After the NAMI meeting organized by my family,
AKA the GSA club,
Stood in a circle behind the refreshment table—
Which was really just a fold-out table loaded with lemonade and tea and packaged cookies—
And we talked about our struggles.
The caramel girl with the dad in the army talked about her cutting
And how she’d never again because of her dad.
The red-faced kid with the lisp spoke about his dad,
Who hit him often,
And how he almost put a bullet in his head.
My Jewish girlfriend talked about her panic attacks
And prejudices against her.
I agreed with how sometimes I wanted the pain;
I agreed that I got a different kind of abuse at home,
And I too wanted to off myself,
But for a different reason.
I empathized about the panic attacks,
Given my own “attacks” I sometimes got,
And shared her pain,
Since she received the same ridicule I did for being queer.
Late that night,
After an hour conversation with my parents
About how I wasn’t depressed, but a teenager,
I got to thinking
About how I might have constructed it all in my head.
Depression is the girl that wakes up,
But utterly emotionless and incapable of dragging herself from bed.
Not me, the girl that searches for a reason,
And gets up because she has to.
Anxiety is the girl that can’t move,
So seized with uncontrollable panic,
In her bed or in a desk at school.
Not me, the girl whose hands shake over a project so much that I can’t write my notes,
And then shake harder because I can’t write my notes.
Suicidal is the boy that stares at the unlocked gun cabinet
For hours on end,
Contemplating his life’s worth,
And coming up without the reason or the nerve.
Not me, the girl who thought it’d be easier to end it,
But couldn’t form a plan, a way, a nerve, or enough of a reason to.
Verbal abuse is the girl holding back tears
Because she’ll be told she’s a wimp,
On top of worthless and hated.
Not me, the girl who fights with her parents
About how short my hair can be,
Because it looks “gross and boyish and wrong.”
Persecution is Jesus on the cross,
Not the kid in camo
Shouting “Die faggot,”
Down the hallway.
All my friend’s problems seem so real;
How she watched the blood run down her wrist,
And how he hid the bruises,
And how she couldn’t move.
But when I go through everything,
It all feels so real.