oliver
This is a poem I read in the new book I’ve been reading that I mentioned in a previous post, titled “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” by Sarah Wilson. I am only 15 pages in and am hooked and amazed at the power behind her words! I wanted to just quickly share a poem by Mary Oliver that she references on the 12th page, titled “The Journey.” This poem moved me to tears because it paints such a vivid picture of anxiety and the strength and determination it takes to overcome it/battle with it daily. Let me know your thoughts.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
misconception of it all…
You know those days where it feels like no-one really gets it? They say they do, but their actions show that they really don’t? Yeah…I’m having one of those days. Here is a piece that came to me so quick, I wrote it in my journal in about 2 minutes and the pen didn’t stop moving. Here is the word vomit:
What rhymes with anxiety?
What rhymes with society?
. . .
Silently watching like they’re at the zoo
Why does it feel like no-one has a clue?
Watching, waiting for our next “unpredictable” move
– – how about simply asking “how are you?”
The ONLY word I can describe it as is – melting, overwhelming, depressing, rebelling, dwelling…
. . .
Who is there, helping?
Who is trying to understand instead of judge?
How about we show some compassion before we misinterpret and misjudge?
. . .
Just because in the moment it doesn’t feel like anyone is listening, doesn’t mean it’s true! Emotions can feel heavy, but we have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. People DO care, whether we want to believe it at the moment or not. Yes, I act out on my first emotion at times also, but being able to write poetry and journal allows me to ‘spill’ everything I am thinking out onto paper and therefore help me prioritize and rationalize a little bit better. When I read what I write back to myself, it all doesn’t feel so “big/heavy” as it originally did. I’ll end it on this:
Today I am grateful for:
- Having people in my life who DO care and WILL listen, all I have to do is ask appropriately.
- Having a job where I can help others with mental struggles.
- Being able to rationalize my emotions better than I used to.
cleaning out the closet…
My previous blog post gave me some inspiration! Love when this happens. The poetry that I always love most are the ones that came to me spontaneously, without straining myself to come up with something to write.
Looking through the designer hole in the wall
Asking why I ever needed these at all.
Still with tags 70% of clothes hang
I keep them in belief I will wear them and change.
. . .
Looking through the hole that stores my mind
Asking why I always feel the need to rewind.
Still is my body as I sort through these thoughts.
Realizing they are all self-taught.
. . .
It’s not too late to return these, I reassure myself
Think about it, if you do, you will have more wealth.
As I start cleaning out the closet, I feel lighter
It’s time to start fresh, the future is brighter.