Everyone has something. We all have life challenges that shape us and try to define who we are. For me, it was my autistic brother. Recalcitrant fits of rage and holes in the walls were my norm growing up. From the unhealthy living environment I found myself calling home, I developed severe anxiety and depression. It was not uncommon for me to have to hide away in my room for hours, praying the screaming and hitting would stop. In those long stretches of time, when the walls would seem to close in and I felt like my tiny world was collapsing, I would desperately reach out for anything to keep me stable, any small distraction from the hell raging on around on me. In those dark hours I stumbled upon a light. Small at first, the tiny spark grew to a fierce blaze that I now identify as my burning passion for the written word and literature. Books consumed my life from the age of 5 on. From stumbling through the learner's books of Dick and Jane to lugging around Deathly Hallows in the third grade, (earning incredulous looks from my teachers), my love of reading grows each year. Books have helped me work through the trauma that comes out of abuse and find strength in overcoming my mental health struggles. Whenever I would have an anxiety attack, or have the words "You'll never amount to anything" spewed at me, I would find solace in the arms of my favorite characters like Harry Potter, the boy who lived, or Feyre Archeron, a woman who thought her scars would never heal. Books are the most beautiful form of expression that humanity has to offer because it allows all of us to hear the message that this world is in such desperate need of: You are not alone. Without the companionship that books have given me, I would not have been able to escape the cold grasp of suicide and find a way to dance out the healing joy I find myself basking in today. Books are much more than ink symbols stamped upon a tree carcass. They are unity. They are strength. They are light.
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