All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The soft click of worn heels against the cold tile was more than enough to alert Liz to the counselor's arrival.
The short knocking of Mrs. Stephenson's ring laden fingers on the door resonated through Liz's tired mind, making her head pound even more. The counselor cracked the door and poked her head into the room, calling in a clipped, formal voice.
Liz turned a bright red upon hearing her full name. She bade Olivia a small farewell, grabbed her book and shoved it her backpack, and left the room in a silent frenzy of fury and shame.
"How are you liking Physics Two?"
"It's good," Liz admitted honestly. She adjusted the straps on her backpack, not yet comfortable making small talk with her counselor.
"The math suits you."
Still uncomfortable, Liz bit her lip; Mrs. Stephenson seemed to know everything about her.
Sometimes, even more than she knew about herself.
"Sorry for pulling you out of this class, but I couldn't wait until later. There're some things we need to discuss."
Liz barely suppressed a groan of frustration. "Discuss" meant she had done something wrong. It meant she had messed up. Halfheartedly, she followed the counselor into her tiny room and slumped into a chair.
"So," Mrs. Stephenson began promptly, typing a few quick strokes at her computer, "your parents called; you're on a different medication now?"
Nod. Keep eye contact. Steady voice.
"Yes. It's some sort of experimental thing." Liz's mind flinched as she spoke, her words sounding almost robotic. She had a style she always used with counselors, but today she couldn't concentrate. She seemed guilty, not confident.
"Good. It works?"
The ever-present rebellion in her mind ensued. "So far." Not at all, her mind persisted.
Mrs. Stephenson nodded sharply. "Let me record all this and then we'll get started." She began typing furiously.
Schizophrenic, Liz heard her mind whisper. Pathological lying. Occasionally delusional. Words she knew were all in her file. Words that landed her here, in the counselor's office. "I should get back to class," she blurted, instantly shoving her hands to her mouth.
Mrs. Stephenson stopped typing, her sharp eyes drifting over to Liz. "Elizabeth," she prompted, "is your medicine working?"
"Yeah. It works fine. I feel as good as I did before... Before everything got crazy. I feel just fine. Sometimes I get a little shaky, but stuff happens, right? And then I just take the next dose and I'm fine, so it's no big deal." She could hear herself rambling, the lies spilling out faster than she could even think about stopping them. "It doesn't work," she immediately argued against herself, beginning to count on her fingers, "I feel worse than I did before counseling, and sometimes I overdose and it makes me nauseas."
More lies. Keep going, her mind grinned.
"I didn't do my English homework last night because I had a breakdown, I haven't eaten in a week because of stress, and—" Finally, her mind allowed her to stop. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "The medicine usually works, but sometimes..." Liz closed her eyes, wanting only to keep from crying. Breathing became harder, the room swam before her eyes, and she knew she was headed for a breakdown.
Mrs. Stephenson sighed and picked up a ballpoint pen, twirling it around in her fingers. "Elizabeth, I'm going to have to call your parents and have them pick you up. I'll call your doctor, too." She paused for a moment, thinking. "We need to find a medication that works. Not just for a week," she sighed again, "but for good."
But Liz wasn't listening anymore. Her mind was swimming with voices; voices she didn't know, voices she couldn't understand. One rose above the others.
Leave. Pick up your bag, and leave.
As hard as she was trying, Liz couldn't push the voice out of her head. She knew that if she obeyed, the tears would stop and she would be able to breathe again. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, reaching for her bag.
She ignored the counselor, darting for the door. In the hallway, Liz broke into a run, finding refuge in the nearest bathroom.
"This isn't how it's supposed to happen," she whispered furiously, hoping her mind was listening. "This is my freakin' senior year, and you're screwing it up. And I swear, if they put me on anymore damn medication I'm just gonna shrivel up. I can't even eat anything."
A little push from her mind prompted her to look down at her left wrist, where a heart-shaped scar was hiding beneath the normal make-up and bracelet combination.
That hurt, didn't it? Let's not have that happen again.
Another tear falling, Liz rubbed off the make-up and stared at the little heart. "This is what happens," she grunted, kicking the nearest stall in anger, "when you get in the way. I'm not going through that again. I'm done with the cutting. And you know what, I'm not going through another depression because of you. I'm over that, are you listening? Senior year is for getting drunk and partying, not for attempting suicide."
Yeah, get drunk. Party. Waste your life. You're not good for anything else, anyway.
Liz clutched her bag tighter. "Go away, Mrs. Stephenson."
That's it. Make her leave. And then you need to leave the school.
"Elizabeth, come here," the counselor ordered.
Tell her no.
"I can do this on my own!" Liz cried, but she wasn't entirely sure who she was talking to. She slung her bag over her shoulder and pushed past the counselor, who was still trying to stop her. Her mind pounding, Liz marched up to her Physics class and threw the door open. Without a word, she grabbed Olivia, pulling her into the hall.
"Take me home."
Wide eyed, Olivia asked, "Liz, did you… your meds—"
"Take me home!"
Olivia began walking down the hall, but she pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed a number. "Hi, Mrs. Ray, I have something I need to talk to you about really quick. No, no, I'm sorry to bother you, but it won't take long."
"Shut up, shut up," Liz mumbled, the voice screaming in her head again.
Make her stop! Make her stop! Don't let her say anything else!
But Olivia was still talking on the phone, telling Liz's mother what was happening. Suddenly, she grabbed Liz's wrist. "Talk to her."
Stop! Don't take the phone! NO! Don't—Throw it, then, don't talk on it. Throw the phone down.
Ignoring the pounding in her head, Liz held the phone up. "Hey, Mom."
"Liz, honey… Umm, did Mrs. Stephenson talk with you?"
Throw the phone down. Don't. Say. Another. Word. PUT IT DOWN.
Liz flinched, her mind causing her to tremble. "I can't," she breathed. "Mom, help."
Throw it. As hard and as far as you can.
Losing her will, Liz launched Olivia's cell phone across the hall, and it hit the brick wall and clattered to the floor. Olivia stared at Liz, her mouth open.
"What was that?"
Liz grabbed her head, hoping to chase the voices out. "Go away!" And just like that, she could feel another breakdown. She collapsed, her breath coming in short, ragged gasps. Her vision blurred, anger and tears clouding her eyes. Her head spun and she knew she was going to faint.
The last thing she heard was the grating, laughing voice inside her mind.
When Liz awoke, she was in her bedroom, with the lights off and her mother sitting beside her.
"Liz, honey? Are you awake?"
But Liz ignored her mom. She was shaking already, her mind shouting orders almost faster than she could comprehend.
Leave. You don't belong here. You need to get out. No one understands. You need freedom. You need to get away, somewhere you'll matter. Find someone who actually loves you, instead of this cozy little façade you live in.
"No," Liz insisted, burying her head in her pillow. "Shut up." Lots of things were screwed up in her life, but she knew her parents loved her. Especially in times like this, when her mom left work to pick her up from school and stay with her until the voices were manageable again.
You think she actually loves you?
Liz felt a sob erupt from her chest and halfheartedly asked, "Mom, can you go? Please, just…"
With a final concerned look, Mrs. Ray left Liz's room. "I've got to pick some stuff up from the office," she called over her shoulder, "but Olivia will be here till I get back."
"Are you ok?" a voice piped from below Liz. Olivia was propped up against her bed, looking almost as stressed as Liz was.
"I can't take it anymore," Liz confessed, tears dripping onto the pillow she was clutching. "I'm just so damn tired of being like this all the time. High school has almost killed me; how am I going to survive college? Or just life in general?"
You're nothing without me.
"Shut up! I don't need you!" Liz cried.
Olivia sat on the edge of the bed, next to Liz. "What's going on? Tell me. For real."
"I'm going insane."
"It's going to be ok. I'll be here. Forever." Olivia scooted closer to her best friend and gave her a big hug. "I know I don't understand, but I'll be here."
Liz pushed her away. "No. You don't understand."
No, she doesn't. Don't let her tell you that; she's lying. She doesn't care what happens to you.
"I can't…" Liz's lip trembled. She was remembering all the nights she had called Olivia. All the nights her best friend had answered, talking her through whatever breakdown or attack she was having.
But now, it was too much.
You don't belong here anymore. Not in this world.
"I don't belong here," Liz echoed.
Olivia shook her head. "You do. Right here. And you deserve to be better, to get rid of whatever problems you're having. You deserve better, and I'm sure as hell going to make sure you can have that."
She's lying. Except, she's right about your problems. They suck, don't they?
Liz closed her eyes. "Olivia, just stop." With a trembling hand, Liz reached into her nightstand drawer and pulled out the razor that had been hiding there since the last spring. She ignored Olivia's wide eyes and pulled the blade across the heart-shaped scar, breaking it open and causing blood to run down her arm.
I told you not to do that again!
But it feels so good, Liz thought in response. Somehow, she felt stronger. Watching the crimson liquid drip off her arm and onto her blanket infused her with a sense of superiority.
"I thought you quit?" Olivia gasped, reaching for the razor. "You told me you stopped that with the therapy over the summer?"
"I did," Liz breathed, her tone lighter, almost relieved. "I haven't seen this blade since last May." She surrendered the razor to Olivia, who threw it across the room, barely missing the trashcan.
"Liz, please, come back to me," Olivia whispered, her eyes tearing up. She reached out for another hug, but Liz pushed her away.
Make her leave. You need to be alone. You're selfish, putting all of your problems on her. What has she done to deserve your pain?
You have a point, Liz admitted to her mind. "Please, Olivia, leave."
"No!" Olivia cried in shock. "I'm not leaving with you like this."
Liz shrugged. "Ok." Feeling stronger than she had in a long time, she stood and made her way purposefully to her parents' bathroom, where they hid her medications. The year before, she had tried to overdose.
This year, she would succeed.
Ignoring Olivia's protests, Liz grabbed her anxiety pills and chewed up several, reaching for her depression medication next. Olivia wrestled the bottle out of her hands, but only after she had downed several.
"My life is a living hell," Liz screamed, searching for the pain pills next. "It’s a constant battle between me and my head. Do you know what it's like having to spend days agonizing over one tiny decision because if you don't make the right choice, you're going to suffer for days? Because of your own mind?" Olivia knocked another bottle to the ground, but Liz just grabbed a different one, not even bothering to look at what it was. "I throw up, I breakdown, I have trouble breathing, I hurt myself, all because of the f*ing voices in my head!" She slumped to the ground.
Olivia had stopped fighting her. Her phone was out, and she had dialed 911. Liz tuned out her voice, which was becoming easier as her head began swimming. She chewed up another handful of pills, pulling herself to her feet and stumbling to her room. Grabbing her razor, she sliced through her flesh again, barely feeling the smooth blade.
The room was becoming liquid, dancing in her eyes, but Liz managed to carve the words All in my head into her left arm. All of a sudden, the stench of the blood made her retch all over the carpet; the smell of the vomit only made her gag more.
"Dammit, Liz!" Olivia screeched. "You can't die like this." She scooped her friend in her arms, ignoring the blood she was smearing on her clothes, the adrenaline focusing her mind solely on Liz. "I've put up with all this s*** with you for three years. I'm not going to let this happen. The ambulance is coming, and you aren't leaving me!"
Liz moved her mouth in an attempt to smile. "The voices are gone, Olivia," she mumbled, "and I am leaving." She broke into a weak giggle. "You deserve Heaven. I'm going to Hell, and then the voices will either be gone or suffering just like I have for my whole life." Doubling over, she threw up again. "Suffering my whole damn life."
"No!" Olivia was crying, but Liz couldn't hear. Her mind was too foggy to comprehend more than the silent void that the voices typically filled.
"Olivia," Liz slurred, her vision fading in and out and her stomach and throat burning, "I want you to know I held on this long 'cause of you. I made it through last year 'cause of you." She stared hard at the blade in her bloody hands. A tear slipped down her cheek. "I’ll put in a good word for you up there." Liz closed her eyes, the wailing sirens of the ambulance coming nearer.
And then… Silence.
Finally, the war against the voices was won.