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I’m starting a journal. My mom says it’s a good idea to write about my high school career so I can look back on it when I’m her age and remember "the best four years of my life.” She wants me to write out my feelings and thoughts. So, here are my thoughts. I think crazy people are weird. There are crazy people, and there are mentally ill people. There’s a difference, a thin line, but you know when you’ve crossed it. I'm not crazy, I’m just messed in the head. I have some sort of disorder that makes me hallucinate. I hear voices and see people sometimes. Going into an episode is losing actual mental and physical control over your body and mind. It’s like when you see a 3D movie in a movie theater. You want to reach out and dodge, block, and punch everything that seems like it’s coming at you. It’s like that for me, only all the time. I feel like when I look in the mirror, I don’t know who I see anymore. I see everyone but myself. I feel that nothing is and ever will be real. So, I act out during episodes. They’re normally triggered by big events, stress, and a lot of mirrors.
People always tell me that I am perfect. They say, “Oh my God, Hannah, you’re the most perfect person I know. I wish I could be like you.” I have the perfect hair: blonde, straight, really long and silky. It falls perfectly, framing my perfect super-model face with perfect bone structure. It brings out my bright teal eyes that can pierce through souls. I get perfect "A" grades. I have a perfect house - huge, with four floors and a huge backyard. Everyone thinks I have a perfect family dynamic, and that my parents love each other dearly. As perfect as everyone thinks I am, I know I’m not. I am the least perfect person anyone will ever meet. I always have to be perfect, though, because if they don’t see perfection, they’ll see me. The me that no one but I can see. They’ll see straight through my so-called piercing eyes into my empty, lifeless, soul. Every day I look in the perfectly framed mirror hanging next to my perfectly made bed. When I look at the mirror, I see no flaws. However when I look in it, it’s a different story. Every single day my perception gets more distorted. I sit down in front of my reflection, day after day, not knowing who I am.
I feel like Hannah Montana. Yes, I share a name with her and I love that, but I love the show as a whole. I relate to her. Every day, I put on a face and become a completely different person. When Miley Stewart is Hannah Montana, she’s treated like royalty. Everyone loves her because they love the idea of her. They love the front she puts on. When she’s Miley, she’s treated like the scum off the bottom of your shoe. Only three people know that Miley Stewart is really Hannah Montana. That’s like me. Only my mom knows what I’m really like. Not even my dad. He’s not really here most of the time. I see him like once a year. I don’t really talk about him. I hate talking about my imperfections in my life. See, if I put on a front every day, everyone loves me. I’m like an Instagram model. No one sees what’s behind the Instagram pictures. They see what they want to see. I’ll give them what they want.
My friends at school want me to have a birthday party. My birthday’s on the 20th. It’s the big “Sweet Sixteen.” They say it’ll be a party to remember, the best ever. I think about it. I think about how amazing it would be. Everyone would talk about how great it is. Everyone would love me. I go home and consult my mother. She loves the idea. I feel like she wants me to carry on her legacy. She was prom queen, she was a cheerleader, she was the most popular girl at school. Everyone envied and loved her. She wants that for me. I become what she wants me to be. We start planning.
Today’s my party. It’s going to be perfect. I’m stressed about it though. I fear that I might have an episode.
It's 5:30 p.m. It's time to get ready. I sit down in front of my mirror in my pajamas, with all my makeup products beside me. I have a daily makeup and skincare routine. It’s been the same since 7th grade. I love my routine. I like how it’s the same every time. I like how it’s simple, nothing big or deep. I can just turn on my music and drown the world out, drown out the voices. I lip sync to my playlist, putting on my mascara just like every day, except today is different. Today, I am already ready. Today, my skin is clear, there is no need for skin care. Today, I listened to a different playlist. I listened to my mom’s favorite songs. Today, my makeup took longer than it ever has. I paid attention to detail, it looks beautiful. Today, my hair looks perfect. Today is perfect, and tonight will be perfect.
It’s 6:52 p.m. Everyone’s coming at 7:00. I’m ready. My makeup is done, I’m in the most beautiful blue dress, my house is decorated. Everything is ready. My family’s away. The party’s in the basement. It’s pretty big. I’m so excited for everyone to come, but nervous too.
It’s 9:13 p.m. Everybody’s here. They sing happy birthday. Blowing out the cake candles, I wish that the voices I hear in my head and the people I see in my mind would go away. Forever.
It’s 10:27 p.m. Everybody’s dancing, screaming song lyrics, and having a great time. I am, too. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in a mirror. I stop what I’m doing. The laughter and the music fade inside my head. Time feels stopped. I’m having an episode. There are voices. They’re talking to me. They start subtly.
“They all hate you.”
“No. Shut up.” I mutter under my breath.
“They’re talking about you.”
The voices get louder.
“No. I'm not listening to you,” I raise my voice.
They chant. They get even louder, this time screeching in my ears, burning them. The voices flood my head, getting louder and more powerful each chant. They’re getting to me, wrapping their harsh words around my brain.
“They’re judging you. They know the real you.”
“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.”
The voices are stabbing my soul and breaking my brain.
“NO!” I scream at the top of my lungs.
“NO! NO! NO! STOP IT!” I shout, my voice breaking.
I punch the mirror in front of me with my fist, dividing it into a million pieces. Everything around me drowns out. Glass shards fall from the mirror onto the floor. It’s just me staring down at my one million reflections. My knuckles are dripping with blood that matches my nails. There’s a lot of glass in my hand. It hurts.
I pause, look around. Everybody’s staring. My hand is dripping. This is the worst thing ever. I hate this. Tears fill my eyes.
I fall to my knees, crying. It takes all of my strength out of me. I am weak. The voices make me weak. I notice everyone at my party stops what they're doing. They’re quiet, just staring at me. They’re whispering about me now, gossiping mean little comments to the person next to them about how I’m crazy. They’re doing just as the voices said they would. Maybe they're right.
I see a girl. I’ve seen her in the halls at school. She’s staring at me, her hand covering her mouth, whispering into the ear of her best friend. I walk up to her.
“What’s your name?”
“Allie,” she snickers, looking at her friend.
“You think you’re better than everyone here.”
I pause. She’s looking at me with angry eyebrows and wide eyes, her fists clenched. She looks funny. She’s an angry person. Angry people make me laugh.
“You’re an angry little girl just waiting to hear ‘someone like me’ say this to you so you actually have a reason to feel sorry for yourself. You are genuinely pathetic.”
Allie looks taken aback. She opens her mouth wide open, ready to say something. But nothing comes out.
I see everyone staring at me. If they didn’t think I was crazy before, they definitely did now. One boy leaves, his friend group following. They all leave, giving me dirty looks as they pass. Everybody at the party leaves. I just stand there, watching. The purple neon lights still flashing, party music still playing, but other than that everything’s gone.
I live in a colorless world. They all left. I walk up to the flashing neon LED lights and unplug them. The music was still playing, it’s my favorite song. “Rich Girl,” by Daryl Hall and John Oates. I’m just taking it all in.
I dance around, reciting the lyrics like it’s my only job in the world. One foot in front of the other, spinning around, then bouncing. I stop. I sit down in front of my reflection, just as yesterday, and every day before that. Even with pounds of makeup on my face, I see me. I turn off the music. I pause.
I see Hannah. I see myself perfectly. It feels weird. I don’t think I like it. I don’t like who I see staring back at me. I feel salty, soft tears falling down my face and onto my dress. My dollar store mascara is withering away, down my cheeks. I sit up, opening my eyes, staring a million copies of myself down in my cracked mirror. I reach out and touch my mirror, placing my hand against my reflection’s hand to make sure it was real. It is. My reflection is all blue. I’m not blue, just me in my reflection was. I stare into my eyes. It was a staring contest with myself, but if either of us blinked, I’d die. Staring into my eyes without a filter on them makes me realize they’re not bright and piercing anymore. They are lifeless and dull. They are gone, just as all my friends, just as every version of myself I’ve ever known. But there are people here. I unfocus my eyes from myself. Looking around my room in my mirror there are people. The people don’t have faces, they’re pretty, though. They’re like delicate shadows, nothing specific or remarkable about them. They approach me gracefully, placing themselves around me and staring at me with love. They embrace me with cold, shuddering, hugs.
They tell me, “I’m here for you Hannah, listen to me.”
That feels comforting, honestly. I like being loved by people. I feel connected to them. Other people might not see them, but I do. I have them all to myself. I find comfort in that, as well as the feeling of water streaming from my tear ducts and freezing. It makes me feel something. I like the eye bags and sickly expression on my face. I like my sad, soulless eyes. I like being imperfect.
The neon blue I’m seeing reminds me of the ocean. I have vivid memories of the ocean from when I was a kid. I remember I was at the beach. I was around nine. It was a scorching, hot day, so I went to jump waves with my mom. Everything was perfect until I let go of my mom's hand in confidence that I understood how to do it alone. I quickly got pulled under the current and the waves kept coming. I couldn’t come up for air until that most powerful current came to a stop. I felt like I was never going to see the sun again. I came up a minute later, gasping for breath feeling dizzy and confused. Not really knowing where I was, my mother grabbed my hand and helped me back to shore.
I hear the front door unlock from downstairs. There are footsteps walking down to where the party was. I hear a knock at the door. I know it’s my mom based on her knock. It’s gentle and meaningful. She’s worried about me.
“Are you okay, Honey?” She asks.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” my voice cracked.
“I’m coming in.”
She opens the door, and looks down at me, standing far above me watching me sit in front of my mirror, crying. She takes her hand and places it on my cheek, wiping away the tears. She frowns at me. I’m scared I disappointed her. I know she’s going to tell me off now for ruining her legacy, along with mine. But she doesn’t. She sits down with her feet under her lap, turning her head to the side, looking at me with her worried eyes, a sad expression, and wraps her warm arms around me. She gives me a hug, along with all the other people in my mirror hugging me. I’m just thinking. Not hugging back, just sitting there, thinking. Time has stopped. I lift up my arms. One limb after the other, I hug her. I put my head on her shoulder, faced away from the mirror. We sit there, me still crying and my knuckles still bloody, her loving me till death's end.
It's quiet. For once in my life, the voices stopped talking.