June 30, 2023
This article contains mentions of sensitive content.
inkwells., my debut poetry collection, was released one year ago today by Vanguard Press, an imprint of Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers.
There are many things that could be said for this collection—maybe it’s too raw, maybe it’s too overwritten, maybe it’s been molded too deeply into something it’s not—but this collection was my truth, is my truth, will continue to be my truth. It is the amalgamation of me. I was fourteen years old, nearly three years in on an assortment of mental illnesses gone undiagnosed and ignored on my own volition, and to be honest with you, I don’t have much memory of the time. There is a large segment of my life distinguishable only by memories of scribbling down Word documents, stabbing the pen to the paper when the ink stunted, and the shuffling of Sasha Sloan and Noah Kahan.
There is a large segment of my life distinguishable only by memories of refusing to eat for my debilitating phobia of throwing up, which would in turn induce sickness, which would in turn induce anxiety. There is a large segment of my life distinguishable only by my mother refusing to let me have my bedroom door shut except to get dressed after I had tried to self-harm, or the times when she would make me come to the living room from my bed to play King’s Corners (such has become a ritual every time she notices I’m feeling badly, though I would never tell).
Even with the memories, I am privileged to speak about it. I am privileged to be here.
Many are not so lucky.
Mental health issues often begin early in life, with 50% of psychological illnesses being developed by age 14 and 75% by age 24. In the United States, 21% of adults are experiencing at least one mental illness without knowing. Of these numbers, only 45% of adults and 51% of children receive adequate treatment and experience remission.
And so, in 2021, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34.
I, along with many members of my family, am among the numbers of surviving, and I had not expected to be. The origins of my illnesses speak of the importance of awareness, and the continuing of my life speaks of the importance of solutions—whether medical, scientific, or tackling the detrimental topics of prejudice and abusive authority in movement towards an ultimate inclusivity.
In the final days of Pride Month, especially, we witness a greatening need for the conversation; it is during this month that it is critical we highlight the intersecting Venn diagrams between depression and self-actualization. When we each endure the often-exhaustive process of realizing our identity, and such identity does not coincide with what contemporary society has narrowly normalized, an immense depression may ensue, as it had for me. We are isolated, we are hated, we are unloved—or, at least, that is how we feel.
I generously remind all audiences to be kind to all those questioning or testing the waters of their identities or sexual orientations. The process of becoming is ever in change, and it can be as relieving as it can be disintegrating.
As a fellow individual of change, it is with a certain sensitivity and a feeling of indebt that I announce my collaboration with Joslyn Wolfe, publisher, and Abigail Meyers, podcast host and journalism student, of Focus on Women Magazine to appear on the magazine's acclaimed podcast, which covers topic such as domestic violence, independence, female empowerment, and current events.* Centralized and specializing in the care of mental health and the outlets of creativity, we will be discussing my career, mental health journey, and the lesser-known concept of "literary activism," as coined by yours truly. The episode is now available for listening here.
If I haven’t said it before, thank you for a good, great, extraordinary year, with good, great, extraordinary support in the making of good, great, extraordinary friends. To many, many more.
Be safe and well,
* This article has been updated.