I remember being 13 and experiencing my first thoughts of suicide. I remember bouncing back and between thoughts of hanging myself or overdosing on prescription painkillers. It would be safe, clean and painless. Self-inflicted pain was never my “thing.”
Museum of Thought: Poetic Perspectives in Adolescence is a poetic time capsule of my depression. My words sometimes served as a therapeutic release. It was my outlet, but oftentimes I felt that it wasn’t enough. I cried a lot in silence. When I wasn’t crying, I was writing. When I wasn’t crying or writing, I was reading. All the while, nobody in my immediate family knew. I had a few friends that knew how I felt but could only offer the type of support that kids could offer, friendships. I harbored more than my share of negative feelings and emotions.
If I allow others to tell my story, they’d assure you that I was happy. I was always smiling and being silly. I was always the “pretty and smart girl that’s going to do well in life.” That’s always been and unfortunately continues to be the narrative that people tell about me. I grew to hate it. It was the image of a person that others created for me, with good intentions I’ll assume.
Pretty and smart girls don’t fuck up. Oops, I said fuck. Taboo. Pretty and smart girls do well in school, decline peer pressure, drugs and alcohol (ALWAYS), go to church religiously, don’t have sex casually and marry the guys of their dreams. That’s a whole lot of pressure to be under. A pressure that I never asked for.
Oh yeah. And pretty and smart girls damn sure don’t deal with depression.
I’ve never been one to complain and I’m still not extremely comfortable with sharing things that bother me. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and nothing changed or you’ve been punished for your voice, it forces you to go dormant sometimes. When you’ve voiced things that bothered you and you’ve been judged, it forces you to keep them to yourself and figure it out on your own. That was me for 18 years. For the past 10 years, I’ve been trying to determine exactly how and when to use that voice. 10 years.
I’ve held onto some of these poems for well over 15 years. I’m sure that there are more that have been lost or destroyed out of fear that someone would find them, read them and I’d be punished for my thoughts.
To be honest, it wasn’t until 2015 that I began to take a look at how all of these factors played into my current mental health. In November 2015, upon suggestion by a psychologist, I voluntarily committed myself to a behavioral health observation unit for 24 hours. Here I was with a whole degree in Psychology sitting there trying to “figure some things out.” Within these 24 hours I learned a lot. I learned that what I had been dealing with was in fact depression along with anxiety. I also learned that if I didn’t deal with it properly, I’d either end up back in the observational unit or worse. It was a chance that I wasn’t willing to take.
Deep diving into depression isn’t an easy task. Everything has a root and most of the issues that we face go back to childhood. Reflection forces you to not only hold yourself accountable but it requires you to confront those that contributed to your depression. They don’t get a pass. I forgave myself and them as well. I understood that I could no longer use this as an excuse. I had to move on. Everything needed to be unpacked.
Luckily for me, many of these poems were of great help. They were reflections of where I was mentally. I hadn’t looked at these poems in 12 years and here I was digging them out of a bin in search of understanding. I found a binder and began organizing them.
I debated on how and when I wanted to share my thoughts with the world. I reasoned that if I could help myself, just imagine how many others could possibly be inspired to tell their stories.
Over the past 3 years, I’ve been slowly leaking a ton of these poems on my social media and at open mics. It amazed me how much people could relate. There were others who had been journaling and battling with depression for years as well. Some even had the same fears that I had.
The universe has a funny way of letting you know it’s time for a shift. I’ve had the ISBN number for Museum of Thought since August but didn’t start typing until I had a private mental breakdown and quit my job. I knew then that the time had come. It was time to release my collection and to be transparent.
As you read Museum of Thought, I ask that you reflect back to being 13 years old. Where were you mentally? What mattered? What shouldn’t have mattered? At 16, what was pressuring you? At 18, what decisions were you making? At 21, who mattered and who didn’t? What was the vision that you had for your life?
Museum of Thought is a deep dive into what depression felt like as I transitioned from 13-21. It’s an example of what depression looks like for some of us- the strong friend, the happy go lucky person, the go getter. The nerd. The bookworm. The social butterfly.
Museum of Thought is a message to my younger self that I never needed to be perfect. I needed to be me. Beautiful things can truly come from broken places. Regardless of what happens, these things remain constant:
I am deserving of good things
I am my own light in dark spaces
I am not a victim of circumstance
The universe is aligning things in my favor
This journey is my own and I choose what to accept
What does your Museum of Thought say about you?