the first annual neurotypical versus neuroatypical debate

a poem for may’s mental health awareness month

by alexandria piette

      i.  the beginning

good afternoon,

we are much obliged that you

have accepted our invitation to the

first annual neurotypical versus neuroatypical debate.

with the opponents at the ready,

we do hope you will

enjoy the production!

      ii.  what is a synapse to you? / neurotypical

“synapses are biological fragments of

the stained-glass mosaic of humankind,

where, in the brain, the river

of neurotransmitters never runs dry.

it is the space between past and present;

the space between present and future;

the space between feeling and action;

the space between action and consequence.

an uncharted territory so insignificant in size,

yet so imperative,

like earth amongst its solar system;

its solar system amongst its milky way galaxy.”

      iii.  what is a synapse to you? / neuroatypical

“‘synapse’ has become synonymous with

‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor’;

a cyclone from that river of kaleidoscope tablets

purifying my passageways of lingering serotonin,

compelling it with its almighty iron fist

to kneel and cleanse its sacrilegious immoralities.

do not think,

‘i can’t get out of my bed this morning’;

do not think,

‘i’m going to feel like this forever’;

do not think,

‘i don’t care, i don’t care, i don’t care,’

for the lord, your god is with you;

for the tangerine bottle, its pills are with you—

even if you hadn’t prayed for them.”

      iv.  what is a “fight or flight” response to you? / neurotypical

“it is a contentious match

between the fire and the air.

should i burn like a phoenix with my talons out?

should i roar like a lion and retrieve my pride?

it is a roll of a two-faced die,

at the gamble of the century,

the stakes raised to your survival.

it is programmed into your coding,

like a scientist’s modernized computer,

where they have collided with the

‘escape’ button

you, their subject,

gone haywire.”

      v.  what is a “fight or flight” response to you? / neuroatypical

“a faulty grandfather clock that chimes before midnight,

provoking cinderella into

a cold sweat,

quaking hands numb to a fingertip’s touch,

erratic breaths smoldering on flesh—

all making her forget

why she ever yearned to attend

the prince’s ball in the first place.

from every ‘once upon a time’ theretofore,

every clamoring of an antique timekeeper,

the sweltering,

the trembling,

the hyperventilating

from the last time,

suddenly her next time.”

      vi.  “what does death mean to you?” / neurotypical


a somber entity cloaked in tattered onyx,

who wilts at the illumination of

his sister, life.

he weathers natural disaster,

the fray,

trials and tribulations,

unto his inferior plane,

where he sips from a bejeweled goblet

the sorrow of life being vanquished.

their millennia of sibling rivalry

too labyrinthine for scorekeeping.

it was death who possessed j. robert oppenheimer

when he recited the lines of the bhagavad gita

upon detonating the first atomic bomb:

‘now i am become death,

the destroyer of worlds.’

      vii.  “what does death mean to you?” / neuroatypical

“the angel of death

is not a horseman to bring the apocalypse

unto god’s emerald earth.

the angel of death is whom

people i have


people i have


people i had

yet to know,

have succumbed to at their own will.

it is empty places at the dining table

throughout the holiday months.

whilst schoolmates chime ‘‘tis the season!’

i ponder if i had

just said something

the wintertime wouldn’t feel so cold.”

      viii.  “finally, what does mental health mean to you?” / neurotypical

“it is where i


      ix.  “finally, what does mental health mean to you?” / neuroatypical

“it is where i


      x.  the end

it is with a bittersweet savor

lollygagging on our tastebuds

that we conclude the riveting debate!

we do hope you learned a thing or two

to pocket and reflect on in the impending morrow.

it is here we leave you with our curtain-calling question,

something to acknowledge in your own time,


yet unlike

our opponents:

‘are we really all that different, you and i?’

“If you are in crisis, and need immediate support or intervention, call, or go the website of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.”

National Institute of Mental Health

Additional resources for mental health intervention supplied by the NIMH are inclusive of: