Essay: Creative Expression Story

The following essay was selected as the 3rd place winner of 2022’s Refuat Hanefesh Creative Expression Contest.

Age Group: Youth

Message from The Author: A teenage girl, struggling to be happy with herself and her life. (Trigger warning: Contains swearing, suicidal thoughts and depictions of self-harm.)

My fingers drummed on the side of the bathtub. The sun was setting outside, and it was getting dark. The yellow bathroom light cast a weak glow around the room.

I was perched on the side of the bath, my fingers gently sliding up and down the blade of one of my razors. The sleeves of my hoodie fell past my wrists, and I held the blade carefully, almost reverently, so as not to cut myself.

How ironic.

My phone, on the other side of the bathroom, buzzed softly. Probably another text or comment on Instagram, telling me and everyone else how ugly or fat or awful I was.

I could have deleted the post. But I couldn’t delete the comments from my brain; harsh and cruel and with absolutely no idea of the effect they had on me.

I pressed the tip of my finger into the point of the razor blade. A bead of blood appeared, scarlet red against my pale skin. It didn’t hurt that much. I breathed in, and out.

My phone buzzed again, with a cheerful beeping noise. Mom, on her way home from work. I would have to leave soon, paste on a smile and pretend my life wasn’t the shitty mess it was.

But not yet.

Slowly, I pressed the blade to my thigh- high enough that even if I wore shorts, no one would be able to see it. My hands suddenly felt much heavier than they actually were. My shoulders slumped, as if just now remembering the weight that was on them.

I hesitated.

I had only done this twice before. Two faint scars, barely visible in the dim light. In the moment, it always felt intoxicating, almost addicting. I would never say it out loud to anyone, ever, but it almost felt triumphant.

Like I was in control of my life, at last.

But then, hours later, lying in bed, I would sob into my pillow and wonder why I was so broken, when everyone else had it all together.

Or maybe they didn’t.

Maybe they were just better at mending all the cracks.

I held the blade against my skin. It was cold. So, so cold.

I couldn’t do it.

I hurled the blade across the room.

“Fuck,” I muttered. I slammed my hand into the side of the bath. “Fuck!”

Tears pricked against my eyes, blurring my vision. I wiped them away. I wouldn’t cry. I couldn’t.

I curled my hands into fists. My nails dug into my palms, creating tiny crescent moons. Little scars that no one else would ever notice, but I always would.

I clenched my fists harder.

“Fuck,” I gasped, tears finally falling freely. “Fucking coward.

Because that’s what I was, wasn’t I? Unable to make the cut. Unable to make the leap. Unable to let go. Because I hated my life, but I was unwilling to end it.


Not good enough.

Not good enough.

Not good enough.

I wasn’t good enough. I would never be good enough. I was useless.

“Useless,” I whispered. The blade, lying on the other side of the bathroom, glinted in the yellow light. Taunting me.

My phone buzzed again.

I considered throwing it out the window, but I refrained. Mom would have to pay to repair it, and I wasn’t that bad of a daughter.

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t end it. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

And yet I kept on hurting myself.

My phone buzzed again. It seemed to be almost shouting at me.

I heaved myself off the side of the bathtub. Even crossing the bathroom floor felt like it took a huge amount of effort.

I picked up my phone, grimacing when blood smeared against the phone case. I wiped it off and scrubbed at my eyes again, before clicking it on. A dozen texts appeared.


What’s up?

I was wondering if u wanted to meet up tomorrow

We could go shopping?

Omg there’s this amazing ice cream place I have to take u to


The tiniest of smiles crept across my face. Summer- who lived up to her name- was a bubbly, bright girl who seemed full of sunshine. At least, until she’d confided in me last year that she’d had a terrible eating disorder and had been in rehab for three months.

Even the idea that she wanted to get ice cream was a big step. I smiled softly at my phone screen. It had taken so much strength for Summer to overcome her anorexia, and I was so proud of her.

Sometimes, I wondered if I could talk to her. She knew what it was like, in this so-called world that was actually a fucking living hell for a teenager just trying to grow up.

No one made it out unscathed.

I had entertained the idea, of course. Telling someone. Actually confiding in someone.

I’m not okay.

Help me.

I can’t do this.

A million things I could say, just to communicate how fucked up I really was.

My phone buzzed again.

I know ur there! R u ok???

I got ready to type out the usual, constant, I’m fine.

Instead, I typed an N, and then an O.

Fingers trembling, I pressed send.

The reply came through moments later.

Do u wanna talk about it?

Not really, I typed.

That’s ok 🙂

I’m here for u, ok? We can talk over ice cream 😀

I laughed, watery and shaky. A sound that I hadn’t heard in months.

“I’m home!” A voice yelled from downstairs. “I’ve got pizza! Your favourite!”

I shoved my phone in my pocket. “Coming!”

I picked up the blade and hesitated, only for a moment. Then I dropped it into the bin.

I wasn’t okay.

But maybe I could be.

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