Monday, November 8, 2010

"I look in the mirror and I see a stranger."

Nicole Easterwood, age 20. Ohatchee, Alabama

I can feel the heaviness again.
I am driving down the road
at ninety to nothing,
flooring it so I can get home,
so I don’t have to do this
in the middle of the road
My sister’s there.
She knows what to do,
what to say to me
to make me begin
to calm down.
Even if I don’t tell her
what’s going on.
There is nothing here,
but blackness
and my mind
is pacing back and forth.
I keep trying to figure out
what triggered it this time
so I can know not to do
whatever it was again.
But each time
it’s something different.
Each time the “thing”
that makes me feel like I am
I can’t pinpoint anything anymore.
I can’t figure out what it is this time.
All I can see
when I turn around
each corner is
Like nothing I’m doing matters
and the sea of brackish water
is consuming my lungs
when I am mute.
Like all it would take
to make all of the tension
and pulsating stop would be
making a stop by “Blunt Guy’s” house.
I could waste away
into the pot
and the alcohol and,
for a little while,
I wouldn’t feel like
I was dying.
The offer is
so tempting.
Then I think of Jake
and my mentor and
what they would think of me
if they knew all of this,
but I can’t take all of it anymore.
I look in the mirror
and I see a stranger,
someone who
could not possibly be Nicole,
someone who should not still
be here in this town,
someone who should
be gone by now.
And Jo is the only one
who really understands
that I can’t be
in this house anymore.
That even driving is a task
and my chest is still heavy
and stomach churning
as I pull in the driveway
and try to breathe,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The knowledge that I’m not alone helped me find balance."

Amber McLain, age 18. Michigan

Panic rises and grips my throat, my heart. I feel like death has his arms around me, waiting for just the right moment to move his hands around my neck. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. Why does no one understand that? Can no one understand what’s going on? I’m too shy to ask for help, but is it really not obvious? Mom, dad, sisters one, two and three – do you not see how much I’m suffering? No one understands, until…a book. A book gives me hope. Many books, actually. They help me realize that what’s wrong isn’t that I’m crazy; what’s wrong is that I’m depressed; I might very well have panic disorder. This is oddly calming; just knowing that I am not alone in this struggle helps. I don’t feel as bad, don’t feel the need to hide, don’t self-medicate. The knowledge that I’m not alone helped me find balance.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ned Vizzini and It's Kind of a Funny Story

I am so excited to be posting this next submission. It's from friend and fellow young adult author, Ned Vizzini. His most recent novel, It's Kind of a Funny Story, was adapted as a film and hits theaters across the country TOMORROW (10/8/10)!

Read more about the film and its outstanding cast here. And more about Ned and his infinite awesomeness here. Finally, Ned and I will be doing a reading together on 10/26/10 at Barnes & Noble in Park Slope, Brooklyn at 7pm.

Ned Vizzini, age 29. Los Angeles, CA.

"When I went into a psychiatric hospital for a week-long stay for depression and 'suicidal ideation' in November 2004, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Although I'm a writer by profession I decided to try and do abstract art. I limited my color palette and tried to just make pleasing shapes with Cray-Pas on paper. The goal was to see the colors blend well and to bring motion to the composition. I ended up really liking these drawings, and I used the art-therapy angle when I made the main character of my subsequent novel It's Kind of a Funny Story draw 'brain maps' during his own hospital stay. In a real way, these are the drawings that inspired the brain maps."

Friday, October 1, 2010

On sale day and PHOTO CONTEST!

The awesome-ness of on-sale day is not just limited to my new novel, You Are Not Here, coming out. I am also launching a photo contest!

Entries will be accepted until 11:59pm (EST) December 20th, 2010. Three winners will be announced January 10th, 2011.

Check here for how to submit, guidelines, and more!
Here’s an idea of what an entry might look like.
(Keep in mind, your pic doesn’t have to be in a cemetery.)

Name: Samantha Schutz
Age: 31
Location: NYC
What inspired this picture: I love how a cemetery can be beautiful, but at the same time, really depressing.
What quote from You Are Not Here is associated with this image:

“Nothing grows here besides grass.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

"She colored her world outside the lines."

klp, age 18.

[I found her in the midst of my struggle] :

“She smiled, I smiled. Her eyes wondered where mine once strayed, and her feet stepped where mine once stumbled. I watched as she made believe, tarring up pretty little pictures into tiny little pieces, cleaning up the mess she made. I saw her gentle smile as she colored her world outside the lines, unafraid of getting hurt, yet maybe a little too wreckless and flawed. As she starred at the image in disbelief, I recognized the pain behind her eyes as she started to believe the lies that she was not enough. I always knew she was just a little bit too much like me. If I could tell her one thing, it would be to be beautiful just the way she is.”

"This tunnel has been dark but you showed me light."

Colleen, Kentucky. Age 15.
Song: Road to Recovery

I felt good today
I haven't felt like this in awhile
You were walking with me
You have a way of making me smile

We've been on this road together
It's been a long journey
But you've held my hand this whole time
On this road to recovery

I don't know what I'd do without you
You've saved my life
This tunnel has been dark but you showed me light
And stayed by my side

(Repeat Chorus)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"The silence was too thick to be cut. Too hollow to be filled."

Jamie Lynn Cox, age 18. Fresno, CA.


I had a dream last night

That I boarded a train

To nowhere in particular

But I was not alone

There were several people there

Just as bewildered as I

All were dressed in thin clothing

And shivering

Ill-prepared for the cold climate

There were no tickets

No assigned seating

No listed destinations

It was as if it were a one-way train

That would sleepily continue into the infinite darkness of night

The silence was too thick to be cut

Too hollow to be filled

I stumbled to my seat

Trying to recall where I was and why

Suddenly I spotted part of a name tag on one of the passengers

Shamefully trying to hide it in the breast of their coat so I couldn’t read it

I realized that every nameless person had one

Whether or not they knew about it

I frantically searched for mine to no avail

I wanted to know who I was!

There was a drunken vagrant sleeping in the back

Who reeked of his own piss and filth

I didn’t want to touch him

But I had to get closer

I had to know his name

I saw the rectangular sticker displayed right on his chest

As if he didn’t realize it was there

Or as if he didn’t care to hide it

His name was Responsibility

And I was in disbelief

How could Responsibility just let himself go like that?

As my search progressed

I discovered a name for everyone

Worry sat in the front row

Rocking back and forth next to Fear

Who held his head in his hands

Beauty’s makeup was smeared across her face

She was crying

She stared relentlessly into the dark windows

Trying to get a glimpse of her reflection

Hope was an elderly man

I’d assumed he’d been riding the same train for a very long time

Patiently waiting for the train to stop rolling so he could get off

He wore a smile

The only one I’ve seen yet

There was one girl who never looked at me

She just gazed towards the front of the train

Lacking the curiosity of everyone else

I approached her

Touched her cheek

And turned her face to mine

Her eyes were blue and clouded

She reached out awkwardly

To find my hand, I assume

Across her hand I found the name tag

Hello, my name is Blind

I sympathetically held her hand

And wondered if she knew her name

Though she couldn’t read her identifying label

Without locating my own,

I still didn’t know what to call myself

She cuddled up to my arm affectionately

So beautiful was she

Like an angel

I instantly grew close to her

As I watched her snuggle into my side

I saw my name tag across my shoulder!

I read it and a wave of guilt washed over me

My name was Sorry

I realized then and there

Through the silence that could not be broken

There was no way for me to introduce myself to Blind

I realized then and there

The warmth of our embrace would be the only communication her and I could ever share

I awoke and cried.

How would she feel if she knew she was cuddling next to a person with a name like mine?

I felt like Liar, taking advantage of that sweet girl

Someone like Trust should have held her

Not me

I wish there was a way for her to have known the truth

I wish there was a way I could have told her

I never wanted to hurt her

For all she knew, I could have been Love riding next to her

A person worthy of such compassion

I’ve never known a feeling like that before

She held my arm without ever questioning who she was holding

She just did it because I was there

Whatever I was

She didn’t care

She held my arm tightly


And clinging to the only person she knew


I was Sorry

And she’d never know it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My first novel comes out in Oct!

To celebrate the 10/1 launch of my first novel, You Are Not Here, I am going to write 10 new blog posts in the next 30 days. Check them out starting 9/1.
Among other things, they'll be about my writing process, inspiration, and my favorite: behind the scenes photos of the real places the book is based on.
More to come soon!
Pre-order here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Can I heal?"

Colleen, age 15.

Genre: Song

Title: Circles

Verse 1:
Everything is in circles
Around and around
I’m seeing pieces
Of my mind running around
They would just disappear
So I knew they weren’t real
And it’s only a matter of time
Before I realize
It’s not real at all

The way I feel (I feel)
Can I heal?
The way I feel (I feel)
Is it all real?
The way I feel (I feel)

Verse 2:
Everything is in circles
Even in my mind
Around and around
All the places you can’t find me
All the places I hid above the ground
I remember when I first realized that something was wrong


Last Verse:
There’s a place I could go
And you’d never know
That I’m there in circles
It hurts over and over again
Because it’s around and around
My tears
My fears
Are in a cycle of coming down.

"I write to let go, to feel, to express, to cope..."

Katie K., age 17. Florida.

When I "grow up" I want to be a writer. Whether I’m writing a memoir, a childrens book, fiction, non fiction, whatever it may be. I want to write. Because it is the only thing I feel I am good at. Even on those very frequent days where I feel almost as if I am on mute; like I am at a loss for words that need to somehow be verbalized. Writing is joyous to me, but more importantly it is and always has been an emotional outlet for me. Something that I have always managed to be able to turn to. Even with writers block. All my life I've been blamed for pretty much bottling things up or not telling everyone every detailed aspect of my life, but this is because I write. I write to let go, to feel, to express, to cope, and even sometimes, to just let someone else know “hey, I know what you’re going through, look at me. I’m a mess, too. We all are in our own ways, really.”

Point is, I just hope to someday reach out to others with my writing. More than I already have. If there is anything I want out of life, it’s that. Because I know that personally, I’ve gotten through some of the most challenging parts of my life because of a book I read. And no, I’m not asking to be famous. I sure as hell don’t want to be the next Stephenie meyer (mostly because my forte isn’t sparkly vampires, anyway) but I am asking to be heard. But mostly, I want to make an impact and leave my mark somewhere, anywhere, on anyone in the world.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"The tears flow but they do not over power me this time."

Cathy R., age 34. Brooklyn, NY

I am trying to make life simple again.
The panic is constantly taunting me.
Threatening to show itself to company.
This feeling is unbearable.

I haven't felt this way since I was 16, and then 22,
and then now,
and all of the times in between that I blamed it on life being difficult.
Circumstances forever changing. Relationships ending.
The day to day tasks and obligations that others seem to navigate,
but make me freeze.

The walking in circles.
Back tracking my steps.
Misplacing things.
Forgetting details as soon as I allow my mind to wander.
Trying to figure out why I am here and not there.
The constant worrying.
Is just time consuming.

My chest feels like it's going to cave in.
My stomach in knots.
The comfort of having water close by at all times soothes me.
And antacids in my bag.
And the ability to phone a friend.

It is difficult to grasp because the highs are so high.
And the lows are terrifying.

I am unsure if I should go on medication.
Psychiatrist thinks I should.
Therapist thinks there are other ways.
I just want to be uncomplicated.

Do I really need them?

I function, I create, I am a friend, a daughter, a coworker, I get through my days.
I also cry, panic, hoard, have rituals, and I am afraid.
It's all very confusing.

Everything is sitting on the surface and I feel naked and exposed.

When I'm not productive,
it makes me feel invisible.
I am wrapped with guilt.

All I hear is my head telling me that I'm not good enough,
Not strong enough,
Not talented enough to make this life.
And though I know different,
It makes everything black and makes me grip onto nothingness as if it defines me.

This weeks challenge is allowing the emotions to happen as they come,
instead of suppressing them until I cannot breathe.
The tears flow but they do not over power me this time.

It was not always like this.
This will pass, again.
It has to.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The lines once created were easily torn."

Sarah Pepper, age 20. Detroit.


What is my life revolving into?
I do not recognize people anymore
they are different and I am hazy
this one I used to love and adore
is confused and hurt by what Ive become
we all change some time
I take my turn
you take yours
We cant not be equal to understand
Change causes the once funny to be nausiating and cold
the lines once created were easily torn
I have crossed to the side, a side of just windows
for watching and hoping "He" will put in a good word for me
or that the vibes of nature, all interconnected,
will reach out to each other and help.
In here I see only the feeling is there
but meek then blowing
My days of fear are over
I must take this challenge
this battle, with no ending,
battle it with my courage, laughter, and love
one day the spinning and changing will go
and I will still be here, forever a glow.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Thoughts of you are forever in my soul."

Caroline "ButtaBRn65" Davis

I Found

Inner most wanted desires come and go, thoughts of you are forever in my soul...sweet whispers of love gather around my ear,...I listen with joy, passion. My heart dances to the sweet songs of you and I...never will a day go by without you knowing how much "I love you". I have seen, and heard of magic, now with you I feel it, over and over again each and every day, keeping you close for always and forever

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Someone please tell me where to go."

Joshua Diehl, age 17. Nocona, Texas.

Spit In My Face

We all drive or ride to the healers
In beat-up brown Buicks
With blue signs hanging from our rear view mirrors
So everyone knows that we fit in

Every goddam spot is marked with blue lines
But I still don't know where to go
Someone please tell me where to go
It is infinitely ironic that no one knows

There are no staircases, but concrete paved smooth
I can't use this body, so take away my dignity
I would be content if I had nothing to lose

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Am I caged or am I free?"

Leigh, age 36. Australia.

Leigh's Lament

My life flashed before my eyes
I was taken by surprise
So much has led me here
All the pain and all the fear

I’ve been down and I’ve been out
I have had no voice to shout
I’ve been cut and I’ve been torn
I have wept and I have mourned

I have begged and I have borrowed
I have hated all tomorrows
I have wallowed in the dark
I have grappled with the spark

But I am wise and I am strong
And I can push forever on
For courageous is my will
Though my insides seep and spill

I climb the wall that is myself
To sit upon the shelf
And peer into the crowd
Beneath their hazy shroud

Is that me I see beneath?
Will this knowing I bequeath?
To the girl I used to be
Will I tell her what I see?

If I do, will I be false?
Will I eradicate the choice?
That led you here to me
Am I caged or am I free?

Monday, June 7, 2010

"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am." Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin comes out on his website.

"A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life. From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.

For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that's the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It's my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don't ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I'm at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I'm feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.

Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

If someone asked me today, "Ricky, what are you afraid of?" I would answer "the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war...child slavery, terrorism...the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith." But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change. This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.


Friday, June 4, 2010

"Life still goes on."



“Tower your last chances, make them endless; draw the line, limitless, and pretend the world goes to sleep when you do – stare down and confess your fear of heights, of everything – because you need rest. Your body is its own worn ages, matted at the seams from attempted war's rages, stringing comfort like a chandelier. Light up this tower, with smoke blowing aimlessly in any given direction, whichever way you speak to it; letting you and yourself know you are all alone in this darkest night as the world falls asleep. They make it through the night and you just breathe in the familiar taste of fear, which lingers on like a slow song, playing to remind you life still goes on, even if you stop breathing. Even after your heart stops beating and this tower falls, they will dream of your endless, limitless fear and pretend like it isn’t real, like it won’t be there when they wake up. As fear fills everyone’s cup, you tell yourself once more that you are alone and allow yours to overflow.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Drooping like a flower gone without water."

Gabrielle, age 26. California.

“Captured One Hot Summer Day”

the look of her, mouth twisted
down at the corners, drooping like
a flower gone without water.

it was taken years ago - at a party,
too much ego trapped in the clear line
of her throat.

the day before she opened the
length of her arm with a paring knife
her mother left sticky with apple.

the blood (a frothing sea of it) must be
there, you can see the waves coming
in behind the slope of her shoulders.

the thumbprint smears make her eyes
shadowed caves, poring over one moment
where her bones delineated themselves.

if you look long enough you can
see the whites of her eyes, like an
animal caught in a snare.

if you look long enough her mouth
reflects back the desperation in
hot summer days where

she was captured, drawn and quartered
into a reflection that would
last a lifetime.

"Rap was my drug. It used to get me high and then it stopped getting me high." Eminem

From MTV's website.

Eminem almost died.

The iconic MC tells Vibe magazine in its forthcoming issue that during a relapse, he overdosed on pills he acquired from an "acquaintance" and almost became one of music's greatest casualties.

"My doctor told me those mysterious new pills were methadone, which is used to wean heroin addicts off dope," he told the mag in its forthcoming "Real Rap" issue.

"Had I known it was methadone, I probably wouldn't have taken it. But as bad as I was back then, I can't even say 100 percent for sure. My doctor told me the amount of methadone I'd taken was equivalent to shooting up four bags of heroin. Even when they told me I almost died, it didn't click."

Em admitted to the publication that he was an addict and through his uncontrolled dependence, he began to identify with his mother, with whom he's had several public battles over the last decade.

"It's no secret I had a drug problem," he said. "If I was to give you a number of Vicodin I would actually take in a day? Anywhere between 10 to 20. Valium, Ambien, the numbers got so high I don't even know what I was taking."

After suffering a knee injury that required surgery, he was not prescribed painkillers, which led him to search his house for drugs he'd hidden.

"I started looking around my house to see if I had a stash box of Vicodin," he said. "I'm ransacking my house, finally find something in the basement, in a little napkin, seven and a half Vicodin — the big extra-strength ones — and a few Valium." He relapsed, and soon admitted he was an addict.

"It never once hit me that drug addiction runs in my family," he said. "Now that I understand that I'm an addict, I definitely have compassion for my mother. I get it."

Eminem told the magazine that he's been sober for a year, and that making his forthcoming LP, Relapse, due May 19 — from which "Old Time's Sake," a new song featuring Dr. Dre, leaked on Monday (May 4) — "I wanted to make an overall statement — I'm back. It was a slow process. You gotta remember I hadn't recorded a song sober in seven years. So it took me awhile to even feel like I could record a song sober ... I don't know the last time I shot a video sober, without drinking or taking anything. It's been years.

"I almost feel like a little kid again with rap," he continued. "I wanna play around with different flows. If I don't feel like it's what I'm fully capable of, if there's one weak line, I wanna change it. Rap was my drug. It used to get me high and then it stopped getting me high. Then I had to resort to other things to make me feel that. Now rap's getting me high again."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"i am not hungry. i already ate."

Anonymous, age 18


twenty three beads on each side. forty six in total. red beads; red is a primary color. a bracelet, my bracelet, tightly surrounding my wrist. i am not hungry. i already ate. i do not feel well. i will eat later. i tell myself what to believe, tell everyone the familiar lies that are supposed to disguise my hunger. the number changes as i feel the release, running miles around my subtle disbelief that maybe i am already enough. following the rules i have applied to my life. collar bones are beautiful, my legs are fat, the feeling after not eating for a day makes you stronger - imagine the feeling after going on longer, running on empty, pretending like you are not wasting away. count the calories. calories in, energy out. burn more than you eat. one hundred is a big number, do not break one hundred, you must weigh ninety five when you graduate next fall, i remind myself over and over, the memories from back when i was only ten. you need to eat. they remind me of why i am so weak, so cold, so drained of life, so on the edge, to tired, so consumed with sickness. i have a red beaded bracelet with forty six beads that fits around my bony left wrist and subtly reminds me that all my thoughts are disordered, and i eat weird and that everyone is right. that the mirror is lying and that i am making myself sick, dying to be something i have always been. it reminds me of the fear of becoming fat, but it twists it around, making me feel like i already am and that i have to take control before i lose it all. it is not all about beautiful. it has never been only about beautiful. it has been about control, when i became a vegetarian five years ago. it has been about being accepted, feeling like skinny is all i have. it is about fear, of self and of growing and of getting older. it is about the voices from my childhood that replayed over and over, never letting me forget, giving me something to hold onto when i felt like i had nothing left, that turned into lies i find hard to turn away from. it is about feeling, about dealing with everything, about living life with a sense of belonging, even if i only fit into the statistics. it is about a story, my story, of how my life began: three months too early, one pound and six ounces, and how i survived, even though the doctors doubted. my life story about where i am today, how i got here. a story i am willing to tell four hundred times more, because maybe someone is listening and maybe they will see that i know what it feels like to desperately try to change the reflection, and i know the hold it has, but i know freedom exists on the outside. i have a little red beaded bracelet as a reminder of who i once was, of the anorexic sickness that i lived, but that was never really me, that was never all i was. there is more to the story, my story. there is always so much more than the skin and bones, or the red beaded bracelet cutting off her circulation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"I literally wanted to disappear." Portia de Rossi, actor

"[While anorexic] it just seemed like I literally wanted to disappear. And now I would like to reappear.” Portia de Rossi, actor

Read a great interview with
here (the bits about having an eating disorder are on pages 3 and 4)

Look out for her upcoming memoir in Fall 2010. Read more about it here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"He says please don't give up on me yet."

Colleen, age 14. Kentucky.

Title: Beautiful Sight

I can't believe what I see before my eyes
It's such a beautiful sight
I can finally sleep at night
and I'll be alright

Healing is hard
and it takes a long time
but you just got to try
It's hard to make it on your own
It's easier if you have a hand to hold

It's not so cold
and it's the last day of November
I've realized now
That I've made it so far from so close
It's not so cold
and it's the last day of November
I've realized now
That I've held on for so long
instead of letting go

Maybe it's his eyes
or his crooked smile
that makes me believe everything will be alright
and tonight I'll fall asleep into a dream
of an almost reality
because I finally believe that I can be happy

(Bridge and Chorus)

He says please don't give up on me yet
Makes me want to cry
I finally realize
I have a purpose in life
Oh, and it's such a beautiful sight.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"I can't get through a day without an OCD thought. I wish I could." Howie Mandell, comedian

"I can't get through a day without an OCD thought. I wish I could." Howie Mandell, comedian

You can read about Howie's experiences with OCD

Also check out his book Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Where hope grows."

Sarah Plumb, age 31. Ontario, Canada.

My brain is never chatters incessantly...lying to me. I need peace but I'm often on the edge of insanity..SCREAM, CRY, LAUGH like mad. I know I'm in here somewhere but I'm lost in a sea of sadness, obsession and compulsion. Where did it all start?
I see a tiny soul, fresh, new and bewildered by her surroundings. Danger, rushing, fear, cries. Her mother disappears...little soul didn't get to touch her. She was floating in a peaceful ocean then ripped out and damaged. Fear, FEAR rules her life now. Even sleep no longer calms. Such fear, of abandonment, loss, even fear of fear. It's all consuming. Such a change from ocean to sea--nightmares, no peace.

Then finally a light--a hot pink ray of hope. She can't always see it but it's there...always waiting to be freed. It's her natural, pure state. So close yet sometimes so far. So much ground covered but so much more yet to be travelled. The hot pink hope will find her...or is it she that uncovers that hope? There's so much unexplored but life gets in the way. Life is exhausting...too much. She needs balance. The edge can reveal beautiful scenic views. Maybe the edge of sanity and insanity IS the balance. Maybe it's where hope grows.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Suffering will molt itself completely from your calloused, broken skin."

Kina Nicole, age 17. California.

So, you’re a sick little girl, eh? Think you’ve been broken? Well, when you get to have has many scars as I do, understand that any suffering will molt itself completely from your calloused, broken skin.. Snakes are vulnerable when their vibrant patterns- the diamond back rattle snake: like a vintage disco shirt, bold paisley stretched across a young woman’s blooming breasts; begin to stretch and fade. Its then though, you realize this stop was well needed, a time to let go of everything that once inhibited you while sober and conscious. It feels good to pick off those remaining dermis flakes, still clinging onto the old you, the you that no one liked. Get that last one, DNA attainment isn’t a deciding factor, the flicks of emotion pressing against the naturally enunciated lining on your soft, unspoken lips will deteriorate when this earth is moist and ready, along with the rest of your insecure self. New, tight confidence suffocating tender muscles. When you coil in anticipation; pseudo-anxiety fumes leak between your scales, compensating the lack of what would be there had you raced to the finish line-genuine fear, the predator is led under false pretenses and is oblivious to what his imminent actions would cause. Only a short breath away, his malicious intent sent chilling vibrations into the innermost backbone you just grew and you bit off the man’s prick. Confidence tastes good, you sense the air with forked hissing around the wounded thing, and you decide that you're going to swallow his, whole.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"The heart puts the head to work "

Nafeesah Haliru, age 17. Nigeria.

Under the moonlight
Without a prelude
Our hearts formed chorus
In rhythm of ecstasy they beat

Descrescendo to crescendo
Bounding in harmony
In the gentle breeze
Our fears blew away

In speechless melodies
Our hearts kept racing
Love flowing in high tempo
We gave in

In duration of interval
Our hearts reached out
With no doubts
Hitched we re in love s chord

In the mist of stars
In unison they sang
Triad (passion, dreams, desires)
Magically turned into reality

Passing throuph dried leaves
Hearts met in the middle
The highest pitci of emotions...
Flowing through

Under the moonlight
Differences we let go
Passionately we held on
To the slow music we danced

The fire of my desire
In your sight all are quenched

The power of your gaze
Cleansing thoroughly my heart doubts

Crystal clear...So pure
With a free mind I live

Star-like...ever sparkling
It bauble me with rays of hope

Perfection I've seen...
That motivate the soul

Inspired by a glance
The heart puts the head to work

Out and about
Sights I've captured but no similarities

The future is not certain
But confidently I passed moments of uncertainty

Lost in mystery
I remain calm like the deep blue sea

Bewildered by ways of life
Steadily...pieces found their places

High have gone the pace of time
Smoothly I sailed

The light that shines...
Through the thick nights and heavy days

All I found
In your eyes

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Feeling like i can break free."

Priscilla Hennen, age 27. Leesburg, Virginia.


i live this life
scarred and broken
uncomfortable in my own flesh.
the pain and fear
rising burning within
stealing my breath
threatening to engulf me.
my only escape
comes closer to destroying me
every time i give in.
i hit my knees
crying out to something
that i can't see
feeling the waves
wash over me
feeling the warmth
feeling the love
feeling like i can break free.
as soon as i feel
a bit of peace
the sadness
it rises.

Friday, May 7, 2010

"Everything circles around and back again."

Anonymous, age 17.

Guilty of Goodbye

I need to get away and
I play the radio loud
When I drive in my car
Because it makes me feel less alone

And you are in the seat beside me
But you are not here
So I wave at everyone that we pass,
And it makes me feel less alone

My worth falls out, dignity worn thin
Everything circles around and back again
I cut the chains, I cut the switch,
And no longer do I have to feel alone

There may be no shoes larger
Than the ones I have outgrown
But, in time, you might understand
That nothing feels more like home

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"I can't even cry it out...Not even a thousand tears."

Nafeesah Haliru, age 17. Nigeria.

I hate this part
When everything is so cold
My head knowing you gone...My heart believing you would always be here

I hate this part
When all I feel is this hurt in my heart
Even though I have to smile to make believe all is well

I hate this part
When I just sit with pictures of you running through my mind
Wishing years could go back to bring you next to me

I hate this part
When all the memories of you close to me bring up the oppurtunities of saying the words

I hate this part the most
When I see you run past me
Only to see it was my mind playing with my heart.

In the pool of confusions
I longed for answers
Dried leaves in heavy winds
Dancing to the rhythm of the breeze
My mind...My mind
Is not at set

Crawling on wounded knees
In the agonies of sufferings
I strived for my freedom
With a teary eye I watched
My rights...My rights
Snatched by evils of hearts

Through time I walked
Days into nights
With all solemnities
I craved for this moment
But now...But now
Silently I watched it pass

Lost in the wind of love
A home I found in a heart
Dream-like yet so real
A hit was never close mind
O love...O love
Reality I face

Looking out of my window
All I could think of was your last smile to me
It has been long...more like ages but that moment has frozen in time
Your sweet words...
Your words of confidence...
Keep ringing in my head
You were mine and I just don't understand why my hands can't reach you now
Is it anything I said?
Is it what I didn t do?
There are thousands and thousands of questions that still remain un-answered
In my heart...I feel you so close
It's hard to believe you re gone
Awake...Memories never let seconds pass
Asleep...Dreams never let your face fade
I feel you in my heart
Stronger than ever I know I LOVE YOU
Days and nights...You keep passing me but why can't you just stop
Just for a moment
Not words
No words...could ever put what my heart carries down
Not tears
No tears I've not cried
I feel it in my heart
Yet I can t put it into words
I can't even cry it out...Not even a thousand tears

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Cutting a line that starts out thin."

K. Quimby, age 19. North Carolina.

Done With A Twist

Feeling the cool tile floor against her face

No one to warm her in a big embrace

She wonders how she got like this

Looking down at her cut up wrists

On her wrists she sees unbearable scars

This time she took it way too far

Putting the razor to her skin

Cutting a line that starts out thin

Going deeper than ever before

She just lays there on the floor

As the blood flows out of her wrist

Using the razor for just one last twist

Letting all the blood drain

She feels no more pain

It’s over and done with

Another scar with a twist

Picking herself up off the floor

She is heading to the door

Grasps the door knob tight

She says it’s just another night

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"You will drown in your own sorrow."

Carol Linton, age 38

The sobbing of the rain
I hear her collapse in pain
On the grey slab
splatter and opened wound
trickle a tear, or two
and you will drown in your own sorrow
an ocean is man made

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Barely there, striving for a reflection you will never reach."

Now that the poetry contest is over, YouMakeMeFeelLessAlone is is back with posts from YOU! Check back weekly for new posts...and send in your prose, poems, and artwork. Read the submission guidelines here.

Your words are powerful. Your words can help people. Share them.

Anonymous, age 18
[step one:]
"my life in a manila folder, scripted for diagnosis. they quote me, writing down my pain of logic, treating it as a side affect. i am scheduled a next appointment - policy. i am considered by statistics, their only determination to cure me. as i am introduced to my aid, they mark my progress with another prescription. i am given a new prospective to life, with vague conception beyond these sterile walls: they are creating my recovery out of medical terms i am bound to understand someday, yet i am reminded 'this is the easiest part.' as i stumble into yet another step towards..... i wonder where it all ends."

[redefine me:]
"one hand on your protruding hip bone, one finger down your throat, breathing deeply in denial, convincing smile, hiding the frantic rush of control. running on empty desperately after a shallow sense of value to fill you up; wasting away in a media driven prospective, giving you little room to see. you feel the gentle break of identity as you fit into the style, conforming to the paper doll appeal. barely there, striving for a reflection you will never reach; dying to impress the goddess of thin. they glimpse across your presence, not knowing the girl blinded by the sight, believing the lies telling her she is not enough. and the memory of beauty is all that remains as you lose yourself. 'beauty, redefine me.....' was the beginning of disaster, Beautiful. they forget to tell you the truth."

Friday, April 30, 2010

The winning poem, a Q&A with the author, and the five "honorable mention" poems!

And the winner of the National Poetry Month Contest is . . . Joshua Diehl!

His incredible poem is reposted below. I've included a little bit about why I chose this piece as the winner. There's also a Q&A with the Joshua about his inspirations.

Here are the five wonderful poets who received "honorable mentions!" Their poems are reposted at the at the end of this entry.

HG, age 17, “A Villanelle”

Allie Marie Birch, age 14, “White Rose”

James William Cowan, age 21, “Untitled”

Libby, age 20, “Rest in Peace”

Maryann H., age 20, “Skin Deep”

Congratulations to all the winners . . . and to all who had the courage to submit their work!

Untitled, Joshua Diehl, age 17

The man across the room

is bending a silver spoon

With his mind

The only thing that flexes is sorrow when I use mine

I take a breath through my ears and the ambiance fills my brain

For a moment it is enough

To convince me that I am not insane

I love you, mid-morning rain

You give me the amnesia to forget away

The struggle of loneliness, the uncomforts of a twin-sized bed

Because only one woman falls asleep here in my head

Call it hopeless or call it foreshadowing

I can’t tell now where I am because my eyes are rattling

There are padded rooms for dangerous people

Holy books in sacred steeples

I remember the faces but I forgot the beautiful people

I have friends here

Around their necks they hang bells

They call this place home

I call this prison hell

It is likely that I am in a mental hospital

But the drugs make it difficult to tell

Why did I pick this poem? There are so many things about this poem that work well…and here are a few that stand out to me. First, is how well the rhyming suits the poem. Rhyming is often very hard to pull off, but there is something about the inconsistent rhythm that fits with the subject matter. Second, the dark humor at the end is really effective. You don’t know whether or not you can trust what the speaker is saying. That was a nice twist. Third, I loved that the author created his own word: “uncomforts.” Finally, and most importantly, I thought that imagery was beautiful and very thought provoking. The image I was most struck with was “around their necks they hang bells.” I spent some time wondering what the author was referring to here. The only thing I could think of was a cow wearing a bell around its neck while it’s out to pasture or being herded. For me, those images connected well to the theme of being in an institutional setting.

I wanted to ask the author what he was envisioning there…and that inspired me to do a short Q&A with him.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

My name is Joshua Diehl. I am a seventeen-year-old living in northern Texas with my mother and two sisters. Nothing means more to me than the written word, and writing helps to alleviate my anxiety.

What inspired you to write this poem?

What little meaningful inspiration I manage to acquire is a result of my inner toils, the relentless aching that boils and floods the corners of my mind and hangs from my heart with the weight of a thousand vampire bats. It inspires me to recognize that I am not alone in that grueling condition. If you are reading this, you inspire me. I care for you.

What’s the last thing you read that really blew you away?

“Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers, or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness? ... What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?” --Susanna Kaysen

Who are you favorite writers? Has reading their work influenced you? If so, how?

Dave Eggers is most certainly among my favorite writers. I particularly enjoy his very personal literary style and tremendous knack for dialogue. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is a beautiful read, and I would recommend it to anyone. I have very recently taken interest in the work of the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. A quote of his that I am considerably fond of is: “This is how you slip into your infinite home: Close your eyes and surrender.”

Here are the five poems that received honorable mentions.

HG, age 17

A Villanelle

Breathe in and think, "Everything will stay,"

Lying alone on a summer night,

Exhale and convince myself, "okay."

Struggling to keep emotions at bay,

Anxious that all I love's taking flight,

Breathe in and think, "Everything will stay."

Foreseeing the fees that will be payed,

Trying to keep my eye on the light,

Exhale and convince myself, "okay."

Squeeze my eyes shut, wish it all away;

Too often these battles are tense and trite,

Breathe in and think, "Everything will stay."

Morose when happiness goes astray,

White-hot flames we should seldom ignite.

Exhale and convince myself, "okay."

Sitting in bed, I plead as I pray

For sanctity, only for a day.

Breathe in and think "Everything will stay,"

Exhale and convince myself, "okay."

Allie Marie Birch, age 14

White Rose

My heart is gray, but it still beats with a white rose laced between my fingertips.

It wraps around my heart as the petals fall into my soul.

As the vines grow my love expands even more.

The thorns sometimes prick but I understand.

The petals whither and decay over time.

They disappear as if they weren't there.

My heart absorbed the color of the petals,

Now its pure white.

But the thorns keep pricking me.

Then I begin to bleed.

My heart turns red.

The deadly vines dissolve and die.

My heart is then alive.

All because of a little,

White Rose...

James William Cowan, age 21

I wake to the smell of rain

Each one dies in vain

The cement has no need

For the water that feeds

Libby, age 20

Rest in Peace

Little girl there's no need to fear

I'm going to heal from these horrifying years

but in order for me to move forward

you have to listen to these words with courage

the abuse was not your fault

here was no way for you to scream for help

Little girl I need you to understand

he can no longer hurt you with the touch of his hand

he's far away from you

I know what he did makes you feel very, very blue

but a better life awaits

so you can stop planning your escape

Little girl you have to stop blaming yourself

it's okay to let go and get up

you don't need to haunt me anymore

I'm dealing with your memories hard core

one day I'll sew up these broken wings

so let go of all your hatred and be free

Little girl you have to stop playing your tricks

you're holding me hostage at the wrists

you have to let go for good this time

so I can get myself together and be fine

you have to stop pretending you're okay

our paths have crossed and I know you're in a broken state

Little girl it's not too late

our soul can come back from the grave

but your shadow is holding me back

I need you to lay down and relax

I promise this nightmare will come to an end

I'm no longer afraid of myself or him

Little girl I'm not trying to forget you

you've done an incredible job holding on to this as I grew

so lay down your head and rest

I'm going to take this painful load off your chest

the healing is coming but not in one piece

but don't worry, I promise it's coming please believe

Little girl it's time for you to rest in peace

so put the past behind you and breathe

go back and play on the swing

remember the days before you had broken wings

we may never get justice for this crime

but finally, you can now rest until the end of time

Maryann H., age 20

Skin Deep

My mom falls back a few steps

to match my pace,

and we continue walking on

side by side

in silence.

She reaches for my hand

and I let her take it,

feeling the gentle caress of her hand

as she runs her finger along the curve

from forefinger to thumb

and back again,

reading the nail marks on my hand

like Braille beneath her fingertips.

She wants to understand

and so do I

as I look down at my hand in hers,

see the bright pink scratches

that I had created,

scattered along the arch of my hand

like fallen needles off an old pine.

She pulls me close

and tells me she has known me my whole life

tells me she has known me for the nine months

before I was born

and that she doesn’t want me

to hurt myself,

that it hurts her too.

I allow myself to fall deeper into her embrace,

fall back into a warm world of

my own heartbeat

and gentle kicks felt from above.

I want to tell her that I’ll be okay,

but instead I close my eyes

and let the world around me be darkness

for a few moments longer.