At first you’re happy just to have a name for it,
because you’ve spent so long believing you’re crazy
that it’s a miracle for you to be even a little right,

and then you get your first medicine,
a tiny bottle that costs ten
or seventy or three hundred dollars,
and you look down at it and think
Is this it, is this the way out,
and it might be, it could have been for someone else,
but there comes a day when it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work,
and you have to go back and start all over
and even though the doctor tells you it’s not your fault
something deep down inside believes it is.

Sylvia used wet cloths
but the barriers you choose are only limited by your creativity.
This is how you protect yourself: by protecting others from yourself,
and that works fine. For a while. You can tape up your arms,
sneak to the counselor’s after work,
hide pills under your tongue,
start a secret blog,
cover petechiae with makeup (the cheap stuff from the drugstore works just fine).
You might try to tell someone, once, but then you get
You know that’s not true, all you need to do is smile,
and that is the end of that. Let the world keep turning; you’re on the moon.

One day it will happen.
Your boyfriend will find your medicine,
your mother will find your journal,
or maybe it’ll be something as simple as the girl next to you in class
talking about how Big Pharma is trying to control our minds
by dosing everyone with Prozac.

You will have to stand up.

You will have to start talking.

And all of the words that you had been hiding inside your bones
and shoving back under your bed
are going to come out.

You are going to tell them that you are a fighter.
That you have already fought harder than you ever believed
you were capable of doing. You are going to tell them
that you are bestowed with certain unalienable rights:
the right to correct neurochemistry,
the right to eight hours of sleep,
the right to look in the mirror and maybe
just for a second
like what you see.

You are going to look them straight in the eye
and tell them that one day your children will ask you
about depression, or about bipolar disorder,
or about cyclothymia,
and you will be ready,
and you will tell them the truth,
to not be afraid of who they are,
to take the help they need and keep fighting
as long and as hard as possible.

You will walk away from that person
and out of that room
and into the sunlight,
and you are going to keep walking,
and you are going to keep living,
and you will never ever look back.

That is the first step.