Monday, February 20, 2017

Food Stamps

I have made the decision to share this very personal piece of non-fiction writing not because I wear my shame with pride. And yes, I am deeply ashamed. I am sharing it because somehow, this letter that will probably never be sent (pointless) might help someone else realize that he or she is not alone. Though we suffer "invisible" illness, we, the mentally ill, deserve empathy and compassion and yes, when necessary, financial subsidies, to live the most effective possible lives. I am not on disability. The system has made it nearly impossible for mentally ill persons to be approved, certainly those without the means to afford legal representation. It's the classic Catch 22. I am currently receiving not one penny from the state, the federal government or anyone else. Food stamps were the only assistance I have ever received and several months ago, those were taken away, too. The following is completely true, my truth, my heartbreaking plea on deaf ears. I hope it helps you understand, just a little bit better, what I deal with every day of my life.
Thanks for reading,

To whom it may concern,

My name is Kari Murphy and I am writing to inquire as to why my SNAP benefits were arbitrarily taken away. At some point, without an interview, without asking me so much as one question or offering me an opportunity to explain my situation, you decided that I am an “able-bodied” person who has apparently “chosen” not to work. This couldn't be further from the truth.

I had one full-time job in my life, from 2000-2002, when my mental illness was clearly not nearly as severe and life-altering as it is now. I suffer from Pervasive Depressive Disorder and Anxiety and have been on medication and receiving therapy for both. I am mentally ill. I am not, by any means, “able-bodied” and my not being able to work is not a choice. I had my last job of any kind in 2007. I have not been able to work in ten years, TEN years, through no choice of my own. I attempted a part-time job in 2010 while still living in Florida and on the SNAP program, as a cashier at a Publix grocery store. I made it, by the skin of my teeth, through three days of training and a few hours of actual work before having to quit. Each of those four days began with hours of uncontrollable weeping and terror, begging my husband and the God of my understanding not to make me go. But I went, because I felt I had to, and spent each and every one of those minutes, hours and days while at “work” wishing I could run outside, across the parking lot into the four lanes of oncoming traffic because being dead seemed easier than continuing to pretend I was a normal healthy functioning human being.

I never made the CHOICE not to work. It is not my choice. I am very ill and in desperate need of financial assistance, which I was receiving for years through the SNAP food stamps program. I didn't get healthier. If anything, my conditions have continued to decline since my last job in 2007. I received benefits for years from SNAP because the agents of the Department of Social Services understood that I was sick and unable to work. I don't understand why this changed. I am not better. I never will be better. Mental illness cannot be cured. I am on medication and seeking therapy in an attempt to learn how to function more effectively in this world but for me, that will never include the ability to work a full-time job or perhaps even a part-time one. I don't understand why, without so much as a single question, my humanity has been disregarded and I was simply deemed “able-bodied” overnight.

It is my great shame that I am unable to work. It is anything but the “choice” of an “able-bodied” person. If I had my choice, I would be healthy and working and not constantly plagued by my illness. But it isn't my choice. I thought that the very purpose of the SNAP program was to help people in desperate need, of which I am one. None of this is my choice. I wish that you would understand this. Ask my doctor, ask my therapist, they would be happy to further explain if given the opportunity. Stop judging me based on a serious lack of information. Understand my need, my illness, my desperation. I am a person, yes, but by no means “able-bodied”.

Thank you for your consideration,

Kari Murphy

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


RIP, Carrie Fisher

You and I
share a name
though not
spelled the same
but still an honor
I can claim.
far too soon
I gaze
at the moon
and wonder
who to blame.
Your spirit
your light
made the world
seem bright
in spite of
my shame.
You taught me
to be brave
to occasionally
and now my life
will never
be the same.
Warrior princess
damaged goods
did you ever
think you could
at life's game?
That your courage
and your heart
and your being
incredibly smart
made this world
one you could claim?
Though this was
your final day
in my heart
you will stay
and your legacy
will guide my way.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


People look at her
and say, "Wow, you're so strong"
while she dies inside
knowing they couldn't be
more fucking wrong.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Difference

This prompt was chosen as my last homework assignment for this five-week creative writing workshop (damn, it went by fast). I don't generally write "essay-type" pieces for class but thought this one might be worth sharing. Enjoy!

So, looking at these prompts, the obvious first choice for me was “The Mistake”. Lord knows, I've made many. TONS. But, that isn't where I'm going today. First of all, mistakes can often be considered “happy accidents” in the long run. If everything in my life hadn't happened exactly the way it did, where would I be right now? Better off in some ways? Wealthy, living in my own home, a mother? Perhaps. But would those things, deemed “successes” by who the fuck knows, really be what is best for me? I try, more each day, to live in gratitude. Gratitude for what I have and gratitude for who I am. I am relatively healthy. My limbs all function properly, as do my senses. My heart is big and it is whole and it is filled with love for others and the love they so freely give to me, even when I feel unworthy of it. I have a wonderful husband and mother, two amazing pussycats, countless friends who are truly here for me in times of struggle as well as triumph. I may not have all the material things I wish for. I certainly don't have the peace of mind I strive for every day. But, overall, things could be FAR worse and sometimes, that just has to be enough. So no more reliving so-called “mistakes”. It is harmful and ultimately, pointless. What's done is done and all I or anyone else can do is move forward from here with a clear head, open eyes and a loving heart. One day at a time does not just apply to alcoholics, it applies to all in recovery from whatever one's particular struggle may be. Mine happens to be depression. What's yours? Think about it. Embrace the mantra. You don't have to be all things to all people at all times. You only have to be the best possible version of yourself as often as you can. Sounds a little less daunting now, doesn't it?

This essay wasn't meant to be about imparting lessons. Hell, who am I to give anyone advice? You know what, I am me. I am just as worthy of advice-giving as anyone else. And ultimately, as always, I'm writing this mostly to myself. I don't even like the word “mistake”. I'm going to do my best to strike it from my vocabulary. Blaming others and especially blaming oneself really doesn't get one anywhere. Life is entirely too short. So that's it, no more mistakes. Happy accidents. My perspective is constantly changing but the moral of this story is that I no longer wish to live in a world of finger-pointing and blame. Love is where it's at. Love for others and love for myself. And trust me, that has made all the difference.

Monday, October 31, 2016


Flesh and bone
Not steel and stone
So afraid
To be alone.
Infinitely fragile
So easy to dispose
With each imagined slight
Insecurity grows.
Important for a day
Then oh-so easy to throw away.
Why the fuck
Must I feel this way?

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I need
far more than I should.
All the love
in the whole wide world
will never be enough.
I am
so easy to forget
to leave behind
that it is a wonder
why I even try.
Heart wide open
eyes wide shut
waiting for the inevitable.
if I am lucky
but more often than not
just gone you are
me left behind
in the rubble
baffled as always
as to what happened
and why I am
alone again
wondering why
I do not deserve
for you to stay.

Rabbit Hole

Deeper into the abyss
Story of my life