No years old and I always look like

No one there is sickI was 16 when I was admitted into a mental health hospital. There wasn’t a lot of room left for people who were staying there temporarily, so I would have to be with the patients who were staying there long term.”Is it safe,” I asked. The person giving me a tour of the place patted my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. It’s only temporary. After all, no one here is sick and everybody is looking for the same thing: time.””Time?””Time to readjust, to question who you are, what life is, why you battle with depression, to get refreshed and freshly see life.”I was then led into the common room where I was introduced to the most colorful group of people I have ever met. Xavier was a college dropout who was blunt and unashamed. Oliver was eccentric and used to be Olivia. Marshall was laidback and everything I wished I was. Jeremiah was a Stephen King novel wrapped in a Robert Frost poem. Everyone was different, but they all said the same thing: no one here is sick. This was just a rest stop on the highway of life. Everyone had something to hide, but we were all looking for the same thing. Time.After being introduced to everyone, they all waited for me to introduce myself. I stood there for a few seconds, wondering what to say.”Um, hi. I’m Michael Bucker. I’m 16 years old and I always look like I’m about to cry, so I use the muscles in my face to smile.” I stopped, trying to gauge their reactions. “Any questions?”No one said anything until Jeremiah yelled from his corner. “Cool!”The person who led me into the common room patted my back one last time. “You’ll fit right in.”I wanted to figure me outAt exactly 12:05, I had my first evaluation. “So, Michael,” she began. “Why are you here?”I didn’t know how to answer. The fear of failing the evaluation made me want to talk so that they could see I was normal.”Sometimes I sympathise with salmon,” I blurted out, taking a shaky breath before continuing. “Everytime I leave my room, it’s like I’m already entering a moving stream of people. One wrong step and I’ll mess everything up.” My hands start to shake. I place them in my lap to keep them still.”I try to live but it’s not easy when you don’t know how,” I explained. “Instead, you just spin in circles and keep thinking the same thoughts over and over again. You can’t escape the pressure either. It’s like being wrapped up in tentacles.” I pause. The lady in front of me is writing down what I’m saying and nodding, encouraging me to continue. “I don’t look up,” I continue. “I always look down at the ground. I don’t like looking up at the sky or even the treetops.””Why is that,” the lady in front of me inquires. I look down in embarrassment. It’s a silly reason, but the more I look up, the more I’m reminded how I need to grow taller. I told her why, pausing to make sure I didn’t sound crazy. The lady puts down her clipboard. She looks at me and asks, “What do you want from all of this?”I think for a minute. I take a shaky breath. “I guess I want to take a minute and just pause my thoughts. But I know nothing will be there,” I say quietly, clenching my hands into fists. “Still, I owe it to myself to figure me out, to understand me. But, I’m scared,” I whispered. “I’m scared that if I found out who I am, it’ll change everything.””Well, Michael,” the lady begins, pushing her glasses up her nose. “It sounds like you’re depressed.”I didn’t know what else to do besides nod.Asking questions is okDuring my second day there, I found Jeremiah, or rather, he found me. We started talking, him more than me, before he told me to play the question game with him. “How do you even play,” I asked.”Just ask me a question,” he replies back. I nod, pondering what to ask.”What’s your favorite color?””Black,” Jeremiah replies immediately. “It’s cool.”I blink. “Cool.”Jeremiah smiles before asking his question. “Why are you here?”My mouth just puked random words out for an answer. “Because I’m depressed, I guess. I mean, depressed or suicidal, I think. I mean, I think that I am. I practically offed myself in a bathroom.”A tense silence filled the air. Jeremiah blinked once, twice, before saying, “Cool.”Trying to lessen the tension, I asked another question. “What’s your favorite band?”He snorted, leaning against the wall. “That is an unfair question.”I looked at him in disbelief. “You asked if I was suicida-“”I asked why you were here. You mentioned suicide all by yourself.””Ok, that’s fair,” I muttered, crossing my arms.He lightly punched my shoulder. “Don’t act mad. It’s Pink Floyd. What are your… hobbies?”I froze. I didn’t really have any hobbies. I stopped doing things I enjoyed because I stopped caring. “I don’t know? I mean, I like to draw, but I stopped. I don’t know why. Drawing makes me happy. What makes you happy?”Jeremiah tenses up. I try to backpedal. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t wa-“He interrupts me. “Dawn.”I tilt my head at him. “Dawn.”He nods. “Dawn.”The clock in the hallway chimes, letting people know that break time is over. Jeremiah begins to walk away. I grab his hand, trying to apologize. He raises his other hand in a ‘quiet’ motion.”Don’t worry about it. You’re cool,” he says, gently pulling his hand out of mine. He jogs down the hall, turning around at the last minute to yell one last thing at me. “And cute!” He grins and rounds the corner.I stand there, looking at where he ran off before I smile. “Cool.”Don’t dwell on the little thingsNear the end of my third day, there was a sharing circle. Everyone gathered in the common room and began to talk about their issues and how they were handling them. Xavier went first.”I called my mom yesterday, to see if she wanted to stop by. She didn’t answer,” he began. “It’s ok if she feels like that. Everyone thinks it’s best if I stay here, but I try to call and tell her that I’m better, that my anger issues aren’t as bad as before.” He sighs. “I always wanted to be the guy that people admired, that they looked up to, you know?” We nodded, trying to let him know that he’ll get there someday.Oliver went next, jumping into how he had finally broken up his his girlfriend Maya. He explained how they had been dating for two years and when that he had told her who he really was, she changed. “I thought she’d come around and accept me, but she just kept calling me a freak. I didn’t leave her, though. I thought that it was a normal part of any relationship.” Oliver jumped up from his seat. “Starting today, I want everyone to call me Oliver, because that’s who I am and I love everything about me!” The group erupted into cheers, yelling Oliver’s name until we were quieted down.I almost didn’t expect Marshall to go, seeing as he was so calm I couldn’t see a reason for him being here. I was wrong. He talked about how he had been able to wake up the past week without not wanting to exist. He talked about how he had been practicing answering questions for an upcoming job interview. Mainly, though, he talked about his family. “I wanna leave this place. I want to see my family. I want my life back.” He received a round of applause.Jeremiah skipped his turn, causing everyone to look at me. I didn’t know what to say. My issues weren’t important. I shouldn’t even be here. A hand slipped into mine and squeezed. I squeezed Jeremiah’s hand back and opened my mouth to speak. “Well, I feel like my brain is on repeat, saying that I’m the reason that I’m here. I just feel lonely, I guess. I feel like a ghost, screaming, but no one can hear me. If no one can hear you, then what’s the point in hanging around right?” I look up, seeing supportive looks sent my way. I continue, struggling to hold my tears back. “But, I know different know. I know that it’s ok to be where I am and that I don’t have to dwell on the little things.” The group applauds me after I finish my terrible speech, except for Jeremiah, who only squeezes my hand. I squeeze back.It’s alright to not be alrightI spent five days in the mental health facility. I can hear you now. “Five days in a mental facility and a kid is cured? Ha!” I’m not cured, but I’m getting there. We try to avoid the truth that we need help. We try to act like we don’t need to be cured, but if you don’t ask for directions, everyone might as well be lost. The pain also doesn’t completely go away. No matter how hard you try, it’ll still be there. Most people try to bear the pain or just ignore it, but it’s ok to get help. It’s ok to take what you need to get better. Everyone, whether they’re internal or external, has scars.Even if you aren’t the best compared to other people, don’t hide. Crack out of your shell and show who you are to the world. You might think that you can’t because you’re in a bad place mentally or physically, but just take a look around you; everybody’s here. It’s alright to not be alright. Just hold out and it’ll get better. You aren’t alone. Everyone isn’t alright and if no one is alright, then we’re all alright.Near the end of my last day there, there was another sharing circle. I raised my hand to go first. I took a deep breath before re-introducing myself to the people who I could now call my friends.”Hi, I’m Michael Buckner. I’m 16 years old. I’m different. I’m odd. I’m unique. I’m creative. I’m afraid. I’m inspired. I’m a mess. I’m me. And I guess that’s okay. ‘Cause I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I’ve only just begun to live. And this is where I’m at.” I paused, looking around the room before finishing my turn with a phrase.”Any questions?”