By: Daphne W.
1. There's a lot of yelling involved, so yell like you've never yelled before.
2. Remember to rehydrate because those tears you cry will drain you both physically and mentally.
3. Don’t tell anyone how you’re feeling because they simply won’t understand.
4. Delete anything that’s ever made you feel better.
5. Forget steps one through four.
6. I honestly don’t know because the anger hasn’t subsided for long enough for me to form coherent sentences for me to recognize rational and irrational thought. I don’t know what comes next because I am far too tired to give hope to other people when I have none myself. I do not know what to tell the next girl who will come to me with wet eyelashes and drooping eyelids. I do not know what to do for the next boy who tells me he misses my writing, who tells me he remembers when I was younger and happier and when I laughed more and smiled more and when I wore colors except for black. I do not know what comes next, so please tell me there are more than five steps to this poem. Tell me that this life does not end after step five. Tell me there is more than screaming at computers who lack the capacity to answer and people who don’t hear and authority figures who just don’t understand that cracking a book takes as much energy as physically trying to turn the world around.
10. If breathing is all you can do then just keep doing that because it’ll help to keep your head above the waves. It’ll help to keep your wrists unshackled by the weight of this mental illness and the weight of this therapy and the weight of work and school and making your bed and cleaning your bathroom and hanging out with your friends and talking to your parents. If breathing is all you can do then that is ok. But if you can, now start to look at the sky, look at the stars and how constant they are, these burning balls of gaseous light that only turn into something infinitely more beautiful when they are broken. Start looking at the sunsets and how the routine is still beautiful every single evening. Start looking at the grass and how steadfast it is how small and insignificant it is but how it stays there through storm and snow and heat and rain and heartbreak. Start to look at the trees that grow leaves every single spring just to make you happy the trees that change color every fall just to breathe hope into your gasping lungs. Just look at the trees if you can.
11. Look at everything that’s ever made you feel better. Look at phone calls, look at messages, look at screenshots of the love you’ve been given time and time again. Look at friends, look at therapists, look at your Netflix account, and look at your music library full of playlists made to remind you that life will be ok someday. Look at it. Look at it all because someday you will feel something again. Someday you will feel better again, and it will be easier if you have all of those things to remind you that you have ever felt more than hopeless.
12. Keep looking and keep singing and keep writing and keep feeling. Don’t stop feeling. Keep rubbing the places on your wrists where there are no handcuffs and keep changing your clothes so you know you’re not a prisoner and go see your hairstylist to remind yourself that you can do whatever you want to do. Repeat to yourself over and over and over again that “this is not life without parole.” Scream to everyone who will hear you that “THIS IS NOT LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE THIS IS NOT MY FAULT I DID NOT DO THIS TO MYSELF THIS IS NOT LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE THIS IS NOT LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE THIS IS NOT LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE!” Scream it until that fire in your lungs is relit with the fire of a thousand hot suns, until that fire has filled every bone in your body with a sense of justice. Keep screaming until your brain is not locked into sadness at every corner. Keep screaming until your larynx is screaming at you to stop. Keep screaming until the white hot tears stop falling down your frozen cheeks. Keep screaming until you feel better, until the world feels like maybe it could be home again. Keep screaming until you’ve convinced yourself that you are not alone in this, because you are not alone in this.
16. Remind yourself with every breath you take that you are a vibrant soul awake with the love and power of thousand songs. Remind yourself that this is not your end, but that it’s your ever so beautiful beginning. Remind yourself that hardship will not defeat you because you are a warrior and you always have been, and remind yourself that someone suggesting that you may not get better like you want to does not mean that you are weak. It means that you might have to fight a little harder, but remind yourself that you have spent your whole life preparing for this.
17. Remind yourself that you are ready.
18. Go out and fight like you’ve been preparing to for years.