By Caitlyn Forte

So, apparently I’m not allowed to write a single word and call it a day. They told me I have
to write about how I’m feeling. Supposedly it helps to write things out on paper so you can
see it. Some bullshit about how it doesn’t get stuck in your head. I don’t get the point.
Anyways, I’m stuck in this soul-sucking place because, well, I have anxiety. The kind that
cripples you. Picks at your brain until you start to sound like a crazy person inside your own
head. And yet, all the doctors walk around here smiling like everything’s fine and dandy. It
makes me want to throw up.
I had a panic attack today. I barely registered the taste of salty tears while I gasped for
breath. They took me into the hallway, secluded me in a room and waited for me to calm
down. It’s all because of these stupid freaking group therapy sessions. I’ve barely even known
these kids for more than a day, and they expect me to talk about my feelings in front of a
circle of strangers. It’s stupid. Really stupid.
They keep telling me to do “grounding.” Apparently it helps to count things you can see, and
hear, and feel. Supposedly it calms your mind or something. The worst part about all this
bullshit is that, while the doctors claim this place is supposed to help us, it’s really just
emphasizing the fact that we’re all screwed up.
This morning one of the girls was humming a little tune. It reminded me of a song my mom
used to sing to calm me whenever I would shut down.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”
My mom dropped me off at this place only a few days ago. I didn’t want her to leave me
here all alone. She hugged me the way she always does when I’m anxious, like I’m her own
special cuddly teddy bear, and she sang to me “I’ll love you forever.”
I get why my mom sent me to this hospital. I was having daily panic attacks. Actually, more
like one every few hours. It was exhausting. I wasn’t motivated to do anything anymore, I couldn’t get out of bed. So she sent me here. But now I just I hate that I feel so alone.
My anxiety is suffocating, and it separates me from everyone else.
Mom called me today. She asked how I was doing, I just said I was fine. What else was I
supposed to tell her? She wouldn’t understand anyways. I miss her though. And I miss my
puppy Hudson.
I want to go home.
Today the same girl that I heard humming complimented me on my freckles. I hate my
freckles. In group therapy we were told to give an honest compliment to the person sitting
across from us. “Your hair is cool,” I mumbled to the same girl, even though it’s a nasty
puke green color. She looks like the Grinch. So much for honesty.
The Grinch offered me a seat next to her on the couch in the common room today. I could
barely hear her with my heart pounding in my ears. If only she would just leave me alone, If
no one talked to me and everyone could pretend I don’t exist, I would be the happiest person
in the world. But according to the doctors, “making friends will help you come out of your
Blah blah blah. Bullshit.
Oh, and apparently I can’t refuse to participate in group therapy. Damn.
The Grinch won’t leave me alone! I yelled “Grinch!” at her to make her go away. Instead she
laughed. Dammit. Today in group they made us do this dumb trust exercise where we had to
partner up with someone and take turns closing our eyes and letting our partner lead us
around the room. Is that stupid or what? I tried to ignore her, but the Grinch made eye
contact with me the way best friends do when partnering for projects. “Begin travelling!” the therapy leader exclaimed in an overly enthusiastic voice. I chuckled under my breathe and The
Grinch followed suit, a few seconds late, but I didn’t mind. She grabbed my sweaty hand and took me, spinning in circles around the therapist to the point where I got dizzy. I was
actually having fun. Almost.
We had free time today. “It’s like recess!” One of the doctors tried to convince us. She
sounded so stupid, I wanted to chop my ears off. I didn’t actually mean it, but the Grinch
still laughed. The smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, though.

I’m 15 years too old for free time. And I hate to admit it, but I simply couldn’t resist the
glitter glue and construction paper calling my name. Somehow the Grinch beat me to it! By the time I sat down, she was already at work drawing an extravagant single pasta noodle
complete with glittering ruby red tomato sauce. To outdo her, I created an equally extravagant
nacho chip layered in neon yellow, oozing and glittering cheese. Call me crazy, but it’s the
most fun I’ve had since I’ve been locked up in here.
After therapy today, the Grinch and I sat in the corner of the sitting room, pretending to be invested in the movie the doctors had put on for all of us to watch during “bonding time.”
Today it was Winnie the Pooh we were watching. “I swear these doctors think we’re all half our age or something!” I whispered to the Grinch. She was staring mutely into space but then a grin was coaxed onto her face. She turned to me, handing me her glittering spaghetti
masterpiece. I asked her why, and she said it was a “sign of our friendship.” I didn’t realize I had made a friend.
In therapy today, we talked about what put us in here and what we were going to do to get ourselves out. When it was my turn to talk, I choked on my own tongue and just stared at the funny looking green, red, and orange wallpaper plastered on the wall across from the circle. I looked over at the Grinch. She gave me a gentle smile and somehow I found my voice again. I guess I CAN make a real friend. When it was her turn to talk, she mentioned her depression. She talked about how she acts happy, putting on a mask so as to pretend there’s not a dark cloud of sadness swirling around inside her. But today, she looked me right in the eyes and smiled softly as she said, “for the first time, I don’t think it’s an act anymore.”
I think they’re letting the Grinch out soon.
“She’s showing great signs of improvement! We’ll be able to move her into outpatient care soon.” I know who they’re talking about. I avoided her all day today. I can’t lose her. If I just stop talking to her maybe it will make it easier for both of us.
“Why the long face? You’d better be careful, you’re taking up a close resemblance to
Eeyore!” I couldn’t resist the smile breaking out across my face. But no, I can’t let her be
friends with me now. But I can’t let her leave me either.

During free time today we had string to make bracelets and the like. When it was near lights out the Grinch found me hiding in the bathroom. She held her hand out to me. “It’s a friendship bracelet. One for you, and one for me. This way we can always be there for each other even if we’re not physically there.”
It’s impossible not to love her.
i cant breathe the grinch got released from the hospital last night and i cant breathe
i lost my friend my only friend and i cant breathe and my head hurts and everything hurts and i can feel my throat closing in and im sorry but i cant breathe its hard to write i cant stop shaking but i have to write i need her back i need the grinch back i need my friend back because i cant breathe and i cant see because my vision is blurry and im crying and i cant breathe im gasping for breath and i cant breathe and im trying not to cry but i can see the tears dropping and ruining the paper and its my fault for being selfish for needing a friend and now i cant breathe and im going to suffocate and
i cant breathe
i cant breathe
i cant breathe
i cant breathe
i cant
Four weeks- no, days, it just feels like weeks. It’s been four days but it feels more like four
weeks. Therapy has been pretty shitty. It’s twice a day now. Two times too many. I hate this
place. I want to go home.
Some of the doctors met with me today. “We’re here to help you help yourself,” they said,
but apparently I have to make an effort to let them. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. This
damned place could rot in hell for all I care.

I got mail today. I miss her.
Hey Freckles! Believe it or not I miss you already, even though it’s only been a few days.
How ya doing? I figured you may be suffering in that heckhole without me, but hey, you’re
still alive amiright? I finally dyed my hair again! It’s no longer “puke green” as you used to
call it (although you must admit it did look good on me). And hey girl, don’t forget to do
your journaling (if you get bored just write to me, it all looks the same in the end). But
for real, try to get better please, do it for yourself. If not for yourself, do it for me .
(Plus it means you’ll get to see me sooner). I hope you’ve given up on causing a scene in
group therapy, as much as it made me laugh. I miss you.
Your new best friend,
The Grinch 🙂
You told me to write to you so, here it goes… We had pasta for lunch today. I thought about
the noodle masterpiece you gave me. Alas, the sauce we had wasn’t glittering like it was in
your picture. In therapy, we were told to tell a story about a time we felt truly happy. I
reminded everyone about our drawings. I wish I could’ve given you mine. I didn’t want you to
leave. I’m sorry.
Today I heard someone humming in the hallway, I could have sworn it was you. And it just
hit me. How much I miss you. How alone I feel. I’m gasping for breath. It’s hard to focus.
In, out. In, out. In, out. I breathe, but the salty taste of snot runs in my mouth. I can see
soft blue walls through my blurred vision. I can feel my hands shaking. A doctor is telling
me to keep writing but her voice is muffled.
In, I see spare paper on the table, out, I feel the cold floor beneath my feet. In, I see
sunlight shining through a window, out, I feel the fuzz of my soft sweatpants against my
I’m starting to calm down now. It helps to focus on my senses. In, out. Smell, see, feel,
hear. I miss you but that doesn’t mean you’re gone forever.

Hey, good news! The doctors think I might have made a break through, especially after I was
able to successfully use the grounding technique they’ve been trying to teach me. They say
I’m showing signs of improving. You know, for once I’m actually looking forward to the
future instead of drowning in my sorrows. Maybe we can get together and I can see your
stupid face and your stupid hair again. Thanks for being my friend. It means more than
you’d think.
I breathe. In, out. I see off-white floor tiles. I hear a door closing. I feel my hair on the
back of my neck. In, out. I see a stray green crayon. I hear the scratch of someone coloring.
I feel the cold pen in my hand. In, out. I see a striped pattern in the couch fabric. I hear my
own breathing. I feel my heartbeat. I’m okay. I have anxiety and that’s okay. I’m okay. I’m
not better. I’m not worse. I’m just okay. I don’t need to be better, I don’t need to be
“cured” of my anxiety. I just need to be okay. And I’m okay.
Right now I’m just one step closer. One step closer to Mom, one step closer to home, one
step closer to the Grinch.

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