By Stacey Lehrer
EDITOR’S NOTE: Get caught up here on Unique’s story.
The summer I visited Unique in a rural Appalachian town was the first time I went to see her on my own. There were some indications that the agency wasn’t the best or safest, but Unique said that things were okay. Later that summer I started having trouble getting in touch with her – every time I called, the staff would tell me she wasn’t there. I eventually found out that she was in the hospital, her first psych hospitalization in years. It was the beginning of a very different phase of her life. The next few years were a constant cycle of hospitalizations. She was chronically suicidal, desperate to find a way to end the pain she was feeling. I got really good at tracking her down, and at getting the staff in various psych units to let me talk to her even though I never had the magic “code number” at the start of each new stay. She was in one rural psych unit often enough that the staff recognized my voice and didn’t even ask for the code number anymore. She started saying things that didn’t quite make sense, talking about the agency administrators bugging her phone and stealing her belongings and stalking her. The agency was shut down not long after, so it’s not too far-fetched that there was some sketchiness happening and her brain was trying to find a way to make sense of it.
Continue reading Unique, Volume 2
By Stacey Lehrer
Unique always used to talk about writing a book about her life. She worked on it off and on for years, often telling me about a chapter she was working on or what part she planned to write about next. It’s been years since she had a working computer; I don’t know what happened to her writing. But I do know that she wanted people to hear her story. I can’t speak to what happened in Unique’s life in the time before I knew her, although I’ve heard enough about it that I feel like I have a pretty good idea. But I can tell her story as it connects with mine, in the 14 years since we met. I’m leaving out some of the more intensely personal details, to respect her privacy, but hoping to share her story (and, in part, our story) as she wished.
Continue reading Unique, Volume 1
by Neesa Suncheuri
I can smell my brain.
Its fumes leak out from my left upper ocular bone,
The pressure point beneath my eyebrow.
When I smell it, I know that I will go to the hospital soon.
Continue reading The Sick Fragrance
by Neesa Suncheuri
There is no one to choose from.
No one to love.
The faces of everyone around me
Form into scary sneers
Whenever they pass by.
I am impaired inwardly,
And everyone knows it.
Continue reading The Curse of Recovery
Lorraine moved in as planned. Only seven days separated our upcoming birthdays, so we planned a bash of epic proportions. Because we were both turning 20, we recruited an older friend to purchase nearly 100 dollars in liquor, and invited everyone we knew with the promise of an open bar. Nearly 70 people showed up over the course of the evening to celebrate with the two of us. Neither of us knew some of the attendees because they were friends of friends, but it didn’t matter and there was an open invitation to everyone to crash anywhere they could find space rather than driving home intoxicated. I spent the evening making friends with everyone I came in contact with, truly enjoying my party. I drank heavily, and for the third time in my entire life, smoked pot.
Continue reading A Stone Skipped V4: God Speaks Through Fortune Cookies