Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

“Seasons,” An Essay by Mia Gabriella


Editor’s note: We are pleased to publish this essay written by Mia Gabriella, a young writer who is part of the Alexandria House writing program. We published several of her poems for Poetry Month in April.  This essay was selected by Project Jumpstart Inc., which awarded Gabriella a $1000 scholarship. Our thanks to Michele Richards at Alexandria House for introducing us to Mia. 


Life is made up of moments. A kaleidoscope of heartbreak and healing, uncontainable joy and crippling sadness, freezing fear and brazen courage, and pivotal changes that stir you to your very core. Changes that make you question everything. Changes that come in growing pains. Changes that come in seasons, helping you to bloom and grow in times of Spring, vitalize and strengthen in times of Summer, forcing you to let things go and unpack all of your baggage in the Fall to prepare you for the toughest season of all– Winter. That’s when life raises a mirror to your face and shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly. The terrifying and daunting truths that you’ve been avoiding, but truths that will ultimately set you free if you can just get through the season.

In 2017, when I was only 16 years old, I experienced my most brutal Winter yet. Depression and anxiety have always haunted my life. Ghosts that hid just out of the periphery of my line of sight, monsters that hid under my bed. My earliest memories are permeated with a deep sense of loneliness and despair, before I knew what those words even meant. As powerful as those emotions are, denial matches them in strength; an unstoppable force met an unmoving object. I spent my whole life shoving those feelings down into the deepest depths of my mind, foolishly hoping that pretending everything was fine would make it reality. However, reality always rears its ugly head in the end, and the unstoppable force prevailed. The older I got, the harder it became to avoid how my depression and anxiety began to eat away at my flesh and bones. The older I got, the easier it was for those ghosts to start appearing in the reflection of a mirror, and for those monsters to come out from hiding under my bed. I was a branch on a withered tree and the frost was killing all of my leaves until I became nothing but a skeleton begging for some sunlight and fresh air.

The beginning of junior year is when things reached a tipping point. My social anxiety had gotten so bad that I would beg to miss school, and as much as my mother tried to be understanding of my predicament, stigma from our culture and her generation held her in a vice grip. On the days that I couldn’t weasel my way out of, I would experience extreme panic attacks that wore down on my psyche significantly. Everyday my psyche was flirting with the edge of a cliff, until one day an explosive argument sent the remains of it flying off the deep end. I started experiencing dissociative episodes where I felt like an outsider in my own body, I slept an excessive amount and rarely got out of the house, let alone my own bed, I lost a lot of weight due to not eating, and started having constant suicidal thoughts. It’s strange how depression seems to nullify the effects of gravity, making you feel untethered to everything you ever knew and wondering how scientists haven’t studied this phenomenon yet. Suddenly you’re floating in the ozone layer and you’re not sure whether it’d be better to fall 18 miles back to Earth or to drift higher into outer space and let the lack of oxygen be your undoing. To be honest, I wouldn’t have cared either way. Every single minute of every single day was tainted by a tiny voice inside of my head telling me to do something unspeakable. At first, I could ignore it by listening to some music, but the voice went from a faint whisper to a deafening roar.

My plunging grades garnered concern from my teachers, and my shrinking figure along with my unusual sleep habits started to scare my mom. But action wasn’t taken until I decided to try and slit my wrists with a razor blade. I remember that night so clearly. My older sister was out with a friend, my mom was working late, and my younger brother was too engrossed in his video game to notice anything which made this the perfect opportunity to end my life. To spare you some depressing details that are still hard for me to talk about, it didn’t work. The blade was too dull and despite my determined efforts, I only managed to leave some shallow cuts. My sister came home first, and as she noticed my tear stained face and cut wrist, I watched the blood drain from her face as she put two and two together.

My mom rushed home after a call from my sister, and the three of us had a very serious discussion that night. I feel like that’s when my mom started to take me seriously and realized that this wasn’t just a case of teen angst, but rather something that threatened to take her daughter away. The next day she scheduled an appointment with a therapist who advised my mother to admit me into the hospital immediately. Fortunately my mom heeded her advice and we went to the emergency room immediately afterwards since I didn’t trust myself to refrain from further harming myself. Thus began an unbearable two day stay in the emergency room since there were no vacant spots in any psychiatric hospitals nearby. With the constant supervision from the nurses, the uncomfortable brick they called a bed, and my mind splitting migraine from the stress and lack of eating, I started going stir-crazy there. My prayers to seemingly every divine being in the universe were answered after the second day and I was finally placed in a ward for other adolescent boys and girls.

Time had a funny way of freezing inside the ward. My 72-hour stay felt more like a month, and to say it was a whirlwind would be the understatement of the century. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I pictured a melancholic prison with cruel nurses like I’ve seen in the movies but instead, the staff and other patients were unbelievably open and kind. I was surrounded by other teens who knew exactly how I felt, and I couldn’t possibly explain how amazing it felt to be understood and truly seen. We had group therapy and activities every day in addition to solo therapy with their psychiatrist. Now, I’m not saying my stay there was all sunshine and butterflies, I had some very tough pills to swallow while being forced to confront my inner demons. My self-sabotaging habits that stem from chronic low self-esteem, for example. I also needed to figure out who I was outside my illnesses since I’ve never known a life without that darkness. After the 72 hours, I was released and connected with a therapist and psychiatrist that I had to meet with regularly, along with being prescribed antidepressants. My coldest Winter yet wasn’t finished though.

I still see a therapist weekly and take medication. I still have bouts of melancholy and anxiety. I am flawed and I am tired and I am frayed at the edges. I have absolutely no idea where life is going to take me. But I’m trying and want to live to see what’s at the end of the tunnel. Want. What a lovely word. Only 4 letters yet packs such a punch. To want something again is such a privilege. It’s something you don’t truly appreciate until you lose your senses. I’ve rediscovered my love for reading and writing and have plans to pursue it as a career. The comfort I have found in imaginary worlds and brave heroines has been a lifeline. I would love nothing more than to provide that kind of solace to others.

The fog has started to lift, the snow has started to melt, multicolored leaves have started to grow on branches, and flowers have started to bloom in vibrant colors as sunlight shines for the first time in years. I have finally entered Spring after surviving the Winter. I am growing. I am changing. I am teeming with new life. I am full of want and how lovely is that?


Mia Gabriella (photo from Mia Gabriella)


About Mia: Mia Gabriella is a 19 year old student who writes in her free time. You can typically find her with her nose stuck in a book and she hopes to one day write one of her own. When it comes to my writing process, it’s all done on my phone whenever inspiration strikes. The Notes app is a godsend haha.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Articles



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }