a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
Do you hear the song ending?
Little lies linger long in the lullabies we used to sleep to
Spilling promises on the ride home, swearing you won’t change
I’m all I ever was, I’m not what I never was, I’ll catch the child in me
[Content warning: self-harm]
I press my fingers to the bruises
On my elbows- the ones I got
From running into walls and tables
Trying to escape my own clumsiness
I am awake. I am alive. I am on the edge of life,
dangling my feet over the horizon line
and waiting for the sun to brush
against my toes
The dictionary definition of glossophobia says it’s a fear of public speaking. Any website might tell you that the symptoms are rapid heartbeat, trembling, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, and the urge to get away.
I lay on my bed, waiting for the textbook symptoms to set in. My stomach’s already in a knot, and I can’t help thinking about what would happen if I simply didn’t walk up to the lectern. Everyone would stare, that’s for sure. In a way, I understand. When someone important in your life dies, people expect you to say something about it.
This is the kind of rain that falls down in sheets, the kind that makes the sky into a blank, crinkled sheet, torn by jagged bolts of lightning and ripples of thunder. The light flashes across my textbook, and I think of the way it mimics a flickering flashlight. My father’s eyes dart between the smudgy road and the cars that are but blurs of red and blue and black with windows melting like ice cream.
We take and we take until there is nothing left. And now, we have broken the world with our selfishness.
Because the sky is shattering.
Because the sun is too hot.
Because the sun is too hot and the rain is still falling. And it’s falling and it does not stop.
Because God is angry with us, with the world.
Because by the time I step out, the leaves will be on fire and it will be too late.
Because the world is coming to an end.
Because the world has come to an end and I’m still here.
In today’s progressive climate, mental health is increasingly emerging as a prevalent issue among America’s youth. Now more than ever, teenagers are encouraged to express their emotions regularly and are finding mental health care and support at an exceptional rate.
That is, white teenagers are. Minority groups, specifically Asian Americans, are three less times as likely to seek mental health services than white Americans according to the National Latino and Asian American Study.
There once was a young lady with bones of glass. She lived in a broken world of brick where she could easily trip and shatter. And her condition was the opposite of a blessing, so by default, it must have been a curse. That’s how all the fairytales begin- the interesting ones at least- with a curse.
in my body, a boiler
my skin. as if a dumper
dropped granites in my head --
a heavy rain
on a steel roof. out
fleck of phlegm
rests on my kerchief
per minute with mischief
[Content warning: eating disorders]
i do it all for you
my existence, soul, being
worthless if not for a face or body deserving of your eyes
the numbers get smaller as
i make you proud
my face, hollow, finally gaunt as to
make people stare
I love the structured, hardened beat of line.
Uncertain never can affect, infect.
Unlike this swirl, tornado, vortex—mine
The part of me that tumbles, incorrect.
[Content warning: suicidal thoughts]
If it all ends tomorrow, tell them I held a growing cavern inside of me and I played with life like a kid and his shiny new toy. Remind them that they ignored me though my voice echoed behind theirs and bounced around in their skulls like a despised song as I whispered for help. That there were two sides of me; a romance between the moth and the flame, between myself and the demons creeping in my shadow. The moth only follows the light, it doesn’t intend to kill itself.
[Content warning: medication usage, hallucinations]
The fog wraps around my head, pulling me away from reality and into a dull space of illusion and serenity. My limbs grow heavy and my breaths shallow. The thoughts I desperately held on to slip through my fingers, floating away into the unknown. I don’t care that my right arm is pinned between the bed and my side. I don’t care about anything anymore. All I can do is wait for the fog to take me into a deep sleep.
[Content warning: disordered eating, body image, and suicidal thoughts]
A skeleton stared at me through the glass. Its eyes were sunken in, cratered by a deep blue. They watered. Its cheekbones were sharp, plump cheeks sucked away into nothing. Its lips were tinted purple, the corners settled in a frown. They quivered. Its skin was dull and pulled tight, showing each minuscule wrinkle. Goosebumps rose on its narrow arms, causing it to shiver against an imaginary breeze. Exhaustion weighed the skeleton down. The skeleton’s head struggled to stay up, bobbing on the too thin neck against its knobby, protruding shoulders. It clenched the edge of the bathroom counter weakly with blue tipped fingers. The skeleton’s eyes met mine through the glass, a tear sliding down the stretched, grey skin. It was lifeless. It was me.
In my dream, I wander out of a jungle
with muddy feet and stiff legs.
In front of me were two endless spans of blue
threaded together by a thin line—
sapphire is the sky
azure is the ocean.
Clouds drift to kiss rolling waves;
in the openness,
in the enormity.
the somber synonyms of sea
make the insides of a shell hush with words
in the pearled mother tongue of the moving water
I cup my ears over the wood and it sounds like a fret train running through my brain at 12:34 am
The healing in justice,
As our bones begin to relieve the burdens put on us by the governing body,
Rather than just having us relive our trauma for the understanding of everybody
whick whick whick whick whick.
The chime of a fast knife piercing and decapitating some vegetable on the cutting board rings in my ears, while the sink runs galore.
My eyes wander,
falling on a daisy
blooming in the
crevices of a broken
“Get ready for some of the best years of your life!” The microphone echoed in the humid auditorium, the large crowd applauding and cheering as the Principal stepped down from the podium. The last words spoken at my eighth-grade graduation fluttered in the golden air, filling each student with a glowing hope for the next four years: years of new friendships and opportunities. But that hope, and happiness, would not last long.
And we rose:
Thorns and all,
Roots quenching for nutrients in the bloodied soil,
Littered with disordered decomposition of our flowery carnage,
We had no choice,
So we rose,
I was in a bath,
And touched my right hand to my left shoulder
And traced my moles like they were my ancestors,
Trekking through Russia or maybe stomping grapes in Italy.
Is being an insurgent
not allowed in my own home?
Who are you to tell
me how I should be?
It's been 16 years since you
told me how to be.
What had I been thinking before
This line. Or the next thought.
Of wanting nothing more to do with memory.
The part that steers ahead while something
Else decides to drive backwards.
That year everyone chose life.
I have a photograph of that night.
You’ll see in it what you’ve already memorised inside.
Where I’m writing this there’s a thunderstorm
from my childhood been beating against the window.
Outside, this morning a person stood under the streetlights
so garish and loud that the second person
not too far away looked like
the unfinished shadow of the first.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.