The competition begins with “Who had the worst childhood.”

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay
Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Mental health is beginning to feel like a competition.

I don’t mean mental health is a fight. At least, not in the way you would think. I’m not afraid to discuss my mental health struggles or fighting with negative stigma about my disease(s). Nor am I referring to fighting against my actual mental health issues, although that is also a constant battle.

No, the competition seems to come from within the mental health community, from others who I expected would be standing by my side and who instead seem to be standing in opposition.

Perhaps it began in rehab. While…

An exercise in futility

I could go to Target. Or maybe Kohl’s. Not Walmart. She would be offended about being forced to go to Walmart to return it. Returning gifts is always a possibility with her. We got that from Mom. From the fact that we had to return so many gifts she gave us. I couldn’t stand to go into a Macy’s. Really, I should go to one of those boutique shops downtown. The kind that spell “shoppe” with an extra ‘p’ and an ‘e.’ Better yet, I should have spent the last month in all the little boutique…

A speculative tale about what could have been.

Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay
Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay


They gather at Stephanie’s house. It’s not the largest, or even the most convenient, but since she is cooking the turkey this year, that’s where they go. Dresses, slacks, and ties on, they start arriving too early. Dad hovers, checking unnecessarily that everything is being done the right way. Mom brings her stuffing, two pies, and the cranberry sauce. She helps Stephanie with the basting and they have a small disagreement about when to put the stuffing in.

Jen calls from Utah. It’s her in-law’s turn to host Thanksgiving this year…

Rethinking seasonal mental health struggles

Fall leaves out a window Photo by S. Anne Kelln copyright 2019
Fall leaves out a window Photo by S. Anne Kelln copyright 2019
Photo by S. Anne Kelln, copyright 2019

Season of SAD

I love the fall. And I hate it too.

I love the chill in the air, the changing leaves. I revel in the sweaters and hot drinks and seasonal produce.

At the same time, I hate the shorter days, diminished sunlight. I dread the bitter cold and holidays and the need for socks.

While autumn is my favorite season, the dark side of Fall is the descent of my seasonal affective disorder. SAD. The worst part is, I hate admitting I have SAD.

I’m not reluctant to admit that I struggle with mental health, or that I need a little…

Orange sunrise; Photo by S. Anne Kelln copyright 2020
Orange sunrise; Photo by S. Anne Kelln copyright 2020
Photo by S. Anne Kelln copyright 2020

The End of the World Comes With a Blood Red Sun

a perfect orb without dimension
red-orange color defies description

it travels so it seems while i stand still
stuck in the moment i stopped believing

i stand while the eye moves
plague, locusts, fire, flood,
now we await the horsemen

don’t tell the world the truth
wait until they see it on you
but they are too busy
being seen to see

saint john saw flying wheeled beasts
i drive one to school each day
perhaps what he meant
is the end would come this way

not in one moment
of righteous uplift
but in a slow boil
we bring on ourselves…

This man died, tragically, unnecessarily, by a preventable and curable disease called alcoholism

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

We buried my brother on Tuesday.

He was 43 years old.

He died alone in his house on a Friday night. The death certificate lists “pneumonia” as the cause of death. But that’s not what killed him.

Thirty years ago, we buried my grandmother.

She was 72 years old. Her death certificate says “pancreatic cancer.” But that’s not what killed her.

In between my grandmother and my brother, my uncle and maternal grandfather passed. Their causes of death? Kidney failure and lung cancer, respectively. All four death certificates state reasonable, tragic, but completely understandable reasons for how their lives ended…

Friday Fix Prompt for August 21, 2020 — Forget

A screen appeared in front of her.

“Simply select the people, places, and events you wish to forget,” the doctor said, “But remember that periphery memories could be affected.”

She chose which memories to be deleted, signed the waiver, laid down on the operating table.

“Let’s begin,” a voice said.

Friday Fix Prompt for August 7

Absence and Presence

Your perfume faded today. It lasted longer than the memory of your face; longer than the imprint of your body in the bedsheets. Your scent lasted longer than the frozen casseroles, and the flowers from the funeral I tried to dry.

Your absence fills more space than your presence did.

I’m like any modern parent. I constantly worry about every single decision, and it’s effects on the long-term happiness and adjustment of my children.

Do I breast-feed or bottle?

Co-sleep or own crib?

Cry it out or up multiple times?

Preschool or home daycare?

Working mom or SAHM?

And a million other decisions, big and small, that people on both sides feel are all life or death decisions. No matter what you choose for your children, there’s going to be someone telling you it’s the wrong choice.

Parenthood is full of stressful choices under normal circumstances, but being stuck at…

I was three months into my “healing separation” from my mom when my sister suggested a Zoom call with the whole family.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

It was six weeks into the Stay At Home Order. Each of my four siblings had been almost non-responsive. We all had our own families to focus on, our own work-from-home and homeschooling schedules to manage. So connecting with each other, and with my parents, was last on our priority list.

To be honest, I was relieved. My family is not the best for my mental health.

In a time of high stress and anxiety, I knew that the best thing for me and my own family (my husband and two kids) was to leave my family of origin out…

Anne Davis

Writer, educator, mom, coffee lover. I write memoir and creative nonfiction about psychology and mental health. Twitter @running_shadows IG @s_annewriter

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