Multi-Genre Essay: The Cycle
Editor's Note: Mingus Union High School English teachers Molly Westcott and Christian Fuller had their students do a year-long multi-genre essay during the 2018-19 school year. The following is one of four of those essays selected for publication on verdenews.com.
You feel good then worse
You hold it in
Too much to handle
Tears down your face
Anger’s being misplaced
Now you’re sad
You’re feeling low
Wishing you had hope
Now you’re about to blow
You know you’re not the only one
You struggle with everything
You feel alone
With fear and hope
You’re trapped inside
Trying to leave?
Trying to find a way out?
Tears stop and thoughts start shooting out
You lay there
Then you forget what you were crying about
It’s a cycle
You find things to keep your mind busy
But you’re alone where no one can see
You feel it coming
The tears are running
You close your eyes
And now you’re sleeping
Outside is what they call beautiful. Inside is your choice of making it beautiful. I like walking around outside and listening to the frozen wind beating against my face as my nose turns red. Everything feels okay when I walk. I walk a lot but, when I am not walking, I am inside.
I am literally inside my house but mentally inside my emotions. After my walks I go home to rest. I grab some food and lay on my bed. It’s about the time I take a nap. I lay there, close my eyes and now the thoughts start. They run through my head silently, but they scream really loud. I get sad because I think of things I don’t want to think about. I think of all the times I could’ve done different, or my friends who’ve “disappeared,” or people that were close to me once. I start hating myself and start thinking irrational things. I don’t think I’d hurt myself, but I am sad. Then I start crying. I lay there, eyes still shut, crying into the black void that I see. I am not thinking about anything any longer.
I open my eyes to see what felt like five minutes has turned into three hours and it is dinner time. I cook some food then take it outside. When I finish I go for a walk. Outside it’s beautiful: the loud sounds of silence, the wind whispering in my ear, and the road with no traffic. I jog for a little bit, staring at the fallen leaves. I don’t understand why Fall is so “beautiful;” everything is dying. Then I return home.
The rooms are filled with darkness. I turn on the light and it brightens the room. It's almost midnight now and I feel good. My legs are tired and I feel like going to sleep. I stumble to my bed and in the black silence I close my eyes. Here they come though: emotions running and screaming through my head and heart. I feel slippery wet tears, then shivers and chills like spikes running across my skin. I feel like I’m drowning but I finally go to sleep.
I dreamt of my best friend. Her and I were like no other. Our bond was remarkable and never could be broken. Or so we thought. One night I couldn't pull myself out of my feelings. I reached out to her and it seems she wasn't okay either. We were so deep within our pain it felt like we couldn’t crawl back out. We had met at the Circle K and began talking. She listened to me, I listened to her and so on. We started crying and we eventually stopped. We wondered if anyone would notice if we were gone. We walked to an overpass and talked about how we loved each other. We both stood on the edge, spread our wings, jumped, then began to soar. Suddenly, her wings burst into flame and she began to spiral downward, smoke billowing. I began my own controlled descent, gliding and landing gently on the concrete next to her broken body. I caused her death; it was all my fault.
My alarm wakes me up with a loud buzz and rips me from my nightmare. I get out of bed and decide to walk to the overpass. Arriving shortly thereafter, I sit and think, then start to cry. I have no one to talk to and I feel trapped. I could talk to the counselors at school, but they’re paid to care; there's nobody to genuinely care. A car pulls up and a man steps out. He asks what's wrong and I tell him I'm just missing a friend. He sits and introduces himself as Jim. He looks to be in his fifties, with some grey in his temples and beard. He tells me a story about his daughter, how he had not seen her in some time; they rarely speak any more. She once came to this same overpass, wondering what it would feel like to fly. I asked him how he knew this, was he there? He wouldn’t answer. He gave me a ride home and I never saw him again.
It’s been a while since I have written about something happy. It’s also been a while since I’ve been happy. I’ve done a lot of thinking about a lot of things. Illusions of life the most. They are just amazing how one bleeds into another. Love bleeds to fear, fear bleeds to depression, depression bleeds to the definition of nothingness. Everything is so mistaken, so misunderstood that people see it as its own thing. I’ve been alone for a while, a long while. All my “friends” stopped wanting to hang out. My family has given up on me. I just feel I might give up on myself if things keep getting worse. I feel I’ve lost more than I can ever gain. Thoughts like “If I were to leave, nobody would notice” and “You’re doing it wrong restart” run through my head. A lot more thoughts run through that get worse and worse ‘til the point I start crying. I just think about life and try to find something I’m good at. The only thing I am good at is being alone and disappointing people. I feel stuck in my head and everything gets so dark. The only light is through writing. This is the only place I can go where I don’t feel defeated. This is the only place where I feel I can express my views on just about anything without being judged or contradicted. This is where I feel accepted and cared about. Someday I’ll look back upon these pages and relive the tears, the thoughts and the failed attempts. I feel damaged. I have nobody; my parents told me to go talk to a therapist, but I don’t see the point. Therapists are just people who sit with you for an hour or so at a time and discuss your opinions, thoughts and things like that. Writing is all the therapy I need. Here nobody tells me what to do and sometimes I need more than an hour to talk. I am up all night writing and it never gets old, and until I find someone who cares this is where I’ll be. I guess this isn’t too bad a place to lose yourself in. I know too many people that have lost themselves in far worse.
Receptionist: Hi, what brings you here today?
George: My parents.
Receptionist: (Smiling) Are you here for an appointment?
George: Yeah, I’m supposed to see Doctor Leigh.
Receptionist: Okay. Have a seat and he will be out shortly.
(George waits in the lobby, sprawled on a chair, for several minutes)
Dr. Leigh: George?
Dr. Leigh: Will you follow me please?
(They enter a dark, spacious, cold room with the dreaded leather sofa)
Dr. Leigh: Please, have a seat anywhere you like, or if you choose to stand, that’s okay. My name is Robert Leigh. You can call me Robert if you’d like. Would you like to tell me why you were brought here today?”
(An awkward silence stretches a few moments too long, then George lays on the couch)
George: Well, I don’t really know why I’m here.
Dr. Leigh: Has something been bothering you?
George: Well kind of. I don’t like to talk about it.
Dr. Leigh: It’s good to talk about things that are botheri-
George: Yeah, yeah, people tell me that all the time. Nobody really cares though. Everyone is willing to sit and listen, but nothing ever is done. Everybody I’ve ever talked to about “things” (using fingers for quotation marks) listened and that was it. Sometimes people need a reason; some people need to know why things happened like they did.
Dr. Leigh: Well, I hope you know I’m here for you.
George: No, you’re here because this is your job. You get paid to sit, listen and take notes. You take notes because none of these people that talk to you are special to you. You are here for a paycheck. You can’t tell me you’re here for anything else when your sessions are 200 bucks an hour.
Dr. Leigh: I ask that much per session because I am a well-respected professional that gets results. Let’s change the subject. What happened to you? Why are you feeling the way you are?
George: I don’t like to talk about it.
Dr. Leigh: It’ll stay between us, I promise.
George: Yeah yeah yeah doctor/patient confidentiality. I guess I can tell you. I lost my best friend. She died in a horrible (dramatic pause) accident.
Dr. Leigh: Oh, and how have you dealt with your loss?
George: Well I just sit and think, think and sit, and I write in my journal. I don’t usually do much else.
Dr. Leigh: (awkward silence) Uh that’s good, but I meant how does your loss make you feel?
George: Well, it haunts me. Everything from the wind to dead flowers reminds me of her. I am constantly thinking about it and when I’m not it’s still there, just in the back of my mind. I don’t know why it wasn’t me that died. Some people tell me it could’ve been me. I shake when I walk in public; I shake in private when I’m alone in my house because I feel she is watching over me. I feel like she is waiting for me. Like I let her down.
Dr. Leigh: Are you religious George? Have you spoken to a pastor or priest? It could help.
George: I don’t believe in heaven or hell. Why would I? If I were to waste every day of my life on believing heaven is better than hell, then my life would be a waste. From experience I know praying doesn’t work.
Dr. Leigh: So do you believe you’ll ever see her again?
George: Yes, we always had the same vision. We would be in pitch black nothingness and the only thing we would see is each other. No pain. No sadness. Just comfort. Anybody who hurts deeply will see us and we would help them, kind of how a real god should be.
Dr. Leigh: Okay George, I think that’s all the time we have today. But, one thing before you go. I feel you are dealing with traumatic depression. Don’t worry though; frequent sessions like these will cure you in no time.
(George stands, and instead of shaking hands, rips the notebook out of Dr. Leigh’s hands)
George: I want you to remember me without notes. I will see you next session.
(Dr. Leigh never saw that particular patient again)
Where have you gone?
Are you there, Old friend? (Old friend)
I wish you were here
Then we’d be in pain again
Hello, my souls a sin
Has anyone here seen my friend?
It didn't have to end
Tell me, when did it all end?
Your voice is in my head
Telling me to come but I might end up dead
So take me (take me), Imma lose it all
So take me, I won’t have to be alone
So take me (take me), Imma lose it all
So take me (take me), I don’t wanna die alone
I’m (a) little tired
So I think I’m going to (s)leep
I hope you (u)nderstand that
Somet(i)mes it’s hard to breathe
When my thoughts ra(c)e
Trapped (i)n my mind
It’s time to say goo(d)night
Pl(e)ase don’t forget
That you mea(n) everything
I’m sorry. I’m no g(o)od
wi(t)h words but, I love you.
Please don’t forg(e)t that.
“You have three faces, one you show the world, the second you only show to close friends and family, the third face you never show anyone, it is the truest reflection of who you are.”
(My Interpretation Below)
The Japanese say you have three faces. One you show the world. This is the face everyone knows you as and the face you pretend to be. The second you only show your close friends and family. This face is only worn around people you know well, you don’t have to trust them. The third face you only show yourself. Nobody, except yourself, has seen this face. This is the face you have when you’re by yourself and you can be yourself, this is the real you.
Disclaimer and Dedication
I do not support suicide in any way. This essay was based on some friends that have told me their stories. These were great young people who suffered with traumatic depression. Traumatic depression is when someone is severely depressed over the loss of something or someone close (typically they themselves were involved). Too many teenagers are suffering silently. Their pain is real. This essay is dedicated to all the kids who go unnoticed and live in a secret world of pain and suffering.