by Madison Smith

brand of broken

They will tell you it’s nature, not nurture. The disorders and the diseases. Because the list of
                          Bad Things That Need Fixed grows (and they know you’re sensitive about it).

Generational, not situational. It’s true though and you know it. It doesn’t make you feel any less guilty.

          Your mother’s undiagnosed bipolar left you recovering from your childhood. Your grandmother is 67 years old and bulimic, the special kind of bulimic that everyone knows about but refuses to talk about. Your uncle lies and drinks and cries and drinks and lies and “no one knows why.”

                    But you’ve always known that your brand of broken is inherited;
                                                                                                  you come by your damage honestly.

This never was (but always was) your fault; your brain chemistry’s awry,
but you could still try harder.

So stop talking, now. Just take the pills, now. The doctors and mothers know where you hide the razor.

                    But the razors are attached to the tips of your fingers and no matter where you are,                you can get creative.

You want to be honest about all this,

                    but your truth has you hospitalized over and over and at some point, you start to take
     it personally.

So that’s when you learn how to lie. You’re good at that now because the medicines aren’t the only things you hide under your tongue. Truth disintegrates and dissolves in your pooling saliva, the gelatin coating should help it slide away easier.

                    But it doesn’t.

It doesn’t matter when you want to hold the lie close in your cheek and you’re left with bitter powder burning your teeth.

The first hospital stay, you realized. You realized there wasn’t enough time or money or research or therapies or drugs to fix you. Because your brand of broken is inherited.

And you can’t fix blood.

My therapist is crunchy

crunchy like granola. Crunchy like organic tree nuts. Like crisp leaves of kale.
But she’s nice so I guess there’s not much I can really complain about. I like her.
She’s just

She asks me questions like Have you considered meditation? Have you studied your rising moon sign? and talks about how the air quality of my household could be affecting my mood.
And she hands me pamphlets on the benefits of aromatherapy massages.

She recommends only consuming foods that are non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, all natural, and locally sourced. You would be amazed at the level of toxins in your body. Processed foods are poison, just poison. Which is fine and all sure but I make ten dollars an hour with a bachelor’s degree and fifty thousand dollars in student loans and medical debt so I eat what I can get, not what I want and not what I should.

I don’t get the privilege of being picky.

                                                                        I’m pretty sure eating an avocado and some fucking
                                                                        flaxseed won’t cure my bipolar disorder, anyway.

I just want drugs. I don’t want to be even keeled or calm or functioning. I want numb.
A serotonin slumber.
Quit through Quetiapine.
Leave with Lexapro.
Vanish into Venlafaxine.

I want to be anesthetized.

She says,

buy a jar and we’ll call it our JAR OF JOY!

She says write down the everyday pleasant occurrences in your life.

She says put them in our jar. Of course there’s always good, there’s always things to be thankful for. And you like to write, don’t you?

She says we must hold onto them. Reflect on the positive, even the smallest joys:

          ‘i passed my test
          someone held the door for me
          i showered with fancy new soap
          someone said my hair was pretty
                    i got out of bed
                    i didn’t scratch my arms until they bled
                    my parents didn’t find me in their backyard with a bleach bottle to my lips
                    my friends didn’t call campus police to remove the kitchen knives from my dorm
                    i woke up.’

Oh, and use

She says.


Gravity means nothing to me.
Never securely attached to this earth,
A ball of lighting rattling inside a cage of flesh,
Faking stability in my every anxious breath.

I teeter on the edge of a universe of disasters
In every unsure step.