Lock Box

A few months ago, I bought a lock box to use on days I’m feeling especially defeated. You set it for a certain amount of time, and the box will not open until that time has passed. There are no loopholes or ways around this: trust me, I have tried. When the urges are screaming in my head and drowning out all logic, I lock away my medicines, razor blades and anything else I might use to hurt myself.

Doing this takes an indescribable amount of self-control, especially in those moments when all hope seems lost.

I don’t know whether to be ashamed or proud of myself.



Suicide has always been a part of my life, long before I fully understood its magnitude or permanency.

Looming over my head, lurking in the walking-on-eggshell good days and overpowering all else on days bad, until it slowly seeped into every pore of my being.

Suicide taught me to drive at age 13, up and down dark roads at night searching for my mother. Peering down over bridges, terrified at the thought of finding her yet somehow more afraid I wouldn’t.

Mourning my father, trembling in his jacket as I inhaled the familiar mixture of leather and cigarette smoke. My heart leapt when he came home a few days later, my absolute elation masking my blood-stained bewilderment. Holding him as tight as I could until its next attack.

Suicide taught me the true meaning of fear.

Uncertainty. A chill down your spine.

A threat keeping me in line. A sense of impending doom.

Abandonment. Turmoil. Anger. Despair.

Is it any wonder tops of tall buildings mock me on my way to class and rusty dissection tools call my name?

Whether it resides beneath my skin, whispering in my ear or walks one step behind me, biting at my heels varies day-to-day…

But it’s always there. Waiting. Watching.

I long to be free of its grasp.  I envy those with a will to live.

And yet…
It’s comforting in its familiarity.

Like a childhood blanket, fraying at the edges, suicide wrapped me in its embrace through every dark night of my childhood– a twisted element of consistency through the chaos.

Without suicide, how could I face the past? The present? The future?

What would be left of me?


Rest In Peace

As the morning light peeks through the window and you stir into consciousness, sometimes for a fleeting second, you forget.

But you are jerked back into reality as your heart begins to pound– head spinning, choking back acid, muscles aching, nerves burning.

Most days, you lie there for a while, trying to breathe through the pain and gather enough strength to go on about your morning routine.

But a big part of you wonders why you bother to get up at all.

You drag yourself from bed to fight the same battles each day. No end in sight, simply running on a treadmill uphill, hoping to maintain an unfortunate baseline.

It all just becomes so, so very tiresome.

Your physical health continues to deteriorate as your spirit is crushed under the weight of a crumbling sense of self.

You know there are people you would let down if you were to leave. There are those who would suffer if you were to suddenly cease to exist.

So you press on, trying to ignore the fact that you’re trapped– fake smile, one foot in front of the other.

As time passes, your increasing inability to keep up with the world pulls you deeper and deeper into the pit of isolation.

People grow up, get married, move away, retire, or simply forget your existence completely.

You watch as everyone you love fades away.

As night falls and you are left alone with your thoughts, your chest aches with the thought of how alone you have become.

You feel the sting of being unwanted, unneeded, outgrown, forgotten, abandoned.

But as the night turns to dawn, you realize there is no one left to let down. Or at least, there is no one who would have life ripped out from under them if you were to no longer be.

Your body is broken– your very being exhausted and worn– but you close your eyes and let out a sigh of relief.

Tears gilde down your cheeks and a smile slowly creeps across your face as you realize you may finally rest in peace.


[Just some musings from a brain and body currently consumed by painsomnia. No worries– I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Keep fighting, guys.. ❤ ]

Nobody Wins When Everyone’s Losing

You know those songs that just capture your attention, reach into the depths of your soul & hit you at your core?  Yes, that was a very dramatic introduction– I’m aware. 😉 But this particular song, “Not Meant To Be” by Theory Of A Deadman is definitely one of those songs for Keri, Bre & I. When everything was in a chaotic spiral & we would find ourselves so far in Borderland we didn’t know that we’d ever again see the light, there wasn’t much that could help us (or, anyone caught in the path of the storm). But this song– one step forward, two steps back– every single word is/was SO relatable & relevant to our situation. And I’m not sure if it’s that it empowered us or simply validated our feelings, but somehow, singing it always made it easier to breathe.

It’s never enough to say I’m sorry
It’s never enough to say I care
But I’m caught between what you wanted from me
And knowing that if I give that to you
I might just disappear

Nobody wins when everyone’s losing…

It’s like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do, you’re always mad
And I, I can’t change your mind
I know it’s like trying to turn around on a one-way street
I can’t give you what you want
And it’s killing me
And I, I’m starting to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be

It’s never enough to say I love you
No, it’s never enough to say I try
It’s hard to believe
That’s theres no way out for you and me
And it seems to be the story of our lives

Nobody wins when everyone’s losing…


There’s still time to turn this around
You could be building this up instead of tearing it down
But I keep thinking
Maybe it’s too late


It’s like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do, you’re always mad
And I, baby I’m sorry to see
Maybe we’re not meant to be…


bipolar disorder.

manic crisis.


i’m on my way.

daddy, are you in there?

daddy, please.




wild eyes.

frothing mouth.

it’s a coin toss.

she’s pushed against wall.

pull him off.

back again.

he’s so strong.



i’ll remove my hands.


out on the deck.

cool breeze.

hot breath.

penis against my back.


so loud.

where’s the dog?

fist fight.

neighbors scared.

quiet scheming.


yes, we are safe.

lying through our teeth.


psychotic break.

smile and nod.

where is this coming from?

don’t take it to heart.

feel so shattered.

no sleep.

how many days has it been?


hushed whispering.


crushing drugs.

spiking drinks.

laugh or you’ll cry.

share a blanket.

now he’s coming.

pretend you’re asleep.


sexual advances.

heart is racing.

vivid flashbacks.


not taking no for an answer.

daddy, please stop.


you don’t want to hurt her, daddy.

you don’t want to hurt me, daddy.


run away.

no shoes.






please don’t leave me.



is this really happening?


flashing lights.


well-practiced lies

please see through us.

are we doing the right thing?

secret recordings.

so much unknown.



no way out.


don’t touch her there.

don’t touch me there.

can’t breathe.

hold my hand.

white knuckles.


torn clothing.

haven’t showered in days.

mascara streaks.

scraped up knees.

red eyes.

trembling lips.




gotta reach him somehow.

it’s me, your daughter.

i love you, daddy.

bruises around my neck.


car rides.



please don’t look.

don’t look away.

can we do this?

patient shows up.

no hiding now.


shattered glass.

my body, a shield.

please, daddy, stop.

don’t hurt him.

don’t hurt me.

please leave.

i don’t need your help.




strips down naked.

sir, please cooperate.

mom sent away.

daddy, i’m here.

daddy, i’ll stay with you.

daddy, please trust me.


raspy voice.

shake my hand.

talking in circles.

ambulance ride.

front seat.

monitoring his vitals.

god, can you hear me?



he pulls my hair.

grabs my arm.

just a rag doll.

stay calm.

steady voice.

talk to doctors.



(To be continued…)

One Small Step

Yesterday, on a sunny, clear-skied afternoon, a member of our Wolfpack family took a step that ended his life.  Joseph Alexander Banks, or “Joey,” trekked up to the tall balconies of Dabney Hall and fell nine stories to his ultimate demise.

Today I sat in a private memorial.  On a swing outside of Dabney, I looked to the roof, closed my eyes and said a prayer.  

For him and for everyone whose existence was ended so violently.  

For everyone who has looked or will look up to the rooftops wishing they, too, could take the leap.  

For everyone whose voice has been stolen, the stigma around mental illness binding them in silence.

For everyone who has fallen or will fall victim to the darkness.  

For everyone who slipped through the cracks, pushed aside until it was too late.

For everyone who envied the dead, feeling the wait for the end was far too long.

For everyone whose soul was so heavy, they could not feel the warm sun and cool breeze on their skin.

For everyone out there who feels they are past the point of saving — too far gone.

For a suffocating brokenness.  For a fallen word.

People like Joey are not as rare as some may like to believe.  They are all around us…in our classes, in our streets…perhaps even in the mirror…

The difference between Joey and I is one small step. 

One step from the top to the bottom.  

One step from life to death.

One breath.

One decision.

One final goodbye.

Just one small step.

One small step can end a life…but not all hope is lost.  One small step can save a life, too.  

A smile.  A conversation.  A kind heart.  An open mind.

Will you be that one small step for someone?  

Reach out.  Be a friend.  Love your neighbor.  Step outside of your comfort zone.  Stop the stigma.

Take the time to help someone take a step back from the ledge — I dare you. 

Crisis Center, Round Two

I was escorted into a small, white room by an emotionless face in a white coat. Before I could even turn around, the big, heavy door was closed and, click, locked from the outside. With a defeated sigh, I began to take in my surroundings. White walls, white tile floor, white ceiling with a bright fluorescent light, a thin white blanket and a small white pillow placed in the corner. I walked the perimeter of the small room, running my shaking hands carefully over the walls. No windows but the one looking out to the hallway- the one they’d use to watch me…whoever “they” may be. No doorknob on the inside. No way out. I noted the smeared handprints up the wall and closed my eyes, sympathizing with all the poor souls who has been locked in that room before me. Those who, too, realized they were trapped and at the mercy of an unfeeling population of people who thought of you as little more than an inhuman burden on society. I slowly spread out my fingers and matched my handprint with one of my predecessors. The stranger and I were suddenly one…one single being united under the horrors of this torturous imprisonment. The room became a spinning white blur and I fell to my knees, fighting to keep in what little I ate for lunch. No way out. No way out.

Once the spinning ceased, I crawled to the corner and slowly began to lay out the crumpled blanket. On it were stains of brown, black and yellow. It reeked of metal and a scent I couldn’t quite put my finger on…but at that point, I was too numb to care. I curled up in a tight, shaking ball and pulled the blanket over me. I couldn’t believe I was there again. There- at the Crisis Center- a place I prayed I’d never have to think about again, never mind be held prisoner. Prisoner. That’s exactly what I was- a prisoner once again. But this time? There was nothing to set my sights on. No people to turn to who understood me and who loved me for who I was. No fuzzy chicks that warmed your heart and fell asleep in your hands. No fishing at the peaceful farm, casting all your cares into the still water. No screaming in the car, releasing pent-up anger and worry until you could breathe again. No sitting on the floor in pjs until two am, working to make sense of the world and all it holds. No more laughing until we cried or crying until we laughed. No more heartfelt hugs or empathetic eye-contact. No more inside jokes. No more happy music. No more family. There was no light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel…no. Not this time. I could feel it in every fiber of my being.

Before I knew what was happening, hysterical and unyielding shrieks began to escape my mouth. I pressed the dirty blanket to my lips and screamed until I could scream no longer. At some point, someone switched off the light…from the outside, of course, and I was left there in the darkness of the strange, square room.

Eventually, the screaming ceased. I carefully pulled the blanket away from my mouth, rolled over, and caught my reflection in the light above. I stretched out my arm and tried to touch the face staring back at me. She did the same. Hot, salty tears ran down the sides of my face, soaking the pillow, and she cried with me. We looked at each other for a while. She had a sad, distant look in her eyes…alive on the outside, but dead in spirit. With a heavy heart, I realized that the broken girl in my reflection was all I had left. I whispered goodnight and turned to face the wall.

I don’t remember falling asleep, but I know that I must have, because before I knew it, the girl that once kept me company was replaced by a bright light. Remembering where I was, I groaned and threw my tired arms over my eyes. I felt like I had been hit by a bus…and I wished that I had been.

Knock, knock. In entered a woman wearing bright purple scrubs and big purple earrings. She handed me what I guess was supposed to be breakfast and told me I was going to be transported within the next half hour. I sat up quickly.

“Transported where?”

She shrugged, handed me a plastic spoon, and closed the heavy door behind her. The smell of the contents of the plastic food tray filled the room, turning my stomach. I pushed it away and rolled back into my make-shift bed. All I could do at that moment was pray with all that I had in me that I would be brought back to Moses Cone. At least there I would know what to expect of them and they would know what to expect of me. In a sick sort of way, the nurses, technicians, and counselors there at Moses Cone were my family- Ms. Denise…Ms. Janine…Mr. Jim…Ms. Michelle…Ms. Lorrie…Ms. Bonnie…Ms. Amber…Ms. Janay- the only family I had left. I lied there, praying, waiting for the fateful knock at the door.

Finally, a policeman entered and said, “Someone is here to transport you to the hospital.”

“Moses Cone?” I demanded in a voice I hardly recognized.

“Yeah, I think that’s what they said.”

Tears of relief sprang to my eyes as I got up and followed him out the door- out of my cell- into the hallway. There stood a police woman, blonde ponytail, gray uniform. I put my wrists out in front of me and looked at her.

She laughed and looked me in the eyes. Wait, in the eyes? She could see me? My heart did a little leap. She could see me!

“You ready?”

I gave as much of a smile as I could muster to woman taking out the handcuffs- the first person who treated me like a human since my arrival there.

“All right, let’s go.”

(Written August 2012)