This is the poem that got me started writing poetry on my own time. In previous classes over the years we had written poems, usually following a form or writing haikus and limericks. Those were good ways of being introduced to poetry, but they didn’t seem to be very personal.
In May 1998, near the end of eighth grade, I was at home in the den/family room. I remember Mom called out asking me to bring her the newspaper or something. So I got up and walked toward the kitchen as requested, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I had blacked out or something. They ran tests at the hospital, including an EKG, but no one could find anything to explain what actually happened. I was given a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours.
I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what happened that weekend. I just knew I detested having to wear the monitor. But I just wrote down what I felt on paper.
Journal entry: 5.26.98
Miss DuVall (a student-teacher) gave us a test today on figurative language. The first part was determining which sentence was what type. The second part was to write a poem using at least one example of each. I used a poem that I wrote over the weekend and I finished it out. This is my poem:
It is all I feel
No one cares
No one hears
Bullets crash and create the gray-blue puddle beneath me
I look down and the waves beckon me to happiness
I try to open the closed doors of despair
But they are locked and the key is gone
It seems as if I am nonexistent to them
I am a ghost still living
Note: When I wrote this, I was feeling depressed about the holter monitor. I felt all alone and like no one understood me. (I had written about the hospital visit in a separate journal entry.)
Honestly, I’m surprised this poem didn’t prompt a visit to the school counselor or guidance counselor or something. Maybe because my teacher was friends with my parents? I don’t know, but seriously, there should have been a discussion of some sort.
Maybe I’m over-reacting with thinking this poem seems to hint at something deeper, thinking it should have resulted in a conference. But there seems to be way more anger and more emotion in these words than merely being upset about wearing a monitor. So, I don’t think being disturbed by the content is an over-reaction. We can try to ignore the impact of depression and mental health. But when it goes unacknowledged and unaddressed, there can be some fatal consequences.
In my case I think I was still seeing a psychiatrist, still trying to figure out the right medication combination. But the things that needed to be discussed weren’t always discussed. I might not have seen something as worth talking about, even though it bothered me. But a piece of writing like this sure seems to be tapping into something.
And I’m still not sure what caused the black out. But as I read through my journal from that year, I found an entry for the day before. I had actually talked to my uncle, who is a medical doctor, about feeling tired all the time and having moments of black outs. He thought it could be a lack of iron. Sadly, this kind of encounter wasn’t isolated. I had other episodes periodically as the years went on.