By: El O'Brien

Psychosis isn’t just voices in your head and torturing bugs, but being unable to tell fantasy from reality. Stuck in my own personal hell but no one else can see it
It's being sent to secured wards, on constant watch, because sometimes other kids look too much like my hallucinations off a young girl following me, spiders crawling out of her face, bloody eyes bulging and lips sewn into a smile
And I wonder how I can still hear her laugh with her mouth closed.
Giggles aren’t much of an answer.
And I almost find it funny: the school’s million mandatory mental health rallies that don’t cover anything that really matters
That don't mention the boy they planted a sapling for last November or how I see a different classmate every trip to the mental hospital. They don't acknowledge cluster C or mania or psychotic disorders
Because quality over quantity, right?
The more pills down my throat, the lower my worth, the less my hallucinations feel real

But they are.

It starts in bugs that dig trenches in my skin and up my spine, down my shoulders, under my fingernails
Fingernails I spent so long painting, because sometimes the prescriptions don't work and the only thing keeping me from hurting someone is the high of evaporated acetone
Or of sneaking shots out of my parents’ liquor stash
Or of my arms smiling red against sharp silver, trying to figure out which makes the prettiest colors, draws the nicest lines, helps me pull the spiders out fastest.

But it isn't pretty, it's deciding between killing my cat or turning the shower until the water boils, burning
And I'm scrubbing
until my skin comes out red and raw and blistered and bleeding and patches of flesh are flaking off-

...But that's okay

because my psychosis isn’t real.  Or at least that's what my parents say
No amount of aloe can help the sting of their words, the sting of my skin, but at least no one is hurt...

Except me.

Every time I can't help with dinner, or fix the dress I ripped, or spread butter on bread
Because trusting me with knives and needles is a hazard

They don't understand that the smell of blood draws flies and the feeling of a knife against my skin draws satisfaction and the whipping of wind across my face draws joy as I stand in the middle of the street
Eyes closed as cars speed by
Arms open for whatever happens.

But it's alright...

It’s almost funny
I’m almost laughing