a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
[content warning: eating disorder]
I am imperfect, and the stretch marks on my thighs are constant reminders of that. Jagged, thick lines permeated my legs, and kept me locked up in a cage of my insecurities. I am imperfect, and I would die to be otherwise.
Growing up mixed is a blessing and a curse, because where I've benefited from rich culture, and fascinating histories, I’m burdened with the expectations of beauty from two sides. When you're a kid, you aren’t conscious of the fact of your imperfections. There’s an innocence of childhood that’s lost when you grow up, and that’s hard to get back once it’s taken.
[content warning: internalized homophobia]
Grace stares out the bus window, watching through lazy eyes as the buildings whir by, their cement walls hazy with unfocus. Dotting the sidewalks are street lights that refuse to dim, despite the creeping up of the Sun through the clouds. The last few determined moths buzz around the bulbs with fervor. Grace can’t help but wonder what they hope to find there. Her gaze shifts to the shadows under the trees, and she is transported to a different time.
Pills by Anonymous (22, New York)
The grass is soft to sit on and the Japanese Maple tree in my front yard is providing shade to calm me. There is no traffic, and the clouds block the sun in such a perfect way that I think to myself: this would be the perfect place to die. The occasional bird seems to agree with me.
I am not insane, I promise. I took my medication this morning. The little pink one was for the ADHD (it also helps a little with the anxiety) and the little off-white one with the pretty stripes was for the depression.
we spent an eternity loving each other
through the eyes of others,
our hands clasped only in our minds as we
basked in the warmth of lingering touches.
keeping our secrets close
to our hearts, our hidden truths served as
ivory shackles holding us back from
taking the leap and bidding farewell to
Here I stand, dying, while surrounded by so much life.
and I am suffocating in it all.
It is too much.
I am alive.
Entropy by Vivian Wiemelt (15, Pennsylvania)
The day everything went perfect was the day she died.
It was the milk. The 2% all-natural organic milk, which had been sitting in the fridge for just a day too long. The milk’s expiration date was October 3rd. It was currently October 2nd, and this was a carton of very punctual milk, which had no intention of being late, fashionably or otherwise.
The voice, muffled in the distance of the line, said words. Words that were unimportant, like the milk, when not strung together.
what is wrong?
What beguiles you,
what allures your covetous heart?
Why do you seek the burden of beauty—
is it not enough, the petals you have?
I wish I knew how to capture the feeling
of afternoon sun warming the skin of my bare shoulders
and the taste of birthday cake and ice cream as
children ran under foot, dragging red balloons behind them.
I wish I could grasp happiness like a firefly,
and preserve it as a flower in these pages.
[content warning: self harm, eating disorder, mentions of sexual assault, internalized homophobia, OCD rituals]
1. i practise folding myself into a matchbox. keep an hourglass in my bathroom to remember what to become. and now: i am always out of time. my hair falls out before my body falls in; i broke a mirror with my edges and my skin broke too. know this: i was someone before i was my unmaking.
f orks, swords. spoons, distorted mirrors. there is
i rony in saving yourself when it hurts. i try to
r inse my mouth of hunger. (someday i won’t flinch when i
The Leaves by Caroline Funk (20, Ohio)*
[content warning: suicidal ideation, depression, death]
Shattered glass scatters the passenger seat. My window is smashed in, now an empty hole letting in the cool breeze of spring and the smell of flowers. The bass from my radio still pounds through my speakers. Loudly. I slam my hand down on the volume knob, wanting to shut off the melody that seemed so comforting only seconds ago. I hadn’t heard it in the moment, but now the crushing of metal and the screeching of tires skidding against asphalt seem to ring in my ears.
I just sit there. Maybe I should get out. Call 911. Do something. But my body is frozen. Time is moving faster than my thoughts, I see the shattered glass, I know what car accidents look like. But this doesn’t feel like one.
I’m sorry, Ethan.
Leaving home by Ser Nin (15)
Prairies are the extensions of photos from visiting hours, mimosas growing in pans,
winter pots as the car's bumper, fish soups boiling in the doll cabinet
This is a nursery of dreams, and when coronation day comes stay away.
chemtrails by Ser Nin (15)
The contrails are the cherub giant's tightrope,
over the clouds, when he lifts the airplanes off the reptile-skinned maps,
says the angsana tree to every new toddler who is sung to sleep on her void deck
until she is hunted down by the metal ships rolling onto the porch
Burning flames – a heart, itches like salt on scar.
Buried fears inside the chambers of eyes,
red-roses, ash, ashes reside.
A shining sunshine replicates a daunting landscape,
and whizzing crickets swallow poison pills.
Insomniac blankets wrapped around the empty scalp–
Growing Pains by Lydia Bae (Washington)
In the darkness, I dream
A step forward and
The thousand cups and glasses
Once balanced on my frame
A million broken
Their foregone conclusion
Salvation by Lydia Bae (Washington)
Earth-rich, swallows heartily
Of obsidian blood dribbling
From clasped hands that pound
Of spiked, slivered
I walked down campus and saw the rubble of an older hall
that was torn down. It was a huge, gray, circular building.
In the past, we used to pass this building together. I
remember those days. While holding hands, we would
walk past and lay in the grass in front. There was a time
we shared a sleeping bag
Nani, Ma and I by Srina Bose (14, India)
I scrape at the dinner table wood,
Each scrape, a generation torn out.
Pa lies on the creaking diwan,
He has sacrificed more than I notice,
He loves Ma more than he shows,
Marriage is stronger than it is showed.
I'm sitting on the seventh storey bathroom floor. I blow smoke rings on the collar of the boy who tells me he loves me. There is sawdust between my nails, and the boy tries to say something but takes a sigh instead. My lovers have learnt not to make a burning woman bleed more ash. Ma messages. She says: come home. And maybe this is falling apart.
Wheels by Cathy Shang (17, China)
And I’m no longer alive.
You’ve spun my lines to lies to dimes to gold.
My soul’s been stolen, in written words
Here’s lies the slaughtered:
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.