I Was Twelve

By Amélie Létourneau

It started at age 12

It’s my father’s fault

Who met a woman and a bottle

Every day, weekdays and Sundays

Distanced himself from me, my sister

Loss of contact, speech, love

One year spent with her

She left, the bottle stayed

Another woman arrived, the bottle stayed

The distance increased

I was at his place, it was night

He left for the grocery store, I wanted to stay, not go there

He threatened to throw me out

He did it. I had to leave

Phoned my mother, who came to get me

Stressed, scared, I walked, crying

I ran in the rain with my fear

Months passed

Before the telephone rang

He called to try and patch things up

But that’s not what happened

Oil on the fire

Judgments, meanness,

Two years passed, the bottle stayed

I lost my appetite, my good mood and a taste for life

I lost the will to do anything

I cried a lot, my head, my illness

Psychoses and incomprehension

Everything fell apart inside

All that isn’t easy at age 14

The hospital, in pediatrics

Alone, with rage and anger

I hated my father

I left and came back

For a year

Looking for… the right medication

But no one understood my situation

Unhappily

Loss of appetite, lack of sleep

And soon depression

Pediatric psychiatry in Québec

Is worrying, at age 15

Alone, lost in my own chagrin

Nowhere to turn to, no one to hold out a helping hand

Almost no visits, my family was too far away

But evaluations six times a day

A lack of everything, including love

I hardened my shell

To face myself

A month of a thousand days

Woken up each morning for a blood sample

Each morning, I had a little less

After a few weeks: a diagnosis

It was hard to accept

For me and my family

My mother cried a lot

My father, an ostrich, ignored me

Bipolarity and anorexia

Another medication

Which worked well for three years

At age 18 I relapsed

Off to the hospital, trying again to explain

In psychiatry, it’s complicated

My mother left for the night

I was scared, I was stressed

I didn’t understand why I had to stay

So long

Feeling bad inside

They found another medication

That’s doing well, up to now

That made it four years

I learned again how to smile

To love life too

It took a lot of therapy

Meetings, follow-ups

But… the loss of energy

The struggle continues to explain

Why I can’t work

It continues to enrage me

To judge me, criticize me, put me down

Every day I hear it

But wait just a moment

You’re young, you’re not hurt

My wounds are invisible, are inside

The scars, they’re permanent

I’m not ashamed

But I’m scared of pointed fingers

When the world tells me

That it’ll get better

I have a right to my place, I want to get involved

Outside the only way to succeed that is shown

People should outfit themselves

Instead of putting others down with their judgments

No one is beyond this

One day it could be your children too

Who find their fault

Will you know to hold out your hand

Rather than point your finger?

I have courage, and a message to carry

It will cost me dearly, but lend me your ears

Because I’m fed up with repeating

That everyone has a right to their place

Stop the prejudices

If you want to understand me

Speak to me in my face

And if you too are cracking up inside

Don’t flee, talk about it

There are resources, people present

To help you, listen to you

There’s no shame in falling down

Then wanting to get back up

As my mother says

It takes strength and courage

To accept help

Translated from: L’art des fous: Texts on mental health by Gaspé residents

  Published by Éditions TNT, 2021

  www.editionstnt.com

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