How 2020 broke me, and broke me out of the closets I had built around myself.

A starry black sky bisected diagonally by a pink and purple Milky Way.
A starry black sky bisected diagonally by a pink and purple Milky Way.
Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

CN: suicide, psychiatric oppression, violence against QTBIPOC

[If I am to be honest, I have been utterly terrified to write this piece. Frightened that I will get it wrong. Wondering if I have the right. Concerned that I will cause harm. I don’t come from an academic perspective, and I don’t feel sufficiently steeped in all aspects of theory and praxis relating to this conversation. So I say in advance to anyone reading this: I am sorry if I get it wrong. As a white settler/occupier in the settler colonial U.S., I am learning and unlearning so much. I do…

I n the wake of back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Texas last month, President Trump stated that millions of Americans posed a great threat to public safety, and that many in this group needed to be locked away.

“We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence, and make sure those people not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement,” he said.

At a subsequent rally in New Hampshire, Trump spoke more explicitly about his plan: “We will be taking mentally deranged and dangerous people off of…

[Image is of smooth white stones with the words “success,” “imagine,” “inspire,” “believe,” “dream,” “happiness,” and “create” engraved in black letters.]

Buzzfeed confirmed a few days ago what we all already pretty much have suspected, at least since his vomit-inducing 2018 #MeToo scandal (which may have prompted the aforementioned investigation), if not way earlier: Tony Robbins is shady.

Maybe you were an immediate or gradual convert to Robbins’ or other celebrity coaches’ “teachings.” …

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Suicide is a crimson thread that wound its way into my body and mind at a very young age. I remember being seven years old and stretched out on the grass, looking up at the vastness of sky and wanting to be up there. Anywhere but here. I wanted to float far above the confusing, chaotic, too-solid world of my childhood. I wanted to soar beyond the trauma that took up residence in my body: wordless, unnamed, unrecognized.

As a teen, I made several attempts to leave the planet, which landed me in locked youth wards, a residential treatment center…

“Oh, the conversations to be had to undo the ‘mental health education’ my son is likely to get at school.” I posted these words on Facebook in response to recent news that mental health education will now be required in the Virginia and New York public school systems. I have a child in the Virginia public schools, where this education will be mandated for 9th and 10th graders.

I am guessing some readers might ask: “What’s wrong with teaching young people about mental health? Shouldn’t we bring this issue out of the shadows and talk about it at school?”


Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

This is a time of unveiling. Of tearing off bandages that have just barely covered our festering collective shadow. Sexual harrassment. Sexual abuse. Rape. Abuse of power. Women’s voices are rising. Women’s words are carrying more weight than they ever have. Women’s testimonies are slingshots toppling giants. (Perhaps not the orange giant at the very top, not just yet, but powerful men are falling from pedestals at a dizzying rate.) Every day, we are stepping into our power, chipping further away at Patriarchy’s slowly cracking facade. Silence-breaking has gone mainstream.

Even for powerful celebrities, speaking truth after trauma can be…

My last suicide attempt was over twenty years ago, but it feels like yesterday. Even though I’ve found many reasons to live since then, the girl I was at those most despairing moments of my life will always be a part of me. For this reason, I binge-watched “13 Reasons Why” and closely observed the avalanche of coverage and commentary that followed. The series has generated a firestorm of debate about why and how to depict suicide in the media, with much of the reaction bordering on hysteria, including a petition and calls to yank the show off of Netflix.

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve always been a person that strangers confide in. On buses, on airplanes, in lines at the coffee shop, they open up to me. I’ve also made my life’s work out of telling my own story of mental health issues, trauma, suicide, addictions, and healing/resilience. As a result of telling my story, so many people have come to share their own with me. I hold every story that is shared with me as a precious gift.

What I have learned over the years is that…

Why I’m Doing a Solo Show about Inherited Family Trauma

The playwright with her mother and grandmother, 1977.

I was raised by Jewish grandparents who grew up during the Great Depression. (I guess this makes me an honorary Baby Boomer, even though I’m technically Generation X.) My grandmother loved to tell me stories told to her by her father, my great-grandfather Max Schumacher, who emigrated to the US from Poland in 1914, and died before I was born.

“Your great-grandfather was sitting on the stoop with this little girl, and a Cossack rides by on his horse and pop! shoots the little girl in the head, killing her…

L. Harris

Writing for collective liberation.

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