In anticipation of the night I was excited to see you But then we met And the look you gave me said it all without saying anything at all I had warned you I had changed But you refused to believe it and held onto an idealistic image of me in your head Worthless small talk ensued Even though there was nothing left to say Your body language screamed: “Get the fuck away from me” But a small trickle of hope cemented my feet to the ground next to you And then a sorry excuse trickled from your lips And you left me stranded that night
The debut collection of poems Visceral from Melia Cogan is appropriately named since it will make you feel a multitude of intense emotions internally. As a person that feels intense emotions, I loved this book. The book is divided into 3 sections titled Love, Rage, and Death. Reading this book felt like going through a roller coaster of emotions-from sexy to anger to sadness. Personally, for me, this is a good thing. I resonate with poetry that makes me feel my emotions. I picked my favorite poem from each section. This was hard since all the poetry in this collection is amazing.
The first section Love captures the magical feeling of what it’s like to be in love, make love, and be loved. Her poems in this section makes even the most jaded of us feel like there is a world where love is possible. The first poem “Daemon-Lover” leaves you breathless with the raw emotion and sensuality felt throughout the poem. The second stanza is fire as it states, “With a spirit strong as seventy/As his throbbing passion sears me/ With its ‘blind encompassing throbbing power ”(Cogan, 22-25) It makes you feel like you are witnessing passion on display. You might have to take a cold shower after reading this poem. The other poems in this section not only capture the passion of being in love but also the complexity of other feelings that come with it.
The next section of the book is Rage, and you feel the anger and rage within this section.
My favorite poem in this section is Women’s Inheritance which captures the essence of what’s like being a woman in the 21st century. It addresses the misogyny that our modern patriarchal society continues to administer to women. The poem also conveys the disappointment that women feel after being used and discarded nonchalantly by men. The sixth stanza captures this feeling as it states, “Finally, you who I love with my whole self / Could not display this mythical manly bravery/ To tell me the truth/ Why not?” (Cogan, 30-33). The other poems in this section captures the anger felt with different experiences in life ranging from expectations in relationships to abandonment issues. Cogan expresses a raw truth about anger that most people are afraid to express and that is a kind of bravery you don’t see often.
The last section is Death and I’ll just say that you should have a box of tissues by your side because it will probably make you cry. In this section, Cogan is versatile in exploring the theme of death. In this section, my favorite poem is Remember Me for the Birthdays which is how the poet wants to be remembered by her loved ones. The eleventh stanza conveys this as it states, “Remember how I filled you with the urge/to push forward and explore/To engage life, expanding in all good directions” (Cogan, 37-40). Cogan is skillful at portraying grief in a conscientious manner that’s both thoughtful and respectful.
Melia Cogan brings a raw vulnerability and talent to her debut collection. I highly recommend this poetry collection if you are looking for a versatile collection that explores the depth of the human experience. I’m excited to read and review her next poetry book, Love Pangs. Below are the links for both Visceral and Love Pangs.
I wrote this poem in 2004 when I was pregnant with my second child and mad at my boyfriend (future husband) for his lack of affection and attention to me. I was obviously very upset when I wrote this poem and instead of talking to him I wrote and bottled up my anger.
From the ages of 18 to 23, I worked for a government agency as an interpreter. I was well-liked by many of my coworkers and my first supervisor was appreciative of me. I was very good at my job and even cross-trained in many other areas that didn’t “pertain to my job”. However, at that job, I was also bullied and discriminated against for being Latina. I was also slut-shamed by my second supervisor and coworkers the latter 2 years I was there. I don’t want to say I deserved being slut-shamed but I’ll just say that I trusted the wrong coworkers with my private life and they went on to gossip about me to everyone. It was also a very stressful environment because of the work I did and clients I had to interact with. My depression and anxiety went haywire. In 2003, I decided to enroll in my local community college and major in English. In 2004, I was trying to go to school full time, work full time, and deal with my child’s new autism diagnosis. I was breaking down mentally and something had to give so I quit this job. I was fucking done. And this poem was inspired by that moment. I thought I had processed this trauma until it came back up in therapy in the summer of 2021. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had suffered a deep racial trauma that impacted me and still triggered reactions in me. I was angry. There is actually way more to this story and one day I’ll share it when I’m ready.
I wrote this poem in January of 2004 when I was frustrated with Matt and blamed him for my life going awry. Looking back, it was misplaced blame on a situation that only I had control over. At the time, it was much easier to blame Matt rather than take a look at myself and how I was responsible for the mess I made of my life.
I knew I wanted to write a post for Borderline Personality Awareness month, but I didn’t know it would be this post-about having suicidal ideation once again. It’s hard to write about this since I haven’t been here since last summer. Here is a place where I want to do everything or anything to stop the intense emotional turmoil and pain, I’m in. Here is a place where I write dark poetry about ways to end it all. I mean my poetry got so dark; Sylvia Plath would have been proud of me. Here is a place where I cry multiple times a day and any little thing is a trigger, and my coworkers start asking me if I’m okay. Here is a place where it feels like none of the healthy coping mechanisms (writing, music, keeping busy, talking to friends, mindfulness, long walks in nature, etc.) are working and I started to wonder what the point of it all is. What’s worse about this happening this time around was that there was no tragedy or life changing circumstance to trigger these feelings of wanting to die. If I had to pinpoint the trigger of this major depressive episode, it was as simple as upping the dosage of my mood stabilizer. Now, I was already in a low mood since last week because my quality of sleep had gone to shit lately so last week, I asked my medical provider to up the dosage on my mood stabilizer that I take at night to sleep. I was also working an extra shift at my second job, so I was more tired than usual.
On Monday night, I started on the new dosage and on Tuesday morning I woke in a state of extreme anger and agitation. I’ve been here many times before but this time it felt different. Everything and everyone annoyed me to the point that I wrote some really mean and cruel poetry and played my ANGRY AF playlist on repeat. This was the alternative to what I really wanted to do, which was to punch walls or smash something to bits and pieces. I also imploded on myself and went into self-hate mode where I hated my brain chemistry, my BPD, and well basically myself. Being in this negative mindset felt like several steps backwards based on all the progress I’ve made and that made me spiral even more. I cried at lunch that day. I went to my second job and felt fine after.
On Wednesday, I felt I was in a better mood and thought I was in control of my emotions. I even wrote a poem about how my therapist was so instrumental in helping me. Then the afternoon came, and I got a rejection email from a grant I applied for that really hit me straight in the gut. Once again, I was extremely angry and agitated. And I almost went into my “I’m going to be reactive AF” mode. However, I was able to stop myself. I headed to my second job and cried on and off the first two hours of work while I was stocking. Luckily, I reached out to my friend “K” through text and she was responsive. Also, I was closely working with my supervisor the latter part of the night so that kept my mind busy. I ended up going to sleep later than I’m used to and woke up on Thursday a complete and utter emotional mess. Because of the state I was in, I made the responsible decision not to drive that day, but I still went to work. For the first two hours at work, I cried, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. My coworkers kept asking me if I was okay and I lied and said I had a raging headache. I’m not completely out to the whole office yet about my BPD or all my mental health issues. Maybe they bought the lie or maybe they didn’t. Throughout the morning, I tried my best to practice mindfulness to calm down and it helped a little. Then I had a second cup of coffee and that did the trick because I was finally able to be coherent enough to chat with a couple of my coworkers. I want to think that my “masking skills” from the past really helped in making my coworkers not suspect how much of an emotional mess I was. I reached out to my friend “K” once again and other friends and they were all responsive so that helped. And then lunchtime came, and the dark and intrusive thoughts came out in my poetry, and I cried a lot. I guess getting the worst of it out helped because my mood improved in the afternoon. I decided to clean up and organize my office. I made a list of tasks to occupy me at work for the next few days. I made a separate list of tasks I wanted to accomplish in my personal life. I also decided to do something kind for myself and signed up for swimming lessons since I never learned how to swim. I went to my second job and that also kept me busy which helped me tremendously. On Friday, I woke up in a much better mood and drove to work. I felt this huge sense of relief, but I finally felt like I was back to what is now my normal optimistic and confident self. This sent me into a bit of euphoria that got me side eye from one of my coworkers. Lol. Okay, I know it’s kind of ridiculous for a middle-aged woman to get excited at the supermarket over cuatro leches cake and a sour patch energy drink but damn after a 3-day suicidal ideation episode, it’s the little things that count. I took the terrible experience as another way to learn about myself and maybe try more preventive measures next time I switched meds or upped a dosage.
I learned that my mental health was declining when I started listening to the same angry or sad song over and over again. I don’t know how many times I listened to “That’s Hilarious” by Charlie Puth last week. I also learn that when I’m in the worst of it, I need to listen to the “Fuck Love “album by The Kid LAROI. Don’t ask me why, something in my brain finds his teenage angst and anger comforting. I also learned how I dissociate during these episodes. It was like a watching this train wreck of emotions take over my body and mind and not being able to do much about it. It was difficult and scary to experience. The best thing I did was keep going to work at both jobs no matter what. I feel like this kept me busy enough from spiraling even further. Also, planning something to look forward to like scheduling swimming lessons was extremely helpful. Reaching out to friends about how I was feeling bad and getting their love and encouragement helped me as well. And of course, understanding that the feelings of hopelessness and despair won’t last forever and honoring those feelings through journaling and writing poetry is important. For some reason, documenting what’s going on helps me process and get through an episode like this quicker. When I get into a major depressive episode that causes suicidal ideation, it gets scary and lonely. Having a diagnosis like borderline personality disorder makes me 1 in 10 people who could give in to that hopelessness and take action to take my own life. Even at my worst, there is a voice inside of me that is determined not to be that 1 in 10 because well, I’m too awesome to die. Also, if anything else, I don’t want to do that to my children and leave them with that trauma. I’m proud of how I handled this depressive episode. I listened to myself and used all the resources I had to get over it quicker. I remember that last year and the year before then, I had many of these episodes and would either try to drink it away or buy something from Amazon or do something self-destructive. I didn’t do that this time around. The fact that it’s been 10 months since this happened shows how much my mental health has improved. For anyone going through this, understand that you’re not alone and it’s okay to feel how you feel. The important thing is to keep going because even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, there will always be something in life to look forward to or get excited about. It could be new food to taste or that new album from your favorite artist that’s about to come out, or even seeing a rainbow after it rains.