Autobiography · Mental Health


Three sick kids join forces for pho, ginger tea, and nighttime cold medicine. It’s a special kind of misery that is nice to share. When you know you’re not in it alone. And you know it’s going to pass.

My alarm goes off in the morning and I hear cars driving by down on the street. Tires on wet road sound like the rise and fall of applause, ushering in the day. “Good job. We’re glad you came.”

Outside the air is warmer than expected, but still cool enough to feel good on my face. Windows down, radio up. I sing quietly over the crackling bass as I merge onto the interstate. It’s going to be a good day. We’re going to be okay.

Photo courtesy of Maria Stiehler.

Mental Health


"籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)" © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
籠の鳥 (Kago no Tori: Bird in the Cage)” © halfrain, 2014. CC BY-SA 2.0.
I take a shower. Change the sheets. Wipe down counters. Try to find my footing and start wondering if I’d even recognize stability.

Sweating. Vision blurry. My breath is shallow in my chest. My mind can’t get its claws in anything.

“Come on. Focus. You’re okay.”

A truck outside honks its horn and I scream, dropping my glass of water into the sink. Constantly jumping. Firing on all cylinders.

“Come on, kid. Breathe.”

Pacing back and forth in my apartment, digging my fingernails into the palms of my hands.

“You’re okay. You’ve been sick. Stuck inside. That’s all this is.”

Boil water. Make peppermint tea. Settle onto the couch and pull my legs up under me.

Sleeping twelve hours a day. Trying to get well physically and I can feel my mind tightening. A spindle already holding too much yarn and doesn’t know what to do with the excess.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll feel better. I’ll leave the house. Talk to someone. Stretch my legs. Get some sun. Stop understanding why caged animals gnaw off their own limbs.



"Ice tea" © Kevin Dooley, 2008. CC BY 2.0.
Ice tea” © Kevin Dooley, 2008. CC BY 2.0.
All week long I feel like I need just a little bit more sleep. Dragging. I force more coffee and move slower. Pretending I don’t know what’s happening.

On Friday I can barely get out of bed. On my walk back from my therapist’s office I sit down on a bench and debate calling a car. Exhausted. Drained.


I spend Saturday just barely functioning. We go to a new building and sign on an apartment. My head is all watery, trying to put pieces together. Forcing itself to function.

Sunday. Monday. Couch-locked again. I hide under a pile of blankets and drink as much water as I can. My achy body whispering, “I told you to slow down.”