A students' magazine for mental health advocacy




Dear Self,


You have a thick white scar just below your belly button,

Where the surgeons sliced you open like

A wet fruit to remove a cyst the size of a softball,

And you woke up smiling. Laughing, even though

It pained your whole body to do so. Impatient to start walking again,

You paraded around the hospital floor with Mom;

You can count the number of times you cried on one hand.


Your parents tell you they admire your childhood wonder,

And you don’t know how to tell them it’s leached from you

Like steam out a window. Do you know when you started to lose it?


Dear Self,


Maybe it was when the diagnosis came: anxiety.

There’s a name for the way you sometimes wake

To your lungs floundering; there’s a name for

The ever-growing knot in your chest.

Threads of fear weave into it as frequently as you breathe.

Your heart pumps life into it; your mind keeps it fed and healthy

With fresh intrusive thoughts. It has taken your body prisoner.

It has made a cage of your bones, and a puppet of you.

You are in pain, but by the time you realized it,

You’d already adapted to it.


Dear Self,


I look you in the face every day and know

That this hunched-over, eggshell-walker is not who you want to be.

Your body is not unfixable and it is beautiful, full of life

And muted by fear. Your mind is a castle of creativity,

Surrounded by a lush garden of ideas; you are beautiful.

Don't hate the person you were when you were younger.

She needs you like a daughter. Like you needed your mother to hold your hand as you started to walk again.


Dear Self,


The knot of fear

Inside of you is like that cyst they cut out of you:

It rooted itself in you, grew with you.

Do what you did back then: let someone help you remove it.

Wake up smiling. Give yourself the sun.

It wants to help you cut the ties and the knots

That have taken over your body. Like that cyst,

They cause you nothing but sickness. Ride away

On the back of your instincts, and the healing process

Will take you where you’re supposed to be.

Follow it, and live. You are a garden,

And you need to grow. You grow back

Even after you've been torn apart.



Sarah Samel graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She hopes to write pieces that will inspire readers, and let them know that they are not alone in their struggles with mental illness. Sarah is probably browsing a bookstore right now, and she accumulates a small library wherever she goes.