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I remember the sweet scent of chocolate oatmeal cookies,
carried by the warm summer breeze through our loving home.
How I panicked if the gas from the oven will cause a corruption,
and if I don’t check that it’s off three times,
my family will die,
and I’ll be the reason they’re not alive.
I remember a rubber band on my wrist,
instead of friendship bracelets,
because the self-inflicted pain was less intense,
then the uncontrollable rumination in my head.
Which led me to dry heave for eighteen years and kneel on the cool tile
of an underfunded academic institution,
whose people sent me to the nurses office and said I was just a little
The words mental health were never mentioned.
The bullies enjoyed a girl already on her knees,
little did they see,
they were hurting as much as me.
I remember while my parents went to the grocery store,
i’d call my Dad’s phone four times, thinking they’ve died,
In some tragic car collide. But it’s all in my mind.
I remember the stains of colored markers in art class,
Imagining a better life, free from the clutches of an unknown God,
controlling my every obsessive thought.
I’ve never known the freedom of child-like immortality,
Irrationality was my nationality, and my whole identity,
When could someone set me free?
It wouldn’t be until I accepted the trinity.
I remember I locked myself in a bathroom for three days,
thinking the police were after me,
because this unnamable scream, so to speak,
convinced me I committed a hit in run.
That I ran over a woman on 8th street,
but in reality…It was all in my head,
Intrusive thoughts whispering lies even in the crevasses,
of everything I am.
So, I drank the tap water.
I remember when we were gifted itchy knit sweaters with high
but now, grown, I throw my hands to my neck,
with the fear of strangulation,
from my intrusive thoughts of suicidal ideation.
it’s over but I swear it never even begun,
I function like a combat soldier In a war zone,
intrusive thoughts were like grenades
tossed in-between the bookshelves,
where I clawed the pages of worn school books,
looking for a name to this thing that doctors didn’t care to explain,
but they only had three books on the state of the mind,
one of them even said,
a woman is just hormonal as a teen and the rest isn’t worth defining.
I remember I went to the doctors again,
they said they could only give me eight minutes that day.
They had me circle a bunch of smiley faces,
but none of them looked like me,
Please God tell me which face resembles someone that:
Checks the gas three times,
kneels in bathrooms and cries,
thinks their parents will die,
and thinks they took a life?
When the worst thing that they’ve done is tell a little white lie,
To surprise their mom for their birthday?
How could I be lovable?
If I’m something so destructible.
America, I know we’re the land of the free,
but so many of us are chained in a mental health calamity,
mine was OCD,
and that’s actually treatable to a degree.
Yet it took twenty-one years to be diagnosed properly.
I needed someone who was really listening,
not just looking to bandaid another part of this society.
And that starts with me.
What do you want to remember?
Written by Sarah Edwards (@setapart_company), TPCT Project Coordinator
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