a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
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.
And the windows are open and the wind is so fierce, it’s consuming me and it’s whispering. It’s calling me and then it’s screaming, “You destroyed us.” And the windows are never open in this place, so it has to be a sign. I think of all the elements of this world we’ve destroyed and I want to scream as well. Because nothing will ever be the same again.
Because we have not only endangered the world but ourselves.
And I don’t know if mum is gone because I haven’t seen her in 564 days. I know if she’s gone, it will be my fault. It will be her punishment for protecting me. I know the days because counting is the only way I won’t run mad. Because I’m isolated. Because I wasn’t meant to exist and even though she tried to hide me for so long, she couldn’t.
And since I wasn’t meant to exist, I should be grateful for the ‘privileges’ they've allowed me, privileges I'm depriving actual citizens. I don’t exist. Not out of here, or even in here.
My mind is a war zone on one day and an organized system the next, that is to say, nothing gets in or out unless I want it to. Today it is the aforementioned. There’s a kingdom in my head being ripped apart bit by bit.
It is humanity. I know it is.
It is falling apart before my eyes. It is my entire consciousness being torn apart as I sit here doing nothing. There is so much around me but nothing at all. It is just me. It has always been just me, me against the rest of the world. And for the longest time, I was convinced the problem was me. I was convinced it was only in my head. My brain was mechanical. If it were left to it, I could blot out the thoughts, but my heart was in it too. The equation became unbalanced.
My heart was the torturer.
Their words were its weapon.
I was falling apart faster.
Because when I was younger, they told my mum to give me up. Because children like me would be threats to their own children. Because I would ruin their lives is what they told me. I would steal their happiness. They would constantly have to live in fear because even though they didn’t know much about me, they knew enough. I was different.
I’d tried so hard to fix everything. I tried to be what they wanted. I tried so they wouldn’t notice I was different. I tried so hard to be better without making an impact because I wasn’t really sure how to. Because I never really knew how to control it.
Because everything I held for too long turned to ice. It shattered beneath my fingers so I made sure I never got too close until I forgot. And I swear, I was just trying to help, but none of that mattered. It proved how much damage I was capable of without trying to inflict it. I became a monster in their eyes. They became scared of me and somehow it was worse than their anger. They locked me up. It was better that way. That was what they said as they dragged me away, tore me from my mother’s hands, and left her to pick up the pieces. I never got close enough after that.
Humanity was a world away.
I place my fingers on the window glass and watch the frost appear because it’ll feel like I’m not here. It’ll feel like I’m outside, like I’m invincible even if it’s just for the shortest time. My eyes try to make out shapes, but it’s too dark, so I focus on the promise of what could be. I focus on the promise the other side of the wall holds, but it doesn’t look promising. The world looks broken, it looks unsure.
There are no promises. It is simply an illusion.
All I see is darkness.
We’ve been fed way too many lies in this place and I don’t think I’m ever getting out. Mum told me to be strong, but I’m trying and it’s not working. And the world is ending (has ended), but time doesn’t care. It’s still moving because it’s never-ending and no one is telling it to stop or even pause for a bit, and it’s spiralling and erasing us.
And we’re isolated, well sort of, from whatever is left of the rest of the world because no one has a reason to look for us. Because most of us are abandoned. Because most of us don’t want to be found.
Because there are things that mark us. There are things that make us different from the rest of them. They are invisible to the untrained eye but we see them, we know them, we are the very definition of them. That is how we identify the people who are just like us, the people who can’t judge us. That is how I knew that we were alike, him and me.
Because we could swear the world was a painting on a canvas, cold in its realism. It had rendered us misfits and we never fought to destroy the painting. Instead, we ran and we hid because we were so afraid of connection. Because people craved human touch, but we weren’t just people and though we were young, we knew we were different.
He never allowed them to break him. He looked at me when everyone else wouldn’t. He wore gloves exactly like mine and only ever took them off once a day. He was like me and I could feel it.
Even when all the other boys bullied him and my eyes flashed with so much hate for them, he looked at me and smiled like it was okay. It wasn’t and my heart broke. My heart broke for him because this had become his normal.
The day we accidentally made contact, I expected the worst. Bad things happen when people get too close, things I can’t control. I expected him to freeze slowly. I closed my eyes and counted to three in my head before I could look up. I thought it was over. I was so scared that I had ruined another good thing and there weren’t many left in the world. And then we made eye contact and he had a similar look in his eyes.
It was okay.
Everything was fine.
And then he smiled and it was beautiful. He didn’t even have to say a word to have me fall in love with him. And soon, our paintings were merging because we were the only ones who understood, who had to see life that way. A painting on a canvas, changing but staying the same. The events were changing but the patterns were the same and it felt like we were frozen in time.
He had no idea how much they would break him. He had no idea how much time it would take for him to be rebuilt. He had no idea that the world would fall apart. He had no clue that we’d be the ones to rebuild it.
I look into his eyes that are both so blue and so green at the same time and I am suspended in the moment. Flickering memories fade. Some are so faded, I’m not sure if I’ve imagined them or if they actually happened. My thoughts hang in the space between us. I’m cautious.
Even with how far he is, I’m sure he can hear my thoughts and it scares me because no one should be able to get into my head. Because I built it up like a fortress and it only takes one look from him to make me feel like it’s crumbling to nothing.
And I remember the boy he used to be and I wonder if he remembers me. And my heart breaks for both of us. Because we had more strength than we knew we were capable of. My heart breaks because I don’t think he’s a monster like they do. My heart breaks because we’re surrounded by people just like us and we’re still alone. We’re isolated like the rest of them but we’re still different. They’re crazy but they’re not monsters. Because the world could be ending (is ending around us) and we don’t have a clue. Because I think he was too young to have the world give up on him. And the world is falling apart (has fallen apart), but we’re still here.
I can’t help but scream because they gave up on us. And I’m not done screaming, but my throat has clogged up. And I know even if I scream, they still won’t hear me, and if they do, they won’t care. And I can’t breathe because there’s a vice-like grip on my lungs so I stay as still as I can. I need to be okay.
The world is falling apart and no one understands me better than he does. Because we have destroyed the world with our hate. Because he is the only one that gets it. He is the only one that knows what it feels like to not know what you are capable of until it is too late.
How do you love someone you shouldn’t? How do you love someone who’s just like you in the worst way? You love them in the deepest, darkest part of your heart. The part no one sees. The part the rest of the world can’t see, can’t criticize. You love them in secret like it’s the only way you know how.
Because I look at him and wonder why I’m the only one he’s let see that he can be better. And then it hits me. Because he wants the world to think he’s a monster. Because it’s all he has ever been to them. Because he’s used to that. Because it’s safe. Because it’s easier that way.
And in all my life, I’ve never understood a person more. We’ve not gotten close to each other but he looks at me. He looks at me with such an intensity in his eyes, I’m not sure if I should be frightened. His eyes are drawing me closer and I can’t look away. Because even after all this time, we’re together. And then he smiles at me and it’s the most refreshing thing I’ve seen in 564 days.
I finally understand what it means to have this moment. Because we have only this moment. Because both of us don’t leave our cells. Because we are threats to society. Because they’ve fed us so many lies, we don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore. Because the world could be ending right now and we wouldn’t have a clue.
Because he doesn’t even know that there’s still good in him. Because the lines between good and bad are so blurred, we don’t know what’s happening. Because even though he thinks there isn’t, he’s still fighting. Because the world is ending (has ended) and we are still choosing to be good. Because it is the only thing we have left.
And I know mum’s not coming because she can’t. Because I was ripped from her hands. But she told me I was a fighter and that they couldn’t break my spirit. She said one day they’d realize how powerful I was and I feared the day that it’d come because deep down, I knew I hadn’t tapped into it.
Some days I could feel the power running through me. I could feel the ice in my veins. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through me. I suppressed it each time. I was already a monster. I didn’t want them to know I was capable of so much more.
Because I’m trying to fight. I’m trying to say the words, but they’re upside down. Because they’re sticking together and disappearing so fast. Because I haven’t said anything, but I’ve never felt more understood.
The rich people were already doing so well, the change in government meant nothing. We had allowed those wealthy, selfish monsters to rule us all our lives. Hope was the thing that crushed us. We were so hopeful things would get better, we allowed them to control us even more. We gave them the power to destroy us, to destroy the world.
And while a lot of people thought global warming would be our undoing or not preserving wildlife. I knew we’d be our own destruction. I knew we would be ruined at the hands of our selfishness and our hate.
Humanity was our undoing.
Because they said there was no hope. They said we were damaged souls. They said our touch was lethal. But they didn’t mention that it was powerful. And for a while, I thought it was so horrible to be different. Different was synonymous with bad. They said I was the epitome of bad, that it consumed me, swallowed me whole.
Because I want to be better than this. I want to prove to them that they were wrong about me and I think he does too. Because it’s terrifying to hope but I do it anyway. Because mum could be alive and that’s good enough reason to hope. Because hope makes you vulnerable but lack of hope makes you powerless and I refuse to be powerless anymore.
Because my body is becoming warmer. Because this time I feel the adrenaline rush like never before, like this time it can feel I’m ready. And this time, I don’t try to suppress it, I embrace it. I remember mum’s words, “People like us are different, but it doesn’t have to be such a bad thing if you embrace it.”
Because I may never see a bird fly with how destroyed the world is or beautiful flowers in gardens. Because the sun hasn’t been thrown out of the sky. Because time is moving, so I have to move as well. Because I have nothing left to lose.
Because my hands are around the bars and my emotions are taking over. Because the bars are freezing and they’re crushing beneath my palms. Because his cell is on fire and he’s out. Because we’re not afraid of our powers anymore. Because we’ve spent so much time communicating without speaking that each of us knows what the other wants. Because if we do nothing, there is no guarantee that someone else will. Because that is not a chance we’re willing to take. Because we’re the ones this system has destroyed the most, so we have to end the cycle. Because we’re the ones that were stripped of our humanity because we could cause destruction. Because we can’t be the only ones that were born like this. Because the others need to know that it’s okay to be different.
And in a way, it’s so much more than that. It’s about the snow they’ll never see. The birds that’ll never fly. The pets they’ll never have. Because I’ve sat down and done nothing for too long, thinking things would change, hoping they’d change without me. It has to be me.
Because we’re the children who never stood a chance. The ones they couldn’t hear. The ones they wouldn’t listen to. So we were fueled by their rejection, by our pain, by our doom, by our love for a world we are undeserving of and people who are undeserving of us.
Because we were deprived of human touch all our lives, so we thought that if we gave, that if we touched the world, just maybe it would touch us back.
But we are not just the poor, rejected children with dreams and hopes of a better future, we are speakers for the children they have broken; we are speakers for the children who feel like they cannot be freed.
We are the voices of those who know the world is insane. We are the voices of those who have felt powerless for so long, those who refuse to feel powerless for much longer. We are more than they know, more than they are willing to listen to. We are more than their rejection, our pain, our doom. And maybe that’s why this is so important. Maybe that’s why we refuse to give up, to stop breathing. Maybe that’s why we refused to be consumed by all their hate. Maybe that is why the world has to be rebuilt.
Maybe that is why it has to be us, him and me.
And this might be a hopeless situation. This might very well be the end and humanity could be completely destroyed when we get out, but we at least have to try.
Because the world is ending. Because the world has ended and we’re still here. Because there was a time there was good in the world. There was a time people didn’t live in fear and they have to experience that.
Because the world is ending or the world has ended. Because the world can be rebuilt. Because we won’t ever let another child suffer what we had to. Because we’d rather die trying than stay here and die anyway.
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.