things aren’t meant to be this way

“it’s just a little sad to look back on all my school days being alone, missing lunches or eating salads in toilets instead of being normal with friends”

I look back on primary school days, hiding out in the library during lunch because it was easier to be alone than live on the outskirts. It was easier than feeling the pain of trying to fit in, easier than the pain of never being good enough. I wanted to not need anyone or anything. I don’t know if not-eating was a part of it, or simply a side effect, but not-eating felt good and okay.

I look back on secondary school days, hiding in the toilet or an empty classroom during lunch because I’d lost all my friends after I became depressed. Those were perhaps the loneliest and most painful times of all. My closest groups of friends were no longer my friends and it was painful to pretend otherwise. It was easier to be alone, at least I was safe. I ate my measured salads or granola bars in the enclosed toilet or quiet classroom, my safe foods and safe places.

I’m in tertiary education now, and I watch myself slowly float away, trying to find a new safe place. Somewhere to be alone, again. I have friends, the loveliest classmates, people who really do care- and yet it’s easier to be alone than fake smiles and force laughter. It almost feels like home, sitting in a corner alone, with my lunch of measured veggies and a granola bar while everyone else heads off to get whatever they want, blissfully unaware of the freedom of being able to eat. At least I no longer feel the need to fit in, I suppose it is something that gets easier with age.

It no longer hurts. On the contrary, I now seek the solace of being alone. And yet, there is a sense of deep bitterness and melancholy, like a fog over these memories. The knowledge that somehow, things aren’t meant to be this way.

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Why is it always easier to be alone? I am very much an introvert at heart and I love alone time but this isn’t introversion, this is isolation. This is the feeling of never fitting in, the feeling of being fundamentally different, the feeling that you are simply wired differently from everyone else. This is loneliness and inadequacy and pushing away everyone & everything you need because you’re too scared. This is depression and an eating disorder pulling you away from any form of human connection because it thrives in isolation and because you no longer have the energy to pretend. You are dead inside. You just want to be alone, to eat your veggies and granola bar. You just want to be alone, physically and emotionally. You are exhausted from the weight of life and it hangs over you like a fog. There is no energy left to pretend. This is needing a reassuring hug and an ‘are you okay’ more than anything, but not being able to open up, because you are a burden.

These days, it’s always easier being alone. Even with the caring, open-minded classmates who make school so much better. Even one-on-one time with my closest friends. Even with the people I feel most comfortable with, my sisters or grandparents. Nothing feels as right as being alone, isolated from the world. I am an introvert but this isn’t me. I love people, I like talking to people and helping people. Spending quality time with people I love means the world to me, it’s my first love language. But right now, all I can bear is faking a smile and a ‘I’m just tired‘.

It’s all turning into a giant pantomime.

Maybe this is a sign that I’m not as okay as I thought I was. I’m tired. At least I can be alone, weigh my veggies, eat my safe food, count my steps. At least I can be alone to write, and rest, and do whatever I want. I don’t need anyone. I am okay alone, I am safe. That’s what I wanted, right? To not need anyone, so everything would stop hurting. That was what I needed all my life, that was what I needed in primary school. But it just struck me- is that what I still need?

I don’t know. All I can hope is I don’t end up in university, looking back and realizing I’m in the exact same situation. I hope I find it in me to make a change, I don’t know how, but I hope I do.

just be

I want to be okay with imperfection, I want to be okay with just being. I want to try everything, and be painfully bad at it and be okay with it. I want to make art and i want to write and i want to make pretty things but i don’t know how to, not without feeling awfully, painfully inadequate and imperfect. I’m not good at the things I want to be good at, and I probably will never be, not by my books.

Art is in my soul, I want to journal and write and paint and take pictures and scrapbook. I want to make things, try different forms of art because I really do love it all. I want to express myself, to make my own art, to enjoy it. I want to make art without hurting myself with the thoughts. But it hurts, it hurts that i have always been driven by pain and inadequacy. It hurts that my self-loathing took the things I loved and turned them into weapons of destruction. It hurts that my depression ripped me of everything. Back then, even if I felt inadequate, at least I still had those things. How do I make art when mental illness has left me as nothing but a shell? How do I make art when I think of nothing but how painfully lacking and untalented I am? 

I know who I want to be, I know what I love and I know who I am. The girl whom I want to be isn’t even anyone else, just the best version of myself- she is happy, and recovered, she is doing the things she loves, she is making art and writing and loving others the best she can, she is fighting for all the things she’s passionate about, she is learning and laughing and travelling, she is nourishing her body with wholesome food and planting her soul with spirituality and healing. She is flourishing and living, not surviving. And yet, the girl whom I want to be is so different from who I am- I don’t know if I can ever reconcile the two of them. 

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You see, I feel so much and I need so much, I desperately long to feel alive. I need to feel alive so badly it scares me- and yet I’m depressed, empty inside most of the time. It’s almost easier to grow comfortable with emptiness than to feel the pain of inadequacy. Everything that makes me feel alive scares me. Art scares me. Spirituality and yoga and peace scares me. Connecting with and opening up to people. Being happy scares the crap out of me. Living scares me. I have this picture of what recovery is supposed to be (perfect) and what my life is supposed to be (perfect) and I’m starting to think it will never be that way.

‘I’m starting to think, maybe life doesn’t work that way.

I’m not going to wake up one day and decide to recover and stop hating myself, and even if I do, my life won’t change the way I’ve always wanted it too. I want to be okay with trying, and taking small steps, I want to be okay with just being me. I want to be okay with being me as I am, to strive to grow and be the best I can be right now but not strive for perfection. But to be honest, I don’t know how to silence the voices, I don’t know how to not want perfection, I don’t know how to be okay with myself. I don’t know how to try to live or try to make art or try to be who I want to be. But I want to, maybe someday. Maybe for now, surviving is the best I can do and that will have to be okay.

just let me be angry and tired, for once

You know what? Life hasn’t been very kind to me. I’m bloody exhausted. I’ve been fighting my ass off for god knows how long (practically my entire childhood). I’ve struggled and struggled and struggled. I’ve always kept going, try again and again. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve done it so much that at this point, I know I could be in hell and probably still keep going. But I’m tired, and it’s not fair. Why do I have to keep going? I never asked for any of this, I just want to throw in the towel and I want to say no to life. No to school and people and feelings and responsibilities and life. I’m so sick of it. It’s not fair that I’ve never had a choice. It’s not fair that I have to go through so much pain and rubbish day after day, year and year. It’s been years? Literally all my life, I’ve had a bunch of crap thrown at me to deal with??? What the hell?

Of course, I’m okay. Of course, I can keep going and of course, I can get through this. I know I can. I used to wonder ‘How am I going to get through this?‘ but now I know for a fact I will get through it because like I always say, I have an impeccable track record at not-dying. I’ve carried myself through just about everything alone and I will carry myself through this too. Just.. where is the option to stop? I’m so exhausted. Life is really, really, hard. I feel like I’m being punished- having to live is my punishment. The fact that I had to live through all the pain and bad things I have lived through, and that I will continue to. The fact that I somehow wasn’t killed (by my dad), or haven’t died (by suicide). I just want to know, what am I being punished for? I’m not religious, I don’t believe in a god, but whatever gods there are out there, what the hell am I being punished for? What did I do to deserve all of this?? Not just this weekend, or this year, or these few years butall my life. As a person, I believe firmly in science and psychology and empirical evidence but at this point I’m starting to genuinely believe that I must have done terrible things in my past life, that I’m paying for in this life. Or maybe I’m just inherently worthless.

I’m just so, so sick of living. I want to say ‘I can’t do this anymore‘ but the worst part is, I can. I can, and I will. I’ll finish my work tonight and wake up tomorrow and go to school and talk to people and smile and pretend everything is okay and I will keep going. It’s like a trap I can’t get out of. Maybe what I want to say is ‘I don’t want to do this anymore‘. But I don’t know how to say that without hurting myself or swallowing a dozen pills. I don’t want to die or kill myself, not even close- I’m just tired, so tired nobody even knows. I no longer know how much pain is too much pain, not when everything is painted in pain. But alas, school awaits, and life awaits, and I will keep living while wanting to die.

Author’s note: “But I don’t know how to say that without hurting myself or swallowing a dozen pills”- actually I take what I said back. Change it to “I didn’t know how to say that without hurting myself or swallowing a dozen pills”. Yes, didn’t. Past tense, because that was a couple of years ago. I think I might actually know better now, though I’m not sure because I’ve never tried. Oh well. Also, to put things in perspective my entire life hasn’t been completely rubbish, I have an amazing family and supportive friends and there are many good things I am thankful for. There are always good things- but the good things don’t make the bad any better.

love/pain

I took a long walk today, a walk to my grandparents’ home, as well as a walk down memory lane. I walk along these streets I’ve known all my life, past my primary school, past my kindergarden, past my old childhood home, past the familiar playgrounds and park… and I can’t help but reminisce. I try my best to find the good memories, but everything seems to be tainted with pain- or maybe it’s the bad memories we remember best.

I remember kindergarden, we were playing with hula hoops in class and there was a girl I didn’t like, and we were both the best at it. That was my first taste of dogged determination to be better than her, the first inkling of my need to be ‘good enough’ and validated.

I remember primary school, so many memories of being alone walking the school grounds, being alone in the library, feeling painfully inadequate and out of place. I remember skipping meals. I remember my friend having self-harmed and wanting to kill herself, we were only 12 then, I remember the fear I felt when she went missing and was found in the rooftop because I had been in her shoes before.

I’ve lost track of all the times I’ve walked down these same streets upset or crying, alone. I remember the nights I almost killed myself, walking up and down the same streets reminiscing.

It’s not that there aren’t good memories- there are, they’re just tainted by this pain I seem to have felt almost my life, everything colored so bittersweet.

I dropped by my grandparents’ home and surprised them, gave them their favorite bakery bread I got for them, and lots of hugs. My grandpa’s smile when he first opened the door lifted all the weariness in me, my grandma’s long hugs made me feel like everything was okay again.

And as I walked back, I couldn’t help but tear up- and I didn’t even know why. They mean the world to me, they really do. Everything may be tainted in pain but they have been a constant lighthouse in my life, they have been my home, solace when everything is falling apart. I wish there was a way to capture their smiles forever, those precious smiles that spark the most joy and love in me- I would do anything to make them smile. I couldn’t help but think of them seeing me at my goal weight.. that isn’t something I want them to see, it know it would break their hearts.

I need to recover eventually for them, I need to recover because that’s what they would want‘, it was a fleeting moment of certainty. Being my happiest and healthiest self is one of the best things I can do for them. And yet, that certainty dissipated quickly- I want to recover for them but I can’t, and it makes it 100 times harder that they don’t even know.

I remember all the lost years, the years of 11, 14, 15 and 16. Years where I remember nothing but pain and depression. I can’t find a single memory of their smile, a memory of a good time with them. What I remember most, is seeing my grandfather cry for the first time in my life after he saw my self-harm. he knew. I remember seeing the pain on my grandma’s face because she knew, too. I remember all the times I caused a scene, all the pain and suffering I brought upon them. I was so distant, so far gone. And writing this now brings tears to my eyes instantly because I caused that pain. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that pain.

So I mentally file ‘grandparents‘ it in ‘reasons to recover‘, for another time. I think of their smiles, and how much they mean to me. My very first memories are of my grandparents and not my parents, I remember being held by my grandma as a baby, the warmth of my grandpa’s laughter that still hasn’t changed, I remember being a toddler and running towards my grandpa whenever I saw him and the smile on his face as he waited for me, I remember the morning walks with my grandma to the market and her buying me my favorite jelly dessert, her proud smile when I graduated from kindergarden.

I want to keep those memories forever.

You see, almost everything in my life is tainted with pain- but not them. There has never been anything but love. The only people who has ever made me feel truly loved, the only people that made me feel like I didn’t have to achieve anything to be good enough, the only ones whose smiles light up my world.

And as I continue to walk, it dawns on me, I am so incredibly loved. I’ve always known that they loved me, of course, but the emotions hit me. I hold the feeling tentatively in my brain, not knowing what to do with it. I am so loved. I am so, so loved. I am their pride and joy, their first granddaughter, so precious to them. And yet, the fact doesn’t make me feel better or change anything. And it hurts, knowing that even having their unconditional love isn’t enough for me to recover. I’ve often felt so undeserving of their love, because over the years I have always hurt myself in one way or another, I have repeatedly hurt, destroyed and tried to kill the very thing that means the world to them- me.

I want more than anything to make them happy. The same anxious thought plagues me ‘time is running out‘ I have lost so many years and I can’t lose more. And yet, what can I do? I can’t get better, all I can do is protect them from my pain- but I don’t want to have to. I’ve tried to protect them from my pain all these years and it’s only carried me further from them. I want to make happy memories with them before I no longer can, I want to make memories untainted my my illness. I want to see their smiles when they see me recover, but I can’t even tell them (they don’t even know what EDs or mental illnesses are) and neither can I recover for them, I wish I could but I can’t. Maybe I’m being selfish.

I have no conclusion, no neat little answer, just a mix of feelings I can’t unravel.

I just miss them, I miss how I feel when I’m with them. I want to feel loved, and safe in their arms and I wish everything wasn’t so hard.

Don’t leave me

It’s so silly, isn’t it, how someone can come to mean so much to you? Someone who was never even meant to be so important. How much will therapy really help, if it will end in destroying the only safe relationship and safe place you’ve ever known?

Sometimes things are better- I can almost do without therapy/my psychologist, sometimes life is okay on the outside. But most times, the mere thought of leaving tears me apart inside because I cannot imagine a life without this safe haven. Most times I just shake my head fervently as if maybe it wouldn’t happen if I don’t think about it.

And times like now? Times where she isn’t just a safe place or a trusted therapist but the only lighthouse in an endless storm, the tiny whisper of hope when everything is falling apart. Everything hits me so much more- the next patient she’s seeing after my appointment, the girl she’s weighing in the clinic, the friend who has the same psychologist, even the random girl on Instagram who mentions she’s in the same hospital for an eating disorder. My heart stops. Because the realization hits that she is just a doctor and she see so many patients and I’m just another one of them. My heart stops because she makes me feel safe and understood, like it’s possible to recover even though I’m so far gone- but she says the same things to everyone.

My friend, who also sees her, posted this on Instagram- ‘today my psychologist told me I deserve better than self-destruction‘. It felt like I got kicked in the gut. My psychologist told her that (well, technically we do have the same psychologist but you get me). I can picture the way she would say it, the way she leans forwards and sympathizes and is always so sincere. It felt like I got a kick in the gut, to realize that my psychologist cares about her other patients as much, or maybe even more than she cares about me.

Of course she cares about all her patients (she’s an amazing psychologist, all her patients love her. she’s also a senior psychologist and specializes in eating disorders) and of course it’s just a therapeutic relationship and of course therapy is going to have to end. But these are facts I don’t want to think about, facts I simply cannot face. And it’s silly because at the end of the day she is just a doctor. But right now she is also everything and she is also the one who has saved me in all my darkest times, she is the first one whom I’ve told many things I thought I would never be able to talk about, the only person other than my grandparents who I’ve ever truly felt 100% safe and secure with, the only person who has made me feel good enough and loved and genuinely understood. She has always been so important, but she has come to mean more and more to me over the past 4 years.

But what if I don’t matter to her? What if I’m just a hopeless case? She has so many patients, seen so many sick girls, what makes me different than any of them?

So these things happen, and my heart stops, and then the tornado hits me. You’re not good enough, you’re stupid for believing you were important enough and cared for. You’re not as sick as any of her other patients, she has probably had many patients with dangerously low weights and real disorders. She doesn’t even like you that much, you don’t matter, did you really think she could pull you out of this mess? Did you really think you deserve to try to recover just because of what she says? She doesn’t care about you, you’re not special- you’re nothing. 

The whirlwind of thoughts hit me and I want to collapse into myself, a ball of self-destruction and self-hatred. I’m selfish. I want her in my life as a therapist or friend or mentor (I look up to her so much as an aspiring psychologist) forever, I want her to care about me, I want to stay secure and feel safe. I want to matter. I’m selfish, and I’m scared. I’m scared because I continually trust her with everything and I continually let her inside despite knowing that it’s all just going to tear me apart even more when therapy ends.

I’m so scared because I’m so lost and alone and struggling with all of this and she’s the only one who makes me feel like I’m not alone (heck, she’s the only one who even knows, nobody else has the slightest clue about my ed), the only one who understands and validates and sees all this pain I go through, the only one who makes me feel safe, the only one I trust and the only one who gives me hope for recovery. It’s taken years to slowly break down my walls & defense mechanisms, it’s taken years of talking and crying to get to where we are now. It’s taken all the times I’ve turned to her for help when I’m at my very last rope, all the times I finally broke down and admitted how tired I was, all the times she’s been there at my hospital bed. I’ve opened up about everything in my past, about abuse, about my disorder. I’ve even started opening up about shame, about feeling not sick enough. I want to close up and rebuild walls but it’s gotten to a point where I can’t even try hiding things from her anymore.

I’m scared because those fleeting moments of ‘maybe I’m sick enough to recover‘ and ‘she actually cares about me and believes in me‘ and ‘maybe it’s possible to try to get better‘- those precious little rays of hope that therapy brings, what if they’re all just in my head? It’s hard enough to believe them in the first place, but how can I even consider believing them if they don’t really matter because she probably just says that to everyone?

I’m scared of losing her, and losing everything. I know it’s not going away anytime soon, but right now, I hate to admit it- I need her more than anything. I need her because if I don’t, I will float away with my disorder and sadness and never return. So right now, every other patient she sees is a painful reminder, every other patient is a threat. Is it twisted that I once wanted to be ‘sicker‘ so that she would care more about me? That I wanted to be the sickest and thinnest of all her patients? That I have goal weights for every therapy appointment, that there is no point going if I’m not getting worse? That I still think if I lose more weight she’ll be more worried (and I’ll get to see her more often) and force me to get better and I’ll finally be good enough to get help. That my criteria for recovery is hospitalization?

I just wish it wasn’t all such a mess, I don’t know how to deal with it all, I really don’t. 

Swim

The waves are crashing down, all over again

All around

Those flimsy fortresses gone

fortresses of lies and restriction

fortresses of emptiness and numbers

fortresses that were never strong

I was never really in control
Sometimes

It’s easier to let the waves take over

Easier to submerge myself headfirst

Drowning was not feeling

Drowning was instant relief

Numbness that comes from filling and emptying and filing and emptying

Numbness, too, can be a lie
After the numb, comes the storm

Worse than before
Fortresses or not,

It never really ceases

sadness never stops

Never good enough

Always too much

Not safe

Sometimes not anything at all
Numbness or not,

Pain is pain

It’s all just anaesthesia

For something I cannot heal

A hole inside too big

Pieces too broken to stitch together
I need a fortress- my fortress

It might be broken but it’s all I have

It’s all I want (need)

Build a stronger lighthouse

A bigger lifeboat

The waves are crashing down

But I’ll keep Swimming
No more jumping into the deep end

I have to swim

Before I sink

into an endless ocean of self-hatred

Gone forever

“You won’t find sad people crying in public, blurting their story out over alcohol, sometimes you find them laughing around others, sometimes you will find them protecting you from their own sadness and it’s a sad fact how sometimes we have to be both brave and sad at the same time.”

wrong/right

It’s wrong/It’s wrong/It’s wrong

I tell myself

as I slowly turn back

another disordered forum

another depressing re-blog

another suicide search

another triggering book

I know it’s wrong

Or maybe it’s not right

I can’t tell the difference anymore

If it’s wrong

Why does this feel so right?

Why does my sadness sit so well within me,

Why do I not want to find the light?

//

(but I’m okay. I’m still okay. I’m more okay than I ever used to be and I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I’m still okay and a part of me wants to leave that okay-ness behind, to forget that life is okay and people are okay and love is out there because sadness is familiar. I miss my sadness, I really miss my sadness. I miss self-destruction. tonight, I miss it so much)

live

“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand, to have someone understand, I want so much more than they’ve got planned”

That’s one of my favorite quotes ever, and it’s one that’s found it’s way into my heart ever since I heard it. It’s like, someone has put the exact feelings I’ve been feeling since I was young, into words. And yet sometimes I feel like these words aren’t enough, that no words will ever be enough. I think as I’ve grown up, I’ve come to terms with this side of me, and I’m still working on embracing it. It’s a side of me that I can’t imagine me without, and yet it’s one that’s hidden in the recesses of my heart. It’s one that isolates, and can be so incredibly lonely. 

A restless ocean heart. 

This selfish heart that never stops wanting, and needing more. A heart that feels everything too deeply, a heart that’s somehow locked itself away and hidden its tenderness from the sharp edges of the Outside. And when you feel everything so deeply, when you feel with every inch of your soul, you need to feel alive. 

You need to feel a magic that isn’t there everyday, you need it because you know it’s there. You need to connect, every piece of you, you need to live- and I mean live, really really live. You always need more, more than what you’re given, because life simply isn’t enough sometimes. And I don’t know if anyone will ever understand this yearning, if anyone will understand the dreams that are too big, the dreams that aren’t even dreams but a constant, longing ache. Dreams I don’t always understand. 

Maybe that’s why I love the ocean, the mountains, the woods and the rivers. They give me what I need, make me feel whole again. There is so much all around, more wonder and beauty than most people see- and for a while, this heart is at peace. I am truly alone, but for once, not lonely. It’s my way of connecting to the world around me, to really connect, it’s my way of feeling alive. Exploring new cultures, new foods and cities and stories. And people. Meeting, observing different people, wondering. 

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I see the beauty in everything, and everyone.

But that’s as much of a blessing, as it is a curse. At some point, you stop looking out for, and surrounding yourself with those little things you once held so close. How do you explain all the things you see, that nobody else does? How do you explain, how the smallest things like the feeling on sunlight on your skin or looking up at the stars or holding a book and a cup of coffee makes your heart soar and how you get so immersed in anything at all. How do you explain how you’ve savored every detail because you’ll never get those moments back. How you need to stop- to feel, and capture, and connect with everything around you- but everyone seems to be moving along fine. How many times can you break before you stop seeing the beauty all together? 

One of my favorite teachers once told me, when I was 16, “You have a very kind and sensitive heart, and you’re going to get hurt. People are going to hurt you, but don’t let your heart close up.” It stuck with me ever since, because no one had ever seen through me like that or said something that hit so close to home. And yet, how can I not close up?

How do you learn to open up, to learn to see the beauty and love everything around you once again, to learn to live, so that this heart isn’t in such a constant state of struggle and yearning? How do you open up a heart that’s been tossed around and broken and tired of it all? I wrote the first half of this post far in the countryside of Japan, surrounded my snow-capped mountains and endless beauty. And for a while, all was well. It’s easy to live, and capture yourself in a state of love and childlike wonder, when you’re awestruck by everything around you. Those are truly precious moments, moments I treasure and moments I will always chase to create more of. But what about the rest of the days? When life simply goes on. Photography. Scrapbooks. Yoga. Art. Walks in the city alone. Friends. Family. Those were the tools that once helped me to live (not survive, but really live), that helped me keep the little things so important, that allowed me to be mindful and connect, to make something beautiful.

But depression takes it all away. Not just your tools, but it empties your heart and leaves you lifeless. Funny, isn’t it? How a mental illness can rob someone of so much. I need to feel alive. But depression strips you of the will to even survive, and when you finally escape the wreckage, you’ve survived, alright. And somehow, surviving seems to be all that’s left because you’re too broken to live anymore. Sometimes it gets better, those moments of life come by and you grasp at them, underwater, trying to capture those air bubbles that you hope might somehow help you live.

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One day, I will build a life I love, and I will live. I will be kind, and love, and travel. I will find adventures in the everyday, and I will find adventures in scaling new heights. I will give, and I will connect with the people and the world around me. I will no longer be ashamed of savoring the little things nobody else sees, and I will no longer be afraid of laughing too loud and loving too much and feeling too much. I will open this heart and find solace in my empathy, instead of my fear of getting hurt. I will make peace with this body, this broken mind and heart, and live. 

And maybe, that’s all I can do for now. To look forward, knowing that I will build a life I love someday, and keep going, and surviving the best I can for now.

Be Patient With Me

I want to tell you about depression
I want to tell you how
it doesn’t really give a damn
not about anyone

How it numbs
and steals
leaves you alone, helpless
in the wake of only guilt

How it unsuspectingly creeps in
and when you realise
you’re too stuck to pull yourself out
it always comes back

At best, a haunting shadow
At worst, a harrowing pain
I want to tell you it gets better
it gets better but
it’s still there

Perhaps I’ll never find all the words
to tell you what it’s like
Just please
be patient with me