By Jessie, age 17

The voices harsh and foreign eat away at my being.
Why? Why am I being called these names?
Is it me? It must be. It’s all my fault.
This dialogue burns through my mind.
The thought that maybe this is all I am.
It feels as though my heart is bleeding.
I hate myself. Why am I alive?
I inhale deeply,
The smoke goes right to my head.
The pain falls away. I am floating now.
I know this high is only temporary and that the agony will return.
Maybe even worse than before.
Despite this, I try to escape even if only for a moment.
I can feel the high wearing off. The voices whispering in my mind.
Why do you try?
You know you’re a stupid slut.
No one will ever love you.
You’re pathetic.
Why do you try?
The words repeat like a broken record
Engraving themselves in my mind, my heart, my soul.
Why do you try?
I remember when these words were my life.
Depression was all I knew
When I went to school I saw the looks,
I felt the glares,
I heard the whispers of labels they put on me.
This was not a way for anyone to live
I barely survived.
I began to see the judgments that were put on me
Were the same judgments and labels I was giving others.
I realized by accepting others I could begin to accept myself again.
It has been a long road and I am still traveling it
But everyday gets easier.
I can change others.
I can only improve myself.

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