you deserve more
than pithy observations and optimistic poeticisms from prize-winning authors or mental health warriors.
more than the everyday tropes about stigma
about wilful ignorance
about big pharma and natural remedies
about the evils of the social order
about how to sleep and eat and breathe and move and be grateful.

you deserve acknowledgement
that your suffering is, right now, invulnerable to all that.
that your suffering is seen for the tragedy that it is.
that I see you there, on your knees, burning
subsumed by an infinite desert, collapsing in around you
shrinking to a solid point in the middle of you
and swelling into a vicious inner Cosmos
black and cold and timeless, invisible to the outside world
an infinite plane of impossibility
a wicked, wicked place
unreceptive to persuasion, deaf to poetry, blind to beauty, numb to love.

you deserve to know
that your struggle is not yet another thing you are wrong about.
that you resist your pain for exactly the reason that any animal withdraws from a knife blade held against its neck.
that you have to contend with the tormenting awareness that this unavoidable recoiling might well embolden the forces that constrain you.
and while shame and self-blame sweeps across you for this
you deserve to know
that I do not blame you for one second
and I will never ask you to believe that while I hide behind pretty aphorisms that suggest the opposite.
and you deserve to know that when I do so, inadvertently, I am wrong, and you have every right to call me out.

you deserve to know
that the average person, wise and lyrical as they may be
does not think twice about drugging a headache
or bandaging a wound
or applying ointment to a rash
or moaning about their terrible flu
or caffeinating their way into the day
or swearing at a loved one over a petty indiscretion.
they have no right ever to shame your attempts at finding healing from without.

you are trapped in one of nature’s most sadistic games.
it is not your fault.
I have been somewhere similar, I might be there right now.
I can paint a vague picture with my words, but I do not know Your pain.
I do not have a solution.
my heart bleeds for you.

you deserve to know
that you are allowed to hate the Universe.
that when I see the outline of your pain, through the frosted glass of duality,
I hate the Universe
and I love you.

(A note to the poets: I do not intend for a moment to shame your work. It is beautiful and powerful and you deserve to feel proud of it. I am simply trying to approach compassion and awareness in a way that I feel receives too little airtime. I believe the audience for whom this piece will be meaningful are in more pressing need of a depth of validation than the audience whose ideas or feelings may be challenged by it.)