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I stood in the ocean, the cold waves of the Atlantic crashing against my thighs, the sun in position above me: high noon. My friend stood a few feet away, twirling in the cool, salty water and she smiled so widely that it snuck its way onto my lips.

But even then, the melancholy thoughts started to creep up, unbidden, into my mind, as dark as the water we played in. She was going to get her license once we got back from spring break, which I was glad for because I was tired of driving us all to school - her, me, my brother, her boyfriend and his brother - in my tiny, beat-up Saturn. But I would miss the familiarity of her presence; I knew she wouldn’t stay around me for very long after she gained her teenaged independence. She thought I was angsty, and I was partially, but then I was also certifiable.

But then I am, I am, I am angsty, certifiable, hopelessly dreaming of everything I cannot have still, just as I was then.

A year later I was knee-deep in the Gulf of Mexico, half-drunk on sangria; I was bordering on mania - I knew I was getting close to swinging upward but I couldn’t allow myself to care or notice because then I would know that my mother might notice. I didn’t want to ruin her vacation. I stared into the clear, aquamarine colored water and let the sun burn me, taking another drink from my wine-filled water bottle, hoping it would numb my itchy throat. As long as she didn’t notice that this wasn’t just self-medicating for my possible tonsillitis, I would be okay.

The following fall, my first semester in college, my mental health caught up with me. I got better, or at least I did momentarily. I got better, I got worse. It’s cyclical, it’s a process, it’s hard -
“you’re so strong,” they say as I break and break and break. I don’t feel strong, I feel broken down and tired all the time.

I dream of a place where I was better, but it’s so far gone now, I don’t know if it will ever be reachable again.

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