By Shayla Astudillo
Mental health is often overlooked in society. This poem dives into the mind of a teenager who finally has had enough.
I think we’ve forgotten what a good mental health looks like as a society. It’s accumulated from various sources. The panic attacks from homework, the fear of hearing a bang in the hallway, the homeless people far too cold, and the fear of getting sick. I remember watching Grey’s Anatomy one day, and the main character, Meredith, stated the following, “you don’t know this yet… but life’s not supposed to be this hard” I’ve never agreed more. I think as a society our mental health has hit a low. And, especially for teens and kids. Yet, lately, I’ve noticed teachers too, and even parents, friends, and everyone. Just everyone that I could pluck out like a flower that’s going through way too much right now. It’s not supposed to be this hard. It’s just not. Yet it’s become such a norm that some things seem more important than our mental health. It’s not okay. I hope we all find some peace. It may not be today, tomorrow, or a few years from now, but at some point we will hear the birds sing in the morning, the sun won’t feel too strong, we will find some peace. Maybe that’s too optimistic, but it’s better than being bitter, I think.
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For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
When I originally began writing this piece, it was for a school project. The prompt was to create something that demonstrated a real-world issue. It was 1:30 a.m. (typically when I write anyways) and I had no idea what to write about. I was deleting constantly. Worried that what I was writing was far too personal for a school project.
However, after rewriting the poem many times. I reanalyzed the topic of mental health. It wasn’t merely about me or my friends. It was about the people all around me who couldn’t focus on their mental health due to society. It was about everyone around me. The topic was no longer something that I worried about being too much about me. Now I worried that it was too much for the people around me to hear. But it was something I needed to say. So I said it.
Shayla Astudillo was born in New York City; at a year old they moved to Illinois. In Illinois, they found their love for the arts and multiple life lessons. Coming back to New York City was difficult, but they adapted. They are currently attending high school in Manhattan, NY with their friends. They have dealt with mental illness in their life, which is a strong factor in their writing. They continue their journey with optimism. Their life goal is to spread love to everyone they meet. They hope you can connect to their writing and find your safe place to call home.
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