Let me tell you what bullying is

Bullying is mean words that get under your skin

And the only way to get them out is

By tearing open your arms and legs and extracting them

Letter by letter

Bullying is having your books knocked out of your hands

Bullying is failing all your classes on purpose so

Being smart is one less thing you’ll get teased about

Bullying is dreading the days teachers ask you

To pair up or work in groups

Bullying is not eating at meals, beginning at 9 years old

Bullying is letting yourself starve so maybe people

Will notice your bones and think you’re pretty

Bullying is dying, and no one noticing because

You are so insignificant and unimportant


Now let me tell you what depression is like

Depression is not waking up for school

It’s faking sick and fantasizing about car accidents

It’s blood-red wrists and scars on thighs

Depression is sleeping all day to avoid any feelings

It’s your heart not picking up in the middle of a busy street

Or leaning over a bridge

Depression is losing ten pounds in one month

Because the thought of food makes you sick

It’s voices in your head that tell you you aren’t good enough,

Not pretty enough, not smart enough

That you’re better off dead,

That no one will ever love you or care about you

Depression is dropping hints that you’re hurting

And people laughing it off like a joke

Depression is being completely alone in a crowded room

And saying you would die for someone loses its meaning

When you already wish you were dead


What about anxiety?

Anxiety is collapsing lungs and desperate breaths

It’s leaving parties early and pulling over your car

Because you can’t see or hear or feel through your attacks

Anxiety is numb and terrifying

It’s thinking there is something wrong with you

It’s thinking you are crazy

Why can’t you control your emotions?

Why can’t you deal with stress like normal people?

Why is it even HAPPENING this time?

Anxiety is racing hearts and sweaty palms

It’s running out in the middle of class,

Trying to get to a bathroom before the tears

And gasping breaths begin

It’s putting your head between your knees so you don’t faint

It’s the dire need to escape, escape, escape

It’s calling mom from the nurse’s office,

And her angry voice on the other end saying

“Jesus fucking Christ, again?”


And recovery?

Recovery is not pretty

It’s not painless or simple or instant

It is a road littered with backsliding and obstacles and doubt,

A path tarnished with reopened wounds and sleepless nights and feigned smiles

Recovery is the only thing you ever wanted,

And the only thing you ever feared.

It’s panic attacks that start at 3 am

And continue through morning so that you have to call in to work

Recovery is rubber bands and ice cubes and paint

That replace razorblades and lighters and blood

It’s phone calls at 2 am when you can barely breathe

And all the walls are closing in

It’s screaming at the ones you love because they love you too much

To let you break your skin

It’s long sleeves and lots of movies

It’s eating way too much ice cream and long drives

And walks in the dead of night

Sometimes recovery is feeling better, feeling accomplished

But then the voices start again and you start to believe

That the sadness is who you are,

And that you will be so much different if you are not sad

And it will be a bad thing

And you relapse

Sometimes recovery is becoming completely empty

Because again, the sadness is who you are

And it’s gone and there is just this obvious, gaping hole in you

And you feel nothing and it’s almost worse than feeling sad

And you relapse

Recovery is hard. It is messy. It is painful. It is chaotic.

But I did it.


I threw out my bottle of little white pills

Over this past Thanksgiving break

The voices never came back and

I didn’t need razor blades or rubber bands

I could look in a mirror without cringing

I could even look at my scars and accept that

That is how it once was for me

I’ve learned to melt down my insecurities

And I’m plastering them on every lamp post and every building,

I’m painting them on the horizon so that

Everyone can see

Every one of my flaws

And maybe they can fall in love with them, too

Just like I am


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