When I moved from primary school to secondary and was required to wear a blazer as part of the uniform, my mum purchased a blazer that was oversized and would last. Which meant by the time I was 13 or 14, and hitting puberty, it fitted a little snug. This was a common snag with my trousers too. I didn’t feel I could go to my mum and ask her to purchase me a uniform that was in a bigger size. There were a lot of things I felt that I could not go to my mum and talk to her about. And this was one of those things that became a problem that snowballed quickly.
I did not enjoy puberty. I hated my body. The clothes that I had to wear were uncomfortable and I felt did not give me protection. I felt vulnerable. I was only allowed in the winter to have a jumper on underneath my blazer and over my white shirt. It had to be removed in class. I didn’t wear a coat. Coats were not cool. Had to carry them around school all day. Not convenient either. That jumper fitted, it felt comfortable and it was a relief to have it.
I did not feel I could express myself. I grew frustrated that I had little control or choice. This was one strand of a whole bunch of balloons I was trying to keep a grip on. My depression grew and grew when I was a teenager. My anxiety caused me to overthink everything. Something as a small as a blazer was an issue. I didn’t understand this then. I thought I had to put up with discomfort.
A bigger issue was how depression was warping my thoughts. It became the default to look up at tall buildings and think of throwing myself off of the edge. I did not care for road safety. As far as I was concerned the car could see me and it had all the time in the world to stop. If it ran me over, who cared. I walked into school and every morning I wished a bomb would have been dropped onto it the night before. I could look at my reflection in the mirror and with no doubt in my mind be able to say to myself I hate you and mean it. I hated myself. I hated that I was every day waking up feeling like shit and then having to attend school, which compounded the feelings I had of feeling like shit. I became obsessed with little things like blazers because I could hang my hopes on in the future maybe being able to have something that would be perfect.
I could not talk to anyone. Everything in my mind became a secret. I had become so used to having the mickey taken out of me, I did not want to share any of my thoughts. I felt my voice did not matter. My social ineptitude became much worse as a teenager. I could not relate to those around me. It made me resent them. It became not about what was good about me, but what was I lacking that I could not have friends or relationships with the girls in my class. Why was I not interested in boys or make-up? What kind of freak was I that I was instead obsessed with Doctor Who and James Dean? (There’s nothing wrong with being different!)
I had a catchphrase as a teenager. It became something I said to everything. It was I don’t care. I didn’t care. Wow, you think not caring gives you freedom. It did not give me any. I fought everything because I did not care. I was an arsehole. You could have asked me if I was left-handed or right-handed and the answer would have been I don’t care. I wasn’t sure of anything.
I was fucking miserable as a teenager. I try to not think about it because if I do, it gives me bad dreams. Of walking those endless school corridors, my footsteps echoing. I try to remember I didn’t know what was going on then and my teachers and my parents did what the protocols were to protect me. They didn’t know what was going on either. I was in the wrong place, trying to connect with the wrong people. It was no one’s fault; I was ill, and it was what it was.
Poem published in SUBROSA Curated by Estefania Schubert & Ingrid M. Calderón-Collins ✍️ TW suicide & self-harm.
This poem pretty much sums up my feelings of being an outsider. I have never felt secure with people, in friendships and it’s all been a fight to fit in, to be accepted and keep a straight face and not appear too ‘weird’. To be honest, looking back I think all of us kids were trying hard to fit in, because it was all about the hierarchy and being cool in school. Better to be in than out. I used to get bullied because I was naive, was shy and wouldn’t stand up for myself, I would believe what people were telling me … about myself. I gave up trying to make friends by the time I was 13 & social isolation accelerated my depression. Social isolation and depression made me both suicidal and self-harm. As did the dysphoria puberty gave me.
I was full of self-pity & hatred because no-one seemed to be able to help or understand me. I didn’t understand why I was struggling to function. I was walking around feeling I was repeatedly being smacked around the head with a frying pan. Teachers only saw me as a pain in the backside, who wouldn’t do their work & would disrupt lessons. I spent so many years denying any feelings I had, feeling it was my fault & thinking no-one liked me because what is there to like? It’s amazing& sad, looking back, at how much of how I behaved & thought was depression and stigma and shame and loneliness and what people had told me I was and should do.
I don’t need to carry that shit anymore!!!!!! I don’t need to keep destroying myself.
I didn’t follow any particular process writing Here Comes the Sun. I wrote the poems in this book on loose pieces of paper, while I was in different countries in Europe. Some of the poems were my reflecting on things and others – scenes that were unfolding at the time. I think this was one of the first chapbooks I put together that had a strong theme. I had written a lot of love poems previously, when I was a baby poet and posting on Tumblr. There are still poems on love in this book, but not as many. There are poems that have humour, are silly and a section of micro-poems too.
When I was putting together the poems in Here Comes the Sun I took care in editing the poems and, in saying them out loud, making sure they sounded right too. I find the movement in traveling, from train to subway to airport etc, exhilarating, so I tried to capture that.
People say ‘oh, you wrote a book,’ and treat it as if it is an achievement. I used to shit on that and say ‘it’s nothing,’ That’s BS. Writing a book takes a lot of courage, a lot of I don’t know what I am doing but I want to be able to communicate with you, the reader, and cause you to see something in a different way or feel emotions. It takes a lot of emotional labour. There is trauma in my poems on travel and I don’t talk about it. Being vulnerable can lead people to use that as a method to hurt you.
Here Comes the Sun, as a phrase, means all the good stuff to me, like hope and being alive and sunshine and summer and beaches and stepping out of an airport into a different country and feeling fresh air.
today i wasn’t thirsty. i didn’t have to clutch a cold carton of orange juice, alternating between pressing it to my forehead to sooth a beating headache and drinking from it because i was so damn thirsty.Continue reading “Sober”→
Loneliness comes in various guises. Sometimes you want to connect, to talk with somebody. Desperately wanting to know someone is willing to talk with you. Sometimes it’s that ache of needing to be hugged, because it’s been so long. Other times it’s just wanting a laugh and forgetting you live half of your life inside your own head. It’s knowing you don’t have a friend to tag in giveaways on Twitter, won’t need an extra seat, and second guessing every damn decision you make.
I remember feeling the loss when I was rejected by friends as a seven-year-old. Friends that thought I was a little bit strange, intense, overzealous. For me it is ingrained now, loneliness. I find my own solutions, sometimes through poetry, and other times good old Google helps me out.
Does technology make us more or less likely to be lonely? I don’t know.
It is different for everybody. I didn’t grow up with technology the likes we have now. I remember tapes and VHS and floppy discs and the house phone. When I begin to use the internet in my late teens I found community and people that I could engage with. It’s incredibly easy to talk to people online when you aren’t so used to it offline. Which is where I have to say it’s about balance. If life offline is OK then it’s much easier to regulate what you are doing online. You won’t be vulnerable to coming into contact with that disease called scroll and compare.