sisters – a poem

me and my sister never really got along. but we were civil enough until something happened that just fucked with my head a little too much. she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. and i was just really fucking hoping that she would use it as an opportunity to repair our relationship, because i had been working on myself a lot, and i had tried to be a better sister, but no. i can’t forgive her. since then, we basically haven’t spoken at all. it was really getting to me last night, and i cut a bit, but i also wrote a really angry poem about it. i don’t really know what to call it yet. some mix-up of the typical sayings about sisters. like instead of “sisters are flowers from the same garden” maybe like “two weeds from different plots” or something, i dunno. anyway, yay, a poem. i also intend to perform this one so if i can figure out how to upload a recording you might actually get to hear me read my poetry… but only if you don’t judge my bogan west aussie accent.


it was supposed to be the done thing

the sisterly thing

the siblings walking side by side sort of thing

the playing princesses in old bridesmaid’s dresses

acting like we actually got along sort of thing.

i had already picked a perfect gown

the burnt orange one

the one the colour of rust spots

or our collection of stolen ochre rocks.

C the synesthete had always said

my voice was rust coloured

so for once the inside of my head

would pair well with how i acted instead.

everything i know i learned from books

but books could never teach me

how to be a good sister,

they taught me only stigma.

they taught me to be ashamed of myself

so when you repeated the words

on that glossy white cover

the dangerous strokes of scarlet

warning of the lies

that would soon smother

my story into a smaller size

when you told me that it sounded just like me

and then i fucking evaporated

you never could quite connect the dots.

you never could quite remember things

the way that i could, the way that you should.

well K, i have a long fucking memory

and here are some of the things i remember.

after i got that detention

you mocked me for my bravery

without daring to ask

why i had needed saving

after you saw my scars

you stopped speaking to me

as if my shameful past

stopped our future trajectory

after buying a house in which

to start your family

you neglected to tell me

probably because you thought

i would be a shitty aunty.

well here’s the final touch

the cherry on top

that will seal away our sisterhood:

i will never remember your wedding.

and that’s probably because

i won’t

fucking

be there.

i’m getting real tired of triggers

most of my triggers escape me. the only ones which i know for kinda certain are the ones which produce panic attacks: social situations and loud noises and being out of control and public transport.

i returned to my parent’s property (temporarily) because i was feeling unsafe and couldn’t get the support i needed while covid is already limiting resources. i wasn’t able to get an admission at this time, because the wards – even the psych ward – is quite restricted right now.

so yeah i returned to western australia for a little bit. it reminded me of all the reasons why i left. the suppression i must actively must force upon my own personality, because i am different to the rest. the words i must choose carefully, selectively, lest some intelligence leaks out to be taken as an insult. under this roof, i am reminded of emotional abuse. i am reminded that i will never be good enough, that i will never quite be enough – thin enough, smart enough, pretty enough, relaxed enough, happy enough.

i am reminded of every single moment that i regret, that i chose to leave behind on the other side of the country for a reason. i am haunted here by photographs in which a gaunt face stares back at me, the traces of a depressed, skeletal being who clung to life with only tea and fruit and vegetables. there are remnants of my past scattered everywhere: in the furniture, the garden, the boxes of books that i can’t bear to sell.

a wall of suppression hides painful times in my mind, but the past is being clawed out from the mortar. it is gauged from my soul even as i watch, dissociating impassively, and re-live all the anguish hidden beneath the surface.

even just being here causes my eating disorder to flare up. i return to old habits. i cry into plates of carrots. i hurt myself the way i used to: secretly, shamefully. i hide the bloodied towels. i flush used dressings and bloodied guaze down the toilet.

i keep dreaming about my trauma. i can’t outrun these triggers, even in sleep.

they’re inescapable.

Scars, sisters, and scarred sisterhood

I have a sister. Although I don’t mind revealing my identity, I want to keep hers private, so let’s call her K.

K and I were never close. K and I never talked. But recently, K got engaged, and then her fiance’s dad passed away.

And, suddenly, I was receiving middle of the night texts when she couldn’t sleep, asking if I was up and wanted to talk.

For the first time ever.

Since she was having a tough time, I welcomed her into my life for a day. We hung out. It was nice. She has never been to Sydney, so in typical tourist fashion, I took her to The City, for some classic selfies with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. I think she enjoyed it, but honestly it’s hard to tell. I always thought I was the closed off one, but maybe I retreated so far within myself I never noticed the similarities between K and I.

I haven’t seen her for nearly two years. And in that time, as regular readers will know, my mental health hasn’t exactly been great. I have been self-harming since I was fifteen or sixteen, but until this year, I never self-harmed on my wrists. So K was pretty confronted today, when she saw my scars.

Some of what she said upset me, and I could tell she was upset, as she asked me why with tears in her eyes. So I told her: I hate myself, and I hate being alive a lot of the time, and I deserve to be punished for making mistakes and taking up too much space.

Those aren’t real reasons, she said.

That hurt. (It also made me want to cut… which I know is the opposite of what K would have wanted, but it just hurt so much, and I needed to make that pain apparent. I didn’t though. I binged instead. Which will probably lead into some self harm later anyway, but then at least K isn’t directly responsible.)

But I suppose, seeing your younger sister for the first time in a long time, with her mental health finally visible for all too see, would have hurt too.

Like my flesh, I suppose our sisterhood is scarred in some ways. I know we didn’t get along well when we both lived at home, and I know I was often provocative. But I also know that I felt entirely inadequate next to her. I also know that sometimes, the things she said made it seem as though she knew my struggles and was just another person bullying me about it.

A sister, scarred, and a scarred sisterhood. Hand in hand, I hope we can heal each other.

The Family Effect

To be perfectly honest, I have been under such a firm hold of dissociation that I can’t remember whether I already wrote about this or not.

Just before my nineteenth birthday, I almost killed myself. As in, the only reason I am alive today is because of one person who believes in me enough and trusts me enough to actually take every word I say seriously. Unlike countless psychiatrists in the emergency departments of various hospitals, and unlike doctors who don’t believe the severity of my mental illness(es), she understood. She knew that I was serious. That I was on the edge. I had shared my plan with her, and she listened. I shared my hope to die with her, and she saved me. I shared the ugliest parts of myself at my most vulnerable, and she still protected me from myself. This person saved my life.

It’s been about three weeks since that night. It’s been a rough three weeks of self-harming, eating disorder behaviours and dissociaton. It’s been rough visiting my family and having to keep all of this bottled up because mental health is taboo in this house, and we hold only shallow, superficial conversations. This is the problem. 

The problem is, that I can’t discuss suicide with the people who are supposed to be my biggest supports. Who are, for some / most people, their biggest supports. I don’t have that support. I cannot share anything about suicidality, self-harming, anxiety, or my eating disorder with either of my siblings, nor with my parents, nor with any other extended member of my family. The closest we ever come to a conversation about mental health is if I mention I am feeling particularly “down”. Sometimes, even this has no effect. It’s hard to be under the same roof as people who don’t understand me. It’s hard to return to an environment I deliberately isolated  myself from by moving interstate. And it’s an environment I’m not sure I can return to.

When I lived at home, I tried and tried and tried. I suppressed and suppressed and suppressed. I got sicker and sicker and sicker. All the signs were there, all the clues were laid out like the map of scars across my body, yet still, my family couldn’t acknowledge, and wouldn’t accept, my mental health.

They won’t accept that BPD exists. That I had anorexia for seven years. That I was bullied so severely during high school that I developed PTSD – and had the strength to recover from it. That I take medication for bipolar disorder and depression. That I avoid certain things like loud noises because of anxiety and panic attacks. They don’t understand.

And it affects me intensely. In every text, every phone call, every video chat and every visit. There is a subtle undertone of the unspoken, of things never seen nor heard about, and a tinge of disgust. Are they disgusted by me? By my brain, which can simultaneously think in hundreds of parallel directions, doing calculations and problem solving and applying logic, yet is inherently faulty and damaged? It’s as if my own faultiness, is my own fault.

The very fact that this is a belief deeply ingrained into my person reminds me of the family effect. Of the effect my family has on me. I wish I could say it were a positive one, but I’m not one to leave things unsaid. To my family, who are unaware even that this blog exists, I am not sorry. I am not ashamed. I am Rosie, and I am the same person before and after I reveal my struggles with mental illness to you. I am Rosie despite the scars traversing my wrists and thighs and forearms. I am Rosie despite the medication and hospitalisation and therapy. I am still me, even when that’s not good enough for you. I possess a superpower called The Rosie Effect, and it is the antidote for The Family Effect.