Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I have been on the brink of this sink hole
so many times,
the clams know my name.

My feet are planted firmly,
but the sands shift--the water erodes the foundation,
the brim of which I am slowly falling over.

I hear the crashing of the waves,
the shrieking of the gulls,
and I feel myself slipping like quicksand.

I see the tide come in,
and wait for the release-- the cold cloak of ocean,
                                  salt and water
                            and sand,
                  and I feel myself drowning.

I want so badly
to succumb to the darkness,
close my eyes, and just sleep.

But I can hear the laughter of children playing,
and my lungs burn for air.
I'm not ready to go, yet.

I need to laugh and play and build sandcastles.
I need to run in the sun, catch waves,
and dive for sunken treasure.

I need to be a child again.
I need to live.

I open my eyes, and struggle--
I fight and kick with all my might,
and I resurface.

I gasp for air, dry my tears,
and dream of warmer days.


It is Mental Health Awareness week, and as such, I feel the need to say something. There are a few celebrities speaking out about mental illness, trying to make a dent in the shield of shame that surrounds the topic.  Even the news channels will devote a few moments this week, discussing mental health.

People talk about sex and illness, death and life...but skim the surface of depression or anxiety, suicide and debilitating phobias. The topic makes people uncomfortable. If we don't talk about it, then it will go away. If we choose not to see it, then it doesn't exist. 

I have seen too many of my son's friends succumb to suicide. Too many young lives not fulfilled. I have lived with depression and anxiety for over 40 years, and struggled with how it affected my family and friends. I have lost friends, due to a lack of understanding--why I can't leave the house (agoraphobia); why I don't go to shopping malls (panic attacks); why I avoid parties (fear of large crowds).   

If not for the love and support of my family, I don't know what I would have done (I don't go there...). Many people aren't so lucky. They suffer in silence.

My hope is that my words (or your words...or somebody's) will reach even one person, to help that person not feel so alone. To begin to break the stigma of mental illness, there must be awareness and communication. If we can banish the fear and shame that society has used to cloak mental illness, we can begin to heal.