Editor’s Note: In September 2019, the Army Substance Abuse Program and USAG Bavaria Libraries presented an opportunity for community members to share their writing talents in support of Suicide Prevention Month. A panel of community members read the essays and choose the top three entries to be shared garrison-wide. Young’s essay was awarded third place.

If you or anyone is struggling with suicidal ideation, you are not alone. Please reach out and get help by calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 09641-83-118, DSN 118 or click here for local resources.

By Tien Young


Sometimes through that haze of darkness in my head, I see a blindingly taunting smile that haunts my dreams. I know what it embodies – those obstacles in my life that I try to put aside; furthermore, the ones that tower over me and force me to take several steps back. That smile knows that I falter – that I’m trying to escape reality – and it only grows bigger to become a painful reminder that I can’t keep running. It can be hard, and the temptation to give up is always much too strong. The only way to get rid of that mocking grin is to face it head on, and to stare at the taunting glimmer until it’s withered away into the wispy shadows of darkness in your mind. I’m only human, and there is only so much that I can do. But I know that I have to face that smile and my fears in my own way.


We’ve been given one life, but we’re given many opportunities to do things in that life. I’m determined to get through this. I just need to remember why that smile is there, and why it continues to get larger. What am I afraid of? What are those obstacles that I can’t seem to get past? I’m afraid of failing and of letting people down. I struggle with things other people find simple. I can’t do this, and I can’t do that. My mind is a constant whirl and myriad of thoughts and emotions, and I can barely keep up with them. I can’t pinpoint where the origin of this horrifying smile comes from, so I decide to lose myself in the darkness of my head to find it.


I hear a faint beat – a thrumming hum of the drums and bass – so I follow it. I come across a warm, glowing light, and I can hear the music coming from within. Reaching out, I cup the light and it lights up brilliantly, then disappears. Some of the haze begins to clear. Excited, my heart begins to beat faster. And from my peripheral vision, I see that haunting
smile falter. I know that glowing light didn’t come from my head, but it came from my heart. It came from the place where I lock up the things that I truly love to do – the things that I can get myself lost in and to momentarily forget about how terrible life can be – the place that I began to neglect when things got rough. It can be scary to look inside of my heart, and to see who I truly am. But if it can make me a stronger person – make me who I want to be – then I’ll do whatever it takes.


There’s a soft glimmer up ahead, and the smell of freshly baked bread drifts towards me. I pick up my pace, and soon enough there’s another glowing orb of light. I reach out, and the orb drifts towards me – lighting up and disappearing. A warm and bubbly feeling begins to fill me up. My ears perk as I hear something. This time, familiar voices call my name
joyously. I know it’s my brother, my mother and my close friends. I now know that they’ll be by me if I ever feel like I’m faltering. The glowing orbs only get larger, every time that I find  something else I hold dear to me in my heart. That smile grows less confident with each happy thought and memory I hold, as my own smile becomes genuine.


Then I hear a sudden rumbling and turn just in time to see that huge smile crack, as if a metal baseball bat struck it in the teeth. Spiderwebbing cracks begin for form – running all over – just like when there’s a glass that’s being slowly shattered. Then that smile slowly begins to fall, dissipating into the darkness. Behind that smile are letters, stark and bold that light up the area around me. I slowly begin to realize it wasn’t the smile that was bright, but it was these letters that the smile was hiding from me – preventing me from seeing that I could be more. The words light up my mind, chasing away the last of the darkness and fill me with a sense of hope, power and happiness.

“Sing it louder just to let the world know. No, we’re not nameless, we’re not faceless, we were born for greatness,” lyrics from the song Born For Greatness, by Papa Roach.

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