“Strong and Sturdy”

CW/TW: suicidal ideation.

The grotesque irony of realising that you do indeed need to be hospitalised for your own safety and that of others even though the psych ward is a horrible place to be and you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy and you generally end up being discharged from hospital in a worse state than you were in when you arrived and you do everything in your power to avoid hospitalisation at all costs but today is a really bad day and you’ve had a really bad week and a really bad life and you think, “God, yes, okay, I should definitely be in hospital” for fuck’s sake and so you frantically attempt to gather together some of your meagre possessions even though you know most of them will be confiscated upon arrival and you’ll never see these pathetic objects again but you need to throw some stuff into a bag because that’s what people do when they’re going away for a while and you pick up the only bag you can find which is one of those supermarket carry-all bags that cost 50p because they’re made of tougher material and they’re an investment because you can use them multiple times instead of complaining every time you pay 5p for one of those too-small flimsy plastic bags that instantly tears under the weight of six cans of lager so you throw your big bag o’ meds and a jumper and a comb and a towel into this bag that the supermarkets call a “Bag for Life” and you’ve laughed at the idea of that before how this Bag for Life will survive longer than you will even when it ends up festering in landfill or smothering a turtle in some faraway ocean and you look at the bag and it has a picture of an elephant on it and underneath the cartoon elephant it says, “I’m strong and sturdy!” and you laugh for about fifteen minutes about the tragic fucking irony of the bag being “strong and sturdy” when you are everything but strong and sturdy because you’re weak and unstable because borderline personality disorder is trying to kill you and you’re trying to kill you and then you sit on the floor and begin to cry because your brain is too broken to remember if pachyderm is a word related to elephants or if it’s some kind of skin disease but then you think maybe it’s not a real word at all and in this moment quite frankly you don’t know anything anymore other than the fact that the only thing you and that fucking elephant have in common is that you’re both endangered.

Originally published by trampset (September 2022).

If you enjoyed this piece, you can get a copy of my debut full-length collection, History of Present Complaint. History of Present Complaint was listed in the Top 25 books of The Poetry Book Awards 2022.


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