The chance of a teenager having a major depressive episode over the course of a year has risen dramatically in recent years. The trend toward depression is even steeper for girls. Over the last year and a half I’ve been bringing my creative writing classes for children and teens into mental health facilities, and working with many boys and girls who struggle with depression. I have found that the medium of writing, while not a cure, surely provides an outlet, and often a glimmer of beauty in a dark world.
I wanted to share a piece writing from one of my teenage students, with her permission. She asked to remain anonymous.
I AM A CLIFF
I am a hill, rolling with the sediment of the Earth.
I may not be much, but there is beauty in my land.
Flowers that grow throughout my slopes,
and deer that graze on the green I provide.
See now as the child walks up my shoulder,
hand in hand with her mother.
See now as she picks the flowers I have grown,
look how many daffodils I have given her.
Now I am a mountain, reaching for the clouds.
I’ve grown tall and my body grown strong.
Watch the sun heat the rocks that cover me.
See now as the youth climbs up my shoulder.
Her mother not far behind her.
Her hair has grown longer, and her body a bit tanner.
Her eyes still shine bright as she picks the flower that I provide between two rocks.
A single piece of beauty in an otherwise rough spot.
Now I am a cliff dangling high above.
I have withered with age and my land is not much.
The river below seems to
mock me with its vibrant flow.
See now as the woman treks through my barren soil.
She plods up my shoulder, this time no hop in her step.
No mother following behind her.
Her eyes don’t shine bright like they did, as they scan for a single flower in the midst of the plains.
Her eyes glued to the floor, she walks, and she walks more.
Until she reaches my edge without her knowledge.
Did I take her life?
If only I could have provided a single flower.
She lost herself searching for beauty around her,
a kind that is fleeting.
If only she had seen the flower
growing in her heart that was beating.