The gifted author/poet Alexis Zinkerman
Alexis Zinkerman is a journalist, poet, and mental health advocate, and she has bipolar one disorder. She holds an MA in Writing from DePaul University, and her novella Brooklyn’s Song is available on Amazon. Alexis was first diagnosed with bipolar in 1996, but it took her many more years to find the right treatment course.
I discovered Alexis’ blog A Mile A Minute – Refreshing Takes on Mental Health through her International Bipolar Foundation blog. She also has a website right here where you can sign up for her Love Notes newsletter.
Alexis is the reason why I broke my “I Only Donate to One NAMI Participant/Year” rule.
When it comes to NAMI walks, I’ve always donated to my dear friend, the advocate/blogger Kitt O’Malley. (Follow her blog here!)
But I made an exception for Alexis. You’ll see why after you read her April 14th post “You Can Help Too. No Amount Is Too Small” which I’ve copied, in part, below. (I changed the color settings and font sizes found on the original post.)
“May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To celebrate I will be running/walking in a 5K to help NAMI-CT. NAMI-CT offers support groups for people with mental health conditions as well as monitors legislative activity at the state level on mental health policy. They also educate schools and parents on mental illness. I wrote their annual report a few years ago.
This is a cool organization and I hope you’ll help me if you can…I sincerely understand if funds are tight for you, readers. But if anyone out there wants to forgo that morning coffee and support a great cause, no amount is too small. All your donations will go directly to NAMI-CT. I have been training for this 5K for over a year now with strength training and running on the treadmill and outside when weather permits. I will think of all my readers as I run/walk this event.
And…anyone who donates will receive a personalized poem from me on the topic of their choice.”
I donated $10 to Alexis’ NAMI group, and this is the poem she wrote for me:
Why am I this dried up
when on meds?
Lithium, you save my soul
I no longer have the creativity
and manic energy
I need to function
There are manic floods
and depressive droughts
Then, there are droughts
caused by the meds
Droughts where you feel
not the highs or the lows
The doctor evened you out
so you forgot how to feel
I want to be manic again
so I can sing poetry to the sky,
write all night,
I want to be manic again
I miss my creative thoughts
coming at rapid speeds faster
than I can write them down
But the drought of no emotion
is here to stay
I must re-learn how to feel
what everyone else feels
without the extremes.
I don’t like it this way
but at least, I have a life.
(c) Alexis Zinkerman
After I read Metronome, I emailed Alexis. This is an excerpt of that message:
My god, you have the poetic gift, Alexis! I'll start with the title: Metronome. Well, it's perfect in many ways. It brought back memories of my violinist Dad's metronome ticking away in his practice room which was next to my bedroom. I found it to be an object of fascination as a little girl. I'll be honest - I'm usually not a poetry fan. I've never gravitated to the majority of the poems of Madeleine L'Engle & L.M.Montgomery, my two favorite authors. They were *big* on writing poetry, and they frequently referenced others' poems in many of their works. Your style reminds me of Madeleine L'Engle's: bold, vivid, and true Your amazing piece spoke to me. First off, I could understand it - that's a major plus. There are soooo many poems that are beautiful to read, but frankly I have no idea what they're about, therefore I get frustrated and Ifeel dumb. Not so with yours! Hurrah! Second, you get bipolar. You clearly understand mania and what lithium can do. In a remarkably concise way, you express this complex mood disorder (including the hypergraphia I had) so poignantly and lyrically. Wow! Just wow!
Please consider donating a few dollars to Alexis’ team (and Kitt’s, if you’re flush with cash! 😉 and you’ll be thrilled when you receive a personalized poem in return.
You can follow Alexis on Twitter: @
Next Friday, my friends I’ll publish a post about how my first talk for Toastmasters went. I’m scheduled to do it on May 3rd. It’ll be a tale of sweat, tears, anxiety, and (hopefully) triumph for making it through the four-six minute speech without passing out.
I’ll try to record it so I can share it with you here. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves!
Lots of love,
Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.
Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017.
Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!