Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Survivors Speak: Speaking to Friends & Family Through Poetry


I'm meeting a lot of survivors who are poets, which makes me wonder: Are we poets before our traumas, or does trauma - and then PTSD - bring out the poet in us?

From my own experience I know I've been a writer since I was 7 and was writing poetry before my trauma at age 13. But it was through writing poetry, 20 years later, that I began to cross the bridge back to myself.

And so, the question remains: Are we artists before fate intervenes, or does fate turn us into artists as we struggle to recreate our world?

Today, two poems by a survivor who, when I invited her to write a guest post about the connection she felt between music and healing, showed me poems that are about so much more than that - they are poems about the universal PTSD experience, and the voice of each of us who struggles to communicate from the dark.


Just stop and listen

The more you push
The further I withdraw
The more you talk
The less I listen
The more you think you are helping
The more annoyed I get

Just stop and listen

If you spent a moment in my mind
You would be terrified
The pain I suffer
I'm just trying to take a break
Feel the music

I need to spin off the planet
For a little while
I need to disappear and dance
Stand by me, I'll be okay
In the morning
I’ll go back to my hell


my invisible disease

i have this disease no one can see
i have no cane no glasses
no casts, no crutches
my hair isn’t falling out

i take meds to function
they tell me it’s a crutch
they say suck it up and deal
i wish they could understand!

i hate this illness that swallows me whole
i hate that i can’t predict the triggers
i hate that i can’t stop the panic attacks
i feel like i'm working so hard and getting
no where

i'm a let down a failure
i wish i could just get over it and move on
i can’t find that magic wand


'Survivors Speak' is a weekly feature written by or interviewing a survivor and PTSD experiencer about some positive aspect of healing. If you would like to participate in the series (anonymously if you prefer), please email thoughts, ideas, and topic suggestions to Michele: parasitesof.themind @ yahoo.com.

(Photo: My favorite Gulf War Vet who wishes to remain anonymous.)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In general I would say that poetry often comes out of the experience of PTSD. Why? Not only for the need of expression, but because PTSD breaks continuity and time and the self's own integrity and relation to the world and others.

Writing, especially poetry, which is denser and deeper, is a way to restore these broken links and heal.

They not only let others in, to see the inside of the mind, as one of the poems says; they also restore a narrative which is crucial to restoring health.

Michele Rosenthal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michele Rosenthal said...

@Anonymous - Couldn't have said it better myself! As a writer I have found that to be true often; as a PTSDer I found it really difficult to choose the right words - to find the right words - but so grounding when I did.

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