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by Jenny Davidson

This article won the Mental Health Foundation's Mental Health Week Victorian
'School Essay Competition' for years 10 to 12 .

Lunchtime. Sitting in a crowded classroom of overexcited girls as they gossip and laugh and generally make noise. Their exclamations and laughter are like a chainsaw to my mind, penetrating the already tender insides of my thoughts.
I sit with my friends on the tables. My closest friend isn't there. She's off being important and needed in some meeting somewhere. Unfortunately.
My friends are mostly less noisy than the other girls, but still their happy banter is too much for me and I retreat into my own morose world, too tired to attempt to keep up the semblance of being 'ok'.

I look around me, how dark it is
I try to have no fear of this
Yet ever I tremble, small and cold
The fear and loneliness taking hold.

I write in my book. My Little Black Book. When I feel like this, I write. Writing is the only way I have ever found that truly expresses just how I feel. The English language is so full of wonderful words that it seems a shame to not use them to their full potential, and so I write. I pour my into My Little Black Book until my mind dries up and my pen stops working. Or is it my mind stops working and my pen dries up? No matter - I write. Hoping desperately that someone will read it. Hoping desperately that no one will read it.
I listen for a while to their talk. It all seems so...trivial. Who they saw on the bus last night. What happened on "Neighbours". What they're going to wear to the formal. I'm amazed that they could talk about such things while their friend is in such obvious distress. But at least My Little Black Book understands.

Darkness now, how dark it is
There's blackness all around
Colour without shape or line at all
Swallows light and sound.

I wonder how deep it is
If I pushed it'd break?
Forever, always, thinking this
Dreaming of my escape.

The unreceptive nature of my friends seems to me to be characterised by the school's own lack of warmth. I feel like a caged butterfly, unable to spread her wings and shine her beauty. We trudge from classroom to classroom to the music of bells like obedient prisoners. I close my eyes and let the sounds wash over my unresponsive ears - the sound of the classrooms' conversations like an orchestra of out of time, out of key instruments.

* * * *

I sit in English class, hidden in the corner, lounging against the back wall - almost as if just by pressing against the cold brick I could disappear into the wall and be free from all this. We have been instructed to write, the teacher issuing orders on how to construct a meaningful piece of writing. I think I'm pretty good at that, reading over some of the things in My Little Black Book.

I'm still melancholy and depressed. Still no one's noticed. I wonder, do they care? I don't affect their lives, so if I weren't here would they be concerned? My closest friend sits next to me attentively listening to the teacher. I don't think she's realised.
The teacher wants us to write? Fine then, I'll write. I'll write about exactly how I feel and then maybe someone will see. But is that what I want? I can't stay like this forever.
So I write. I write how I feel, and I write as if I'm writing to My Little Black Book, not caring who will see it. Hoping that if I write, I'll feel better and be able to crawl up the sides of this dark abyss that I've blundered into.

My mind's a blank. I can't think.
It's filled with fuzz - too tired to blink.
I try to write, try to think.
But I stumble under tiredness - sink

I sink down, below the mind,
Wandering what dark things I'll find.
I look around, my eyes open wide.
Looking round in mild surprise.

My figure, in some far-off place
In the turmoil of my space
In the depths of all my thoughts.
Looking to where I've been brought.

I gaze around me,searching for
Something looking like a floor
And yet I stare around in darkness.
Bewildered by it's bare cold starkness.

My eyes are open, but I see
Nothing, that it seems to be
There is no colour, no shape nor light
Not any that is in my sight.

I feel before me, feeling nothing,
Searching for anything, someone, something.
I stop and think, my heart is fast
Wishing I could be back at last -

And there I am, back again
In this world full of pain
I think about what I'd seen -
Is what I'd seen in me?


I sit back, contented that at least now I'd written the required piece, and that finally my mind felt fulfilled in its writing. I close my eyes and lean back, disappearing again into the space-without-light that I've become accustomed to.

Suddenly my closest friend leans across and gives me a hug. I open my eyes in shock as she continues to just hold me close and give me a hug. She leans back and says quietly, so that only I can hear her, "Whats wrong?"

Tears come unexpectedly to my eyes. I wouldn't have thought that just hearing those words could make me feel so relieved. Someone noticed, someone asked... someone cares.

Now used to writing, I bring out the little black book, turning to a new page as I write, "I didn't think anyone had noticed."
I push the paper over to my friend as I look out the window, waiting for her response.

The paper is pushed back onto my table, and I read with a small trembling smile on my face. "I noticed. I would have said something at lunch but I had to go to the meeting. I didn't listen to a word that was said because I was thinking about you. What's wrong? Please tell me. I'm really worried."

So I wrote. I didn't write to the little black book. I wrote to My Friend. I wrote to the person who cared and wanted to help me. I wrote, and as I did I felt better. Just telling someone made me feel so less burdened. Here was someone who would share my pain with me, and she was My Friend.

As she read over what I had written, I wrote the last thing I would write in a long time in that little black book. I have it still, and it reminds me of the darkness of the abyss, which makes me appreciate the colour of the clear open sky all the more....

The spark of life I held within.
Extinguished? Gone? Forever?
But it burns low. It needs love.
Love to fuel its will, its life.
Open myself to my friends. Tell my life,
my pain, my thoughts...and heal?
Yes. Definitely yes.


DepressioNet Internet & Research Services would like to acknowledge the support of the Mental Health Foundation and Jenny Davidson for Australians suffering depression, by allowing us to reproduce this article within depressioNet.com.au.

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