Bassey's World:

Tales of An Underachieving Overachiever

Repost Poem: One Good Reason To Stay (A Poem for Phyllis Hyman)

I almost forgot that today was the anniversary of when Phyllis Hyman took her life. I know last year, her death was overshadowed by Michael Jackson’s tragic passing almost a week before. I remember being aware of Phyllis at an early age and I always heard the echoes of sadness in her music. Before I knew her story, I thought that she was merely singing about some man or the other, it wasn’t until I read about her struggles with bipolar and depression, that I saw myself reflected in her. I heard her songs not about romantic love but about her own life and wanting to convince herself to stay  upright and here. She lost her battle. It was just too much for her but so many others live and thrive and get treatment and you would never know it.

Fuck Stigma. If you need help, get help. Those who wish to shame you aren’t going to ever come to your rescue. Fuck them. Seek treatment.  Pity the ones not brave enough to seek help. Who only want to sit in judgment of those who do. Fuck them. Seek treatment. Talk about it. Fuck a stigma.

In solidarity,


One good reason to stay
A poem for Phyllis Hyman

They said you tried
squeezed laughter from stone
Whenever you could
Hurdled yourself out of bed and fog
Long enough to send your songs across the night
They said you were a fighter in these photographs you flash a black & white
Of doe eyed and regal crowned
No one can doubt your strength

They called you Pepper
Mistook your rage for something
Other than the pain it protected
They said it was the men that
left you small in king size
Empty of bed
Said it was the weight And the wait
The freedom that life denied you
The drugs providing synthetic sex
They said the loneliness ate you
When no one heard —
You were a half breath of ache
Before the first note
The hurt that lingered like last call after the final curtain
When it was just you and you

Aching to be rid of yourself
Begging sleeping backs
And closed doors for a good reason to stay
A reason to try
To push beyond the pain for one more day
Allow another bit of morning to stun
You into beauty
Maybe you wouldve remembered the
Caught the chord that impressed even you
Wrapped that ego around your shoulders
Rise into your six feet and 4 inch heels
Breathe air and fire and stone
Phyllis, you were an impossible quest for calm
an unattainable tomorrow
That press and push of a yesterday that
Bound you

And we your lost daughters study your song
Search for meaning between each and every line
Anything to put a purpose to the hollow that throbs with us
Phyllis, we have so many questions

Did you see God before you left?
Did she look like you?
All long limbed and full lipped
round faced and ethereal beauty
If you had would you have done it anyway?
refused your own reflection that last morning
Or would you have sighed into recognition
Exhaled a low, slow mournful blues
Into the heavens
Felt like this was where you needed to be

Was Lady there?
Did she welcome you as kindred
Or beg you to return
To tell your story to the new voices that would
Hold you as example
What would you say to Amy?
To Britney?
Was it you that saved Mary?
Can you save Lauryn?

We need a song, Phyllis
Something like you
A pretty stained glass held to catch the light
Something honest and real
We need a song, Phyllis
put a bit of beauty inside this shell we fling from pain to pain
Drenched in our own denial and hollow pillar
Each of us adding a lyric
Another reason to welcome morning
Despite the empty
Despite the lonely
The fatigue eating through our bones
We are all tired.
All feel on odd days that this heartbreak will be the last one
We need a song
A poem to carve and crawl under
Something to see ourselves in
Something beautiful
Something fragile and fire
Something like you, Phyllis
A good enough reason to stay

(all rights reserved)

Illadelph Bass-Life Day 2 1/2: Reaching For Normal

What is wrong with 7th graders? Why do they hate everything? I don’t even remember 7th grade so it must not have been that bad. Or maybe it was terrible and I blocked it out… I don’t even remember who my homeroom teacher was in 7th grade and I remember EVERYTHING. Hmmm…. I take it back. 7th grade must be the most traumatic year ever. That’s why 7th graders are so miserable.

So I got students today only 3 classes but it is a huge step up from the zero of yesterday. First class was 7th grade… I’m going to pretend that it didn’t happen. But my 5th graders were lovely and enthusiastic and sweet and just ready. Then I got first grade and they were so sweet and cute and they just wanted to participate.

I’ma pray for those 7th graders.

Today was my Friday. I’m going home tomorrow to take care of some things (send all the love you can to Boogie tomorrow.) so I’ll be in Maryland until next Tuesday.

My train leaves tonight at 10:30. This week has taught me a lot about myself and the way I present myself. It sounds like the punchline to a joke but my meds are working. I’ve never felt this peaceful and quiet and normal, for lack of a better word. I feel normal. I don’t have that negative self talk, thoughts aren’t racing through my head, I’m not stressed out and anxious about every little thing. I feel normal. Little things don’t upset me and huge things don’t overwhelm me. I’m just taking it in stride and thinking clearly and acting on reason and not impulse. It sounds weird and it sound like um… “so?” but you have to understand what it’s like in my head most days. Imagine those amusement park rides where you’re strapped to the walls and it spins faster and faster and faster and then the bottom drops out and you’re just spinning and spinning… that’s what my head feels like most of the time. Is that a thing? I feel like I made that up or saw it on Doug or something. Anyway,  I don’t want to go into too much detail but I finally made peace with where I was in 2009… hell from 2005 to 2009. I did some things I’m not proud of and I’m just now starting to understand how wrong I was in a lot of situations. I couldn’t see that before. I’ve talked about my broken brain numerous times but always from the depression side. I don’t talk much about the hypomanic part and that’s a beast of its own. I don’t talk about it because I don’t think people really understand what it is. It sounds like your making excuses for bad behaviour when as my friend, Tony Brown says, ‘It’s not an excuse, it’s an explanation.” I’m still hesitant to get into it now because I know that people are waiting to take my words and twist them and I don’t have the space for it.

The most incredible thing, is the lack of anxiety. Things that just a week ago, would send me reeling physically, now my brain registers, ‘That used to upset you.” but my body doesn’t react. I don’t get dizzy, I don’t get short of breath, I don’t feel like my heart is going to beat out of my chest and my stomach is going to fall at my feet. My brain just says, “That used to upset you.” and I have a sharp intake of breath and then I keep it moving. I wanted to cry the first time I noticed that. It’s going to take awhile to train my brain to stop reacting like it always reacts and I’m fine with that. If you lived in a house and the bathroom was on the left and then years later you move and the bathroom is on the right, every once in awhile, you’re going to want to go left before you catch yourself. That’s what it’s like. I don’t feel like I’m a slave to my moods anymore and I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling that is. I haven’t felt this in years. And I’m just grateful for the fall because I didn’t even notice I fell until I stood up.

That makes sense.

I’m going to do everything in my power to keep this. And to do better about living from here on out. This isn’t a cure. It’s management. And a lot of people think once they feel better, they can stop treatment and that’s not the case. It’ll take years for your brain to start working the way it’s supposed to but when it does, it is so worth it. I’m not out of the woods yet but I can see the clearing in the distance.

Um… this entry took a left turn there for some reason. Whatever, you love it. I’ll probably write some more while on the train and go further into detail about my day. I have to tell you about the assistant teacher they assigned me. *blank stare*

Did I tell you I lost my voice? Yeah. I went from talking to squeaking to nothing in about 20 minutes. I think it’s hysterical laryngitis. Only because I saw that movie Hysterical Blindness with Uma Thurman where whenever she got stressed out, she’d go blind… in the 80s… or something… I don’t remember.  Juliette Lewis is in it too. So yeah, I think it’s karma and I’m fine with it. I’m just going to accept this and I’m going to learn from it and when I’m done learning my lesson, my voice will return.

Or somebody’s getting punched in the throat.