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ever since I can remember, I have based my value on marks, on grades, on percentages

on sheets of white paper with black, standardized text, asking standardized questions 

questions that mould intelligence, creativity, individuality of a beautiful child’s mind into a numerical value

a score out of 100

a red-biro fraction in a red-biro circle inked in the top right-hand corner.

that ink seeps into my skin, is etched into my soul; carving out what it means to be liked, to be successful, to be worthy,

worthy of love

worthy of being far, far away from that fear of failure and all that we are told comes with it;

worthy of holidays, of a nice house, of presents at christmas

things us children are told come hand-in-hand with ‘financial security’, with ‘a stable career’

with money

with happiness.


but now I am not a child, and I know that this simple equation is not all it seems

although I will never forget that my one ‘B’ grade in an ocean of sparkling ‘A’s’ was in maths

I still can believe my less than satisfactory brain when I think

that this mathematical equation is one that is,

in fact,


a subtracted mark from that all important score

a mark I would agonize over; would question teachers about 

never feeling satisfied

never feeling proud

never feeling quite good enough.


and as a girl becomes a woman

it is too easy to fall into into another trap society has set 

placing self-worth on the external 

placing self-worth on our image or on our ‘health’

where in reality as our physical health maybe momentarily increases

our mental health steadily dwindles.

there was a day when i looked into the mirror to see the progress of my teeth growing in 

not the progress of my ‘abs’ as a marker of my ‘fitness’

a day when we were told our ‘bottoms were a seat’ and not a marker of attractiveness

of admiration

of envy

a day when we did not know beauty was linked to an image of a ‘perfect’ female form.


the word anxiety creeps its way through an innocent child’s skin

red ink, swirling, into my bloodstream

and settling

deep in my stomach

wrapping one arm around the space that once, I trusted 

a space that so effortlessly nourished and cared for me

and the other arm around my mind

it’s fingers skillfully placing a tint over my eyes


making me see life through glasses of fear

of hate

of insecurity 

before closing it’s arms together, in a toxic embrace

forming a link between my worth and what I choose to enter this area of my body

or what I choose not to

creating irrational fears that see-saw from being so obsessed with health

wanting to improve

wanting to be better

to not feeling worthy of the money that nourishment costs

hidden behind the frugality of a loan-dependent student 

to not feeling worthy of nourishment unless, maybe, if following certain rules

because following rules is a perfectly measured recipe that bakes a sugar-free, fat-free cake of success


a see-saw between the achievement of being so clean, so pure

and the achievement of being empty and thriving

a see-saw between the fear of never reaching my best self

and the feeling 

of not having one


because if even if that red ink writes 100/100 

like it has on occasion for now-trivial past achievements


even if i rebuild my outer shell that has shrunken in the laundry

as my self-esteem was washed away with the suds of perceived ’imperfection’


even if what i see in the mirror does finally satisfy me, even with a number on the scale that does not inflict worry or concern


even if the red ink completes that circle

once again encompassing my worth and compacting it into the top right hand corner of a piece of paper i’ll never see again


would I then be freed from this never-ending cycle that society has created?

these expectations, ideals


the fears that almost are ingrained into our genetic makeup


the circle of the grade

the circle of the percentage

the circle of my stomach

the circles of my eyes

the circulating thoughts in my mind


maybe then

I would feel

good enough.






- Alexandra Murray-Reynolds (@thehippychickpea)

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You Will Be Okay

Dear Everyone,

Believe it or not, you will be okay. Nothing lasts forever. This pain will leave. One day, you will be okay.
You will wake up one morning and realize that you didn’t cry yourself to sleep the night before. You will be driving while listening to your favorite playlist and realize that you overcame the fear of driving.
Someday, you will be laughing with your family or friends and realize, in the middle of that moment, that you got through the weeks where you thought you would never laugh again. Your head ached and your heart hurt during those weeks but now your stomach is the only thing aching and it’s because you can’t stop laughing.
You will be happy someday. You will be eating a meal with your favorite people and having a good time talking with the people you love most and the realization that you overcame your eating disorder will overwhelm you and you will feel filled with strength you never thought you had.
You will be talking to somebody and enjoying the conversation you are having when you realize that you used to tremble with fear anytime you had a social interaction with anyone. Eventually, you will be okay.
You might be sitting in class raising your head every couple of minutes because you finally understand a concept that you couldn’t think about without panicking a few weeks ago and you will be overwhelmed with confidence in yourself.
Maybe you will post a picture to Instagram of you at the gym and realize that you once couldn’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror and now you are confident in what you look like because you are strong and your body is capable of much more than just looking good. You will have new found confidence in yourself because you finally made the realization that if you work on yourself and feel good and happy on the inside, you will be beautiful no matter what you look like on the outside.
You will finally understand that looks aren’t everything and so you will spend time working on your character more than you used to spend obsessing over your jeans size.  
One day, you will smile for the camera instead of covering your face and turning away.
You will learn to live in the moment rather than fearing for the next one.
The future won’t seem as scary and uncertainty will not be your enemy anymore.
You’ll learn to love and accept change as it comes. You’ll find yourself enjoying the changes in your life.
You will let go.
You won’t feel the need to have everything under your control anymore.
You will learn how to let go of things that you have held on to for as long as you can remember and because of this, you will feel free.
You will keep changing and growing and eventually, you will be okay. 

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the war is over / a poem

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i'm breathing in the shadows

and they taste quite hollow

it's a void that captures me

in an infinite loop

of light and darkness.

eternal twins that hold hands

through earthquakes and nightmares.


i'm tasting the clouds

and they feel like honey.

a gold that leaves me blind

every time i jump, and start rising.


i became friends with every corner of myself

and now i can dance through the misery

and the mystery;

it feels good to wake up to peace.


now that the battlefields have been silenced,

the shadows are somewhat less hollow

and the clouds sweeter than ever. 

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broken (the journey to survival)

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the stories my body tell are shaped with lies that left my bones deaf. blind in a world where light is supposed to guide you. mute in a place where words are the spear to survival. disarmed by trust. left damaged in the corner of a room, one that was cold but that i began to call home because i was too scared to leave. leave, to the uncertainty of life where other monsters awaited with their knives high. pointing at me.

but in this room at least i knew my monster and i could predict every attack, every bruise. i learned to lick my own blood from the wounds that he left, but forgot to cleanse my heart, so now it lies there, rotten. rotten and caged in my chest. cursed by the distorted thoughts i left unattended for too long. and now what? the room is empty and there's no monster, no heart. i'm deaf from the shouts of those who once cared. so ashamed i tremble in shock as i walk outside and the guns are down. but i'm cold, and alone, and i wonder if i will ever find another room where my wounds can become scars, and my scars tattoos. tattoos that speak about my story louder than my voice. a voice that i lost. long ago. 

when i believed in a love that wasn't love at all. 

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obsession: my chronic pain, in words


stale, leaden veins

black velvet pain

a fatigued,    



a craving

lust ?

hunger .

to run

         to escape

                         to be free [so very, very free]



       careful !


          see your life

                      watch your story



so melt in

syrupy, sweet fire;

and drown in

cruel, bitter desire;

                                become anger, confusion

                                         become lost

and every     


        and then


spot your life


      that’s mine!

                                                                        I see you.


taste seductive, vicious hands

as they haul you back home

to a weary,



ache and creak,

let an ugly tear leak,

and hear them whisper

                                                                                          “nice try”



what this poem means to me~

I wrote this poem around September 2017 for a school assignment. At the time I was really struggling with my chronic pain, and couldn't find the words (verbally) to express what I was experiencing to others. I felt trapped, suffocated and incredibly lonely. My aim in writing was to communicate the reality of living with persistent pain to a healthy person - I was so desperate for empathy, for understanding, for recognition of what I was enduring. As I began to write, I started to hear myself. I started to understand myself. These words hold a special place in my heart, for they symbolise the first time I was able to honour my internal world through language.

Initially, I wanted to depict what chronic pain physically feels like: fatigue; constantly feeling fragile; feeling like your body is degenerating and elderly; the constant stiffness and soreness. More importantly though, I wanted to convey what chronic pain emotionally feels like. I needed to to express the frustration and anger that had felt consuming to me at times. It can feel like you are losing your identity to the pain, which can be quite scary. Your emotions are sometimes so overpowering that it feels there is nothing else to you: you are being eaten from the inside out by your own confusion and loneliness.

I wanted my poem to have a sense of vagueness, almost deranged madness – as if the persona is not in their right mind – to emphasise the feelings of desperation, hopelessness and restlessness that accompany chronic conditions. I also wanted to depict the pain as an exterior, controlling, malicious force – as opposed to something from within – to portray the persona as a victim (which is not necessarily the case realistically, but it can certainly feel that way at times). I wanted to unsettle the reader with a sense of eeriness, a sense of powerlessness and imprisonment.

Ultimately, I was desperate to communicate to others the feeling of suffocation, of being trapped. This poem is about lacking the freedom to take control of your life and live the way you want to. I wanted to portray feeling like a spectator in your own existence, as if you are watching the pain take control without knowing how to change your own fate. I wanted to express how devastating it is when you find a pocket of hope (for example, a new treatment, a new diagnosis, a new opportunity), and realise time and time again that nothing is changing or improving. This poem is about feeling that you might never heal your body, and fearing that you will always be a slave to your pain. It’s about your vision for the future, your dreams and your story changing before your eyes and feeling like you cannot do anything about it.

Overall, this poem is an expression of the consuming nature of chronic pain. I wanted it to be delicate and powerful, like the human body, and present a new perspective on living with any persistent condition. I really enjoyed writing this and I'm super stoked with the end result, but I'm not sure if I achieved the impact I aimed for - the poem could be interpreted in so many different ways due to its vagueness. I also consider this a powerful quality though, as hopefully readers everywhere can relate my words to personal struggles they are enduring, or have endured.

I am endlessly, endlessly grateful you have taken the time to read my words! I hope that in some way they can bring a new perspective to your day.

Sending so so much love and light,

Amy xo

thumbnail photograph: copyright work of Claudia Tero

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To The Next



Foreword:  I wrote this poem for the new clients that walk through the doors at my treatment center.  Embarking on the road to recovery and inner healing is remarkably brave, but can be so daunting.  I know the feeling of hopelessness all too well.  Hopeless but with a fluttering spark deep inside, yearning to be set ablaze.  I hope these words envelop you with reassurance like they did for me during my dark times.


To The Next

To the next person who

Walks these halls

To the next person who

Dares to utter your past

To the next person who

Glances at the body next to you


Why am I here

Who are these people

What is the purpose

You are not alone

You are not your past

You are not your mistakes

You are not your friends

You are not your family

You are an instrument of love and light

You have been hurt

In this circle

We may be different

But what is important

Is not our differences

But our similarities

We love the same

We cry the same

We shout the same

We feel the same

I may not know you

But I see you

I acknowledge you for who you are

I am grateful for you

This hike is not an easy one

Many fall off

Some give up halfway

Unable to see past the fog

That leads to the unknown

But keep trekking

Open your heart

Receive these messages

That you will hear

Not many get the chance

And not many want to hear

But slowly

And surely

You will realize

You are not alone

You are not your past

You are not your mistakes

You are not your friends

You are not your family

You are an instrument of love and light

You have been hurt


You don’t have to anymore

It may take traveling to

The darkest places

The darkest corners of your mind

To truly see

The light on the other side

The light in her eyes

The light in his eyes

That you feel you will never quite understand

It is warm

It is bright

It is all encompassing

And it reaches even the darkest corners of your mind

Bask in the newness of it

Bask in the discomfort

Because once it happens

And once the seed is planted

There is no going back

The rain is inevitable

Some days it is dry as dust

Some days it is sprinkling

Others it is pouring

It may feel like you are drowning

In the loneliness











But you are growing

Grow towards the light

Whatever that is for you

You may look back once in a while

At the tangled mess of your past

Not wanting to leave anyone behind

But it’s okay

As much as you love them

Care for them

And wish the best for them

You cannot pull them out of the mud

Unless they want to be

All you can do

Is look forward to the light

Glance back at the dark

And know

You are becoming the light

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