Each letter on the keyboard is a new hook in the sand.
An anchor to tether this vessel to something
Resembling a foundation that isn’t cracked
And leaking.

Why can’t you write something without water imagery?
Because my melatonin dosage has changed
From powdered pills to bleeding ink
And I don’t think I’ve yet found a better way
To articulate,
I’m drowning.

I’m still drowning.

And I will float endlessly until acted upon
Saving whatever kinetic energy
I can muster, to start moving
And keep moving


Please don’t let me stop.
Momentum is birthed by variables
And stars far outside my reach right now

So push me,
I won’t push back
In fact my arms will be open,
Grasping the waves to try and grab hold
Of something that can hold the weight.

But each day it grows.
And each day it spreads.
More than I would care to admit.

These waters are so cold,
But they’ve stitched me a blanket
That everyday seems more familiar
And as I lay afloat in the dead of night
I can hear waves
Quietly whispering “home”.



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Creative Pieces dear hope

The Many Forms of Self Harm

**Trigger warning: self harm

It’s been over a year since I last wrote something down for this site. I’ve been thinking and reflecting a lot lately, however, and feel I’ve come to a new understanding about myself personally that I just needed to write down somewhere.

I’m incredibly self-destructive in ways that I never really realized.

It’s a weird thing to say out loud. I never really considered myself to be someone who was that self-destructive, but there are certain patterns and habits I’ve developed over the years, including how I run this site, that make me realize that I’m self-sabotaging in ways a few years ago I would’ve never even acknowledged.

It’s seeing an email come in about someone submitting to the site, and deciding to wait to answer it.

It’s getting this website to a point where it could really grow into something even bigger, and then stepping back and not following through.

It’s having years of experience writing music, but feeling anxious and afraid every time I try to write something new.

It’s becoming less personal with friends after they’ve seen certain parts of you, parts that you tell others it’s okay to show.

It’s having a skill set and numerous talents that you stop pursuing because you’re bored.

It’s limiting the jobs you apply to because your head constantly tells you that you’re not good enough to do the jobs you know you’re qualified for.

It’s self-harm without the actual physical pain. 

It’s all of these small actions and thoughts amplified over time, building and building until you’re left with a scar when you weren’t even aware there was a wound to begin with. I’ve been self-harming for years and wasn’t even aware of it.

And I feel so incredibly empty right now from it.

We have a tendency to think of self-harm in a very specific blade-on-skin kind of way. But the truth of the matter is that self-harm can encompass all different kinds of self-destructive behavior. The depression and anxiety in my life that I identify with definitely aid in these recurring behaviors. It’s a reminder that I’m still struggling every day, and I’m trying to find new ways to push forward. It’s all I can do with this new information I know about myself.

Because honestly I’m not too sure what else to do.

But there’s always the comfort in knowing that I’m not alone.

And you’re not alone.

You are loved.

Paul Falcone

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Article dear hope

Questions as Daggers, Questions as Saviors

But you seem fine.
You look like you’ve been doing well!
You don’t seem depressed on social media.
Why didn’t you tell me you were feeling bad?

Don’t assume. You know what they say. I’ve gotten so good at hiding how I feel, shoving the emotions down so far I seem to misplace them altogether, that even those closest to me don’t see a thing.

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. I know the right things to say and do and wear. I know how to hide the scars, internal and external, and pretend like they’re not even there (are they even there?)

I’m sneaky. I’m clever. This gets me in trouble.
I’m often in trouble.

I don’t want you to take it personally. Really, I don’t. It’s not you, it’s me (really, it is).

The facade I maintain is one I’ve been perfecting for years, my fears of vulnerability stemming from a long list of disappointments and misplaced trust.

I don’t like to worry anyone,
don’t like to be the center of attention,
don’t like to be the one to drag the party down.

So, if I ask you for help, know that it’s taking every ounce of me to do so,
every last fiber of my being to muster up the courage to let my guard down and stand before you with my heart in a box of doubt, tied together neatly with my greatest insecurities and nightmare-inducing thoughts.

And I’m sorry if I haven’t.
Don’t be offended if I never do.

But you have a great life.
People have it much worse than you do.

I know. Really, I do. Guilt is my middle name. It seeps into my bones and erodes my body from the inside out. What’s left is nothing more than a pile of skin cells and disappointment.

People are starving.
Dying (why do I wish I was dying?).

I’m sorry. I am. That’s all I can say (that’s all I know how to say).
I’m sorry I feel this way.

I wish I could change it. I wish I could fix the world’s problems with a swish of a wand, with a big bandaid stuck across its oceans and continents, one that heals the hurt across the globe.

I wish I could do the same for my own mind, for my own heart,
for the hurt I endlessly feel as the days stretch on and the months stretch on and this life stretches on and on
and on
and on
and on.

I wish I could fix my problems as easily as magic or medicine.

Maybe that’s selfish.

Maybe that’s survival.

You can’t love anyone else until you learn to love yourself.

But you see, I don’t think I’ll ever really,
love myself.

I don’t think I know how (do I know how?).

Will I ever really learn, as easily as I learned how to write my name or tie my shoes or ride my bike across the pavement?

Will I get an eviction notice plastered to the door of my heart, a “Do Not Enter” sign stapled to the aorta?

Will it whisper softly,
As it beats,
to keep me alive?

Will I just be lonely forever?

Why are you on so many medications?
Why don’t you try exercising or eating healthier?
What about deep breathing or meditation?

You see, I know all of that, too. I lose track of the pills in my medicine cabinet,
all the dosages and names and bottles,
all of it blurring in my vision as I count the tiny circles and oblong ovals in my palm each morning and afternoon and night.

But, you see, it’s taken two years to figure out just the right combination of ovals to make the dark things less dark, the bad thoughts less bad.

Two years is a long time and sometimes I worry if it was time wasted (I worry that most of my time is wasted).

And sometimes the dark things are just as dark, the bad thoughts just as bad, anyway.

Sometimes my only exercise for the day is running away from my problems. This kind of running allows me to stay under the covers. Most days dragging myself out of bed feels like a marathon.

Panicking makes breathing difficult. Meditation seems unrealistic for my clouded mind.

I appreciate the advice, really, but I can’t emphasize enough how difficult it is to hear all of it day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
and day in and day out,
always constructing some combination of excuses to make them stop talking at me like I am a child.

It’s just not that simple, as much as I wish it was (I wish it was).

It’s not that big of a deal.
Stop overreacting.
You’re being dramatic.

But, you see, it is that big of a deal. Making mountains out of mole hills is my specialty and crying over spilled milk is part of my morning routine.

I know I’m overreacting. Trust me, I do. I know more than anyone that my thoughts are out of control and my actions are beyond what they should be. I know.

I know.

I know.

Dramatic used to have a positive connotation for me. I put my extroverted personality onto the stage rather than in my personal life, but here I am panicking under the showerhead because I’ve got six assignments due at the end of the week and my friend hasn’t replied to my text in two hours and 13 minutes but they’ve already opened my SnapChat and I watched a group of girls walk by me and laugh and I’m positive it was because I didn’t wear makeup that morning because it took me over an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and I ran out of time after pulling my limbs into the shower and I nearly died walking to class because I didn’t look both ways before I crossed the street and I haven’t told anyone that I did it on purpose (I did it on purpose).

That stage is now my life and I am constantly putting on a show where people leave at intermission.

Maybe it’s not that big of a deal.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
Maybe I’m being dramatic.

Maybe I’m me.

Maybe I don’t like any of those things (I don’t).

Are you okay?
How are you doing?
Do you need to talk?

Keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.

Because I may say,
“Yes, I’m okay.”
“I’m good, how are you?”
“No, I don’t need to, thanks.”
And I just might be lying to you (I am probably lying to you).

But one day I may get the courage to say,
“No, I’m not.”
“Not so good, actually.”
“Yes, I do, please.”

One day I might find the courage to ask for help even though it’s taking every ounce of effort not to run the other way,
not to shove the feelings down like I’ve done so many times before,
not to plaster that signature smile across my face like wallpaper, a sickening slap of paste across my lips that seals the sadness in tight.

So don’t be offended if I lie. It’s not you, it’s me (really, I mean it).

So keep asking. Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Keep asking.
Please keep asking.
Please don’t stop asking.

This piece comes from our community member Sandra Mercer. You can find her other powerful entry in our Coping series here.


Feel free to leave a comment for Sandra below.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.

Want to submit to this site and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope

The Lie that Ableism Feeds Us

First let me be honest with myself and you.

I have been here before.

I have been so almost well that I start thinking that it might just be all in my head, that I could wield my will like a magic wand and wave all of this away.

I seem to have an almost recuperation cycle, where I begin to feel guilty, lazy, pathetic.

I day dream about doing laundry independently, washing dishes at all, taking dates out for fun nights on the town, walking by myself in the rain, hugging my children without coughing, being a “productive member of society” again.

That is always accompanied by a deep, subtle in it’s expression, but pervasive sense of self doubt which leads me to both question how I have handled my illness *am I just being lazy* and push myself to “try harder.”

Let me be clear, this always eventually results in my body crashing hard, usually in a pretty scary way.

Because my illness is real.

I am not being lazy

I am not just giving up

If I actually gave up, I would die. I am not actually exaggerating. This world, which by and large I am not in any way compatible with, would kill me.

But it is still hard not to listen to the world that measures worth in productivity, in hours worked, in dollars earned. It is hard not to listen to the well meaning people with suggestions and advice who just know I could do this or do that. It’s hard not to listen to the pity eyes and good intentions of loving relatives who are just so worried about me.

So let me tell you, and let me tell me

One more time

For the folx in the back

And the folx in the back of my mind
I am real and I am doing just fine

I am real and I am doing just fine
even when I would like your help, I don’t need your saving or your salvation

I have value

I have worth

I work damn hard, thank you very much

Even when I am not fine, I am doing the best I can

Repeat after me

Even when I am not fine, I am doing the best I can


A huge thanks to Selissa Leonard for this powerful and insightful submission. You can find more of her work by visiting her website, here.

Always remember that you are not alone.

You are loved.


Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email wemustbebroken@gmail.com

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Creative Pieces dear hope poetry

“My Electro-Convulsive Treatment Experience” – Coping, This Is Who We Are, Entry 23

Below, we have a submission from Fishspit, on their experiences with electroshock treatment and other thoughts on life.

The people that were in the cubicles all around me; how can I put it gently? Ah hell, let’s just say it: they were fucked up man. Over the rainbow. Toodly-whooped. Deranged. Damaged. Or just plain worn out.  The last house on the block.  I watched; I listened and I thought, “Holy cats!  Am I that fucked up?  Do I look like them?”  Befuddled. Mixed up. Nobody home- can’t make friends with the brain.


Shock!  Shock!  Let’s shock ‘em back into shape!  Get rolling!  Keep them doggies moving!  Rolling!  Rolling!  Rolling!  The shock mill!  They were sizing up our situation-asking the necessary questions.  They were nice nurses; they had a lot of compassion.  One of them put her hand on my shoulder as they put the electrodes on that first time. It’s a strange thing, all so strange.  Pardon me, dear reader, if I bounce around like a ping pong ball. It’s a part of the program right now. A side effect.  Being flumdiddled!  “It’ll go away,” they say.  I don’t care if it doesn’t; I’ll be a total simpleton!  I’ll be the slobbering screwball of the century. Just get that fucking beast depression out of my soul!  Shock the shit out of it!  Zip!  Zip Zoom! Zap!  Give it to me!  Double doses!  No, hell!  Quadruple doses: make me a dingus!  Destroy my reason! I want to play again!  Shock!  Zip!  Whammo!

When you come out of it, Oh god!  The first time was a terrifying vision!  I can’t remember the details. I don’t want to. I just remember the fear. I weighed it all in the balance; do I want to experience that again?  I decided it was worth it, but what a bitch!  Misery upon misery!  Would I do it again?  I decided, “Yes!”  But why so much misery?

The second time?  It was worse. I couldn’t breathe. I was conscious. I couldn’t move!  I couldn’t speak!  It’s hard to remember details. I was shocked you know.  Most people have no memory of the whole process; this would become true of me. But this time, Jesus. I could hear them talk. Their laughter. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. It’s hard to remember it all!  I’m digging deeply here for you, dear reader. I’m visiting memories I’d rather forget . . . for you!  The anesthesia, the shock. Most people have no memory of the whole process.

I did.


A dead donkey has more sense than a person coming out of the induced seizure.  That’s what they do, induce a seizure.  Crazy!

I don’t ask questions.  No, I’m beyond all that.  I don’t give a good goddamned anymore.  Just shut up!  Shock me!  Let me become a human again. I haven’t been a human for so long. A jabbering idiot?  Yes!  Yes indeed.  I’ve stumbled through somehow, ended on that table.  Table?  It’s not really, dear reader. Wicked scientists? No!  They show the utmost compassion.  It’s soft, my little table. Plenty of cushion. The machinery-high tech!  Beeps, boops, tweets, twinks; all sorts of beeps going on. No use trying to separate them out.

My anesthesiologist (hey she’s kind of cute!) gives me her routine. Yeah, yeah, I don’t care; put me to sleep baby.  If I don’t wake up, well, was a rough life.  Put me to sleep!  Shock me!  Whammo!  Zip! Zip!  I want to be normal. I want that.

After the second treatment, I had gone home and was sitting on the couch watching my dear, old cat try to play, but this little angel has got some arthritis. 19 years old!  She’s still a kitten at heart!  Yes, but those back legs, especially them.  It only lasted for, well, I’d say a half an hour.  I sat on the couch, like I told you, looking at my cat. I realized there was no depression!  Absolutely none.  I have depression on me at all times, unless I drink liquor or take drugs. But with this path, I ended up homeless, sitting on a bench with my cat, swilling Potter’s 100 proof. Catholic Family Services came down to my bench once a day and brought me a sandwich and my cat a can of food.   Those days were done, though. No more liquor, no more drugs. I was left with a constant depression. I can feel it some as I write. Sometimes it’s a mosquito, a small pestering depression, a tiny dark spot on the soul. But then!  Oh my!  It can become a gorilla!  Consuming me absolutely!  Then I become bed bound, and sometimes, even have to be fed by another by hand, one spoonful of soup at a time.  I become so consumed by darkness I cannot lift my head.  I piss in the bed!  No getting up!  They roll me over and change the sheets.  It’s a hideous thing!  Oh god!  It’s black!  But I’m losing you again.

I’ll take you back. I’m on the couch, watching my precious, and I realize the depression is gone!  Absolutely, totally gone!  I thought Holy dipshits!  This is how other people feel!  This is how normal people feel!  It was then I understood how people navigated life so easily. I felt like others must feel what it felt like to be a normal person.  I could do this life thing!  It was a breeze!  Feeling like that . . . the weight off the brain and the soul. The horrors lifted; I was like, I can do this shit.  This shit’s easy!  Man!  It blew me away!   No wonder people mortgaged their soul, buying these suburban homes.  No wonder they popped out babies to an overpopulated world.  That shit, I realized, is easy!  For normal people.  Oh man, I could kick ass in this world. I was on top of it!  Ha ha, I’d be running this place.  God, life was easy without the black dog.

It went away though. I lost it. The depression returned. The grey and the brown sunk in. I sat, bewildered.




I don’t like to tell people I get E.C.T.  It’s too much of a hassle.  For instance, I’ve started going out into society again after a long hiatus.  My pal Bob took me to a musical jamboree.  I was smoking out back and this fellow took an interest in me for some reason.  We talked for quite some time.  I finally admitted that I get electro-convulsive treatment.  He didn’t know what I was talking about, so I said: “You know, shock treatments.”  People know that term!  He said, “Shock treatments have been outlawed since One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

God, if I had a nickel for every time that movie was brought up when I mention “shock treatments!”

I told him, “No, I get them.”  He demanded his assertion was correct.  He was calling me a liar, I guess.  I told him he could contact Swedish Hospital, the ECT department, if he didn’t believe me.”  He got up and left me in disgust.

Electro-convulsive treatment was good to me in that it got me out of a suicidal depression.   I still struggle, but at least I’m able to get up and get out of bed.  I was in bed for a very long time.  Still, its wreaked havoc with my brain.  They told me that it would affect my memory.  At first this didn’t seem to be happening.  I didn’t know what the big deal was.  But then, wow, things just seemed to slip away.  I forgot the names of people I knew very well!  It became difficult to tell a story.  It wasn’t only that I forgot the words needed, no!  It was also that I forgot the concepts that made up the basics of the story.  I don’t know how to describe this!  Unless it has happened to you, I don’t think you could know just what I mean.  Then there are the strange mental blank spots.  You are not supposed to drive when getting ECT.  I understand why!  I have been driven through places I have known for years, but I will look around me and not know where I am at.

I have been told that these side effects will diminish.  I currently get ECT once a month.  Depression has become a problem again.  It became very scarce with three treatments a week.  It seems to be rearing its insidious head again.   Vincent Van Gogh said something to his brother Theo as he was dying, after shooting himself. I once knew the quote quite well, but now I not only have forgotten it. I have forgotten which notebook I wrote it in. That’s one thing to mention: I take copious notes because my memory is so poor, so many that I’m becoming overwhelmed by the amount of notes.

Vincent said something to the effect that suffering never ends.  I know exactly what he was saying.


Remember, you’re never alone,

and you’re always loved.


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Coping: This Is Who We Are dear hope

Just Sit Back And Relapse Again

By: KaLeena Genette

Any form of depression is tricky to handle. My form happens to be Bipolar II Disorder, and I’ve been battling that demon for nearly 11 years. Last year I finally broke–really, seriously broke–to the point of being nearly catatonic for about two months. After ten years of “I’ll go see a shrink eventually,” I ended up with no choice if I wanted to keep my job and my sanity.

I’m one of the people who are lucky. I landed in the office of a psychiatrist who made the right call on medication. I wound up on the couch of a patient therapist who watched me lose my mind for weeks until the medication started kicking in and the anxiety and depression started to recede.

Now I’m here, and “here” is still a difficult place to be. Over the course of ten years, I developed unhealthy habits and unhealthy ways of thinking. Even though I have the medication and I’m at the right dose, I have ten years of bad habits to put to rest. This version of life isn’t the miracle I was looking for.

Article dear hope

The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl by Joyce Hayden

The Alpha and Omega of The Out of Body Girl

By: Joyce Hayden

I. Flying Away/Blueberry Lane

At the new babysitter’s house, up past Jane drive, past the hospital-green water tower, in the new section of houses, it will happen. Your two year old brother will tumble out of the car, while you brush your mother’s cigarette ash off your red church dress. A coldness will rush at you once the woman opens her front door. Stand on the stone doorway alone waving at your parents, until the silver Buick disappears. When the woman barks: GET IN HERE AND SHUT THAT DOOR, cross the threshold from light to dark, from known to unknown. Place your hand over the knot in your stomach. Calm your fears that something bad will happen. Remind yourself you’re seven years old. You can take care of yourself. Don’t blink if you can help it. Notice every detail from now until 10 tonight.

When the woman places Michael in a room down the hall and points her finger to the back yard swings, say No. OUT NOW, she will bellow. Tell her you’re staying inside with Michael. Walk backwards toward the room he’s in; don’t let her see you shaking. When you’re in the room, watch cartoons. Let your guard down when he falls asleep. Awaken to a door clicking into place.

Scan the room for your brother. When you try to stand, a heavy hand will push you back. When you open your mouth to speak, that hand will squeeze your jaw. Wonder why your skin is crawling like ants all over you when his other hand works its way under your red dress. “Where’s Michael Where’s Michael Where’s Michael” will reverberate in panicked waves through your brain. It will happen as the big boy’s hand moves up your thigh, then higher. Your throat knotted, the blur of no words will send you outside the body, the way fluffy seeds of milkweed burst their pods, and rise.

Creative Pieces dear hope

Forgotten Soldiers: Memorial Day, Veterans, & Mental Health

When we think of Memorial Day, many of us think about a three-day weekend filled with family barbecues, drinking beer, red, white, and blue decorations, and an excuse for department stores to hold huge sales. But there is so much more to this holiday. Memorial Day is a day completely set aside to honor the brave souls who have lost their lives protecting our country.

As we know, there is a heavy and negative stigma attached to mental health, resulting in negative beliefs, self-stigma, lack of motivation to seek help and in self-esteem, and can eventually lead to destructive behavior. What many people don’t know is that these barriers to mental health care are even more prominent in the military, which has led to catastrophically high levels of suicide and mental health cases in veterans and military personnel currently active in the military.

Article dear hope

Having Depression When Your Busy Life Slows Down

It started with a sigh of relief.

Last week I graduated from college, and I couldn’t contain my excitement knowing that I finally had a break after the last hectic eight months of my life. I had been living day to day juggling class, an internship, work, a Senior Honor’s Thesis, meetings, running a website, directing and editing a music video, and finding time to see my girlfriend and friends. It had been the lifestyle I adopted, and I’m proud of all the work I produced and art I was able to create.

But man oh man, I was ready for a break.

This last week I’ve been adjusting back into a more “regular” lifestyle. I moved back into the house I grew up in and began working nights in a restaurant to start saving for my future. It felt amazing to be able to relax and not have the constant stress of deadlines and juggling so many different projects.

However, one night after work I was sitting alone in my living room, time quickly approaching the sunrise, when I felt it.

It hit me in a moment.

The depression and numbness I had seemingly gotten ahead of these last few months was back. As if to say:

Knock, Knock. Remember me?

As much as I know depression is a part of my life and that it will always come and go, there are times where I do feel like I genuinely forget the intensity of feeling nothing. In fact, I didn’t even full realize how long I had gone without feeling those feelings until they were back full force.

But why had I forgotten? Why was I so surprised to feel those feelings again?

The truth of the matter is I was distracted. For the last eight months depression had come in small doses, but nothing like I felt this week. Depression has always been following closely in my rearview mirror, but I was so focused on the road and the turns to take lately I didn’t even notice it.

Being busy kept me distracted. My projects and deadlines gave me a sense of purpose. But with all that stripped away my car had stopped, and my depression took the advantage to jump in the backseat.

That first moment never really gets easier when those emotions hit. It wasn’t a fun night, by any means, but it also felt like a moment of clarity. It reminded me of who I am. And it reminded me of why I do the things I do.

I came across a quote the same night on twitter by author Paulo Coelho that made me reflect in a similar manner.

“Man needs what’s worst in him in order to achieve what’s best in him.”

By no means am I advocating that having depression makes you a bad person. But if I had the opportunity to change one part of myself, I think I would choose to not struggle with depression.

But what makes the quote interesting is that if I didn’t feel these things, would I achieve and be successful at the things I am? Would I still be as empathetic or creative?

I guess I’ll never know the answer.

I have no doubt that within a few weeks I’ll be back in the routine of being busy with new projects and collaborations, and I know that’s something I may be doing to outrun depression. For those of us who live this lifestyle, we need to remember to check in with ourselves. Remember why we do what we do, because there will always be moments when life slows down for us.

Always remember you are not alone.

You are loved.


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Article dear hope