NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — School is starting again for many area students, and for 16-year-old Bella Hustic, the traditional schooling route just wasn't working. She spiraled into a depressive state until she learned to cope in a way that school could never teach her.
And now, she is sharing her message with anyone willing to open a book.
Bella grew up as a seemingly happy teenager. She was involved in school and close with family, but she says something was missing.
“I would say I was questioning my worth and my purpose the most. I felt like I didn’t really have a purpose or a reason to really keep living," she recalls.
Bella says she dealt with incessant bullying from second grade on, and recently went through heartbreak and even a physical illness. All struggles, reflected in the titles of poems written in her new book: Prison Trapped Mind.
It details the sadness she felt so deep inside.
"So right before quarantine happened freshman year, I was already feeling kind of down and kind of questioning things in general. And then quarantine hit and I would say with isolation and not being around people, it just made everything 10 times worse," she explains.
The book also illustrates the moment Bella realized something was wrong.
"Summer a year ago we went on vacation and I remember, I was just literally crying the whole time. I think that’s when my family started to notice.”
She eventually told her mom she had suicidal thoughts, and stayed at Akron Children’s Hospital for 10 days.
"One of my poems in here said the hospital didn’t fix me, it recognized me. And I feel like that was so true because it’s not gonna fix you. You have to ultimately make the decision for yourself. It can make you feel seen and get you to that point to decide to get better. So think that’s really what did it for me.”
Bella eventually enrolled in online schooling at Ohio Connections Academy, found a therapist and that’s when the idea for the book came about.
"I would say about two years ago I started getting into more just poetry, because I just wanted to not do a whole just entry, I just wanted to do my thoughts. And my thoughts started rhyming and started flowing and I thought, well, maybe I could just do poetry.”
And now she’s realizing she wasn’t alone in those thoughts.
"I've had people that I haven’t talked to in years or come up to me or just text me and say, 'Your poetry has really helped me.' And that’s really good to hear.”
Bella hopes to write another book soon. She’s working on the theme.
But sooner than that, she’ll be a spokesperson for Be Present Ohio, the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation’s outreach program in come September, for national suicide prevention week.
To order a copy of Bella's book, click here.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on August 15, 2022.