“Breathe” Fiction. Based on a True Journey

“Let yourself hurt. And when it’s time to stop hurting, let yourself move into another phase.”

–Elsa Kennedy


Fiction. Based on a True Journey

By Charlotte Thomas

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.


A little girl walks around her middle school. She’s joking and laughing and smiling. The whole day, the porcelain smile never leaves her face, until she unlocks the door and walks into her home.

Suddenly out in front of her is the mountain of homework and catch-up work she has to do that night. With a deep sigh, she fills the tub and lays down, needing a moment to relax. However, while she’s sitting there trying to calm down, she can’t get the image of the work she needs to do out of her back of her mind. She closes her eyes. She tries to take a deep breath, but the tension is flooding her. She’s just trying to breathe.

She just needs to breathe.

Oh, God, let her breathe!

Suddenly her eyes flash open and she finds herself submerged under the water, her lungs pleading for her to breathe. Swiftly, she bolts upright, gasping for air. She steps out of the tub and wraps herself in towels, sitting down to take a moment to just. Breathe.

This isn’t the first time. It isn’t the last time.

Her father berates her about a project that’s past due. Weeping, she is alone. Trying to deal with the overwhelming peak in her mind. She grabs the nearest object and feels the cold metal of a pair of scissors in her hand. She places the blades against her stomach, closing her eyes and holding her breath. But the release never comes as her shaking fingers toss the tool aside. She just needs to breathe.

This isn’t the first time. It isn’t the last time.

She arrives home from school, the only one in the house. Her stomach is crying out for her to eat, but she walks by the beckoning fridge and opens the drawer. She takes a steady breath and pulls out a steak knife. She examines her murky reflection in the metal, frowning. She holds out her arm and holds the chilling tip of the knife against her arm. She breathes. The moment the tip of the knife pierces her skin, she hears the car lock outside. Her breathing is caught in her throat and she quickly places the knife in the sink, fetching a Band-Aid, and going to her room. She just needs to breathe.

This isn’t the first time. It isn’t the last time.

She is alone. In the limbo between being a child and being an adult. She takes a deep breath and steadies herself before walking through the glass door. She enters the room on the first floor and sees nothing but smiles and eager faces. She would spend a week with these people. Can she keep it together? She comes home and sighs warmly as she lays on her bed. She glances at the unfinished note in her bedside drawer and frowns. She takes the note and folds it, hiding it deep in her closet to be forgotten. She takes a deep breath. She won’t be needing it.

This is the first time. It will not be her last.

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