Michelle Fulkerson’s poetry is the first posthumous publication that Serotonin has worked on, and we are proud to feature her work here in the hopes that it will inspire anyone who is struggling with mental illness. As a journal that focuses on suicide prevention, Michelle’s writing holds a special place in our hearts. A special gratitude to Michelle’s mother, Julie Fulkerson, for editing and submitting her daughter’s poetry. To find out more about Michelle’s story and read another one of her poem’s, check out this piece by her mother that was published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
To find resources on suicide prevention, visit this page on the Center for Disease Control’s website:
Bugs lie dormant underneath my skin.
They slide in between the cracks in my composure
coming alive at the most inopportune times.
Moths have taken up a permanent residence in my stomach.
They flail about and forget to pay rent,
throwing house parties and leaving unpaid damage deposits.
Spiders whisper to the snake
that coils its scales around my throat.
Spinning their webs,
Spiders cloud my brain in cobwebs
and ensnare my darkest thoughts
in the most intricate patterns of webbing.
They feast on my fears and bathe in my discomfort,
as a dead mouse tries to operate my voice box.
voiceless, motionless, desperate.
I crawl out of my brittle bones
and try to rearrange my mind.
a bird has taken up residence in my mind.
she has created a nest out of strands of hair
compulsively pulled from my head
one by one
till bald patches mark me as
she cut my crooked wings
and wrapped them in twine
so I couldn’t fly away.
I am trapped inside my mind
clawing to be free.
do the eggs always await
a poacher’s hand?
or do they simply fall out of the nest,
too young to fly?
Today I will fuel my body
instead of starve it.
Today I will remind myself that I am,
in fact, more than my anorexia.
Today I will remind myself
what recovery tastes like,
what it smells like.
I will remind myself how far I have come
and what consequences I would endure
if I were to fall down again
upon my throne of bones.
Today I will remind myself what recovery feels like.
I will remind myself that my worth
does not lie in the size of my jeans
nor the number of miles I can run
or calories I can burn.
Recovery is hard work.
It is not all yoga mats and avocados,
not a simple task.
The battle must be won in my mind.
It’s effort to live my life
instead of just exist in it.
It’s effort to know I mean enough
to stop simply existing.
So today I will be grateful
and know that I am worthy.
Michelle Fulkerson fought her way into the world at just 23 weeks gestation. Against the odds, she survived and thrived. Michelle loved reading, writing and music. She began writing poetry and short stories at age 12. Around that same time, Michelle began struggling with anorexia, anxiety and depression. She kept a journal where she wrote with poignant honesty regarding her mental health struggles. Michelle wrote up until her death, just 4 months shy of her 18th birthday.
Editor: Julie Fulkerson
Following Michelle’s death, her mother discovered that Michelle had begun compiling her poems into a book, which she titled, “Through Adversity to the Stars.” She completed the book Michelle started, searching through her journals and her google drive for additional poems, reflections and short stories. She hopes to one day publish Michelle’s book.