my birthday, two thousand and sixteen

january in new york was difficult. i was completely alone, and struggling to make ends meet. i lost my best friend and the suicidal thoughts were coming back. i desperately needed a change, and i would do anything to achieve it. i lied to my parents so i could go back to school early, because i couldn’t take being home any longer.

nobody was around to see my brokenness and nobody asked how i was. my sleeping schedule was obliterated- i was going to bed at four in the morning and waking up at two in the afternoon. i was living off of granola bars and popcorn, the only food in my dorm. i hardly drank any water and the chances of winning the lottery were greater than the chances of me taking a shower. 

my mental health was deteriorating. every day and every night the question of, will he leave me? kept me lying awake. i was terrified of losing the best person i had ever met. how was i supposed to know that a year later i would be with him in los angeles? i couldn’t have known that, and i missed him terribly. 

after a few nights alone, i began to get dangerous. i had been toying with the idea of self destruction again. i tried to bring it up with a few friends who knew my history, but their responses were pathetic. don’t do it, try to do something else, you’ll be okay tomorrow. they were wrong. i was not okay the next day. so, i picked apart my roommate’s pencil sharpener and i pulled out the blade and i cut new red gashes on top of my fading white scars. it didn’t really do much to help my mood, but i felt in control, so i kept doing it. 

i told him about it, not trying to seem desperate or scare him, and he told me he understood and that he used to do it too. he made me feel better. he always does.

during those two and a half weeks when i was alone in new york, my birthday rolled around. i turned nineteen. happy birthday to me. how did i celebrate? 

the day before my birthday, i caught a bus downtown after a sleepless night. i looked horrendous. i had stopped wearing makeup and my hair was disgusting. i chopped half of it off, and then made my way over to the tattoo shop. 

the day of my birthday i stayed in bed all day, ignoring the fake texts from people i hardly talk to, and waited for him to message me. he didn’t know it was my birthday. he had finally made it to los angeles, after road tripping across the country to get there. he was settling. i was alone. 

the day came and went. i can hardly remember what i did during my time alone. i know i wrote. i wrote and wrote and wrote. i finished my journal. i wrote some more. 

about two days after my birthday, people started coming back to school. i faked happy hellos and i pretended i was okay. the health center opened and i was prescribed a new antidepressant. i continued to miss him. i wished for a place that felt like home. life went on. 

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