From the Child, part 1

In this series, I will be chronicling the voice of the child. This first excerpt was written by a 16 year old in response to the essay prompt, Is there a particular work of art (song, poem, painting, speech, movie, novel, etc.) from which you have drawn insight or inspiration? (Limit 500 words)

I first heard the song “She Lays Down” by The 1975 when I was in tenth grade.  It was midnight and my mom was speeding down the highway to the backup home that was neither lived in nor sold.  We kept it due to instability between her and my stepdad.  Every month, there was fighting, threats of divorce, tears, yelling, and sometimes the police.  “Pack your [stuff] – we’re leaving” became our mantra, and fitting my belongings in a duffel bag was muscle memory.  Despite going through this with my siblings for almost a decade, I felt alone.  I needed to know that someone understood my feelings of hopelessness.  Enter: “She Lays Down.”  

While I didn’t “pray that we fall from the sky simply to alleviate the pain,” I prayed for a disaster to occur so that I could get a moment of peace. Often, I wondered why everyone had noticed that my “sun was gone” but no one helped.  I was the student with all the answers.  I could connect the dots.  I could solve the problems.  But here I was, huddled in the backseat of my mom’s car not knowing up from down. I didn’t know what to do.  I needed to know that sitting with pain was okay.

I played the song again.

And again.

I understood the hurt, but – as I listened to it over the next few weeks – I realized I was no longer content with my life song being accompanied by a sorrowful guitar.  A few months earlier, I had embarked on an ambitious mission: making a mental health program for my school.  Through conversations with my peers, I realized that my circumstances were common; cases of unstable home lives and traumatized teens were the norm and the students’ first defense turned a blind eye.  I wanted to create something different from what existed – something that would disrupt this norm. I searched for what was missing, and soon came to find that: a constant conversation around mental health was missing; student interest for the existing curriculum was missing; prevention measures were missing; consistent mental health maintenance activities were missing.  This project, eventually became Not One More: A Mission to Eliminate Youth Suicide.

My program is not perfect.  I am not a mental health expert; I am someone who was hurt and made a vow to help anyone with those same feelings so they never choose the option my brother’s friend chose when he decided to end his life.  I saw a need and tried my best to remedy it.  Since I have found other ways to “alleviate the pain,” “She Lays Down” has become a song of enjoyment instead of the basis of my survival.

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