Coping by Escaping

I remember three holes in the wooden post of my childhood bunk bed. One contained the bolt that connected the frame together and the other two were empty. They were meant for adjusting the height of the lower bunk, but we never did. The empty holes were insignificant to the rest of the room, unimportant […]

I Am the Daughter of a Mentally-Ill Person

My sister and sat in a dark theatre waiting for the movie Silver Linings Playbook to begin. I knew from watching the previews that the movie was about mental illness, but that’s all I knew. I found myself squirming: How would this movie impact my sister and I? Silver Linings Playbook is the story of […]

Someone Like Me

On the first day of my teenage stint as a volunteer in the local hospital, my supervisor gave me a tour. As she explained the business of each floor, she mentioned that I wouldn’t be going up to the psych ward. I shuddered with relief. My mind’s eye flashed with a picture of drooling, yelling […]

When I Am Bipolar

I hold the small red pill between my thumb and forefinger. It’s miniscule. Maybe a third the size of a breath mint. I’ve already taken my antidepressant faithfully, as I always do. I habitually gulp down the rest of my pills but this one I take last, because it’s so small. There was the time […]

A Letter to My Brother with Mental Illness

Dear Brother, I miss you. I really do. I know you are not far and I can see you whenever I want, but it’s not the same. You’re not the same. I’m not the same. Mental illness has changed everything. It came in quiet, a current we didn’t even feel sweeping us out. We kept […]

Dear Portia: How Do You Stay Sane with a Mentally Ill Person?

Dear Portia, How do you deal with toxic or mentally ill people who have harmful behaviors and stay sane? You have no choice but to deal with them—they’re your family or your boss. How do you get them to seek the help they need? Or, to understand they have an issue? JP Dear JP, I […]

Is Masturbation Okay? . . . and Other Thorny Questions

The Mudroom is excited to be joining the likes of The Rumpus, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. We’re starting our very own advice column, “Dear Portia.” Every month, we’ll cover questions related to our monthly theme. First up is sex, sexuality, and singleness. Do you have questions about your sex life, about singleness, […]

Palms Up

I just put my daughter into an ambulance. Strapped in like a caged animal who cannot escape the war roaming inside her head. The battle that wages for her control of her life. Inhale. Blood stained sheets on the bottom bunk, clinging to the safety that slips between my fingers like sand. Hair matted down […]

Slow Grace

I think it was the lack of oxygen that jolted me awake, but it might have been the sweating or the too-fast heartbeat. 0 to 60 in one second flat, my heart and lungs and brain were running a marathon at a dead sprint while the rest of my body laid in bed, trying to […]