stigmas

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i don't remember what i was wearing. i don't remember what i brought with me. i only remember what i wasn't allowed to bring. a razor, tweezers, makeup, cell phone. they collected these things while i checked in, my parents signing the consent forms, a glossy haze over our eyes. my breath was bated, scanning the open room of the people i'd be spending an indefinite amount of time with. the hierarchy was stark and obvious. white coats ruled the land. they could come and go as they pleased - a royal privilege. the blue scrubs distributed medication. no one realized that these were the ones really running the show. their humble degrees, simple task of handing you a small pill with water and checking under your tongue - they had the power. i observed these things in the first brief moments before my mother walked me back to my room. "these rooms are typically reserved for the more disturbed" the white scrubs leaned toward my mom and said in a loud whisper, "solitary confinement." she continued to explain that they were waiting for a shared room to open up for me. "it's our busy season." whatever that means. 

the small bed with a scratchy grey blanket was in the far corner of the white room, a small table with a lamp next to it. above the bed was a large window, the whole world on the other side. this window had bars across it, god forbid i would try and exit this way, seventeen floors up. 

my mom and i sat on this springless mattress, fighting feeling anything. how can a mother be equipped to say goodbye to her daughter in a solitary room in a psychiatric ward in a local hospital? how can a daughter be prepared to stay strong for her mom while her own world is walling up in front of her? the answer is that one cannot be prepared for this circumstance, we gave in and ended up crying until we couldn't anymore. she squeezed my hand and left. as the door closed behind her the walls seemed to shrink in. 

the following week exists in my memory as a black and grey watercolor painting, left outside in the rain. knocks on my door woke me up every few hours to be refilled with tranquilizers. i could barely carry myself to the common area. "it'll help you to socialize. watch TV with the others." i felt like i was deep under water, creatures around me were inanimate, they talked but it might as well have been heavy rocks dropped into the ocean. 

i met with a team of however qualified whomevers, sitting around a long table, they asked me questions about my health. there were no study notes for this quiz. my new roommate gave me hints to the answers. she'd been in for months and learned the hard way how not to answer. she'd learned to say what they want to hear. 

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looking into a prism, this is a brief, flash reflection of my experience in the psychiatric hospital ten years ago. self harm and suicidal ideation took me there. 

i don't talk about this with many people. i fear the stigma that will follow. 

loaded words with blank-bullet meanings. 'crazy', 'unstable', 'weird'. these words really hold no weight as there is no true antonym that exists. 'normal' is a prerogative. 'vulnerable' is an adjective i'll allow. to me, vulnerability is bravery and trust. you're baring your weak parts to a potential threat in hopes that peace will come from it. true humanity is not to hide. i believe humanity is finding strength and sharpening it. we must realize our weaknesses and work to strengthen them. this is survival. 

here's the thing. when you look a stranger in the eyes your souls briefly connect. what's behind those blue and brown windows is a tapestry of experiences. joy, suffering, and so similar to your own. 

'weird' means a more colorful tapestry. 'crazy' means a few loose threads from use. 

throw stigmas out the window. keep judgements at bay. stories are beautiful, and your soul is even more.

please share your story. please ask for help if you need it. there are communities of people who are safe, who want to listen.

for suicide prevention week (september 10-17) Secret Midnight Press is donating 20% of profits to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (this includes sales of my book).

please remember that you are loved. please remember that it gets better. i know this because i've been there. it gets better.



i'll leave you with this friendly reminder:


my new book is coming to you in november! and with each blog post leading up to this i will be doing a contest on my instagram story. 

i will be hand-typing a new poem, and if you repost my story, you can win a signed & framed copy. 

plus the winner is entered to win a personalized copy of my new book once it's out. 






  xo,

Ashley


Listening to:

Happiness - Jonsi & Alex

 

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