top of page

In the ward

In the ward

Dear gentle friends,

Welcome to The Ward.

I have struggled with mental illness all my life. I also have struggled with an eating disorder since I was thirteen. I was hospitalized twice as a teenager in the inpatient mental ward for severe bulimia. I still have to be very careful today not to plunge back down into the mania of bingeing and purging. I worry and think about my body and weight and body dysmorphia every single damned day.

I hate it.

I also have severe depression and anxiety. Sometimes I can function, like today; sometimes I go completely dark and withdraw in fear from the world. I spend many days hating myself - I think I would kill myself if I didn't have children who need me. My guilt for exposing my small children to the horrible monster of my maternal depression is absolutely smothering.

My mind is an endless dark and black hole for which there is no solution, only survival.

But there is light, there has to be. It exists in you, dear readers, in your support and kindness toward me. It exists in my children and in nature and in those who are also surviving --

When things are too brutal to withstand I try and remember what a wise friend once told me,

For what else can there be ----  your light is so beautiful to see.

With love and thanks for visiting me.

- Elisabeth

In the ward

I am good for nothing in the ward.

Christy's here for sucking off the principal

Linda's here for the sliced up arms

Deanna bangs her head on the wall


Her patch of bald  - shiny as a kettle

Brianna and Sarah what a pair

They don't eat, they are so strong

They are lighter than air

They don't give in, don't stash the brownies

Like me, fat pig, nurse Patty found it

Tsk tsk Elisabeth for

Hiding your food, fodder for art therapy

Tomorrow I will draw a picture of a fucking fudge

Brownie, like a pile of shit smudged on my

Face- punishment for being so disgusting

For wanting a brownie, hiding the brownie in my

Pocket at the dining hall, fingering the

Saran wrap, holding it's crumbs in like

An invisible jog bra

Getting to my room, saving it for later, under my

Journal, top drawer, side table.

Dumpdumpdump her heads got it in for the

Wall, teapot seeks a bald Frankenstein


Linda's in the bathroom with a stolen

Gillette razor, savoring the blood as it slithers

Down her elbow,

Christy is incorrigible with the

Head resident again. If you let me suck your dick, I

Promise I’ll eat my meds...

she goads him ---

Brittney and Sarah come free-wheeling down the hall

Smiling at each other; proud of tonight’s numbers on the

Scale… 74, 72.

Starving happily

Feeding tube in place

Of a belly piercing -

Amenorrhea has taken hold of

The reproductives

I want to be them. So thin. So strong. They don't

Steal food or cave in to desire. I imagine stuffing

The shit brownie in my fucking fatass face.

Then nurse Patty comes for night check.

Tsk tsk Elisabeth, she says as she flushes it down

The toilet.

Like I said, for nothing.

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain - especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. She is a regular contributor at TERSE. Journal, Rhythm & Bones, Mohave He(art), Milk + Beans, and Feminine Collective. Current projects include: Pensacola Girls, written in collaboration with Kristin Garth, Bone & Ink Press, September, 2018; Was it R*pe, Vessel Press, 2019; and Just to the Right of the Stove, June, 2019, Hedgehog Poetry Press.  Elisabeth received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and has an MFA in Poetry from Lindenwood University. Follow her @ehoranpoet  &

Featured Posts