A Pretty Fucking Beautiful Mind

Background: I wrote this poem today because I had recently watched a bunch of spoken word videos on Youtube that tackled mental illness but none of them reflected my personal experience. I’m working now at a job where I am doing work I believe in, that inspires me. I am given a large degree of flexibility and autonomy and several projects to sustain my attention at once. Basically, I am happy here and I am grateful. This poem reflects more my past than my present–but I will say that the sentiments expressed here haunt me today. I am still constantly worried that I am not good enough or that I’ll make a monumental mistake and everyone will realize I wasn’t supposed to be here after all. These fears are irrational, but they’re a part of what I have to deal with as I heal the wounds caused by my diagnoses.

If I don’t take my pills you tell me I’ve been stupid,

Irresponsible, proud, too proud to take my medicine.

If I tell you I am sorry I was distracted by the

Infinite beauty that surrounds us at all times

And I forgot about that appointment

You tell me not to use my diagnosis as an excuse.

I say it’s not an excuse it was an explanation.

But still I feel guilty so guilty so next time I’ll take

Double the amount of my prescribed medication.

Sometimes I don’t feel as though I have ownership of my disorder.

Like somebody else gets to decide when it is or is not okay

For me to acknowledge my thought patterns might be different

Than the rest of y’alls.

The thing is I’d be proud, honestly, I’d be proud

of how much living I’ve managed to do

in such a short time because of how fast

My mind is moving.

But I worry constantly that I am not measuring up to…

to what?

to “my full potential?”

Because I don’t think right, act right.

Focus, focus, focus– I CAN’T!

force attention even when I really want to–

I have to pretend like I was listening

and ask round-about pointed questions so that I can

reconstruct some of our conversations

so that you don’t think I didn’t care

about what you were saying!

I want my life to matter.

I don’t just want it to be a bundle of

unfinished projects that never got off the ground.

But you know Da Vinci only painted

17 pictures in 67 Years?

He was jumping around from this to that

and they still call him a genius artist.

I’m constantly feeling guilty,

so guilty,

because I forgot

To call you on your birthday,

to send out that final email.

Because I stayed up til 3 in the morning

reading articles about different kinds of

Tropical birds and so

I slept through my alarm clock

And was not able to make that meeting.

I’m sorry

That I was such an inconvenience.

I’m sorry

that I wasn’t able to contain

My curiosity and my joy for life within

the hours of 5 pm to midnight.

I feel like every industry in our society requires

a certain degree of

Willingness to not talk back, to stay on task,

to make the deadline and reach the bottom line and

if you can’t do that, then you just don’t fit in this system.

“Sorry. We’re gonna have to let you go.

The children love you.

But we find your attitude to be…lackadaisical.”

I’ll work more hours, if it’s taking me too long!

I’m sorry I didn’t do it right!

“No, we’re sorry.

It just wasn’t a good fit.”

I don’t want to be the reason that something

didn’t happen fast enough

And somebody didn’t get

whatever it was my services were designed to produce.

I guess I’m just not fit to be a cog in a machine—

but who says cogs are the only kinds of pieces we need?

Don’t we need relays, and information transporters, and microprocessors too?

And I’m not convinced this

machine-like way of categorizing

worth and degree of contribution

is really the best way to go about this whole business anyhow.

Seems like a lot of these systems make the simple tasks

of loving each other

of feeling amazed

of surviving

of feeling connected to something–anything really,

A lot more complicated.

And maybe that’s just because

I’ve never been able to do things “the right way”

And so I’m biased.

But I gotta say

There’s a lot people today

who think they’re crazy.

And those people are hurting but even more so because

They can’t hold a job.

And they “don’t deserve entitlements”.

They aren’t entitled to live.

And live with dignity.

I’m not trying to make trouble.

I’m SORRY I’m TALKING so LOUDLY.

I’m just excited.

I was just really happy for a second

cuz I forgot I was supposed to be feeling guilty.

And ashamed

Of who I am.

But you know, maybe,

if I can’t do it your way

Then maybe that isn’t the right way

for me to contribute, after all.

And hey, though, did we ever collectively decide

that the value of a human being was to be determined

solely from their ability to contribute in some

clearly defined and pre-measurable way?

Like I think you’ll find that

my life has not been

a complete waste of time.

I think my life has already been significant

to some people,

to me.

Maybe I just don’t “apply myself.”

But when I do manage to will myself to

force some approximation of long-term,

single-focused, sustained attention,

that was not occurring in me naturally,

I feel like I’m trapped.

Like part of me has been deadened.

And this is true whether or not I take my medication.

And when I cross things off my to-do list,

yeah – I feel good about it –

But honestly, it’s just because then I can stop hating myself for

Not having done it already.

If there wasn’t some voice inside my head saying,

“You’re worthless,

you’re unreliable,

you’re a promise-breaker—”

maybe I would do less of what I said I’d do in advance.

But I was just not made for following linear plans.

I do circle back.

It all gets done.

I keep my promises.

It just doesn’t happen in the way you might expect it to.

And I’d do more,

if I wasn’t held down.

I’d just keep chasing rabbits

until eventually I stumbled

into a project I could focus on for

just long enough

to make something beautiful.

And then I’d put that down

And I’d go chase another rabbit,

But I’d leave behind in my wake,

I don’t think,

merely unfinished pieces of something

that could have been beautiful—

I think I’d leave behind things that were

whole

in their own way.

And since when was anything ever really finished?

Why is your standard of output for me

as a piece of human capital

the sole means by which I should be

deciding my worth as a person?

And I don’t think my way is the best way

or that everyone should think like me,

but since I DO think like me

I gotta think that the way I think isn’t broken.

I’ll always be just a faulty mechanism

if I’m forced to stay a part of an assembly line.

Even so,

I still think that I have

A pretty fucking beautiful mind.

 

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