For anyone following this blog specifically for the mental health content, I have moved all that stuff (and more!) to my new site Wellness with M.K. I’m excited to have a new platform specifically for (what tends to be more personal) Mental Health content that I can separate from my “professional” writing portfolio and more academic work.
I’ll still be putting the same amount of effort and research into my posts. They’ll just be in a place to which potential employers won’t be immediately directed as I look for a job. Because of the personal nature of some of the information I share, and the stigma surrounding mental health, I think the best thing for me to do right now is to separate my information into two different outlets.
I think this separation is actually something that will motivate me to post more often in both places. So, if you’re here for health and wellness information and my personal health journey, head over to Wellness with M.K. and click “Follow!”
July 25, 2017: This post has been featured on The Mighty as “The Pros and Cons of Watching ‘The Keepers’ as a Sexual Abuse Survivor”.
Trigger Warning: This post discusses sexual assault and mentions suicidal ideation. If you need support, you can call RAINN/National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or text “Start” to 741741 to reach the anonymous Crisis Text Line.
Released in May 2017, the Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary series The Keepers examines the decades-old unsolved murder of beloved Catholic School Teacher Sister Cathy Cesnick in Baltimore. The series connects the nun’s disappearance and murder to the claims of sexual abuse filed against the then-chaplain of Archbishop Keogh High School by former-students in the 1990’s. Through interviews and conversations with former Keogh students, The Keepers pieces together the story of Sister Cathy, the dark testimonies of mistreatment by chaplain Father Maskell, and the ways in which the cases may have been mishandled by Baltimore police or repressed by the Catholic Church.
As a lover of true-crime, I was very excited for the series’ release, but as a sexual assault survivor, I was afraid to watch it. My abusers were not members of the clergy, but any stories or images of sexual abuse can trigger me and send me into a state of hypervigilance and panic. Fueled by curiosity and perhaps a bit of masochism, I turned it on, against my better judgment. The first episode of The Keepers is harmless enough (as far as brutal, unsolved murders go), so I decided to continue, naively unaware of the truly horrifying narrative ahead. Continue reading “The Good and Bad of Watching The Keepers as a Sexual Assault Survivor”
July 7, 2017: This post has been featured on The Mighty as “To the Friends I’ve Pushed Away While Working Through My Mental Illness.”
Lately, I’ve been feeling very guilty. I wish I didn’t feel that way. I wish I could easily tell myself that I’m taking care of me, and that I’m not responsible for how other people feel, or what other people are doing, or how other people react to me. But I can’t. Not yet, anyway. I’m working on my ability to separate my own feelings from others’, and as someone who has internalized others’ feelings my entire life, it isn’t an easy process. Continue reading “What I Want to Tell My Friends About My Recent Social Isolation”
May 16, 2017: This post has been featured on The Mighty as “When ‘I Want to Die’ Replays Like a Song Stuck in My Head”
Note: This post discusses suicide ideation and may be triggering. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
I want to die.
This is a thought that plays over and over in my head, endlessly, without prompting or any feasible substance behind it. I want to die. I want to die. To die. Die. And I have no real reason for this. I have no evidence as to why I should die, or any idea of why this desire is so strong. I can’t say, “I want to die because…[fill in the blank].” There is no blank. There is nothing. But it’s there, all the same. The words, like a tape on loop, playing until I can’t stand to hear them anymore. I want to die. I want to die. I want to die. Continue reading “Automatic Thoughts and the Song Stuck in Your Head”
Nowhere; you’re in the middle of it.
Corn is the only metaphor available to you. Illinois actually produces more soybeans than corn annually, but you still choose corn as the metaphor because it is more relatable to the general population. You compare your skin as it dries in the autumn breeze to the recently scythed cornhusks withering in the dusk. The corn will be stamped into the earth by months of harsh midwest winter weather just as Johnson & Johnson moisturizer will be slathered onto your face when you go back inside. You only came out here to contemplate corn, hoping to derive from it more than a metaphor for dry skin. Your hopes are dashed. It is just corn. You are just a sad midwest writer. Continue reading “A Sad Midwest Essay”
In eighth grade art class, I made a stained glass window. I cut shapes out of a piece of black construction paper to create the outline of the windowpane and glued tiny bits of colored tissue paper over the spaces to mimic the glass. The assignment was to fill in the parts of the rectangular paper window and suspend a silhouette in the middle. I went to Catholic school, so a lot of the shapes we got to choose from were spiritual symbols: doves, crosses, the holy Eucharist. (I believe it was an Easter-time art project.) The silhouette I chose to create was a butterfly, a symbol of new life. Instead of making the butterfly a black shadow on the colorful background, I decided to make it bright and real. I cut soft patterns in the wings and filled them with light spring colors while the window itself had a hard, angular design with dark blues, purples, and reds. Continue reading “Forgiving Oneself as a Writer”
When we were younger, my family would watch storms together. We rolled up the garage door, and sat in lawn chairs, just under the edge of the roof. Close enough to the rain to touch it, but not close enough to get wet. We only watched when there was lightning. If there was just a shower, we kept inside. We liked to feel the electricity in the air.
Last spring in Galesburg, the city where I sometimes live, the Spoon River tipped its banks and spilled down a hill into a student lounge at Carl Sandburg College. The force of the water was so strong that it ripped the doors of the building off its hinges and set computer desks afloat. The rest of the city flooded, too. People were stranded, afraid their homes would be destroyed. The most I saw was the mote around my school’s library. We live on a hill. Continue reading “When It Rains, It Floods”