“You can be amazing; you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug. You can be the outcast, or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love. Or you can start speaking up.”
This is for you: who is certain that you’re entirely alone, that you never belonged here, that you’re going to feel this way forever.
This is for you: whose eyes can’t see through the fog, whose skin suffers at the hands of your mind, who feels like you’re suffocating from the weight of it all.
This is for you: who punctuates every tiny thought of hope with “yeah, but…not me,” who doesn’t feel like your voice is worthy of sound, who can’t bear to face the outside world.
This is for you: whose mind races, whose heart races, whose limbs can’t stop moving.
This is for you: who feels wrong, who feels lost, who feels stuck.
This is for you: who has forgotten that you deserve the world simply because you’re in it.
I am writing this for you most of all. I’m writing this for you because I have been there, and sometimes, when it’s hard to find words, finding shelter in someone else’s can give you hope.
“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way the words do when they settle ‘neath your skin. Kept on the inside, no sunlight, sometimes a shadow wins.”
For way too long, I hid my pain beneath laughter, beneath layers of clothes, beneath excuses. I didn’t want anybody to be pulled down by my weight. I was convinced that nobody would be able to help me anyway or that I would just be cast away as being overdramatic or stupid. I had always been the good girl, the perfect daughter, the A+ student, and everything was spiraling out of control. I was afraid of who I was becoming, but I was so ashamed that I didn’t want anybody to know. I didn’t want to show how vulnerable I was; and after all, how do you bring up a conversation like that? How do you push those words out?
“But I wonder what would happen if you say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out.”
I wish I could pinpoint a specific moment during my journey when I found my voice, but like any solid structure, it had to be built brick by brick. It’s true that once you let the words out, it becomes easier to add those bricks. When you use your voice, when you speak up to friends, counselors, teachers, and family members, they can help lift you up and give you the boost you need to keep building, to reach higher than you ever thought you could. They might even offer to carry some of the weight.
“Honestly, I want to see you be brave.”
Some days it’s harder to talk about the pain you feel. Some days there will be a lump in your throat and a heaviness in your chest that suffocates the words inside you. And some days someone’s ignorance will make you choke on your words. Just know that you don’t have to feel completely confident or have the right words; you just have to let them out. Making my first call to the counseling center on my college campus was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, but it really did get easier to talk about my mental illness after that. And years later, after talking through my pain and after reaching out to those who care about me and after learning to fight for myself, I look back and realize that I have this amazing structure with which I have learned to protect my mental health and to work through the obstacles I face. If it weren’t for my friends, family, mentors, therapists, doctors, and all of those who were willing to help in between, I wouldn’t be here.
“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live; maybe one of these days you can let the light in.”
You do not have to battle this alone. You are capable of feeling better, and what’s more, you are worthy of feeling better. If you are hurting and unsure of what to do, please speak up. Reach out. Ask for help. Let the words fall out. Speaking up could save your life, and we need you here.