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Ever since I was a child, there was always something wrong with me. I used to see ghosts, I always screamed for my mom and sleeping without a bed lamp was out of the question. The problem was that it hadn’t stopped when I started going to first grade or so, but somewhere around the age of 12. Well, at least the “help me mommy” part. The truth is, I never actually stopped seeing them. Ghosts, spirits, demons or whatever creatures come out around midnight. However, I have learned to dismiss it all as a vivid imagination fueled by my fear of night and darkness. But a small part of me always believed in ghosts and such. I liked reading stories about them and watching scary videos, but I never desired to make them a part of my real life.

I wish it all stayed at seeing the paranormal. But the true horror that awaited my mind came to the surface at the age of 15. I started getting depressed. In the beginning, I noticed I was feeling sad, too often and without an apparent reason. As years went by, my sadness faded away and I felt empty most of the time. Soon I was unable to leave my room, where I just sat on my bed or behind my computer and watched YouTube videos or horror movies. And I felt like a worthless piece of garbage because of it. In fact, I knew that even if I managed to actually do something, like study for school like a normal kid, I would still be the same piece of garbage. I was useless from the start, untalented with no real hobbies and no friends, no future.

My mom noticed that my grades dropped. First, she thought I was partying around and adopted a “fuck school” attitude. She never really bothered to find out what I was doing with my life though. She was indifferent. She never noticed when I went outside to play with my friends when I was young. Often, she would ask me on Mondays about my weekend, because the last time she saw me was on Friday.

It was a surprise for her that the exact opposite of a wild social life was happening. At first, she scolded me for every bad grade I got. Then, she started noticing that there were no grades at all. She found out that I was not going to school after my English teacher called her. It was terrible. My mom started threatening me with kicking me out, sending me to live with my dad. In retrospect, I think that maybe living with him would be better for me, even though he was an addict. In fact, it was dad that made my mom realize.

When he came to visit me and my two little twin sisters, he came to my room at the worst possible time. I was sitting on my bed with an expressionless gaze, tears streaming down my face and rocking back and forth, to calm myself down. He said a concerned “Hi…” and when I didn’t greet him back and acted like he was not there, he asked me what was wrong. I didn’t answer. But he continued asking questions. First, he guessed that my girlfriend dumped me, then that my pet died, then… I don’t even remember. When he realized it was all pointless, he went to talk to my mom. I heard their conversation.

“Caren, did something happen to Jonah?”

“Why yes, he doesn’t give a shit about school, that’s what’s happened to him. He stopped studying, hell he’s even skipping classes. And he cares even less about what I have to say about it. I’m telling you, Daniel, if he doesn’t get better, he’s your concern. And it will feel really nice, doing meth and fucking hoes in your apartment with your son in the next room.”

My dad didn’t say anything for a while. Then he finally broke the silence: “Caren. Go see a therapist.”

My mom started screaming: “How dare you fucking say that to me? Do I look like I need help?”

Dad sighed deeply: “I didn’t mean you, you self-centered bitch. That’s your problem, you see. You think everything revolves around you. And your son is in a wrecked state in his room, crying. And you haven’t even noticed, have you?”

“He is not a kid anymore, he should deal with it himself,” she hissed. “But if it will make you shut up, I will arrange an appointment for him.”

“Thank you, Caren.”

I put on my headphones. Emotions in me were swirling, and I didn’t know how I felt about seeing a therapist. The fact that I most likely suffered from depression, was clear to me, but I was afraid of going and talking about it with a stranger. I knew that it might have helped me, having someone to talk to, but at this point, I was comfortable being depressed all the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get better. That would mean starting going to school again, engaging in society, classes and making something out of myself. I couldn’t handle that. I am not a normal person. I am worthless, nothing can be made out of me. I am hopeless. But… at least I could try.

It was a miracle that my new therapist scheduled an appointment so early – only a week after mom called. It felt like it was too soon, I wasn’t ready. But I would I ever be, really?

“Hi, Jonah, you can call me Susan,” she gave a handshake. She looked like a nice, bubbly person and she was young. The aura of happiness around her contrasted mine, and I found myself charmed by it. I almost wanted to get better, have an aura like that, too.

“Hi, uh, Susan.”

 “So, Jonah. Your mom told me you stopped going to school. Why, what’s bothering you?”

I wanted to say something, but I shut my mouth, not sure if I wanted to tell her. But I saw a welcoming “you are safe” look in her eyes and I said “screw it” to myself and let it all out. I told her of how I’ve been feeling, how empty I was and how helpless I perceived myself to be. And I even told her about my mother. How she’s been treating me.

Her look grew more and more concerned. When I finished, she told me in a sad tone: “Jonah, it seems to me that your problem is serious. You see, I’m not qualified to diagnose you, but from my experience, I can judge that you most likely have severe depression. But I would recommend leaving that to a professional to decide. You see, therapy would be a great help to you but I think you should see a psychiatrist. They would make sure you have the right diagnosis and medication. Without that, my therapy would not be of much use.”

She tried to tell me nicely, but that answer did not surprise me. I subconsciously knew it all along. I should have seen a psychiatrist in the first place. Susan then asked me more questions about my life and I answered them honestly. At the end of our appointment, she told my mother about the recommended treatment.

“Why yes, of course, my son is a whacko! He’s just lazy, you know!” With that, she stormed out of the room and I followed her, saying bye and thanking Susan for her time.

“Was she of any help, Jonah?” My mom asked me in the car.

“Yes, I suppose so. I think that you should take the psychiatrist part seriously, maybe I do need help…”

“Nonsense! Don’t worry, honey, you are not insane. That would disappoint me, having a son like that.”

“But mom, many people go there. And it doesn’t mean they’re insane. They suffer from many different mental disorders like depression or anxiety…”

But it was like talking to a wall. She didn’t listen: “End of discussion son, you are not crazy, you are just a lazy piece of shit and you will start going to school again or else.”

There was no hope in continuing the conversation, so I just shut my mouth and looked out of the window. The hope that Susan gave me, a proper treatment for my depression, made me feel like there was still light for me. But my mom managed to slay it within five minutes. There was no help for me anymore. I was destined to fail life.

I woke up at night. I looked at the clock. It was 2 a.m. I slept for three hours. It didn’t surprise me, I found it hard to sleep in my state of mind. I was just angry that I would not get any proper sleep… again. Tomorrow was Monday, and I promised to myself that I would at least try to go to school.

Then I felt something sitting down on my bed. I glanced in the direction. Panic ran through me and I jumped, crawling away from it. I switched on the lamp while staring at the creature that was sitting on my bed, gazing back at me. And I could see that… it was smiling.

The creature looked like a girl in her late teens, maybe early twenties. She had a ghastly pale skin, thin figure and her blue eyes glowed slightly. Assuming she was a ghost, she must’ve come from this decade, judging by her hair, since it was of unnatural color. It was grey hair with a dark blue balayage or whatever the girls called it. It reached down to the end of her blades and looked like it was straightened. She wore a short dress with thin black and white horizontal stripes on it.

She was beautiful and had a creepy, yet empathetic energy coming from her. I was half-scared and half-comforted. It felt weird. But I knew one thing. This was real, she was real. Out of my all my paranormal experiences, she was the most vivid of them all. And I could feel her sitting on the bed.

“Don’t be scared, Jonah,” she said. Her voice had a slight echo and its color was like honey, I could imagine a voice like that luring me wherever it wanted.

“Who are you?” I asked the most expected but important question.

“Your mind has wandered. And it found me, congratulations.”

Panic ran through me: “Go away! You are not real! You cannot…”

“Just like the poor spirits and ghosts, you dismissed as hallucinations?”

“How can you know that?”

“… and also, demons.”

“Demons?”

“I used to be like you, Jonah, not so long ago, you see.”

“What… What do you want from me?”

“Oh, nothing,” she smiled. She reached out her arm towards me and put her hand on my heart. “I’m here to help you, Jonah. I am not going to leave you. I will stay. And I will help you. There is still so much for you to learn, dear Jonah. But you’re onto something.”

“I don’t understand…”

“And there’s no need to.” She stroked my cheek and put her hand back on her lap. “You’ve been neglected for so long. But that’s going to change. You’re not alone from now on. And you won’t suffer anymore. Not like this, at least.” She giggled. The last sentence unsettled me. She continued: “Now lay down, get some sleep, we can talk tomorrow. I just thought I would say hello since I’m here already.”

I lay down. Her caring look comforted me although it was strange. I probably should’ve run or something, but instead, I let myself be charmed by her. I closed my eyes, and I heard her wishing me good night, just before the feeling of her presence vanished.

This time, I was woken up by the alarm. The first thought that emerged on my mind was the ghost girl. It seemed so unreal and fake. Although a bit disappointed and relieved at the same time, I soon was at peace with the conclusion that she never existed. The memory of it was dream-like and not so vivid to begin with anyway.

I got out of bed. I came to the window and looked at the surroundings. The sky was cloudy, it reminded me of how I felt, every day. I could sense the empty feeling getting stronger. I gave myself a slap. Not today, no. I promised myself to at least try. I went downstairs to grab some milk and cereal and ate it in the kitchen. Then I got dressed and prepared my school bag. I was about to do it. I was about to leave for the bus. Nervousness and reluctance flowed through me as I grabbed the bag making my way to the front door.

I stepped outside. Every single cell of my body wanted to go back to bed. Lie down in it, listen to some sad, but calming music and drift away, back to sleep. I pushed the desire to the back of my mind and started to walk towards the bus stop. As a distraction and a coping skill, I tried mindfulness. I tried to focus on the nature around me, houses, gardens and the general atmosphere of the dull morning. And then I heard her.

“You can always turn back, you know.”

I looked at her. She was walking next to me, grinning with her rotten lips. She was real. What happened at night was not a dream. She was here.

“I won’t. I promised myself to try to fight the depression,” I told her.

“You know that makes no sense, come on.” Her smile faded.

“Don’t tell me that. There sure have been stories of people recovering on their own.”

“I’m sure there are. The question is - why?”

“Why? It’s ruining my life! That’s why.”

“What if it’s actually saving your life?”

“Saving?” I stopped walking. She looked me in the eye with a sort of hypnotic gaze.

“Yes. You know, this world is pretty boring. And your depression makes it interesting, doesn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t say so, quite the opposite, actually.”

“No, just think about it. The life of a normal, mentally stable human is pretty boring. They go to school, then to college, they get a job, get married, have kids, get old, die. You know, that stuff. But you… you are special. As many other ill people are. Not all of them, some are just as boring as normal people, only the ones with certain… qualities, predispositions, are interesting. You see, for some, mental illness is a disease, for some, it is a blessing. Even if they don’t admit it to themselves. It allows them to live differently, they’re expected to do that, because they are ‘sick’.”

I kind of knew what she was talking about. I understood. It was true that living a normal life was just so… normal. And some people don’t desire normality. Those are the interesting ones she was talking about. Predispositions, qualities as she told it. As a rule of thumb, people who strive for the different are predisposed to mental illnesses. Just look at artists, for example. Almost always they have a mood disorder, sometimes schizophrenia. I know, not all people who live differently are disordered. But… as a rule of thumb…

“I know what you’re thinking. You know it’s true. And you also know that deep down, you don’t want to fight the depression. You want it to devour you, let it ravish within you. Consume you completely.”

The way she told it, it made me feel strongly. I was unsure of whether she was manipulating me or she simply uncovered what was inside me all this time.

“That may be, but… it’s crippling. It makes me unable to do basic stuff. You know how difficult it is for me to even shower or brush my teeth, let alone step a foot outside my house?”

“I know, I’ve experienced it.”

“What… who are you?”

“I’ll tell you, let’s just go home.”

I thought about it. I thought about all the things she said. I knew that whatever choice I made now, it would mean my final decision. I had a decision. I could decide to go to school and live a life. Or I could decide to go back home with this ghost girl and throw life in the trashcan which would lead to an extraordinary, more interesting experience. And also, if I decided to go to school, it would mean that I would never see her again. And for the first time, I have found someone who understood me, didn’t judge me and even was like me. She could be my first real friend.

From the start, I knew what I would decide.

“Let’s go home.”

Her face brightened up, and she looked genuinely happy. I could see that she cared for me. I smiled and hugged her around her arms. She felt real, like a regular person. The nature of her existence was a big question mark for me. But I imagined that she would tell me, eventually.

“Oh, here you go,” she whispered. “It’s going to be alright.”

I let go of her and turned around. I started walking towards my house. And as I opened the door, a great relief and comfort filled my body. I was happy in my own way.

I spent the days like I did before. But now, I had a friend. She told me her name was Ostara. She was not a ghost, like most suicide victims are, but more of a demon. She told me it was because of an incident that happened in her childhood, she didn’t specify. When she started attending high school, she developed several mental illnesses. Some of them showed early signs during elementary school. She fell in love with her disordered mind, contrary to what she should have done - just like me. She thought about her disorders, being completely honest with herself. She didn’t tell me how she died though. I understood it was a very private and sensitive information, so I didn’t ask her about it anymore.

I continued to live inside my head and let depression take hold of me since then. I was kicked out of school a month later. My mother screamed at me and threatened me to kick me out to live with my father, but this time she meant it seriously.

My depression and life itself got worse when I received the bad news. That day my mom looked sad and concerned. I’ve never seen her like that, she was almost always angry or at least annoyed. So, it really rose many questions for me.

“Jonah, I haven’t told your sisters yet and I would appreciate if you would keep it a secret for now. I can’t let them know just yet. The thing is… your father overdosed. He died in his apartment a week ago, they found him today.”

Her words began to blur. With each sentence, the emptiness grew deeper and deeper and I could feel my connection with this world fade away. I stared blankly at my mother as she continued to ramble on how useless of a junkie my father was and how I was just like him. She said she cared about me but I knew that was a lie. She just minded the money that she had to spend on me. Even though I didn’t eat much, nearly nothing at all. I never showered and the only thing that cost money was my internet connection and electricity.

But I didn’t understand why she was talking about me. Her husband died. My father died. That was right… My dad died. He may have been an addict, but he was a good person inside. Definitely better than my mom. I secretly hoped I would move to my dad’s eventually. And now… it was not possible. My father no longer existed.

“Leave,” I whispered while my mother angrily rambled. She heard it and without a word, she left the room slamming the door.

I wanted to cry, I wanted to feel sad. I wanted to honor my father by mourning. But I couldn’t. The depression sucked out every emotion that was left within me. I just stared blankly at the bedsheets I was sitting on. I didn’t think anything. I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t do anything. Even moving a finger seemed impossible.

“I’m so sorry, Jonah,” Ostara stroke my cheek.

I wanted to say something but I couldn’t. I just looked at her and she understood. She vanished. And I felt better. This time, I wanted to be alone. I lay down and closed my eyes, hoping I would escape to the comforting state of sleep.

The next day my mom told me that she was kicking me out tomorrow. She didn’t care if I had anywhere else to stay or I would be homeless, she just didn’t want me to be her son anymore. I expected that. I knew it would happen. And even though I hated her too, her place was where I could live. But now, I couldn’t. I had to move out. I started panicking. My mind got so much worse even though I didn’t know it was even possible.

I told Ostara about it.

“I know already, I heard it. She’s so cruel. How can she kick you out? And just a day after you found out about your dad, too? How horrible can she be?”

“I have a feeling this is the end, Ostara. There is nothing left for me. I should just… die.”

“You want to kill yourself?”

I nodded: “I felt suicidal before, but now I think I should do it for real.”

“Well, to me death by one’s own hand is the most sacred thing to do, especially if it’s triggered by mental illness. But you live this life only once, I don’t want to encourage you. But it’s your choice.”

“I am sure.”

“Well then… what will you do?”

“I don’t know, with my resources, hanging myself is the best choice.”

“Yes, I can recommend that.”

“You…”

She nodded and looked down. “It was not the only thing I did that night but ultimately I died by hanging.”

“I’ll do it in the evening.”

“Okay… you don’t have much time anyway before she kicks you out.”

I found a rope in the shed as I expected. I went to the attic and tied it there. I put a chair under it. It looked morbid, but calming at the same time. I went back down to my room and “enjoyed” the last moments of my life. I listened to my favorite songs and watched my favorite movies. As midnight approached, I sat down and drew a picture of me and Ostara. It was a suicide note of sorts.

I put on black clothes and brushed my hair. I grabbed the picture and went to the attic. I put it down on the ground and stood up on the chair. I put the noose around my neck and called Ostara’s name. When she saw me, she smiled: “I thought I wouldn’t be invited.” She grinned.

The energy around her changed. There was something malicious about her. But I chose to ignore it. “I’ll see you soon on the other side.”

She crossed her arms. “Well, I don’t know about that…”

“What?” I shouted. “What happened Ostara, why are you acting like thi-”

She kicked the chair under me. I didn’t black out. It didn’t kill me. Instead, I was there gasping for air, destined to die slowly.

“Thanks, mom,” she said, smirking. “I thought I would have to manipulate you into suicide myself, but she did the job instead. Oh, and since you’re choking, I have time to talk to you. Well, darling, I never loved you. I never cared about you. The only thing I did care about, was your mental illness, its energy. Why else would I give a shit about some depressed boy in the suburbs? To help you? No, it helps me, it fills me with a bliss, euphoria, nourishment. You see, I am suffering here, on the other side. And you shall too, as you will soon realize. But I found a temporary solution. Until I find an answer to end this shit I got myself into, I will continue to feed off of the energy of the insane. Or even better, death caused by insanity, that’s the finest. It helps me forget about the existential terror that I am experiencing.

But don’t be sad, not everything I said was bullshit to worsen your condition. I meant it all, at least back then when I was alive. I worshipped my mental illness basically, I even personified it. But it was way more fun than your depression. You see, I had hallucinations, delusions, which made the world interesting by itself. I was depressed, then manic, then both at the same time. It was a god-like state of mind to me. So, in a way, I have helped all of you – I showed you a better world. While taking my own price for it, as well. Happy dying, idiot.”

She giggled once again and slowly vanished into thin air. And at that moment, the last pieces of consciousness slowly left my body.

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