Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit

Hello lovely people, I hope all are hanging in and that your loved ones are safe and sound. For those of you who are going through it medically, emotionally, mentally, I’m sending you condolences. This sucks.

Last week, on Monday, May 4th to be exact, I turned in my thesis,* something I’ve labored over for two years, officially marking the end of my grad school experience and the receipt of my Master of Fine Art for Creative Writing with a focus on Nonfiction. This is a huge deal for a lot of reasons, of course, a true pivotal moment. It means celebration! It means agent queries! It means champagne! It means job hunting! It means debt! Lol!

As I polished up my final 119 pages, one of the last things I did as a review was read it out loud to myself and shuffle phrasing as needed. It took 6+ hours. Six plus hours of revisiting terrible memories of not knowing whether my brother Alex would live or die and reliving the genesis of my own anxiety, the silent, unnamed war happening inside my nine year-old head.

All in one sitting.

Yesterday I had one of those days where I did my best but began feeling hopeless, again. I’m in the same outfit day in, day out, leaving the apartment every few days for fresh air and necessities, like toilet paper… or a curbside margarita.

Seriously, I only leave the house when I need to, and sometimes that’s not for material goods. With mental illness, sometimes I just have to leave my apartment/box in the air to let my eyes focus on something far away and breathe deeply (no people in sight, of course). My eyes are atrophying. They’re different. And, today, I felt a nonexistent cockroach crawling all over me. I had to get out.

Imaginary cockroaches aside, it’s been a big week emotionally, with both the seemingly never ending quarantine and the submission of my thesis all while knowing that my family would not be coming up to NYC to see me walk.

Cheryl Strayed is doing a special podcast series for COVID times called Sugar Calling, and in the latest episode she called Alice Walker. Yes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Alice Walker. It seems her latest work is a collection of poems, one of which she read aloud to Cheryl and listeners. It moved me, and I frantically wrote down an excerpt to share:

The Long Road Home

I am beginning to comprehend
the mystery
of the gift of suffering.
It is true as some
have said
that it is a crucible
in which the gold of one’s spirit
is rendered
and shines.

Alice Walker

So, whatever is tempering the gold of your spirit, whatever your crucible is, if you’re under fire right now, hold fast. According to Alice Walker, eventually you’ll shine.


*Due to its length and subject matter, I will be sharing my thesis on Patreon.

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: How to Perk up When you Feel Like You’ve Been Percocet’d
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: A Poem to Read at Ho…me [ho-uhm]

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