The following short story focuses on how one learns to accept and heal from the hurt they felt from the most intimate of places — childhood. How do we forgive ourselves and, therefore, others?
How can negative emotional experiences be transformed into opportunities for individual growth?
“This past August, the universe delivered to me the ocean as my higher power when in a deep depression. Though I cannot hold onto water, I can hold it in a special place in my heart. I love to take long walks on the beach to be in the presence of the water, and to witness the ocean’s vastness, blueness, and beauty.” — Sophia Falco
“The contemplation of things as they are without error, confusion, substitution, or imposture is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of inventions.” – Francis Bacon, 1605. (Dorothea Lange pinned a printout of these words on her darkroom door in 1933.) This is Hong Kong just before the protests, before people gathered in the streets to protest curtailment of their human rights. Faces in the street show regret, innocence, aggravation, anger, fitness, anonymity, acceptance, contemplation, joy, isolation — as if everyone were pausing with deep glances with the knowledge the life they lead might end soon, ennobling an idea they no longer take for granted, i.e., their own freedom.
“Water Striders” addresses the mundane through a surreal metaphor. Focused on the abstract feeling of monotony or depression (or whatever it is the reader can find in it), “Water Striders” juxtaposes this with a fantastical realm, creating a mystical narrative of negative emotionality. Finally, when the protagonist breaks the cycle, the readers are left wondering whether this leads to something better, worse, or just different — we can’t know.
The following personal history piece focuses on the author’s journey in the mental healthcare system, through both psychiatry and psychotherapy. It also deals with how stigmatizing and detrimental the system (and the world) can be to those with mental illnesses. This memoir-style essay tells the story of the author’s illness like it’s the big bad wolf, and walks the reader with her on the journey to coping with it. It’s a piece that not only talks about the author’s individual reality, but also the greater reality of the world of psychology, psychiatry, and mental illness.
Loss can present itself in a variety of ways: death of a friend or loved one, a relationship breakup, leaving home or moving to a new place, loss of physical ability, loss of financial security, etc. Sudden loss (like crimes, accidents, or suicide) leaves no room to prepare, while predictable loss creates grief related to the anticipation of the loss, as well as the loss itself. The experience of loss is profoundly human, yet it is often something we suffer alone, in solitude. How do we build resilience against future losses? Can we ever replace that which we grieve?
How do ideals interfere with our ability to perceive reality? Is a jaded person just an optimist who encountered reality? This poem touches on the experience of reacting to things outside one’s control to the point at which it breaks one down.
The piece deals primarily with the absence of home, solitude, silence, secrecy, the passage of time, individual memory, and the willingness to admit and wrestle with contradictions, anger, destruction, and creation. How do we deal with contradictions in ourselves? Do we know they’re there? How does prolonged silence, uninterrupted aloneness, or living without a home affect the individual mind? How resilient are we against the human traumas we put ourselves through?
There’s no question the United States — and the globe — has been experiencing crisis and turmoil. Crisis Theory emerged as a response to assist those who faced unimaginable horrors while serving in WWII — can it help us now? How can we apply Crisis Theory to the U.S.’s political climate, institutions, policies, and laws; personal therapy sessions and individual mental health; and response to the COVID-19 global pandemic in order to enact positive change?
What’s worse — being at the mercy of strong emotions, or feeling nothing at all? Is life better in pain, or jaded to it? How do we deceive ourselves, delude ourselves, into acceptance? Compliance?