16 year old Sophia Brooks has just lost her father. She's in therapy for depression and doesn't talk to her mom anymore since her dad's death. But when she leaves her notebook in class after having an emotional breakdown everything changes. Her boyfriend Derek distances himself from her and a mysterious boy dubbing himself "A.Q." writes back to her in her journal. Will Sophia get over her depression? Will she find out A.Q.'s true identity? Will love blossom between the two?


9. Entry Nine

September 29th, 2013 {Sophia}

I had to get one of those old school black and white composition notebooks up front by the nursing station. There’s a girl here named Sadie like the singer. She has borderline personality disorder. One minute she’s happy and you’re her best friend and the next minute she’s crying and screaming and not speaking to anyone for days at a time. She’s one of my best friends because she sits with me while I eat lunch and she watches me quietly. She sat with me during the first day when I was too numbed and she found me by myself by the window. I guess you know her well Brandon. I asked her about you. I was curious so I started asking her questions. At first she was telling me about herself. She told me how she failed out of Lincoln Prep down in Hollister. She was telling me about her first episode where she screamed at her (now) ex-girlfriend for seemingly no apparent reason and how this girlfriend of hers fought with her almost daily because she constantly cheated on her.

“But I love her though,” she’d say occasionally and I thought how odd. How can you cheat on someone so much and say you love them? Then I thought of Derek and how he’d say he loved me but sometimes he’d talk to other girls. Now you know, now you know what it’s like on the other side. I told her about that, you know. How Derek would cheat on me back when I was in New York, back when I had friends and I went to the movies with them and laughed and cried and had posters of my favorite actors on my wall. Back when I was normal and like any other girl. I told Sadie all about that and she didn’t put her hand on my shoulder or try to sugarcoat or anything or try to pity me. No, she just listened and she cared and I could tell she genuinely cared more than those kids at our stupid school ever would. I told her how Derek and I were really close and how sometimes he’d just hold me when I went through my depressive sad phases and I didn’t know why.

He’d tell me, “You have friends and a boyfriend who loves you, why would you be sad?” And then I’d remind him about how Edith and my dad wasn’t there for me. Edith is my older sister, was my older sister. It’s so weird writing about someone in the past tense, it’s like coming to some formal agreement with yourself that they’re no longer there and then confirming it. There’s a hurt to that, there’s a certain type of hurt in acknowledging that. I had to tell her about Edith and my dad too because then she’d understand why and how Derek and I fell apart. Before Edith took all those drugs and dad went through chemo and Edith sung like a songbird and dad was a doctor doing doctor-esque things, before he was performing complex surgeries and bloodying up his gloved hands, things were normal. Mom and I would talk and Edith and I would camp out in blanket forts and talk about boys and at this time a year or two before she died we’d talk about Derek. I’d talk about how he’d cheat on me and she’d tell me to leave him and I never would.

There would be Kelsey this blonde haired cheerleader on the bleachers and Marisol this girl who knew how to make him whistle through his teeth and Jenna who kissed him until his face almost turned blue. There would be all these girls and he would lose himself in them and I wouldn’t know until one of my friends would find out from one of their friends. I had friends. Yeah about that, I had them. There was Melanie and Kylie and Craig and Daniel and Peter. I had friends. And I would talk to them and laugh with them and go out shopping with them and we’d hang out at the amusement part and just make general asses out of ourselves. Before I became really … sad I had friends and I had a life. I was a different girl before all this. And yeah … things were different. I wasn’t ever at all like you, I lived life and then dad died and I just simply stopped living. I couldn’t stay up all night, I just slept in all the time, I stopped eating, and I rarely talked to my grief counselor. What was there to talk about? I felt the same everyday—sad, empty, and hollowed and I wanted dad and Edith back. God, I wanted Edith back. 

You’re probably wondering how old Edith was when she died, she was nineteen. I was fifteen when she passed. I’m about seventeen now but I feel younger. I’ve always felt younger. All my friends were younger than me. They always babied me. Edith babied me the most and I’d cry for everything. Mom said I was a crybaby as a little toddler. In all my pictures I looked miserable, even in the Kodak ones. I miss my sister like you miss your father. Every single day I miss her. I miss her hair and the way she smelled and the way she made a room light up with her smile and how she’d brush her knuckles against one another when she was nervous. I missed the way she sang in front of the mirror with her hair brush or while she was shampooing her hair. Sometimes I’d press my ear up against the door like a creeper and just listen. Now there’s nothing to listen to. I want to say that therapy will help. I want to say that I’m not crazy and shake my mom and just tell her I’m grief stricken and need help.

I don’t want to be here. I want to be dead Brandon. I want to be dead and far away from everyone. Sometimes I just want to dig a hole and just burrow myself into it and never come out. Have you ever felt that way? I’m sure that’s how every depressed person on the planet feels. What’s wrong with you? Why are you here? Is it because you live close to here? What did you do to get put in a place like this I mean?

Amaya … funny you mention her, I quite like her, and she’s really nice. I could see that there was something between you two. The way she looked at you—only a former girlfriend looks at their former significant other like that. She didn’t look at you longingly or hungrily or whatever but just like she was used to worrying sick over you and waiting up at night for you to return her phone calls. But I bet you had a beautiful relationship with her. She’s beautiful. She’s so exotic looking with her large dark eyes and those pouty lips. I bet you had to beat every guy off of her with a stick when you dated her. And she’s curvy. But most importantly, she has a good heart. I’m glad she stuck by you for so long.

I switch topics a lot. Edith killed herself by ODing on prescription pills. They’d given her antibiotics for pneumonia one time and she’d gotten ibuprofen and she took too many. She’d washed it down with some alcohol and just … passed away. Mom and I found her in the bathroom, sprawled out in the bathtub with the water running. Mom had torn her hair out and started screaming. Dad had passed away a few months earlier. Edith had locked herself in her room, blasted Nirvana songs, “Rape Me” over and over again and refused to come out. I was the only one she’d ever open the door for and climb out of bed for. I was the only one. And when I saw her dead I just lost it. I was never the same after that. I’ve been cutting and attempting suicide ever since. So weird to write so candidly about it to you. You’re the first person I’ve ever written this to. I can’t write anymore. I’m going to cry, it’s going to overwhelm me. I’m going to find Sadie and just … be. I’m going to just be.

P.S. Maybe you can be my remedy …

{B.Q. aka Brandon}

But I love you though, just kidding. I’m sorry Derek cheated on you. I’m sorry you had to go through that. Totally unrelated, don’t you wish they could fix the TV? One of the guys here broke it. We call him “Jesus Christ Superstar,” after the Broadway play. He likes to go on random tangents about Jesus Christ and all this other superfluous bullshit. Just don’t get him angry because he put his fist through two TVs already. We have one mounted on the wall but he got mad one day, stood up on a chair and bashed it in with his bare fists. I heard this from Lorelai who’s one of the girls here that can relate to us. She has depression too. Anyway stay away from Jesus Christ Superstar because he’ll either make you develop some wicked panic attacks or consider bashing your head in the wall.

Don’t get me wrong I’m  not a judgmental person and I have to remind myself that patients like Jesus Christ Superstar with his crazy Jesus-esque beard and Buddhist beads (contradiction much?) have serious mental issues, more serious than me being on Trazodone and Haldol. One’s for psychosis and the other is for sleep, guess which one’s which. But yeah sometimes you have to remind yourself of that. Do you like your new roommate?

She’s not Lorelai I’ll tell you that much. You’ll know Lorelai when you see her: blonde haired girl that was next to me with pink streaks in her hair. She’s got a septum.  Anyway she told me that therapy was good today. I missed it. The Trazodone knocks me out for a good twenty minutes overtime. We’re supposed to be up by around 6am for meds and then by 10am we have group and I slept over the time for med deliverance and the time for group therapy. Valid point time, we don’t sing kumbaya in there and we don’t hold hands. It’s raw shit.

Jesus Christ Superstar and some of the sicker people are supposed to attend but you’ll quickly realize that it’s mostly Lorelai, Sadie, Ginger (she has bipolar disorder like me too and she’s a total freak), myself and you that really benefit from it. There are some other really nice people, James who’s a 30-something year old with severe schizophrenia who suffers from bouts of psychosis. One time he told me he saw a man jumping out of a window and I declined to believe him because well I didn’t see him. He said the man was burning. Last conversation I had with him for a while. Actually the last time I spoke to him was today and he was totally fine. I think he approached you already. Didn’t he? He rambles on about a lot of the degrees he has and the universities he’s gone to but I don’t think he’s attended at least five of them. I think the meds are working but then I don’t think they totally get rid of his delusions. Oh well …

But he’s nice and I digress. Then you have Aaron who’s clinically and chronically depressed and suicidal so he’s on some pretty strong antidepressants for that and meds to regulate sleep. He also has OCD. He has an obsession with counting the tiles on the floor and freaks out if he gets to an odd multiple of 3. Think like 15 or 21. Today he freaked out because there were 21 cheerios left in his bowl. I kid you not. He flipped. They had to give him a shot of some Trazodone to knock him out. It’s what they give patients here who flip out because they’re not quite sure how else to calm down an erratic broken up brain that needs fixing. You’ll learn. Anyway just go to all the groups and unlike me, try to get your ass up on time. And you’ll be fine.

Most importantly, the biggest thing I learned here was validation. What I mean by that is validation of your emotions. Like learning to accept them and everything. I had to learn to accept my irritation and my anger, I had to learn to accept my happiness during a climax and when I got high and when I was driving anywhere and everywhere on the highways of Winchester. I had to learn to validate them and nurture those emotions and I’m still learning to accept that I have these polarities. It’s a hard thing to sit with. Just know that it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to get up and go to school and say “hi” to people and not smile or try to manage a smile and be sad. It’s okay to have dinner with your mom and think about your dad and Edith and be sad. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay. You know why? Because everyone in this room around us at one point has felt sad about something in their life at some point.

Everyone in your life too has felt sad about something at some point in their own lives. For your mom it might’ve been losing her husband and her eldest daughter. And now it’s losing her youngest daughter to the system of mental health. For me it was losing my father and being stuck with a mother who can’t talk to me or just … lost the ability of how to communicate with me. For my mom it’s losing my dad. About that, trust me, things were a lot better when my dad was around. For one thing I wasn’t always high or well, I wasn’t high at all. I didn’t know anything about marijuana or heroin or crack cocaine. I didn’t know how to use and I certainly didn’t cheat on Chandra at that point. I was faithful to her. I was close to my dad. Like I said in my last entry we used to jam out on guitars and shit. We used to talk about girls and stuff and I’d tell him about Chandra and how I loved her. He used to get on me about that one, “you’re too young to know about love, boy. What do you know about that?”

I miss the guy. I know what it’s like to miss someone. You know what? I miss my mom too. I miss when she used to laugh and make kimchi. Do you know what that is? Fermented cabbage, it’s really spicy and damn good. I’m addicted to the stuff. She’s gotten all Americanized though bit by bit since she’s assimilated into the culture. She’s even losing her accent. She doesn’t speak Korean as much either and it’s sad. Korean’s pretty I just wish I knew how to fucking speak it. Anyway she used to be nice. She used to put on makeup and wear her hair and put on dresses and got to parties. She used to have friends. She used to call them on the phone and talk to them for hours. My mom … Now she works more retail jobs than I can count and we scream at each other and she tried to throw away my needles one time and I got so mad I pushed her into the cabinet.

I was manic. Hadn’t slept for six days straight. I just kept writing about this man I kept seeing out my window. That’s why they give me the Haldol. It gives me the tremors. You might notice me shaking but it’s way better than me telling you about unicorns and dragons that aren’t there. I’m dead serious. I see things that aren’t there. It’s rough. And when I was low I would use to feel high. I would do dope with Mikhail and Amaya. I would just sit there and smoke and we’d toke and it would just be amazing. I felt like I hadn’t a care in the world man. Don’t ever fucking do it, Sophia. Don’t do drugs. It really messes with your brain. I’ve gotten into so many fights because heroin made me aggressive and violent and so did crack. Crack was horrible. I’d be up for days just twitching and feverish and constantly looking out my window. Anyway I’m going to get my meds now because I actually woke up on time for once. Blame my roommate Aaron.

P.S. You’re adorable. Stop pouting so much. 

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