I am a voice.

My father proudly called me his poet,
but I’m not so sure I am.
Unless you count the strings of broken lyrics
scribbled on each page,
filling up my pink, floral notebook.

the cover of my journal tells a story
of daisies and daffodils,
and gold calligraphy letters that scream femininity.
I think my mother bought it
to empower the little girl in me.

And yet,
How dare I fill those pages
with ink that bleeds from my heart?
How dare I write words
of rebellion and disappointment?

I’m not the proud, little girl my mother
wanted me to be.
And I’m not the talented poet my father
willed me to become.

I bleed in clumps of words
and I transfer my scars on paper.
And the people who adore my writings
are the underdogs in society.

I may not be your poet, dad
and I may not be your feminist, mom
but still,
I am a voice.

Sometimes I am all but a whisper
but still,
I am a voice.


Stop and Smell the Roses

My supervisor at one of my former jobs used to constantly remind me and my colleagues to stop and smell the roses.

Whenever we hit a particular rough month at work, she would order in lunch, insist that we take a break and just breathe. I always liked and appreciated the positive vibes that came with it. And even now, five years after I left the office, I still remind myself every once in a while to stop and smell the roses.

Life can be overwhelming, hectic and stressful – to name a few. And oftentimes, we get so caught up in the whirlwind of daily chores and responsibilities that we forget who we are and what we love. We begin defining ourselves by our stressors and weaknesses. Even when we are having a good time, those troubles are lurking in the back of our minds – on call – for when we need them. 

Dealing with mental illness has intensified my stress and brought it to a whole new level. Little things, like going to sleep and waking up, have become a source of great tension. Sometimes, my sadness makes me forget about all the good things in life I still have. Depression is a skilled thief, robbing me of my joie de vivre. And when my focus is entirely on surviving another day, it is tough to remember  the reasons for life and joy. And yet, because the scent of happiness seems so far away, specifically for people with mental illness, it is especially important to remember to take a break from stress and tension, breathe and smile. Breaks, every now and then, are what fuel us in continuing to give life our all. 

When life gives us lemons, it’s hard to remember the little things, like the sugar. And when our paths are strewn with pebbles and thorns, it’s hard to think of the fragrance of the flowers. Still, it is not the earth-shattering events in life that will make us feel better, but the little things here and there. 

I am contemplating putting up a poster in my room reading, stop and smell the roses. This way, I can wake up in the morning remembering to smell the coffee and smile. On tougher mornings, maybe it’ll remind me of how good a warm shower and vanilla lotion feels.

Each day is bursting with a million little things that would make us smile if only we learned to notice those. A baby’s smile, a friend’s hug, pleasant weather and so much more. And while those things don’t heal depression, they sure help you feel better. And when we feel better, we fight depression a lot better.

So, stop and smell the roses.