These Are Not Flotsam and Jetsam Thoughts – A Poem

These are not flotsam and jetsam thoughts,

they do not ebb and flow,

they are as constant as the stars and the universe,

expanding and contracting like the breath.

Tides cannot be turned off, and neither can the tsunami

of negativity that swamps me surreptitiously.

Caress me Death, I welcome thee,

with open arms and a closed mind,

and deadened heart heavy and blackened

in the precipice of my chest.

Where are your bones, stupid girl?

Where are your bones

she cried.

Dare you laugh off these things I say?

You think they are in passing, but they ring true.

Take them as seriously as the sun,

for they burn just as strongly, and blister just as badly.

Blacken my soul, lest it be grey, static:

the unknown between tints and shades and colours.

Along the border is where I rest, the boundaries,

the invisible between love and hatred,

the numb and the empty – the Border Line.

Fill me with your kiss, tickle me with your scythe,

then take me away,

far away, beyond the separation anxiety

of the trio of selves I carry inside.

Do not go gentle? That saying is fucked.

There is no such thing as tomorrow;

only the continuity of flotsam,

and the fluidity of jetsam.

Sketches From a Psychiatric Ward

They’re strangely aesthetically pleasing.

In 2017, I was admitted to three separate psych wards, for a total of six weeks. It might not seem like a lot, and sure I had 46 weeks of non-psych ward living, but these were my first three trips to the ER, and first three admissions to hospital for any reason. In Western Australia, it is much more difficult to seek help for depression. If I had gone to my local ER before leaving Geraldton, it is likely I would have been turned away, told to stop attention-seeking, or sent five hours away by ambulance to the nearest psychiatric facility in Perth.

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Which is sad, because the psych ward is not what I had expected. And not what most people would expect, I imagine.

Let’s talk about that third and final admission for the year. I was discharged exactly one month prior to writing this. I was suicidal, and this time I was going to do it. Fortunately, I was already at the hospital for an eating disorder assessment, and was admitted from there, which made things simpler, and far less anxiety provoking.

Being admitted involved a lot of tears, emotional exhaustion, silence, withdrawal, scratching (a form of self harm), anxiety, screaming (not from me), locked bathrooms (because of the bulimia), quiet conversations in side rooms, and meetings with various doctors, nurses, psychologists and occupational therapists. It’s not fun, and it’s certainly not a place I ever want to be, but it kept me safe. And I gained a lot of insight into how my depression, borderline personality, self-harm, and eating disorder function and protect me.

The psych ward also involves a lot of dissociation, board games, card games, drinking tea, sharing with other patients, making good friends with other patients, watching television, doing Sudoku, and drawing.

Drawing is my lifesaver. I hadn’t picked up a pencil or a canvas since year 10 of high school, because I channelled all my energy into the singlest most greatest distraction in my life – study. But now that I’ve picked one up again, I can’t put it down.

These drawings are raw, they are real, and they illustrate my mind in it’s most distressed state. Behold, sketches from a psychiatric ward. They’re strangely aesthetically pleasing.

An Untitled Poem

Why is it that getting dressed

Causes me so much distress?

And dresses with pockets are rarer

Than any form of self-instigated self-care?

Dried blood on my wrists and on my thighs

Like a burgundy tattoo that gives me a high.

Not to look at, but to feel the pain;

This refuge from hurt, is what keeps me sane.

There’s real tattoos too – across my back

And my chest and visceral in black,

Are the quotes that keep me alive.

Not just alive, but giving me something to strive

For, aim for, save for. Adding art to my body

Instead of sketching on paper, and photocopies,

And dumping thoughts as words, and an ocean

Of sadness. These waves of anti-promotion,

Nihilistic claws that trap my skull under the

Immense monstrosity that is her,

That is me, that is pain, and darkness.

Never-ending deprecation and harshness

That dribbles from my mouth, floats,

Unto the air, and becomes new quotes,

For others to repeat, cockatiels,

Whose sadness is my only appeal.

This abhorrent self who can only try

And try to be nothing else, lest I die.

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