New Voices

You May as Well Use an Empty Canvas

by Hanh Pham | genderqueer | they/them pronouns

Writing this on my body was meant to be a cleansing experience - and for the most part, it was. I have felt discomfited in this body for a while, and I am trying to claim the best parts of it that I can. I often feel like hurting myself, in mental and physical ways. Depression isn't romantic - and it's not cool, and I don't want you to look at my legs and think, "oh, they're really cool for doing this," and think that my sickness is pretty. It's not. I have mental illness - I have depression and anxiety, and it really hurts, and I have communicated that hurt in the most productive way I could. This is a declaration, a reclamation, and ritual to prevent myself from becoming so wrapped up in my head that I cease to breathe. Thank you, for everyone who takes the time to read this. I would also like to add some content/trigger warnings for suicidal thoughts. If you want to reach out to me to talk about this, feel free to message me on Facebook or email me at htpham@wesleyan.edu
There are days when I feel –
        That is to say sometimes I can feel
If numbness is a feeling I guess you could
  say I feel all the time
I wish I could say I was angry
        (all the time)
At least then I’d have something in my chest
        because sometimes I wake up and see nothing in the mirror
                and I hear a wailing –
        the sound made by all the wind
        echoing through the gaping cave I call a chest
Sometimes I think – why do you care so much?
And there are days I know the answer
                is that I’m making up for when I think,
        quietly,
                loudly,
       – when am I ever going to care again?
I want to say depression is an allergy,
        But in reaction to what?
How can I tell you that sometimes I think,
                       This sickness will kill me
or that sometimes I think it already has, because
What life am I living?
Perhaps I am allergic to life,
        and my mind is trying to tell me so.
My symptoms:
        that hollow feeling, like
I am a zombie, staring at a life not mine
        Walking slowly till something looks at me and goes,
        oh –
                and kills me
        the inability to wake up – the feeling
                of strength and will draining,
a paralyzed patient waiting for a doctor to read out those last, fateful numbers
this feeling of a cold that can’t be described or diagnosed
                the sense that my time is numbered.
I take medication every night
        I see my doctors once a week
Sometimes they tell me I’m making progress –
                       I’ll see you in a week
I don’t know how they can be so sure,
because it’s so easy to forget those days I came in with
        dead eyes and
                dead heart
                       asking for help –
                              for mercy,
I want to say my depression sometimes mimicks the feeling of death
        but it’s not enough
because I am still alive, but
        just sick enough to feel

Only I wish I didn’t.
(Only that is a lie).
Ocean GaoComment