Continuing the work of our Foremothers
"My grandmother knew when I was down. She knew what to do
She would encourage me to engage in "self-care" and would do all manner of therapeutic things for me
Sometimes, our ForeMothers knew how to spot mental illness and help us!
She would mix some oils and ask me to breathe in and out...
or boil some herbs and ask me to bask in the steam
She would send me to work in the field - because the closer we are to the EARTH the grounded we become
She would sing for me - and then pray”
- Malebo Sephodi
By Dyandra Harrison
I must have known you,
Before this very moment
Sometimes I can’t tell
A creature who shape shifts without notice
I know I’ve known you before
You told me I’m your kitty kat
I’d follow you through the dark
The alley is not unknown to the feline
Free but with a soul that knows possession
I must have known you before
Either this life, the one before, or the one after
Nothing this familiar can be this fresh
We feel like my momma and daddy
They mommas and daddies
Repeating the same mistakes and passions, telling themselves that this time is an anomaly instead of pure pattern
You’ve been here before
You’ve departed before
And each time,
We’ve met somewhere in between
The Last Thing I’ll Ever Write About You (Sonnet)
By Dyandra Harrison
Oh I should have known you would do this to me!
So why does it feel impossible to cope?
My words feel like a sharp omen, my expressed desire caused you to leave.
I cry, scrub reaaaal good with Florida Water soap,
But fuck this.
Why caress me like I was meant for your touch?
You caught me, like a hunter does a rabbit, with one kiss.
I lit a flame but I guess the smoke, for you, was too much.
I miss you, you infect my dreams
I hate you, you represent buried traumas of the past
In reality, I guess I knew it wasn’t completely as it seems
Nothing made for now can forever last.
But rest assured, this is the final word I will say on you
That my love, you can guarantee is true
By Randi "Rai" Norris
When Will This End? The Hell That is My Mind.
How do I describe the reality of being a bipolar person? How? I need to know because if i could describe it better, maybe then people would care, maybe then my cries for help would be heard. The only way to describe what i go through on my worst days, are to read the ramblings i write to myself on my worst days. So ill share with you, a letter from me, to myself, that i found on a "good" day, that was clearly written on a "bad" one.
i can't breathe today and everyone knows. they can see i was crying. my face is red and puffy and everyone is whispering, i can hear it. they will fire me if i all i do is cry at my desk or stare at the wall. my chest feels like hot burning vomit that just wont come out. i will try to throw up, it will help. i cant focus. i cant pay attention. i just cant do it. i just know everyone knows i am so so crazy. i am crazy and so annoying, how do you stop being crazy. there are so many noises and its so loud. how to be more normal 1. no talking to anyone 2. don't stay in the bathroom or they will know you're crying 3. brush your hair and teeth 4. be nice don't be so mean 5. don't look at your phone 6. don't eat in front of anyone. i know i can be normal
The letter to myself ends there. If this sounds illogical to you, it is. The letters i write to myself on my bad days are reminders of the full capability of my illness. I can go from high functioning and happy to severely depressed for no reason at all and the mood swings that control my life sometimes make it hard to even know who i am. "Why am i crying about this?" "i don't normally get upset about xyz" "Why am I so angry today?" I am getting better at managing this day by day and i hope you are managing too.
"It's been found that there can often be a correlation between racism and depression and anxiety in people of color, with some scientists even finding link between racism and post-traumatic stress. For black women especially, rates of mental illness are higher simply because we stand at the intersections of race and gender."
Isn’t it funny?
By Anairis Vasquez
Let me put this out
This is another poem
I’m tried to have fun
I tried to love on
But this boy I used to fuck with way before I could have better understood the situation I was in
Lives in my breath
Lives in my dreams
I tried to have fun
I tried to move on
But this boy I used to fuck with keeps trying to creep back
But I am over scrub boys
I guess what I’m trying to say is,
I'm sad but I’m always sad
Depression is funny like that
Even in a room full people I still feel alone
Out of tone
Its like the rest of the world is singing one song
And I’m singing 10 at once
And I’m tired
So so tired
Depression is funny like that.
I can sleep 8 hour and still want more
I always want more
I can’t never have enough
depression is funny like that
Until it isn’t.
By Manny Laveau
i smell my top lip
i can smell your dried saliva your tongue grazed mine like two earth plates causing the biggest earthquake that even shook the heavens your tongue held words that would bring me security & hope
your tongue told me sweet things
as sweet as a fresh strawberry opening my wet glands urging to take a bite
being with you was like popping my cherry it was like me, a fallen angel laid down on a bed of roses to be carressed down to the soles of my feet with sweet almond oil & lavender with a scent that relaxes my nerves
exploding with flavor
like a flower my curves blossom your golden skin mixes with mine and we create a fire, a spark, a flame
you opened my eyes to desire i didn’t know that even below heaven there is passion
you are my heaven below
lie with me while my wings grow
with a love like mine you’ll never need to go but just like god did lucifer the most beautiful angel
there is the door
How to Kill a Cockroach
By Lisa Holden
Find yourself inside both craving the outside and scorning it as inaccessible. Look around memorizing every nook and cranny of your room like others might memorize names and faces of friends or other karmic visitors.
See a lone cockroach in the perimeter of your safe space. Consider it both a vicious intruder and long awaited guest, but, after a few minutes, dismiss it as the latter and find an instrument to return this pest to where it came from and return you to your solitude. Pick up one of the many papers cluttering your desk then send a silent prayer thanking whomever for finally putting a use to a practice quiz from three months ago.
When cornering the roach be slow to strike so you have enough time to watch it, observe it, understand it. Begin to contemplate what actually differentiates you from the being you are trying to kill.
Don’t you both find refuge in the same spaces?
Don’t you both go through life, close to the ground, trying not to be noticed?
Realize you are similar to the cockroach. Realize you and the cockroach are one, and you don’t have the preordained right to kill something, especially something that is a part of you. Dissociate for a bit after your epiphany.
When you fall back into reality, see the cockroach is gone. Look for it as you look for yourself in your own thoughts but to no avail for either. See the cockroach in your dreams and sometimes in real life in the peripheral of your vision when your eyes go unfocused.
"Dear Black Women:
Yes, you are queens. Yes, you are magical. Yes, you are strong and yes, you have a resilient heart that is capable of enduring pain and surpassing any struggle. But I want you to know that above all else, you are human, and mental health is a serious illness that does not discriminate."
By Anairis Vasquez
I want to be alone
But alone is what I fear
I want to able to talk out loud without this racing heart
Racing thoughts of other people opinions
Did I say something wrong ?
Did I stutter again ?
God damn, why can’t this feeling end.
Why are hellos so hard
But goodbyes so easy
Why this easy when I am alone
No I’m not trying be a bitch
I want to talk
I want get to know you
Really I do
But I’m scared
I’m always scared
anxiety has a way of making the simplest task seem so much harder
Like speaking to someone new
Or in public
Or when someone is standing too close my mind seems to be a circus of unfiltered thoughts.
anxiety has me second guessing.... ever interaction I have with people
Has me reading between the line when there nothing to read.
anxiety has me second guessing... who I am.
anxiety is a pill I am still learning how to swallow.