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I was bullied throughout elementary school all the way into high school because I was fat. I remember the girl from my gym class who spit on my shirt once. She called me “ugly,” and said I didn’t deserve a clean shirt . . . because what’s the point if you’re so unattractive, right?
I was beyond miserable. I was an island.
Each day at lunch, in the back lot of my high school in Wayne, NJ, I sat in my parked white 1989 Honda Accord. Inside the warm metal frame, I wrote. The windows cracked, the breeze was a reminder I was alive.
I wrote anything and everything: poetry, short stories, even an obituary (for myself). I was depressed, and it wasn’t the result of typical teen angst.
Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., the car was home. It was a retreat and the paper tucked into my bag, another world, a home of love and forgiveness and release.
Writing empowered me and provided a safe outlet for my negative energies. I fought my sadness on the page and the girls and boys who tormented me. I gave them a second chance to redeem themselves in my stories through love.
After high school, I fell in love with a foreign student. We fell madly in love. It was disastrous and riveting. Somewhere in the middle of all the chaos I continued to struggle with depression, and for once, writing didn’t help.
Years went by before I did anything, and two years ago was my lowest point. I wasn’t writing. My social life faded, and the thing that fulfilled me the most (writing) couldn’t rescue me.
I was tired of letting an illness control me, and I went to the doctor. “I’m ashamed,” I cried to the physician. The burden of resistance was on my back.
Awareness was the first step to betterment and little by little I returned to myself. I’ve been on a regimen of weekly therapy, medication, and exercise. I never miss a therapy session. I never miss a dosage of my medication. It’s about self-care. I learned that while I might not ever kill depression, I could manage it.
Getting better helped me return to my first love—writing. Since then, I’ve published two books, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs and Indie Authors Naked. Secret: I’m writing two more—another poetry book, Breakable Things, and a literary romance novel, This Way to Forever, which will be out April 2015.
I’m grateful, but I know that if I don’t take care of myself or make a daily commitment to wellness my writing (and life) will suffer. I see now I can’t afford to go backwards. I know I have a mental illness. I’m not ashamed. I accept the sadness. It doesn’t define who I am or make me a weak person. If anything, it showed me I’m strong and that I’m a whole human being full of faults and green grass.