Psychovariant Belonging

by Greg Macdougall

Photo by Danielle Voirin

Photo by Danielle Voirin

when you feel that you don’t belong
don’t want to belong in what’s going on
leave this world, find other reality
literally or ‘just’ in your mind

and then you’re different
because you know different
than them

‘them’ is when you don’t belong
when the enforced normalcy of normal
doesn’t belong on you, to you,
anywhere near you

you’ve known different-ly
feelings that really connect
with leverage points of the soul
spirit imbued with life
and the consensus don’t fit

fit you into their place
is what they know to do
their place is the place they have for you
because that’s what they fit in to

belong-ing, a yearning
but mostly out of place

but find that, when not yearned for
there is that sense of being found
of being in place, right place
at the right time
the right time is when you’ve let the yearning go

when the fears don’t rear up
and the loneliness no longer in your heart
gone along with the other clouds,
claws that threaten to shed a furtive peace

born from inhabiting a sense of wrongness
of invalidation, discredited
because your currency doesn’t seem accepted

so learning to feel your own way through
because the advice in the guise of should and ‘need to’
doesn’t feed any of what makes you you

the semblance of everyone is a master in the know
only buoyed by the sense that everyone’s bought in
to the way it’s fixed up to be

this psychotic plague known as normal
‘just the way things are’
the what you’re being taught to adapt in to

Greg Macdougall writes, does video and a bit of audio, produces print materials and more, all in the name of education and social justice / social change.
Greg’s website is, and he offers this quotation as a supplement to his poem:

“I identify as ‘psychovariant’ because that label recognizes my atypical brain functioning as a source of both distress and a gift to be nurtured. This is an umbrella term that can be claimed by anyone whose brain operates divergently (ex: depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, DID). Identifying as psychovariant is an attempt to recast what is commonly referred to as ‘mental illness’ through a framework that destigmatizes and celebrates neurological diversity.” — Amanda Gelender

5 Responses to Psychovariant Belonging

  1. Greg Macdougall says:

    After writing this poem, I went through and found quotes that resonated for me with various lines / phrases. This full ‘appendix’ of quotes was too long to be published here on PlanetWaves, but I’ve posted it in full after the poem on my own site:

    For example, there was the quote above from Amanda Gelender on what ‘psychovariant’ means, and then there is this one on ‘dissociation’ – which I termed ‘disassociation’ in the poem – from Noel Hunter at (a great alt mental health site):

    “[P]sychological trauma results in alterations of consciousness in the domains of time, thought, body, and emotion … [A]s the levels of dissociation increase, a person is more likely to experience identity fragmentation and flashbacks/reliving (time), voice-hearing and confusion (thought), depersonalization (body), and numbing/compartmentalization (emotion). …

    “[T]rauma effects the brain and makes one more likely to become addicted to alcohol or benzodiazapines at a neurochemical level … [E]xperiencing multiple traumas (unlike a single trauma) results in a shutting down response rather than hyperarousal and increased physiological activity. This includes: loss of emotion, loss of memory and language, shutting off of cognitive processing, deactivation of the brain, loss of physical sensation, social disengagement, miscommunication, and social withdrawal.”

    … and many other quotes too, from people like Erich Fromm, James Hillman, Starhawk, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and even two from PlanetWaves posts by Maria Padhila and Genevieve Hathaway.

  2. Rob Moore says:

    Greg –

    One word came to mind while reading this:

    Then one other:

    Cannot help but see courage swirling around this piece and this set of circumstances.
    Thank you
    – Rob

  3. Hi Rob,

    Thanks. It was a bit of a risk to submit a poem – I’d originally been planning on writing an essay-styled piece, but that didn’t seem to be working, so I am glad that PW was willing to publish this form. And yeah, it was a bit daunting to put it out there. And of course, there’s where it comes from too – I don’t think it’s just my personal experiences that have formed this poem though. Thanks for the encouragement!

    – Greg

  4. Jim says:

    I really resonate with this. Lately it is quite my irritation also. I am sick and tired of fighting with a world that wants nothing I have to offer. And I know that what I have is needed anyway. Pissed off! But I still belong here.

  5. Hi Jim,

    glad to hear the resonance, and it is too bad that it’s hard sometimes.
    i like that you do get the feeling / knowing sense that you do belong, it seems an ongoing battle sometimes along with the rest of it, not necessarily to be forced but definitely to be nurtured

    all the best,

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