Raising Our Voices

Let's Talk About Disability, Access, and Inclusion

3/29/17: A poem for processing and self affirmation

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When they’re being nice, they call me
in crisis, confused, sick.
When they’re being honest, they call me
out of control, delusional, crazy.
Maybe I’m projecting.
But I think I heard them say
psycho, dangerous.
What do I call myself?

I am sick.
But why does that mean I don’t belong?
Why can’t I be manic and still be a Mawrtyr?

Bryn Mawr celebrates the students that stay up all night studying,
but fears the ones who stay up because they can’t quiet the voices in their mind.

Why is there no room for me?

I left in the spring.
It happened so fast.
I didn’t want to.
But I couldn’t stay. Their choice, not mine.

Sometimes I wonder: If I didn’t have psychotic symptoms,
would they have let me stay?
Is that why they treated me like a child?
Is that why they took away any autonomy and agency I had left?

I came back in the fall.
Tell me: Why did I have to submit three doctor’s notes to come back?

What could they even have said?
We gave him meds. He’s still a little depressed,
but he knows where he is and where he’s going.
He’ll be nice, and quiet,
go to school when he’s supposed to, and sleep when he’s supposed to.
We’ll keep an eye on him, don’t worry.

In those notes, they don’t mention that I deserve to be at this elitist fucking college even if
I’m unhinged.

They won’t tell you, so I will.
I belong here, with my illness, my delusions,
my messiness, my crazy talk, my confusions.
All of me belongs here.
All of me. And no one can tell me otherwise.

One Comment

  1. A note about context: On March 29, 2017 I was admitted to Bryn Mawr Hospital because I was having severe manic and psychotic symptoms. When I left the hospital, my dean told me that a committee had decided that I couldn’t live on campus anymore because it was unsafe. This is a poem exploring how it feels to be forced to leave a community where you once belonged. I wrote this so that my experience can live on the page. My trauma is contained in this poem. The page is a box, a container, a file cabinet, where I can store my thoughts and feelings. I can always come back to them but for now they are neatly filed away, closed, sealed off.

    What does it mean to be sharing this poem? I wrote this for me, by myself. But it feels important that other people know that this happened to me. Bryn Mawr College as an institution hurt me and it feels important to openly name the ways that they hurt me. Maybe not as an act of resistance, but as an act of documentation. To say that in March 2017, I was badly mistreated by several people and let down by an institution that is supposed to be supportive of all its students. And to affirm to myself and others that, despite the hostile messages behind the college’s actions, mentally ill and marginalized students DO belong in higher education.

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