Ink Bats

He is old, balding and bespectacled.
A Freudian slip of a man in a sweater vest
sitting across from me.

“I’m going to show you some white cards with black ink blots,” he says,
“and I want you to tell me what you see.”

Rorschach? Really? How cliché.
I say nothing. Soon enough I’ll be back on the ward
where everything is white.
Black ink blots seem downright festive at this point.

He holds up the first card expectantly.
“A bat,” I say.
Second card.
“Two bats.”
We continue thusly, well past either of our
enthusiasm for the task.

What does he make of all the bats I see?
Likely thinks I’m bat-shit crazy.
But really, I’m just reminded of my ramshackle apartment
and how bats fly in at night through the open window.

It’s happened more than once. More than twice.
Hence, I’m seeing bats. Ink bats.

He never asks what’s up with all the bats.
By the time he displays the last card, it’s painfully obvious:
at least one of us is not playing with a full deck.

I am given no diagnosis, no analysis,
no Rorschach cheat sheet to explain
the symbolism of bats.

I’m just returned to the white-walled ward,
where I will sleep that night in a hospital bed
and dream of ink blots flying away
through an open window.

dVerse Tuesday Poetics: Madness   — “For this Poetics Challenge, write in the 1st or 3rd person of your own experiences (real or imagined) or your witnessing mental health issues.”

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Weekend Wildcard (Flashback #4: Breaking the Barrier)

WILDCARD lifting

[Flashback #4 is my re-posting from a blog I wrote several years ago about my struggles with depression. My purpose in revisiting the “old” me is to remind myself and any others who care to read, to “claim the positive energy that is available to each of us for our own benefit and for the benefit of others.”]

This is a post from July 19, 2012:

Breaking the Barrier

“Things are only impossible until they’re not.”  
~ Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

I came across a website the other day, DepressionTribe, which is a community site for people who are affected by depression. The philosophy of the site is that “individuals become empowered to help themselves and others when they feel a part of something larger.” The site allows members to create profile pages and share stories, photos, videos, music and artwork; to chat, participate in  groups, and leave comments; and provides a venue for creating personal blogs. I haven’t poked around the site enough to make a recommendation, but it looks interesting.

While reading some of the members’ posts on the site, I was reminded of how destructive depression can be. I didn’t think I would ever need to be reminded, since I was living it day in and day out for so long. But reading about the hopelessness, the fear, the frustration and the hurt made me realize how fortunate I am to be experiencing a reprieve right now. I am riding a wave at present, enjoying life and appreciating all that I have been blessed with. I’ve come through to the other side. I have survived. Again.

My experience is that depression is a cyclical thing in my life. While I try not to dwell on it, I do not think I have seen the last of it. There has been a shift for me, though. I am choosing to savor my current contentment without constantly looking over my shoulder and wondering when I will be hit by despair once again. I am living life in the moment for a change. And I am continuing to make gains in physical and mental health that I hope will help me down the road when the wave crashes again. Maybe I won’t fall so far next time, maybe I won’t stay down so long. Maybe I’ll be able to remember that I was healthy and happy not so long ago and that will give me more strength or more hope for seeing it through yet again.

Life isn’t perfect right now. There’s that whole nagging issue of having no clue as to how I am going to make it financially in the future. But otherwise, things are better than I thought I could ever expect. I am reminded of the four minute mile. People used to think that running a mile in under four minutes was a physical impossibility for humans.  Runners came close to completing the mile run in that amount of time, but no one could break through that four minute barrier.

In May of 1954, runner Roger Bannister did the impossible. He completed the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, disproving the notion that it couldn’t be done. And soon after, other runners began beating the four minute mile as well. What had seemed to be a physical barrier had perhaps been more of a psychological barrier instead.

When we’re depressed, it sometimes seems impossible that we will ever be happy, that life will ever be worthwhile. I have proven to myself that that does not have to be the case. We all have different circumstances, of course, and some of us have greater burdens to overcome than others, but a better life is possible if we don’t give up.

The barrier has been broken for me, and I am doing everything I can to ingrain that into my mind. The theme from Rocky is running through my head, and I feel all inspired to go running now. But I think I’ll settle for a walk to the mailbox.

One barrier at a time.

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Wordless Wednesday: Wild Carrot

wild carrot

wild carrot2

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Back of things

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constructing constructs
contradicts simplifying

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Lines and Angles

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Lost and Found

spider and bug

The spider works quickly to get the larger insect wrapped within its web. The insect doesn’t struggle; it may be dead. But the web is in tatters and shakes violently every time the spider moves. I watch the action, hoping the spider secures its hard-won meal before the web gives out.

Progress is slow, and my attention wavers. When I check back, the spider is sitting motionless in its sparse web, and the big catch-of-the-day is nowhere in sight. Has it fallen from the web? After all the spider’s hard work? I am compelled to make it right, find the bug. Maybe I can stick it back on the web somehow.

I part the plants beneath the spider’s web, and sure enough, there it is. Still wrapped in webbing. Still dead. But… moving? Two small ants have taken a hold of the hapless bug and are hauling it off as their own pre-wrapped prize. I am too late. Nature has already made it right.

nature’s web pulled taught
broken strands and gaping holes
mend on, weavers, mend

dVerse Haibun Monday — Lost and Found: Nature’s Magic

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Wordless Wednesday 5.08.19


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In Between


In those moments between asleep and awake,
with dreams still sweet upon our tongues,
their fragrance lingering in our minds,
that is the time to decide if we are
dreaming awake or dreaming asleep,
and whether we want to keep our dreams,
make them manifest in our awakening,
or let them drift away unchosen.

If we awaken from – or into –
a nightmare, we are left with
the same choices.

We must choose well, especially with
those dreams that come
when we are awake.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #47: In-Between

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