Shame, Poetry, and Cupcakes

March 8, 2012

Even though I write a blog about recovery from a mental illness, have facilitated NAMI Connections group in the past, and am a NAMI In Our Own Voice presenter, I still struggle with feeling ashamed of my mental illness at times. It mainly happens when I compare myself to people that do not appear to struggle with mental illness.  Of course, mental illness is often an invisible illness and so, I really should know better than to compare myself to other people, but sometimes I do.  Sometimes I look at other people my age who have partners, live on their own, or have a well-paying job and I feel dissatisfied with my own life and sad about what could have been.  It's tough dealing with these emotions, especially if I am feeling depressed, but before I can combat them by being grateful for what I do have, I need to process and give voice to the feelings of shame, so that I can lay them to rest and move on with my life.  Here are some poems I have written recently about shame, depression, anxiety, and hope.

Garments of Shame

Is a garment I wear-
A burka,
It covers me over
And I am over-flowing with emotion.

Over the childhood I lost;
At injustice;
Full of wrath
At the way I hand over my power
To all or nothing thinking,
To worrying that I am not good enough
To the lie that I will stay stuck here forever,
Mired in the quicksand of endless anxiety.

I want renewal.
I need reassurance
That I am okay;
That I am Enough, but not too much;
That I am worthy and deserving
Of being my own person,
Living with no apologies.

And yet, here I am,
Feeling sorry for my own existence,
Worshipping the crown of self-pity,
And wondering if I dare
Take off a scarf,
Loosen a belt,
Remove a shoe,
Undo the sheath of shame
That encircles me,
Oppresses me,
And quickens my death.

Leaving Shame Behind

Is a house I live in-
A mansion of despair with many empty rooms.
There are stairways to nothing,
Every door a dead-end.
They’re locked, bolted, and chained.
And I rattle, shake them, and I scream,
But all the doors stay shut.

How will I escape?
I open the window of Hope-
My present does not have to continue.
On hands and knees,
I crawl out the window
To meet the Architect
Who will help me design
A home of my own choosing.

Mental Illness
Consuming Disorders

My Soul is in Shackles.

Again and Again and Again

One Step at a Time
Minute by Minute
“Keep Coming Back”
I’ll Get There One Day.


 A Prayer

Depression stretches out my days
Until I am pulled apart so far
That I am afraid I’m going to snap
Or break.

O God of My Understanding-
Energize me, so that my days
May be short and free
And I will look forward
Towards eternity.

One thing I am not ashamed of any longer is eating and trying out new delicious foods.  One day last week, I went with the teenager I work with to Sweets on the Square-home of the square cupcake-in downtown Lawrenceville, GA. We decided to each get a different kind of cupcake to share.

She bought an Irish Cream cupcake with chocolate icing....
and I ordered a maple bacon cupcake.  They were both moist and full of flavor, but I must say, I liked the maple bacon cupcake the best.  In fact, it may have been the best cupcake I have ever tasted in my whole entire life and I was dreaming about eating another one, even the next morning!  It tasted almost like a breakfast cupcake, for even though it was very sweet, the sweetness was balanced out by a nice savory flavor.  The maple flavoring was rich and reminded me of maple syrup.  Sweets on the Square was named the best bakery in Gwinnett in 2011 and I could certainly see why.
After writing my poetry, my feelings of shame practically vanished-addressing them left room in my heart for recovery and thoughts of gratitude, for there are a lot of things to be grateful for and I do have a lot of privileges.  I have loving parents who are still alive and are willing to provide for me.  I have medications that work and therapists and doctors that respect me and treat me with kindness.  I have a church, other support groups, and friends that give me support and validation.  And I have cupcakes to appreciate!  Something as simple as enjoying a delicious cupcake reminds me of the joy in this world and how far I have come from my eating disordered days.  I'm sure I will be back to Sweets on the Square some day and if you're ever nearby, I would encourage you to support them-as they like to advertise, "enter as strangers, leave as friends..."

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