I Was Wrong

When I was 18 and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my doctor told me that I needed to be on birth control for the rest of my life because I could not have children.

I believed him.  I can’t believe I wrote and read (at Goddard College) this poem just a few years ago. I was SO wrong about who I am and what I’m capable of. It makes me wonder what I can do next — and it makes me wonder what you can do next.

The first line is “After The Engagement…”

 

Here is the poem:

 

After The Engagement

I am reintroduced to my future in-laws,

with all the facts this time:

I am a natural redhead,

but my brain breaks constantly.

My bipolar disorder has been dampened down

since that dingy hospital room

when I wore white bandages and a paper name tag

around my wrists like matching bracelets.

The PMDD comes most months,

the lithium does not help. My brain

is a fever for 4 – 7 days and somedays

I watch Judge Judy for ten hours

at a time because otherwise I might

plunge off the nearest cliff

or take any opioid I could find,

find it by any means.

Those days I do not know how to love your son.

Or cook Rice-A-Roni for him

or make beds or cheer up
because I am delirium.

The bipolar disorder is hereditary.

And, anyway, carrying a baby is out of the question

because I’d poison the poor thing in the womb,

and even if it lived studies say I might kill it.

I’m sorry. I know you liked me blue eyed and smiling.

“You’d be such a good mother,” you said that day

we played at the park with his nephews.

I love that you said it. Thank you.

It was such a pretty thought.

After the Engagement

She is reintroduced to her future in-laws,

with all the facts this time:

She is a natural redhead,

but her brain breaks constantly.

Her bipolar disorder has been dampened down

since that dingy hospital room

when she wore bandages around her wrist

when she wore her name tag around her wrist

like white bracelets

The PMDD comes most months,

the lithium does not help. Her brain

is a fever for 4 – 7 days and somedays

she watches Judge Judy for ten hours

at a time because otherwise she might

plunge off the nearest cliff

or take any opioid she could find by any means

and those days she does not know how to love your son

or cook Rice-A-Roni for him

or fold napkins or make beds or cheer up.
She is delirium.

Yes. The bipolar disorder is hereditary.

Carrying a baby is out of the question.

I’m sorry. I know you liked me blue eyed and smiling.

“You’d be such a good mother,” you said that day

we played at the park with the nephews and cousins.

I love that you said it. Thank you.

It was such a pretty thought.

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