She Fed Love

Noemy Segura

            Maddie would look at it for three hours straight. She always felt bad for not polishing it and even more for calling it “it”. It was her mother for god sake! She knew better but somehow this ritual practice only made her feel worse. Her eyes would redden, and her stomach would flatten every time she would try to make sense as to why she no longer loved her.

            Her mother was sick. Maddie had begged her to fight, please mom live, and her mom begged her to leave her alone. You aren’t letting me live by telling me to keep on living she’d say. All Ms. Katie wanted was for everyone to know that after she passed, at least her soul would not die with her. She lingered at the thought that her mother’s soul was wandering in that dusty vase. Maybe she wanted to get out, maybe she liked being inside because it was like a cocoon. Maybe, only maybe. Ms. Katie had said before it’s better for a soul to have a comforting place where love is nurtured by those outside of it. The fruit bears out of love my child. The soul must be fed, and it is only fed by those who the soul accepts.

            Perhaps her mother never loved her. The more she’d stare, the more she’d feel the spirit of her mother push her away, the more she felt herself wanting to crack the vase and eat the ashes away. She’d at least feel peace knowing her mother’s soul was inside her and not inside the stupid green and pink flower vase she had bought three months ago at a thrift store.

            Sitting in her blue dress, ten feet from the vase, she wished her mom would come to take it off. She wanted her mom to see her nudity like the day she saw hers. She found her mother naked in the bathtub. Mom it’s time for dinner, and her mom like a moth caressed the tub. If only her mom had waited to take a bath after dinner, maybe, she wouldn’t have died. The Chinese food she had prepared that day would have given her a smile or the pumpkin pie she had baked would have given her the sweetness she needed. No, her mother was so stubborn. That’s why she had so many wrinkles. She yelled all the time at Maddie for obstructing her schedule if she hadn’t done what she wanted on time. Mom I’ll clean the garden, you go inside and rest.

            No child, and she’d continue to tug on the weeds as she felt her heart barely beat up in the air. Her white hands reminding her that her veins weren’t carrying enough white blood cells anymore- killing her as they diminished in blood quantity each day, hour and second.

            She hated herself for hating the vase, and she hated that her mother never cared for her suffering. She sat up from the rocking chair and took the vase in her hands from the countertop of the kitchen. She gripped it with all her might just as her mother would hug her at bedtime when she was a child. Goosebumps rose from her toes to her fox face, and she felt her mother choke the words that wanted to fly out of her mouth to say, I hate you mother. I hate you for not letting me help. It’s your own fault you died! A tornado of birds started to form inside her. If she broke the vase her mother would be mad, and if she didn’t, she’d have to continue to do her rituals until one day her mother would finally give in. Until her mother finally realized she was wrong.

            What’s so special about living in a fucken vase! She yelled. Maddie cried as she remembered all of this. She felt her hands weaken. She slipped onto the floor holding the vase at her chest. Bent down, her knees dug for help, and her head crossed a bridge of hopelessness.

            From the window of the tight cardboard house a butterfly flew onto the vase. Maddie stopped crying and the tiny colored creature slipped onto her fingers. Maddie held it with such sensitivity. She examined it as she had examined her mother when she first found out the news she had breast cancer. Momma is this you? She spoke to the butterfly and not at the vase. She placed the vase next to her and still in a prayer position, she hugged the butterfly.

Sitting and waiting

Maddie fought

She fed her mom since-

The leaves of summer and spring

The love that outgrew her hatred

Forever will be

Diagnosed

Melissa Feller

            Waiting in the doctor’s office takes an eternity. It is cold, and I do not want to be there. I think back to when I requested a psychiatrist from my psychologist and how I regret doing it. My brain explodes into images of the doctor saying multiple disorders and I get sicker with each new “diagnosis.” The doctor finally comes out and calls my name; I am extremely anxious as I walk behind him. I almost say, “There has been a mistake; I don’t really need a psychiatrist. Surprise!” But my throat is closed too tightly for it to come out. Sitting in his office, I feel out of place and my thought process is stuck on you shouldn’t be here, you shouldn’t be here. He asks why I’m here to see him, and I start crying. It is uncontrollable; I do not say anything for the first couple of minutes because I am trying to stop crying. Afterwards, he asks me why I started crying. I tell him that I do not want to be here. He gives me a look and waits a beat. “How do you feel right now?” I think over it a bit, “Embarrassed, mostly. Anxious. I feel like I’m being lured into a trap.” He asks me if I always feel like that: the answer is yes. He prods a little deeper with each question he asks until I’m crying again. He simply states that, “I believe you have bipolar NOS with severe anxiety.”

            I freeze in my chair and think back to when I was eleven years old and heading back from my first psychiatrist. My mother just staring out the windshield, not acknowledging me. I sat huddled in the corner of my seat not knowing what to do. When we got home, my mother asked me, “Why couldn’t you be normal?”

            Returning to myself, I realize I’m having a panic attack in my psychiatrist office.

            My psychiatrist explains to me that Bipolar NOS means Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Bipolar NOS is where I experience being bipolar—with its manic and depressive episodes, but I do not fit into a special bipolar box. He gives me a set of pills. I notice that they are not the ones my first psychiatrist prescribed me and sends me on my way. I make another appointment with him and visit the pharmacy with embarrassment. I sit in my car and think about how I’m going to tell my parents. My mother’s voice floats around in my head, echoing, “Why couldn’t you be normal?”

            I had slowly started to express myself more before this diagnosis. Now that I think about it, could someone tell? Was I being overtly emotional? Was I really just this messed up little girl who couldn’t control her emotions and was insane? Would I eventually get so bad I would have to be put into inpatient at the hospital? Worse and worse scenarios keep rushing through my head. Somehow, I arrive at my house.

            I do not have any recollection of the drive home and that scares me more. If I cannot even remember driving home, does that mean I should be put into observation so I do not hurt anyone around me? The scenarios in my head progressively get worse and more unrealistic, but I cannot help but be afraid of them. “How’d everything go?” my father asks, scaring me out of my preposterous scenarios.

            “Fine!” I say, not convincing myself, but convincing my father. I stride up the stairs and hide in my room. I glance at where I keep my razors. Suicide has and will always be an option to me. I take the razors out of their box and put them beside the prescriptions the psychiatrist gave me. For a while, I just stare at them. Stare and think about how I’m not normal. I am not a normal person. I have something wrong with me, not like my cousins that I am always compared to. They live great normal lives; they are more successful than me. Is it because of this disease that I am unsuccessful? Is it because of this disease that my family likes my cousins more than me?

            I’m working myself up to another panic attack. I pick up one of the razors and press it to my skin, not slicing, just pressing. I stare at the blade pressing against my skin for a long time. I only stop when my mother calls me down for dinner. At dinner, my father once again asks how my doctor’s appointment went. I answer as vaguely as I can get away with and scurry back up to my room.

            I stare at the group of pills and razors again. I start to daydream. Daydream a world where I am a normal person, where I do not have anxiety and I certainly do not have bipolar disorder. It is then that I see that my daydream is not more than my actual life. In fact, it is my life how it is, maybe a little less shy and more outgoing, but it still is my life. The gears in my head start turning. If my daydream is, essentially, no more different from my actual day-to-day life… I glance at the razors and pills. I pick one up and swallow it down.