New Life in Florida, Lack of Poetic Voice (part two), Confusion That Never Stops

I haven’t written anything in a long time. Not on this blog, not in my journal, nothing. Lately my mind has become indistinguishable from a tempest brewing over a desert. So, despite the fact that I’m wearing acrylic nails and typing at my normal 115-WPM speed is nearly impossible, not to mention that my brain has turned into actual mush, I’m going to do it anyway.

I moved to Florida two days ago. The packing process was brutal, the seeing-all-my-friends-for-the-last-time was worse. It was hurtful and disappointing realizing how many people really didn’t bother to see me before I left, nor speak to me at all. It’s a painful thing moving a thousand miles and a time zone away from your home, and feeling as if no one cares you’re gone compounds that feeling. I feel alone in this place. It’s surreal, as if any moment I should be waking up, almost resisting the urge to pinch my arm to force my body to snap back to reality, but it’s not happening. I’ve had nightmares these past two nights. Horrible, terrifying nightmares about memories I thought I’d forgotten long ago that leave a bad taste in my mouth. More than anything, living here I feel dizzyingly free. My first night here I went for a run at midnight in the pouring rain–we were receiving the bands of a double tropical storm and tornado as a lovely welcome gift–with my hair down and twisting with the wind, and I felt euphoric for the first time in weeks. The rain soaked through my shoes and trickled down my face like icy teardrops, but I’ve never felt more liberated.

It both hurts and calms me that I’m hundreds of miles away from everyone I care about. Hurts because with distance, there is really no way to know whether they will miss you or forget about you. Calms me because I can sleep soundly knowing that all my bad memories are dead and gone. I am no longer standing in the wreckage of a storm I never learned how to get control over. I am living a new life already. Homesickness might be the death of me, but I know that with time I’ll find people and places that will matter more to me than that friend I lost or that coffee shop I used to go to every Wednesday. Someday I’ll find myself. I’m only coming to accept that Virginia wasn’t the place for me.

 

Update on my medication: I am still on the same dose of Seroquel and Lexapro (100mg Ser and 10mg Lex), and I think so far it’s working. Certainly helps me sleep. I’m hoping it’ll quell these nightmares tonight so I can stop waking up all but screaming.

Maybe I’ll get a poem down tonight. More than anything, I’m afraid that going through the shock of moving to a new environment has killed my creativity. Though, logically, I know that’s impossible. I’m hurting. Confused. Lost. And I’m tired. I’m tired. I just want to get it out so it can stop pounding on the walls of my heart–it’s really wearing me out.

Operation Pied Piper, Mixed Feelings, & Lack of Poetic Voice

On a glum Saturday in summer of 1938, with the threat of rain tinting the clouds a ghostly gray and the people of England coating their windows in scarlet sheets in hopes of catching some of the flooding, word came in that the German air raids would be back. In 1939, London’s City Council began making requests for buses and trains. The plan was to evacuate all of the British children to open homes in the countryside to evacuate the blitzkrieg — massive warfare. September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of history’s second world war. While the German planes were opening fire on the dark, small homes of England, hundreds of thousands of British children were boarding trains, bidding farewell to their mothers, and curling up on the hard seats of the trains, leather-bound books in hand, praying that they would return to their families. The children were marked with little white cards, and around their necks, a tiny cardboard box containing a gas mask. It’s been written that the brothers and sisters clung to each other while in line, hand in hand, “like grim death, refusing to be parted.” Think Chronicles of Narnia; the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. That’s what was going on here. This massive evacuation of more than 3.5 million children–the largest in history to date– ultimately turned out to be somewhat a false alarm; the threat of German air raids had subsided in the few years after the children’s traumatic separation from their parents, and they were ordered to return.
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If you’re wondering why I’m giving a historical lecture on this blog, well, I’m not really sure either. This is one of the most fascinating pieces of history to me, and one that I like to reference in some of my poems. Something about the urgency of it all, the way those poor children had to pack their lives in a brown box and flee their home in an instant gives me chills. That, and Narnia is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about poetic voices — the unique tone a writer incorporates in his/her writing to give it an extra flair, a tint of familiarity. I don’t know what my writer’s tone is yet. Maybe I already have one. I know that I tend to overuse words like “melancholy” (it rings in my head. Beauty in a word) and “baby’s-breath” (not that pretty of a plant, but the most beautiful phrase I’ve ever heard, and I can also thank Nirvana for that), and oceans (don’t hate me for this, I know it’s riddled with cliches). I’ve been so overwhelmed with catching up on the tons (tons) of schoolwork I’ve missed and packing my things up for this Florida move in June, I haven’t had time to collect my thoughts enough to write a coherent poem. My journal lately has been a nearly-indecipherable ramble of out-of-place words and half-poems. I don’t know how to turn my feelings into something that will make sense on paper. I’ve never had this problem before, and it’s scary to me.
I’m constantly worrying that one day I will suddenly lose this innate ability I seem to have to dictate language in a way that sings. An old English teacher once told my dad that I seem to have complete control over the English language in a way that’s fascinating to her. That’s one of the best compliments I’ve received.

So I don’t know. I’m all caught up in regrets and hazy memories with no place to store it. I’ve been writing a short story lately, nearly ten thousand words in. I’m quite proud of it. That’s the only writing accomplishment I have to say for myself lately.
Tell me your thoughts.

A Thousand Miles/Old Friends With New Faces/Losing Sight of Everything

I’m moving. In June. To Florida.

I’m moving.

To Florida. A thousand miles away.

I don’t understand why this is so hard for me to say. I can’t speak those six simple words out loud. They get stuck in my throat like crickets. Perhaps I’m hoping that if I don’t admit them to myself, they won’t be true.

I live in Virginia, as close to the oceans as one can get. The weather here is insane due to the fact that we are on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. Our seasons aren’t so much seasons as they are sea-directed rapid shifts of snow one day and sunburn the next. I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but I have lived here in Virginia since before kindergarten. I remember not knowing why we were packing up our things and leaving (Navy dad), just that we were. I remember running up the steps to the big white apartment complex we’d be moving into and stepping right on top of a sharp-end-up nail, lodging it deep into my foot. I remember limp-running into my new home, crying from the pain but giddy.

Years later, we moved to the house I live in now. I thought it was the most beautiful place. I loved my neighborhood and the friends I made down the street. This was the place where I fell in love with words, with shady groves and maple trees and forests that were magical only in my own head. I colored twigs and sticks Sharpie-black and pretended like they were Harry Potter wands (HP was the first and only love of my life), then stained my jeans with the ink and got reprimanded. I was gifted a tiny green parakeet for my birthday and quickly became afraid of it. I sat in my bed on Christmas Eve at ten years old crying because I was terrified of growing up and losing everything I had, afraid that I hadn’t lived a good enough childhood (I met our good old friend called ‘existential crisis’ at a very young age).

Virginia has a lot of my memories. Here I met the friends that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, the rag-tag group of seven writers I call my “dead poets society.” Our group isn’t exactly a group anymore… there’s been a lot of falling out, and I lost my best friend. If you’re reading this, and you might because I’ve posted the link to my blog everywhere, I love you. You’re always welcome back home.

Okay. I’ve become a crying mess typing this. I’ve more or less accepted the fact that I’m going to be moving and leaving my old life behind while starting a new one in Florida. I’ve accepted it, but I haven’t accepted the life I’ll be losing. It hurts.

 

Part II of this nonsensical rant: WHAAAAT is wrong with my heart?

That’s all I’m going to say about this.

Until next time, I hope you all enjoyed my emotional outpour.

Hold My Hand and Walk Back Through Time: Growing Up with BPD

“Someday, the nostalgia will fade and we will learn that it is merely gravity making us frown.” ~d.s.h.

I have never been an aggressive person. Even as a child in class I was afraid to ask someone for a pencil or speak up in class when a peer made an offhand comment to me for fear of drawing attention to myself, of being called dramatic and “tattle-tale.” Regarding my elementary school, my peers and I were part of this international baccalaureate program in which we were rewarded for demonstrating skills such as empathy, or getting a top grade on our reading comprehension tests. We were considered the “gifted” kids. Fifth grade came around, and with my mousy black hair and wide, anxious eyes, I auditioned for the winter school musical. I’m not even sure I was all that good at singing, but I got the part for solo. I find this very strange looking back on it. Presently, I would never think about performing in front of a giant crowd like I once did — I admire child-me’s bravery.

I had always been a nervous, highly sensitive child. At age seven I started this compulsive habit of ripping out my hair and picking off skin from the area around my fingernails (I still have the finger-picking habit today). No one understood why I did this and I didn’t either. It felt like it was something I had to do, and while I was doing it, I’d go into this trance-like state where I wasn’t entirely aware of my surroundings. At that age I also found anger quite a difficult emotion for me to articulate. I could get intensely jealous over small things, and this led to a lot of fights with my friends back then. I wasn’t capable of introspection at ten years old. When my family upset me I released the growing tension inside of me, the electrical storm brewing in my chest, by bending my fingers back as far as they’d go. I did this because the pain relieved the anger. except my family didn’t know that — they thought it was funny and often mocked me. At the time I didn’t know what self-harm even was. It was just something I did. When I got older, this coping mechanism evolved from finger-bending to cutting my thighs, burning my arms, and punching things.

As I grew into adolescence, my emotions became increasingly volatile. I remember feeling like a dull, hollow shell of a child, entirely at the mercy of my environment. I could flip from one emotion and to another and then back again at the drop of a hat. It was frightening both to me and my family.

Shame, shame, shame. January of this year I was reevaluated by psychiatrists (the first time I received two diagnoses of MDD and social phobia) and diagnosed with type II bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I did not begin taking medicine until the end of March when I spent eight days in a psychiatric facility. I remember being waken up at six am in the soft blue light of dawn to have my blood taken; as I was sitting on the chair outside my nurse’s office, groggy and annoyed, a middle-aged blonde woman approached me and said, “Oh, sorry to interrupt, but I’ve been watching you just from over there. You’re very beautiful. You could be a model! What’s a pretty little girl like you doing in a place like this?” I didn’t know what to say. What was I doing in there? There’s a lot of answers. The most obvious one, I had overdosed on pills. The second answer, I had lost control of my emotions. Third, I wanted to start over. There’s a whole lot of excuses.

In the hospital I was prescribed 10mg Lexapro and 100mg Seroquel. I was advised to take it at night due to how sleepy the medication makes me. So far, my moods are still a tempest, only slightly more dampened down. Now I don’t have mania to sweep me off my feet and turn my thoughts into a cyclone, and I’m not particularly depressed, but I still spiral into a suicidal spiral when my borderline triggers act up. I’m in therapy twice a week. It’s a work in progress, but I know anything is possible.

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Song of the Day: Bittersweet Symphony

“It’s a bittersweet symphony, that’s life.”

Ever since I was eight years old and obsessed with gymnastics, I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in love with this song. Released in 1997 by English artist Richard Ashcroft, Bittersweet gained instant popularity and critique, altogether. The rights to the song were taken by Allen Klein due to supposed copying of a Rolling Stones melody.  Despite itself, though, The Verve is almost ethereal to me. I don’t know too many songs by them but this is definitely my go-to when I’m feeling low. It’s one of the reasons I have such a strong desire now to learn cello (if only I had the patience).

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This past week has been so draining that I haven’t been able to write anything. I open my journal, which usually gives me inspiration to write just from the elegance of it, and find myself hating my poetry. I’m in an advanced creative writing class, so writing and reading poetry to the best of my ability is paramount. The other day, just for the fun of it, I decided to read a poem of mine to the class (title: Holland, 1945, after a Neutral Milk Hotel song of the same name), and as I was writing the poem I saw no issues with it. After reading, however, I felt like burning everything I’d ever written. I felt like I had to decorate my poetry in flowery writing so people would think it’s “pretty,” rather than use the raw and somewhat uncomfortable words I’d used in the poem (it’s about Anne Frank, for heaven’s sake). Logically I know this is wrong. I’m generally just in a funk I don’t know how to break out of.

I needed comfort, so I listened to this song for maybe the thousandth time. I let the melody shine and cleanse my mind like the song said, and I slowly started to feel better. Music is wildly important in my life, and I’m so, so glad songs like these exist.

What’s in a Poem?

A few weeks ago I asked a friend of mine what her favorite season was. She told me summer, because in the lazy heat of the season she felt more secure stepping outside; to her, cold weather was like an invader chilling her to the bones. There was an apparent association between snow and fear. When asked, I’ve always said that winter is my favorite season (Christmas, snow, warm nostalgia by the fireplace, what’s not to love?), but just recently I’ve realized that I despise winter, much for the same reason my friend does. Rather, I am more in love with the concept of winter. I told my friend about this, and she said, “That’s why I don’t trust poetry. It unabashedly romanticizes everything. Though miraculously structured and made savory through choice diction… poetry is a lie.” I thought about this for a while. Do I agree? Not quite. I think that poets are experts at taking the mundane and turning it into the extraordinary. Though guilty of viewing the world through “rose-colored lenses,” I would not go as far as to say that writing is a lie.

Webster’s Dictionary defines poetry as “Writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound and rhythm.” Simply put, poetry practices digging deeper into ordinary language, essentially “painting a picture with words.” From Keats-style romance to Japanese tankas whispered on the lips of lovers to Ars Poetica, a detailed twenty-four-line poem about poetry itself, this unique style of writing manifests in colorful variety. Poets carry within us this deep, instinctive urge to convey our thoughts through words rather than pictures, in metaphors rather than concrete terms. It isn’t about applying a simple rhyme scheme and some line breaks to words — that’s not what a poem is. Sure, rhyming is used in many types of poetry, but I have surveyed dozens of non-writers from around my school, and nearly everyone defined a poem in the Shakespearean sense, which does not encompass all poetry. My personal favorite is free-verse, for example. There are no rules, no syllable counts to follow. To me, writing a poem free-verse feels like picking out words and feeling them, tasting them on your tongue, allowing them to absorb your thoughts with gentle hands and then flow from your fingertips. Or perhaps stealing the sun from the sky just for a moment so that everything goes black except for the grandiose, blinding light illuminating only your words on the paper.

Poems are spontaneous and strong-willed, often taking on a mind of their own. I typically find it hard to stay on subject when I sit down to start writing, because my brain takes an idea and runs with it, and the end product is hardly recognizable. One of my favorite things to compare, though possibly banal, is seasons with moods. Living with Bipolar II, my moods are often correlated directly with seasonal changes, so this makes sense. When I think of winter, I think of steel and ice, headaches from the brisk, unforgiving wind, morning cigarettes leaving an acrid taste in your mouth, fitful sleep, dawn coming down through violet clouds. Summer, to me, is hazy white, fading in and out of lucidity, manic bursts of my soul on fire, fainting from the heat, blurred melancholy. Spring and autumn are sisters in hand, twin souls, two maple trees with their leaves kissed to ash by lightning. In spring, snapdragons, waxflowers, climbing nightshades and baby’s-breath come to life, peek out from underneath thawing leaves to make sure it is safe to bloom. In autumn, that same life is taken away by whistling winds from the north; burnt orange and charcoal clouds.

There is an endless list of things to be said about poetry. It is the deadly calm before the storm and the falling asleep in the wreckage after it has passed. It is scribbling down racing thoughts on a torn napkin because you forgot to bring your notebook that day but couldn’t bear to let the idea float away. It is telling the truth in raw imagery; tranquil yet rageful, standing ceasefire yet waging war. My only hope is that one day I find the words to give back to poetry what it has given me, this beautiful gift of expression.

First Post!

Hello!

I’m new to this blogging thing. Only recently have I decided to use an actual blogging platform rather than impulsively posting my thoughts, opinions, and miscellaneous writings on Instagram (much to the dismay of my followers.)

So, I’ll start by introducing myself. My name is Julia, I’m eighteen, and I spend a lot (most) of my time writing poetry. I live on the southern east coast, but I think one day I’d rather live up north. I have a lot of opinions on things. I’ve always felt the need to get my words out there, because to me, bottling my thoughts up is slow poison. I’ll be using this blog for poetry, updates on my mental health and my battle with Bipolar II disorder, and whatever topics come to mind, particularly regarding psychology.

Get to know me!