Barbed Wire Cats

I was following a poetry prompt from The Mighty because I’m trying to strengthen the poetry muscles that motherhood weakened.

The prompt was to write “behind our illness.” I personified my illness and wrote the following:


Behind My Lashess

is a woman built of broken glass,

inky veins,

barbed wire cats hissing,

fireworks in bloom.

She plays the top hits of the 80s,

collects shrieks before death

and rainbow anything.

I hate her.


I posted it to Instagram and was then unrelatedly contacted by a woman asking if it was true she could be married and have a baby because the doctor who diagnosed her as bipolar told her that — yet I was obviously married with a baby and super bipolar.

I immediately deleted my poem before she saw it because I didn’t want her to think it’s okay to think your illness is another complicated person inside you — a part of you you’re allowed to hate. Expected to hate. 

Should I hate that part of myself? It has brought me grief and pain… but without it I couldn’t help anyone. If rather be a ray of light than just a basic Rae and all my experiences have brought me to my current situation, which happens to be gorgeous.

I asked my brother what he thought and he said, “Expressing something artistically doesn’t necessarily count as self-hate. It might make things better. Is the expressing transforming the artist more toward healing(of self, of others) or does it build momentum for the deathwish and/or self-hatred? We all have complicated relationships with the parts of ourselves we struggle with.”

Then I thought about all the times I’ve written about my illness as a negative thing that could destroy me and — naming that can be powerful. It has helped me. It has given mE a complicated villain I can defeat. Telling the truth matters. There are some cute felt animals on this blog and plenty pics of my wonderful daughter….but now there are barbed wire cats hissing as well.

And that’s okay. Because it’s true.

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