soft and sweet; let her bloom in oversaturated shades of orange and purple. let her be stupid, and innocent, for as long as she can bear it. ’cause it won’t last for long. and someday, she’ll rot into the ground. she’ll scrub the dirt off her cheeks, and feel secrets twist up into a knot in her throat. it’ll be dollar bills and delicate fingertips, and familiar faces on the wall. it’ll be piano songs, and a tennis games, where no one wins. let her be silly, let her dance, and sing. let her live every awkward phase and stubborn mistake in all its glory, and listen to music with the volume too loud. let her paint her skin with pinterest poetry, ’cause it makes her feel like floating, like bleeding in the sink; and it’s never as pretty in real life as it is in your head. let her be ugly, ’cause there’s something to who we are when no one’s watching. let her punch the shower curtain, and laugh at jokes that don’t make sense, and play with the ghosts out back, where we buried the guinea pig in seventh grade. let her tears make mud out of dirt. let her live it all again.
There’s this really scene in The Office where Andy says something along the lines of “I wish we knew we were living in the good old days before they ended.” (It’s been a while since I watched that show, but as I recall, in context it’s a lot less touching, because Andy is acting like a jerk by the time he says that. Anyway, I digress.) But I think I do know–because the past few months, I’ve had this weird feeling that I’m gonna be kicking myself in a few years for not living this time of my life to the fullest; gonna look back on it and wish I could do it all again. Like these things are only going to seem remarkable in retrospect, which is like, ninety percent of my life summed up. I might write something about that.
Anyway. I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia–and this weird feeling of nostalgia I’ve been getting for the present of late, and this is what came out of it.
there’s blood on the curtains / blood under my fingers / and blood on the floor / there’s a mess on the carpet / and a list of things i’ll never get done / pinned up on the door / there’s a hole in the wall / and eight / and maybe i’ll get to them someday / but it’s sure not happening soon / cause today / i’ve got a busy schedule of crumbling myself like pastry to the floor / until there’s nothing left / but blood on my shirt / blood on the sheets / blood on the floor / and i collapse, exhausted / 12am exactly / wake up at 8, push through smoke and haze / like curtains, maybe / if you think about it right / but no matter how far i run, i always come back for more / drill the familiar rhythms into bloodshot eyes and sunburnt skin / it’s been a long summer of fighting / wading through fields of thigh-high grasses / dried up and old / hopping over burnt-down tree stumps / and falling down the rabbit hole
pounding / pounding heart in my chest / i don’t really panic anymore / no / no it’s more subtle than that these days / burrowed under my flesh to evade detection / but when the sky gets black / and the thunder keeps me cooped up in my room / i can still feel it / slithering beneath old cobblestones / and pounding at its cage / i should have known that sweeping a rug over my problems / was not a good response / but i still forget some days / and it’s beating / it’s beating like a muscle / eager to be used / it is raw and wet and warm / on my outstretched fingertips / because this shit adds up / like the heap of books by my bed / and i say i’ll read them / but the flickering colours on the billboards just have a way of drawing me in, you know? / and isn’t that true love / when your throat seizes up and your mouth starts to water / and in the end, i can’t say no to you / can’t protest / can’t change my mind / so if things are never gonna be better, the least we can do is have fun while we die / die / die / like butterfly wings / and fish bones / and seashells / slowly rotting to the ground / ’cause there’s nothing i can do / except watch in horror as the rain comes down
Next year, I’m going to be starting my sophomore year of high school.
And I had my last day in therapy yesterday.
I write stories. I have a podcast. This November, I spoke at WE Day Vancouver about mental health, in front of tens of thousands of people. It was one of the most terrifying, exciting, and freeing experiences of my life.
I really love animation. I’ve been an avid reader since I can remember. I used to be a huge Potterhead. I write fanfiction.
I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and dysthymia–a form of depression. It’s been almost two years now, since I first sought out help. But it feels like it was only yesterday I texted a crisis line, hiding in my room after school, trying to cry silently. It wasn’t long after that I ended up in therapy.
It feels like my whole life is blurring around me as I speed through the years. How did I end up here? Why does everything have to be this scary?
Sometimes, I think I’m not a good person.
Sometimes, I think I don’t deserve to have anything.
Sometimes, I think I’m perfect. Think the entire world is rolled out before my feet, ready to be conquered–but I never really believe that.
I feel like I’ve spent my whole life, wishing to be someone else–someone perfect. Whatever that word even means.
When I was five, I wanted to be a princess–not really because I wanted to, but because the other girls thought it was the cool thing to do, and because I wanted to fit in with them more than anything. I bought pink dresses from the thrift store, and tossed rose petals down the aisle at my aunt’s wedding.
When I was six, I wanted to be a grown-up. I wanted to be smart and successful and cold. I wanted to be angry and bitter and callous. I wanted to be a coroner or an actuary or some other similarly well-paying job, and marry a rich man, even if I didn’t love him. Because then, no one could push me around–right?
When I was seven, I wanted to disappear. Wanted them to stop looking at me for just one second, giggling as my breath grew faster and faster, and the blood dripped down my chin.
When I was eight, I wanted to normal. I wanted to be just like the other girls, with their makeup and trendy Justin Beiber backpacks. I wanted to have crushes, and giggle behind stairways, and be loved. So loved.
When I was ten, I wanted to be funny, and frivolous, and just a little bit mean. And maybe I was just a little bit miserable, but only in the way I ever showed to a few select people at the climax of the story.
When I was eleven, I wanted to be a fangirl. I wanted to write fanfiction and fanart and have braces, and big, frizzy hair, and stay up until 4am. Because wouldn’t that make me happy?
When I was twelve, I wanted to be beautiful. At least, in the typical sense of the word. Did yoga workouts, and counted calories and cut carbs out of my diet for… two months, or so. I think before I cracked. I couldn’t do it anymore.
When I was thirteen, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to say profound things about capitalism and the state of our society, and write pretentious short stories and win awards and be interviewed on the radio.
And now, at fourteen years old… I want to be professional. I want to be a businesswoman, constantly “on the go” with Starbucks in her hand, walking around in stilettos all day and somehow not falling over. I want to stand my ground at meetings; I want to change the world. I want to see my face in billboards. And know that I built this empire up from the bleeding ground.
But don’t you see? None of those things are real. None of those things would really make me happy, in the end.
I’m so focused on the future I barely notice the present, passing right by me. So focused on building up images of myself I’ll never be able to attain that I never bothered to figure out who I actually am.
Yesterday, my therapist asked me if I even wanted to get better.
And I don’t even know the answer to that question.
I mean, in theory, if course I do. Of course I’d like to not feel so terrible all the time; or be able to walk through a school hallway without having a panic attack. But when it actually comes down to it, I’ve never not been like this. I’ve grown up so entangled with the the monsters in my head that I don’t know how to live without them.
So what do I want?
Do I want to be a writer; throwing myself into a career that might not even work out? Do I want to post my stuff online, and get myself into a career in social media, knowing there’s a chance it might not be sustainable–even though some days, it feels like being online this much is slowly destroying me.
I feel like I’ve slept through most of my life. Because if I live with my head in the clouds, I’ll never have to think about what’s going on around me–never have to actually take the steps necessary to get to those places I want to be so desperately.
Like I’m waking up, three seconds before a full-on collision, paralyzed at the wheel.
And I don’t know what to do.
I always slip into talking about my mental health in the past tense. Like it’s something I’ve conquered, and you can do it too, if you just believe in yourself and find a support network and go therapy! And stuff…
But I tried those things. And they didn’t work–not in the way I thought they would. I mean, yes, I’m better. But that doesn’t mean I in any way consider myself “recovered.”
I am confused and scared and lonely. And life just keeps throwing punches, every time I think it’s done with me.
But… I want to live. Despite all of the times I’ve questioned it. I want to advocate for better mental health support, especially with young, elementary-school aged kids. I want to write stories and poems. I want to make public speaking a part of my career. I want to make spoken word tracks. I want… so many things.
I want to live in an apartment with the people who make me happy. Really, really happy. I want to go travelling. I want to meet people and learn their stories. I want to know what it’s like to be happy.
And right now, I have all of those things, still ahead of me. All the possibilities in the world. Which is you know, terrifying. But… it’s also freeing, in a strange way.
I’m alone in this, now. I don’t have a therapist to hold my hand. That’s my job.
This is up to me.
And I can choose to be like those before me. Who sat around feeling hopeless, trapped in their own indecision. Or I can stand up. And step outside. And try.
I can try.
Maybe I’ll fail. But… I mean, at least I’ll have given it everything I’ve got, right?