Unasked, Unanswered

I never put trigger warnings in my posts, but I will for this one. TW: mental illness, suicide
This was inspired by the official NaPoWriMo prompt, which is “to write a poem that poses a series of questions” (I hope this fits) and also the Weekly Scribblings prompt about liminal space. In case you’re wondering, I actually feel better after writing this. I thought maybe I shouldn’t post, but I couldn’t resist responding to 2 prompts at once. 🙂

“Are you thinking about suicide?”

Sometimes I call the crisis helpline
Just to hear somebody ask that.

Everyone else — they seem too afraid,
As if posing the question will give it heft,
Will push me over the fragile edge,
Out of that in-between space
And make my traitorous brain say,
“Yes, now that you mention it, I’d
Love to end it” — which is not the case.

“How are you really feeling?”

Sometimes I wonder who has the courage
To take the honest and unvarnished truth.

Everyone else — they seem unaware,
Although many or most would say they care.
I might test them, giving them little hints,
Yet they are shocked, regardless,
If I reveal its seriousness.
Sometimes I wonder, were they not listening,
Or do healthy brains really find that so horrifying?


11 thoughts on “Unasked, Unanswered

  1. They can be listening, and still not understand. Or, listening and not wanting to hear, for then they will feel the need to DO something. Or, listening and wanting to pretend they didn’t hear because they don’t know what to do. Or one of a hundred other things.
    I’ve asked these questions of loved ones, and more. I will say, even with my experience with family members, I miss hints. I miss cues. We have to listen, and even if we don’t understand, learn what to say and do.
    Thank you for posting. I’m glad it helped you, and just maybe it will help someone who reads it.


  2. Fantastic, it really captures that turmoil of not knowing whether to reach out, and worrying about their reaction to the “unvarnished truth”. So well written, so many potential interpretations! Excellent response to the prompt!✨


  3. Unless they’ve been there, I don’t think anyone can understand the abject lonely desire to end it all. For the rest of us, it seems beyond the possible.


  4. Lisa, this is neat. When you get on Medicare the doctors can’t do an annual physical but they can and are supposed to do and annual ‘checkup.’ Part of that is to ask a bunch of suicide related questions, then rate between 1 and 10 the likelihood of the patient committing suicide.
    I also doubled up on the NaPoWriMo prompt and the ‘liminal’ whatever. I used the sleeping wife between hearing the rooster crow and being awake as in liminal territory. It was ???? an afterthought, I had no idea until I came here.


  5. Who has a healthy brain? How do we know if our own brain is? Be that as it may, my brain did react with horror in the immediate instant of realising, ‘Hey, this is factual.’ Because I wouldn’t want you to end yourself, even though I only know you a little. It would seem like a huge waste. Please note, I would rather be horrified for a moment than for someone not reach out in case of need. I am no good at all at picking up hints, about anything. I like direct, clear communication. I would even want you (or whoever) not only to tell me how you are feeling but also what you would wish me to do for you.

    Yes, I get that you’re feeling better. Whew! And you have explained very well what it’s like to be on your inside, that place/time between ‘will I or won’t I’?.


  6. There is such a stigma around mental health where I live, but thank goodness that things are changing. I know for me, the horror would come from hearing someone I cared about was in danger and the fear that I would act in a way or say something that could unintentionally make them feel worse (and that comes from the not-normal part of my brain that houses my social anxiety issues). That part of my brain is also not the greatest at taking hints, so I’d rather take the shock and be there for someone. I am grateful for the ones who were there for me when I entertained suicidal thoughts at a couple of points in my life.


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