Breaking Down in the South by Gail White
Breaking Down in the South
by Gail White
It knocked me over to learn there’s no such thing
as a nervous breakdown. My aunts and uncles had them
all the time. It was spoken of in whispers,
like drink, divorce, and cancer. "Aunt Leona
had a Nervous Breakdown back in ’67,
and never took communion again—she thought
the devil had her." Enviable Aunt Leona,
sure of her standing with the Lord and Satan.
Uncle Eugene got violent when he drank
and ended up in a Home. They never said
whose home it was. Some people who broke down
looked fine to me, but still the fame and glamour
of a Nervous Breakdown hung around their necks
like a name-brand diamond. Now, in middle age,
I’m told my dismal state is just depression,
reactive, mild—here, try a little Prozac.
Damn it, I don’t want drugs. I only want
to be eccentric, batty, somewhat daft,
covered by Aunt Leona’s mental mist.
Again, my generation gets the shaft:
I’m due for a breakdown, and they don’t exist.