i found myself in a cycle: i would drop hints that my teeth had become tombstones, i would dance around the subject of why i never smiled full-out, i would make a fool of myself trying to distract others from how sick and twisted it felt to still be living. when the pressure of needing to tell someone finally rose to a height, it would all slosh over in messy messages that sang of bloodshed and desperation, thick leather-tasting sonnets about how close to death i was walking.
sometimes the person i vented to was understanding, sometimes they mishandled it completely. it didn’t matter in either case. the ones who were kind to me made a guilty selfhatred creep up through my throat and within minutes i’d be changing the subject off of my darkness and switching it so we would talk about their problems. those who responded poorly just furthered this internal idea that i was a psychopathic maniac. somehow i’d always end up with this sense of almost anticlimax, as if i’d had wanted some magical response that would have cured me - but no matter how clever or cute or caring their words were, i never felt completely satisfied. you can’t feel satisfied when you’re in a place like that.
eventually when the call was over or the last text was sent or however our conversation came to an end - eventually i’d find myself alone again and in those moments i would stare into space thinking how embarrassed i was of my own piteous behavior and by the time i fell asleep i would bite my tongue and swear that i would never speak of my problems to a living soul ever again, that it was bad enough that just by existing i was a terrible burden.
and then would come the dark days, when the inky slickness in my throat did not recede and i understood loneliness in acute form. there were so many people i loved and not a single of them would understand how to pry me open and let me breathe again. i was stuck inhaling desperately around a blockage so thick that it made me consider jumping into traffic. i would be sitting in class or at work or at the movies, quietly suffocating under this sticky-sweet idea that if i just swallowed a few pills, i could go somewhere quieter. i’d go home, find a razor or skip a meal or do both, i’d go to sleep, i’d wake up and i still would not be happy.
i used to stay in the tub after my showers were done, just watching the water as it danced down the drain. it was soothing to me in a familiar way. i felt the same, dirtied and lifeless and tumbling into darkness, standing in the shadows of the people i used to know, feeling nothing but intrinsically, terribly
Patrick Roche - “Couples Therapy” (NPS 2014)
"Every thursday, I go to couples therapy with my depression. He whispers in my ear to stay in bed for another day, presses his palm into my chest, afraid I’m going to escape the covers."
Performing during the Button Showcase at the 2014 National Poetry Slam.
wow. a striking look at depression.
Dear Mom, I know that you’re a bit obsessive, I mean–
I had to get it from somewhere. I know how hard
it is, how hard you try to parent imperfection
bundled in this messy daughter-body, and Mom
I know how gross it feels in the pit of your stomach
as you watch the grime and filth pile up around me
and my bed because I just can’t let you watch me
eating (the kitchen table is out of the question–
tell my little brother too, I’m sorry “family dinners”
don’t really work anymore). It’s just that, Mom,
it bothers me too and I don’t really enjoy rotting away
but I can’t help it. Wanting to die is a full time
job and free time would let me leave like
a baby bird free-falling without Momma there to see
me safely to the skies and I would rot away
to damnation more like a coffin than a bedframe.
5 Reasons you should date a girl with an eating disorder:
1. “Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks.”
Her teeth are yellowing now. Your hands clench tight around your forearms, you peer through the darkness and whisper, “are you alright?” and her head bobs up and down so many times that you can hear her counting the calories of each movement behind those cold dead eyes and you say “do you want my jacket” and she’ll be shivering and say no she’s fine no she’s fine no she’s fine or maybe you lose sight of her at the party and when you ask her friend all you get is “she’s probably throwing up” and when you say “oh no oh no oh no” you’ll hear “it’s okay she does that a lot” how about this about yellow paper skin and hollow eyes and blue fingernails and skinny fat and bruised knees and fainting spells and a look of complete guilt because she just finished an entire meal how about that how about hair that comes off in flakes how about her tears as they stain your shoulder how about those late night texts that say “i think i’m gonna fucking kill myself”
2. “She costs less money.”
Therapy and back again with no red riding hood just a bouquet of pills she popped into her mouth when she skip-hop-danced right off the path in the woods and met her wolf where he was waiting with wet jaws and hungry bellies and a siren that drowns out everything you’re saying because she’s thinking about when she gets to eat if she ever gets to eat if she never eats again it would be so good but at the same time she wants to eat everything that her fingers close over how many boxes of food has she bought that she threw away surreptitiously she will feel an ingredients list printed on her inside wrist and she will write “waste of everything” inside of it how many rice cakes diet pills laxatives gym memberships diet cokes cigarettes how many times can you touch her softly before she begs you not to put a hand on her thunder thighs mountain stomach cheeks that jiggle when she so much of thinks about running how many dinners she’ll turn down just to wait until the night gets dark enough that she can shove everything in the fridge into the tiny pocket of her skin how many stores can she stock up in how many scratch marks will you count on her body from where she has pinched her fat over and over and over
3. “She’s fragile and vulnerable.”
You forget and you swing her into your arms but the minute her feet leave the ground her laughter turns into sobs she will thrash against you and beg to be put down because no matter how many times you tell her that you’re strong enough to carry her weight the one inside of her is unbearably heavy and stupid things will set her off like she is carrying a hand grenade she will shatter herself so many times her fingertips will peel back from all the glass cuts she gets trying to hold herself together long enough just to have a normal conversation because after four days of eating nothing she’ll call you and in a husky voice ask you to describe your dinner and you’ll hear her breathing over the line get deeper and one day after four hours of shoving her face with everything in reach she won’t call you at all because she’s a fat pig who doesn’t deserve love doesn’t deserve anything and she’ll chase down all of these feelings with so much liquor that she has an excuse to put her head in the toilet and when she finally starts crying it’s because she can’t get her gag reflex working and you will have no idea until you see the bruises on her hips the next morning where she swung down her fists until her hands shook too much to make a good impact she won’t let you save her she’ll crumble all over the place and keep telling you “please god stay away i love you can’t you see that i’m trying to save you from me”
4. “Probably has money of her own.”
her parents won’t speak to her about anything but college applications and she thinks she triggers her sister just by existing and her friends might all have a bet going about how long it will take her before she either ends up in a hospital or ends up getting better and when she gives you gifts they will come with a steady heart that ends up with shaking hands because she’ll ask you if it was okay if it was a good choice if it’s something that you wanted if it was good enough and you’ll have to say yes every time until the word feels like a dead weight and she’ll keep asking anyway because she’s really saying is that she has given you herself but she knows that she’s decaf light, a coffee girl you signed up for that ended up being burnt and ground improperly she texts you at three in the morning about going for a run at four in the morning about sit ups and at five about how she hasn’t slept in so long that she forgets how to use a bed as someplace other than an early grave and when she does close her eyes it’s just to think about eating and how even though she wants to be normal in the background of her mind at all times is a quiet mp3 that whispers to her about not eating, her phone will come with more fitness apps than contacts she can beg for help from her laptop has sixteen tabs open and they’re all workout videos and dieting tips and clothes that she’ll buy once she’s the weight she’s always wanted she’ll erase her internet history like a pornography addict because people can’t know they can’t see that she’s dying how do you tell someone’s parents “i think your child is killing herself” when she looks perfectly fine in their eyes when last tuesday they told her she could lose some weight when all the binging has put more meat on her bones than her weak brain can carry
5. “She’s better in bed.”
you can’t compliment her she won’t let you look at her she’ll beg you to just turn off the lights and fuck her so you forget how hollow it sounds every time you collide with her she’ll draw blood from you she’ll ask you to hit her to hurt her to call her names she’ll say these things and they’ll sound like dirty fun until she doesn’t let you kiss her lips because she’s staring at the ceiling letting you abuse her in the ways that her mind already does and she’ll get good and drunk before shedding her skin because she can’t think about the things that are shifting in between the cracks and she can’t think about how your hands don’t trace patterns on her hips or collarbones or stomach and whiskey is the only way she can pretend that you’re just overly passionate and not scared that if you put too much pressure on any soft place she’ll start crying again not that she cries loudly or anything but it’s been getting so bad that every time she’s on her back you can expect at some point she’s gonna shine with silent tears and tell you that it’s okay she’s fine she’s just thinking about something difficult keep going it’s okay she’s okay she’s never hated herself for eating for not eating for breathing for wishing she wasn’t breathing she has never hated you for loving her she’s okay she’s just on a diet because that’s what she deserves and when she talks about it with you she’ll call it “eating issues” as if food was just an obstacle and she is just not good enough at navigating to steer through that storm and she’ll never believe it that you love her she’ll tell you “i’m not who you think i am i’m a ghost girl i’m a liar please don’t love me” and is this beautiful is this girl beautiful are you even dating her or are you just the last bridge she has left to burn do you even love her do you even love her do you even know or has her disorder swallowed you whole?
I want to love you without walls
around this rattling birdcage heart
but I can’t stop the thought that
even though you’ve said you are
strong enough to last the storms, that
you enjoy the wild of my sea
one of these days you’ll murmur
“i love you”
and it will be the last time
you say those words