Millennial Youth

Below is a collection of short stories I wrote in my second year of uni for a YA genre (Young Adult). They explore a variety of mental health issues so please please be aware. There’s a lot I’d change in hindsight, but hindsight’s a wonderful thing. I feel like you could edit work into oblivion, so I shall leave them in the state at hand in.

I feel like I should mention, a whole heap of research went into creating these stories. Tackling mental health in fiction is difficult, because in short – it’s very easy to get wrong. The sources I used were personal, from those around me and online. My writing group was especially helpful in offering their own personal experiences to help aid the process.

If these do act as a trigger, please seek support if you feel you need it. While I am always up for a chat, I’m not a professional.

Gender Spectrum

I think I’m gay.

I don’t know if it’s a surprise to be honest, I’ve always been a bit ‘quirky’. My whole life’s been a little unorthodox, so I mean that’s kind of a tell about finally coming out as a lesbian isn’t it?
I think it is.

The thing is, I’m trying to work through a little issue. The issue is that I’m not really sure if I am actually a lesbian, or if I’m bisexual, or if I’m straight. I don’t really know what I want or how to decipher my own feelings.

I’ll probably be told it’s a phase by most people. But the most annoying thing is that my parents will actually understand. In fact, my mum’s probably going to bloody love it. She’ll prefer me bringing girls home more than guys. I reckon she’ll brag to her friends that her daughter’s a liberal, and that she’s following a different path like her mother. They’ll sit there with their 60s love and peace mantra floating around them and be in awe of my ability to be authentic.

But, and there’s my but, I really don’t know how I feel.

I like girls. But, I don’t know if I feel pushed to prefer girls, or if I’m forcing myself to because I don’t really have any interest in guys. I’m not really sure if I’m interested in anyone at the moment. Boy or girl, I don’t really know how much I actually give a damn.

I panicked for a while that I was asexual, but who was I trying to kid. I do have urges and there are feelings there for sex and the potential for relationship. But, the feelings aren’t directed at anyone or any gender in particular. I’m just indifferent. But, I’m not entirely sure whether that counts as a type or a phase, or an actual answer to the people who ask me about my ‘love life’.
I’m only sixteen though, why do I have to be interested in having sex with anyone or even getting with someone, I couldn’t give a shit. But I’m weird already, the girl who sits in the corner reading and wears every colour and pattern she can find in her wardrobe attracts a bit of attention already, I don’t want to add to that by being indifferent. I’m indifferent in so many aspects of my life already, I want to try and feel something. But, I don’t want to force it, because then I have absolutely no idea if it’s true or not.

Am I a true lesbian? Do I need to be a true lesbian? Because I’m not sure I do, but despite the fact my parents won’t need me to choose, and I shouldn’t have to choose, part of me- deep down- feels like I need to choose. Choice can be a burden. I want someone to tell me how to feel, how to act, how to be. But, if they did, then I wouldn’t really appreciate it. I want my brain to be a dictatorship over me, but it wants a democracy with all my other fucking emotions, and I can tell you now it’s a fucking travesty up there. I think its broken, like my locator on the bloody sexuality spectrum.


I’ve been told to write a diary. The highly unqualified (and unfortunate) lady who has been left in charge of the school’s therapy has told me she thinks that writing down my thoughts will help in some way. I feel like part of some shit American Netflix series, the school counsellor trying to fix whatever they think is wrong with me without any idea of the extent to which I’m screwed up. The thing is, I think she underestimates what I’ll give her. I’m not one to half-ass things. If she wants a written diary, she can have one- in all its brutal and truthful glory. She’s the one that’ll regret wanting to know what’s going on up in my brain.

Dear Diary, (seriously, if I couldn’t be any more cliché. Mrs Smith- see what you’re making me do)

As I was bent over the toilet, the end of my toothbrush prodding the depths of my throat, tears started to fall from my eyes. It had been a while since I’d cried over this action. It quickly became second nature, a means to an end and a process that kept me sane. But, as I retched and the tears fell, I didn’t have the epiphany point that films, and stories and people make out you have. I didn’t have that moment. I carried on crying, and throwing up and after I’d gone through the process, I ended up an exhausted heap on the cold bathroom floor. I wiped my eyes, pulled myself back together again and left like the past few minutes hadn’t happened, and if they had I acted like it was a completely normal experience that just helps you through the day. Like having a coffee when you feel a little tired, a quick trip to the toilet when I’m feeling a little fat, a little too much emotion, or just when I feel. Throwing up neutralises my emotions, like the acid in the vomit neutralises the pH balance in my brain and I feel almost numb to the world.

The thing that people don’t want to tell you, is that the epiphany moment of ‘what the hell am I doing’ probably won’t come. Humans are a bit stupid in that way, we’re not great at motivation. One day you won’t just be throwing up your entire life and stop and think ‘why am I doing this’. Simply because, in a world that wants you to suppress any emotion you feel that is ever so slightly scary, this process makes you feel the tiniest bit alive.

You may get to the point that I have, you accept the sourness of your actions. I’m not dumb, I’ve always known what I’m doing, why I shouldn’t be doing it and why it doesn’t help. But, knowing and doing are two different things. People with addictions aren’t stupid or too emotionally stunted to deal with things normally Mrs Smith, they, if anything, just feel more. I am too sensitive for a world that needs a hardened human and too sensitive for a world that picks apart my every flaw and tells me I’m unworthy. Being sensitive caused me to thrust a toothbrush to the back of my throat everyday, and shame stopped me from getting help. Sensitivity and shame, like the Kray twins, work together to terrify anyone in their path. Even when they’re locked up, they find a way of getting to you and traumatizing both yourself and your family. Two gangsters taking over a small geographical location that just happens to be your body. Sorry for the analogy Mrs Smith, I’ve watched a few too many documentaries lately, brace yourself, there may be more.

Mrs Smith, you asked me to write this diary, so you could begin to understand what I’m going through. But the thing is, I barely know what I’m going through- I really don’t. I’ll try to enlighten you a little more to the joys of my life though.

What I can explain is that I feel unsafe (and that’s not something you need to report to someone above you in the hierarchy of unofficial therapists, it is an uncertified feeling). I have no legitimate reason to feel unsafe, but what I do know is the control I take over my actions and my own self- they make me feel safe. They’re the duvet I wrap over my toes before I go to sleep to make sure that no one creeps up from the end of my bed and attacks. They’re my comfort blanket.

I feel a sense of failure as well. I tried to be anorexic, I really did. I wanted to be able to not want food, to be strong enough to resist it. But, the truth is, I couldn’t. So I fail, everyday I fail. I avoid food, then I binge, then I plummet into a world of suffocating darkness. When I throw up, the door to the real world is opened, a bit of air and light peep through and the cloud of shame that follows me disperses just a little. The numbing that comes with it, the numbing, is what us ‘addicts’ consumed by our eating disorders, crave. Like nicotine to a heavy smoker, it soothes me. The exhaustion of my actions is soothing. There’s no energy to feel, the deflated sensation is a beautiful solace.

Mrs Smith, you asked me to be honest, and I have. I don’t want to glamorise it, or make excuses for myself. I know what I’m doing, I’m not delusional, but I can’t avoid that it helps me cope. Schools and teachers, they try and teach you so much. I focus so much of my attention on academics so how the hell am I supposed to find the time to work on the basics of emotion and feeling. How am I supposed to figure out maths, science or even consider learning other languages when I’ve barely grasped how to keep myself happy.

How else am I supposed to find the balance between academics and emotions, except by compartmentalising and finding an outlet? You may use the gym as your emotional crutch, pounding away at the running machine until your body feels numb. My crutch is just a different action, same result though. Numbness. Are we all just searching to feel less?
Sorry to be a downer Mrs Smith, but you asked.

Kindest regards.

I don’t really know if that counts as a diary, I think you could class it more as an unsolicited rant to my school’s unofficial and unqualified therapist.

To be honest, I don’t think I can give this to her, I think she’ll have some kind of breakdown


Melanie’s mum opened the door of her daughter’s room, pulled up the blinds and stood over the side of her bed saying, ‘Melanie if you don’t get up and get ready for school right now, I’m going to pull you out myself.’ Melanie stirred slightly and pulled the covers further over her head to stop the blinding light penetrating her body.

When her friend knocked for her half an hour later Melanie was slowly tying up her laces. She slung her backpack over her shoulders, mumbled out to her mum and pulled the door closed behind her. The two girls walked to school vaguely chatting. The day for Melanie was a blur of teachers telling her to do things, her friends laughing and normality, plain normality.

When Melanie got home, she went straight to her room, sat there flicking between apps on her phone. Snapchat, Instagram, messenger, back to snapchat, being sent something on Instagram, being text. All through this mind-numbing process Melanie had TV on in the background. MTV or TLC or some easy watch programme, then Netflix on her laptop, then she just stared blankly at her wall until her mum called her down for dinner. Her mum asked her about her day and Melanie stumbled through an answer, embellishing events with more vivid detail than she remembered experiencing them. If she didn’t, her mum would ask more questions and that’s not something she could be bothered to go through.

Melanie picked at her dinner, uninterested in the food before her and more interested in her shrinking stomach. After dinner, she made the token gesture of watching a programme with her family before returning back to her bedroom. She turned off the lights and sat in the darkness. She flicked through her phone into the early hours, unable to sleep but wishing her body would do nothing but that. She stared at the ceiling until it turned into a blur of time. She was unaware when sleep finally took over and pulled her into its beautiful emotionless.

Melanie’s mum opened the door of her daughter’s room, pulled up the blinds and stood over the side of her bed saying, ‘Melanie if you don’t get up and get ready for school right now, I’m going to pull you out myself.’ Melanie stirred slightly and pulled the covers further over her head to stop the blinding light penetrating her body.

The cycle

I used to think my big sister was this magnificent princess. I looked up at her, my little eyes big and wide, and could have stared at her for hours. She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen and I remember wishing to be half as beautiful as she was. I’d constantly try on her make up and walk around the house swathed in her clothes, but she never shouted, or told me off. I remember how much I absolutely idolised her.

It was only when I grew up that I started to notice things. She was fifteen and I was nine. I asked her why her arms were scratched, the skin had risen and there were scabs. She told me she did it in PE and she laughed when she said she was accident prone. But after that, I noticed she started wearing long sleeves. I used to cuddle up to her in the evenings and I’d play with her hair while we watched films, but she started to become bony. I stopped cuddling up to her and asked why she wouldn’t share chocolate with me anymore. She told me that she didn’t really like chocolate anymore, but that it meant there was more for me. She’d throw them up into the air for me to catch it in my mouth, and when they bounced off my nose we’d roll around on the floor laughing. I used to sneak into her room at night, when our parents fell asleep, and we’d have mini sleepovers. We’d make dens, and she’d read me stories with a torch. But one night I went in and she was crying, she had tears trickling down her face. She stopped crying, but I wiped her remaining tears and curled up in bed with her. She told me she’d read a sad story that made her cry.

When my sister went into hospital when I was eleven, my mum told me that her heart was poorly. When my sister didn’t come home, my parents cried everyday. They told me she’d gone to a better place, but I knew what heaven meant. My sister was never coming bac.
I cried everyday. I’d sleep in her room and pull the covers up around my neck. It was my tears that now soaked the fabric.

I was never told what caused my sisters poorly heart.

I was fourteen when my arm became littered with deep scabs, when my skin began to pull tightly across my bones, when my hair started to thin and I wore baggy, sleeved clothes.
I was fourteen when I realised what happened to my big sister, the reality of the princess. The Disney films we watched when we were younger hadn’t shown us this. I wasn’t aware of the signs, so when they devoured me after stealing my sister I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know where to go, or who to turn to.

Teenage Angst

I’m being chased. The pounding of my heart is overwhelming my tiny frame, but the adrenaline keeps me sprinting forward. My bare feet pounding the ground in front of me, unaware of the stones and glass littering the road. I try not to turn my head to see what’s behind me, afraid that if I do I’ll realise that I’m moments away from death and afraid that if I turn I’ll lose my footing and trip, and become the helpless victim of the madman sprinting after me.
Apparently I’m mental.

They’ve not clarified what kind of mental I am going to be labelled as just yet, but being under the care of Dr Crapper tells me one significant thing, I’m fucked. What kind of man thinks, that with a surname like Crapper, it’s a good idea to go work with unstable teenagers? We’re screwed up enough, but when we finally admit to family and friends where we’ve spent the last few months of our lives we also have to tell them we need to go see Dr Crapper. Really.

As if my youth couldn’t get any shitter.

As I lay here in bed though, I ponder the options they’ve given me.

Schizophrenia, the gift that keeps giving. Like getting a dog for Christmas, it’s a present for life, or some other kind of awful analogy. I mean, its not like it makes much of a difference, but I’m either a paranoid schizo, or undifferentiated. I’m almost at the point where I cross so many psychotic boundaries that they can’t tell what kind of box I fit into. I never wanted to fit into societies restrictive little box, but I think this is just God’s way of taking the absolute piss out of my existence. I would say he’s doing it to screw with me, but he’s already screwed with my internal wiring hasn’t he? He. She. It.

I never really used to believe in a God, but I have to say, I think only some kind of sadistic higher being is capable of inflicting this kind of crap on someone else.

But, do you want to know the funniest thing about what’s wrong with me?
They think I’m afraid of myself.

And not in that ‘I’m scared of what I’m capable of’ bull way, I am literally scared of schizophrenics. I mean laugh all you want, because to be honest I had a good old chuckle the first time they analysed me. Yeah the schizophrenic crazy girl started laughing, full on belly laughing, when they first started talking to her. I also then burst into tears, but that’s another story.

So yes, my first psychotic break. It happened a couple of months ago now, and all has gotten much chipper and rainbow-filled now. Only joking, that’s just the few hours the antipsychotics seem to work. When I was found after my psychotic break it was by my best friend in my first year university halls. I was cowered in the corner of my pitch black room, my eyes looked beaten apparently and my room was an absolute mess. She said I hadn’t answered my phone in about two days. Before you think she’s an awful friend for leaving me two days, I am absolutely awful with my phone, so of course she wasn’t all that concerned about my lack of replies- until she talked to my housemates. She only lived in halls across the road and so she came over to chat and they told her they didn’t actually realise I was in. My light had been off for a couple of days, my door closed the whole time and no noise, that they noticed, had escaped my room.

When she found me, I was a heap. I kept muttering that someone was trying to get to me, but I stayed hunched in the corner. She tried to help me calm down, and sat me on the bed but I couldn’t get the thought that there was someone watching me. My heart pounded, ready to burst and I could feel the adrenaline in my blood ready to explode for an escape at a moments notice. She tried to get me to drink some water and put a cold flannel over my head. She couldn’t figure out what was going on and was on the phone to my then hysterical mother who told her to call the police. Luckily, I calmed down and relaxed somewhat.

When I talk to my friend about that moment, now classed lovingly as my ‘break’, she tells me that I was incoherent, babbling so fast that it was just a blur of words. She made out the words ‘watched’, ‘chased’, and ‘help me’, so a whole host of really calming phrases.

When I had another episode of hallucinations and delusions, I really didn’t think it was stress induced like the first doctor I visited told me. University’s a hard place, but I didn’t know many other first year students who were often found cowering in their rooms in a frenzied state, other than those induced by alcohol. When I finally got admitted to this psych ward they started to unveil that they thought I may be schizophrenic. They wanted me to know as much about their process as possible, to keep me aware of what was going on. I totally thank Dr Crapper for that, but it hasn’t stopped me on multiple occasions asking him to change his name.

My delusions are of some crazy maniac watching me, and my every movement. Then it’s him chasing me, weapon clutched between his crazy hands, until I am absolutely exhausted, sweaty and my heart pounds through my chest. The thing is about the delusion, and its completely sadistic irony, is that if you look at horror films the crazy people always have mental health issues, and I swear half of them are paranoid- schizo crazies. So, basically they’re me. There’s so many horror films where the serial killer has been written to experience all of my symptoms, but with a split personality and thirst for blood. So, that’s why I chuckled when they analysed me because, lets be perfectly honestly, the person I described being terrified of and the reason behind my delusions, exhibited all the symptoms of a stereotypical schizophrenic. My schizophrenic delusion was a combination of my own issues, and some weird concoction of dozens of mental health issues and a sociopath all rolled into one scary bundle.

So, I don’t think you can judge the fact that I laughed, it’s pretty laughable that I’m scared of societies perception of me. I’m apparently destined to become some axe-wielding maniac. But, in reality, I’m actually just a fragile girl dosed up to the eyeballs on antipsychotics struggling to decode my purpose.

Toilets, this way

I looked up at the sign, immediately my heart began to race and I could feel every inch of my body pulsating, ‘toilets, this way’.

I walked slowly in the direction the sign pointed, my legs unsteady and my head feeling more faint as the gap between myself and the toilets became smaller. I stopped when the toilet doors towered before me, female on the left, male on the right. In front of them, just me. Male- how I looked and dressed. I felt right. But, I was undeniably left with my female anatomy.

I tried to avoid public toilets whenever physically possible, sometimes I think I’d rather let my bladder burst than go through the drama every time I needed a wee.

I never used to be all that bothered by toilets, I’d walk into the women’s because I still, in the eyes of the law, was a woman. There was one time though, I walked in and an old lady literally smacked me on the shoulder with her bag and told me the men’s were the other side.

I was taken aback. Part of me felt guiltily proud that I was doing such a convincing job of being a man, but the other part quickly tried to mumble together an answer that vaguely explained I was actually a woman. I was absolutely humiliated.

Despite wanting desperately to be a man, I’d never used men’s facilities. I was just used to the women’s. I looked back up at the signs ahead of me and felt the panic rise in my chest as I walked towards the door of the men’s. All of the confidence I felt earlier had vanished and I dashed towards the disabled toilet. I balled myself up in the corner and tried to calm the aggressive rise and fall of my chest.

I made a point to use the disabled toilets from then on, I couldn’t cope with the stress and anxiety of trying to decide which toilet people would be okay with me using.

The sign on the outside of the disabled toilet door I was in read ‘you can’t always see a disability’. I smirked sadly to myself as a tear cascaded down my cheek, you can’t always see gender either.