Write poems about what scares you they said, so I said here okay:

I have a mood disorder. My moods are disordered, unruly, crazy-bitch moods. They’re radio waves, wound-up wire traveling horrifying frequencies. I wind up, I am happy? I can do this. I am singing, the dog days are over-er-er, the dog days are don-n-n-e in my car with the windows rolled down; I am going to write a novel and reform the criminal justice system to help victims of sexual assault. Then, they are down, down, down and my parents are saying you’re miserable to live with, we miss when you were happy and my boyfriend tells me I don’t deserve to be miserable, that I don’t have to make myself miserable.

They are why are you about to start crying moods. They are, because women and children are not being evacuated from Aleppo moods, Disordered moods because they are tweeting their final goodbyes and pleas. The UN calls it a “complete meltdown of humanity” and no one does anything but ignore the tweets dying in. Mood disordered because I am a journalist afraid of my news notifications. Who died? who got hacked? When Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo, women and children, women and children, women and children and of course I have a boyfriend. On an upswing, trust me, I beg. I can help you with your feelings, I say. Give me a chance to help you, I plead. I can handle it, you don’t have to worry. Everything can’t be about my mood disorder. 

On a downswing, he asks for more and I rock back and forth. I hug my stuffed unicorn to my chest. He rattles off compassionate, articulate emotional requests, a voice floating from my iPhone. My boyfriend and I, we’re all, I understand that this has been hard for you, I understand, I know you didn’t mean it this way but I feel this. I feel boring; I feel unimportant; we never do anything about the fact that I hurt, too. I feel boring. I need a list. So, I open the door for his list. He wants to hookup with other women because he has no war stories, no anecdotes of boys and girls in cars or in Colorado in basements at silly parties and caught through the window at Will Smith’s house party the summer after junior year. I am the only person he has done more with than kiss.

He wants a list because we are the ultimate milkshake, but everyone wants to try a few extra flavors. I have. I have sipped mocha and strawberry, longed with blueberry and negotiated with uptight vanillas. But him? Michael? He’s gold and blue elixir, something that makes me want to crawl into the first Harry Potter movie so I can steal anything that would give me a forever with him. There is nothing else on the menu I need anymore.

But has only supped heaven, has only tried our blend of paradise so he has to be a mortal sometimes so he knows how good it is up here, with me. I am Hera and I watch him carouse in serenity. I am his golden eternity; I have nothing to fear from pagan women, disposable women, Kleenex girls that will (as I am determined to be determined about) only make me look better. We drag axes through each other’s intestines and even though I usually wear the grim reaper costume, he still loves me. I won’t go into McDonald’s, but his favorite food is a Spicy McChicken and I love him for it. I am a yogi and he is an actor and I love him for it. I am a writer and he is a thinker and I love him for it. I am black or white or silver but he lives in gray and I can’t help but swoon when he wears a gray shirt, pair of pants, and jacket. He lives in steam, well-balanced, moderate, and I love him for it. I am wild, disordered, and my moods travel more quickly and hurt more violently than wind singing its cruel song down Michigan avenue when you have no hat or gloves or scarf.

It hurts like when you’re running into it, thinking that you have to feel the pain for the pain to leave. I think if I listen to it, it’ll go away. I make little houses for the pain; I lie there and I set up a couch and tray for a TV dinner and tea and Christmas lights and flowers and soft hangings on the wall and I ask it to tell me what’s wrong. I ask, what’s up, bud? What’s going on here? You’ve been hiding outside, but now you’re home, tell me what you need, tell me what is happening, please don’t crouch sharp in my chest anymore. Come out, dime? But the pain isn’t smart enough to speak, just talks in that first poem we all know: our screams. My ears melt from their posts as he rips into me. I do not move until he is done. I leave the lights in my room off until he is done. I stay strapped to my bed until he is done. I don’t speak; I hope pain will see himself out. I hope he will get the cue when it’s time to leave. I hope he has some social cognizance. Sometimes, I throw him out the door, sometimes I can only walk him gently, and others I let him stay inside, and I don’t realize I love his gouging until I am already half-hollow with it.

I feel I feel I feel I feel I feel. I feel like have a mood disorder.

When I was fourteen and first realized the world could do me harm I began to lie down a lot. During lunch, I laid down in the dance room, staring at the ceiling and watching the clock’s spindles click in circles, not going anywhere but still telling me when I had to get back to class. How does everyone else have the strength to interact with people? I wondered.

Then, I am back to snorting swamp air in Louisiana. We chat over queso tinged with green like it got nauseated on the way here, over margaritas frozen and clinking, my friends talk about when they’re ordering their next margarita. I might get this one frozen next time. The frozen ones are harder to drink! I need to pace myself. Emma, the watermelon one’s the best. And I already finished mine. But you’re on a whole nother pace when it’s frozen. I dump water glasses into me. I throw up my chips and queso in the bathroom because my stomach’s mad at me again. Am I bulimic? Does it count if you don’t stick your finger down your throat, if your stomach switches from portrait to landscape and without asking? When it tips everything out without being asked? When it shoots its hand up before the teacher has finished asking the question? Does going to the bathroom because vomit is leaking from my filled-up mouth make me a binger and purger? Does half a basket of tortilla chips mean, disordered eating?  I read an article called, “15 signs of problematic eating” and I fit six of them. Disordered. Disordered mood and disordered food, a classic crazy bitch who used to count her cherry tomatoes but now lets the vyvanse do the not-eating work for her, girl who can’t focus can’t eat right can feel right but girl who can get medicated correctly.

My parents don’t believe in antidepressants or mood stabilizers, so the first thing we’re trying is the vyvanse. The vyvanse, my mom says, makes her a new person. She lost ten pounds. She’s in control of her life. Not being in control gives you anxiety. Do you really want to be on ADHD medication and anxiety medication? That’s a dangerous road, Hazel. A dangerous road. I feel like the legislature in the 1800s kicking slavery down the road for the next generation to figure out. I stave of the crying and the running out of classrooms and the anxiety attacks that strap me to my bed for eight hours only able to watch Spanish soap operas a cry by putting a leash on my entire brain. Vyvanse holds my ADHD hostage. It is the only reason I could sit down to write this poem. Pain meds help me focus on my pain.

But what pain are you in? My parents ask. They agree to be more gentle and sensitive. My mom says, we just want you to feel supported emotionally, financially, and physically. I tell them feeling gross about myself while knowing that I am bisexual while also having a boyfriend is my main source of anxiety. I say, I sometimes feel gross about myself, like shame. My mother replies, You didn’t feel ashamed of yourself when you were fucking black guys in the back of my car.

The phone rings, and the conversation with my parents is over. I am mood disordered, or just worrying too much about the wrong things. My mom says, why worry, this is normal, we’ll accept you no matter what but how even do lesbians have sex?

My boyfriend and I are kind of screwed up sometimes. I had crusty feelings from a previous fling never resolved; I didn’t throw them out because the boy lives in Europe. They made the boyfriend upset.

I planned out our weekend. I was Female Extraordinaire. I was organized. I was fierce. I was getting student discounts, a deal on an Airbnb in Old Town during one of the busiest hotel weekends in the city. I had secured our tiny apartment, successfully clinched a chance to play dress up with adulthood. We were young, tiny apartment, broke, fun neighborhood with the boat tour and the opera. We were going to run around the city. We were going to do all the touristy things I never felt like doing; I was going to have my best friend to do them with. We were children dressing like adults acting like children.

I planned all of this in the summer before freshman year, before I knew college is all running, all hamster wheel in tiny boxes, all sleeping for nine hours and still feeling exhausted. College tired. College exhausted. Depleted, disordered, with no home-cooked food or home-grown poetry to pick your tired ass and head off the floor. Things weren’t bad. But we were tired. We were disordered.

I confessed my dirty, frozen, European-boy pie shells that had finally began to rot in the fridge, and Michael walked out the door. I couldn’t stand to look at you anymore.

He came back from the walk, handed me organic and gluten-free dark chocolate peanut butter cup from the cute place I had pointed out before lunch. We should check that place out before we leave. He said, it looks like something you would like. And he remembered.

We had planned to do a roleplay where I am an ambitious woman seeking a promotion, and Michael is the sleazy boss who was going to make him fuck me for it. We like to disorder power dynamics.

After he came back from his anger walk, I said, “Want to do the businessman thing?

He said “sure. Maybe that will help us work this out.” He has been lied to, he is self-righteous, he is in the right side of the Relationship Laws (we are co-authors) and he is ready to fuck me about it. He is ready to make me mine, when parts of my head don’t want to just be his. He is ready to go, but bristled for the safety word. Just say cauliflower if you need to, okay? Are you sure you’re okay?

While he has been seething I decide to light it up. I decide I need to be ash. I am ready to meet my maker; I am ready to sell this body off to the burning. I am scum, garbage, let me keep the homeless warm and let me get what I deserve. Let the sludge burn.

While he ties his tie, I pour gasoline.

While I pull up my stockings, I gather matches.

He snaps cufflinks, I size up the forest.

I pull on my heels. It all must go.

We begin to kiss, grind, spank, pull, but I feel nothing and care about nothing. I know I am just waiting. Just waiting for the slap that will light me. Just waiting for the neck grab that will begin this system. Just ready to choke, to say goodbye to oxygen. Ready to drown, ready to punish. I do not need him; I just need his match.

I am bent over and he says, “Are you okay?”

“No,” I reply. I turn around, “But it doesn’t matter.”

Then I am gone, wildfire. “JUST HURT ME. COME ON, DO IT. WHY WON’T YOU JUST DO IT? JUST HURT ME! HURT ME!” More, even more, I stumble to the bed, and sob while I am raptured in fire, except the devil is doing it not jesus and none of my body parts will be saved. I scream-cry, chunks of me are breaking off in saltwater-taffy sized pieces, floating down the river. I am Antarctica and I am melting and breaking; everything else is ancillary. He, in the corner, Michael is ancillary. He comes towards me, “I’m sorry, Hazel, I’m sorry.”

“GET AWAY FROM ME” I scream. I crawl under the bed. I scream and sob. The forest is gone and so are the polar bears. Am I gone? The planet, us, him, my world and me—disordered, disintegrating, disenfranchised, disinterested, distant.

Sometime after I am is three-quarters ash, he says, “I’m sorry.” I say, “You didn’t do anything.” He thought he had taken advantage of me and I was hiding from him. He thought I was mad. He didn’t know I was just trying to TNT my insides. Didn’t know, didn’t know, didn’t know. I used him—for the spark. I am crazy bitch. I am crazy, crying bitch. I am girl who doesn’t know how to do anything but hate away her mistake. I am an optimist, a planner, but we didn’t make it to the opera. I couldn’t stop hating myself enough to go to the opera. I was too much of a failure to go to an opera. Our tickets remained in Will Call. I waited for pain to call. I waited for the right frequencies that were already out of order, tangled lines I keep winding up because I need order. I have an order. A mood disorder.

Dog days are over, and our student ticket order languishes.