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Staying Afloat

published by permission of the author and her family

Writing saved Sophie Sheina Szew’s life and she aspires to show the world that literature can be a lifesaver, one that people of any size, and drowning in any struggle, can fit into. Sophie is seventeen years old and is recovering from anorexia nervosa. Writing helped her turn her gaze into the light when she nearly fell into Death’s black-hole-pupils. This is Sophie’s first publicly shared piece, and she hopes that her writing will inspire people to stay afloat.


When she was little,

Her language had quite

A simple lexicon:






She grew a bit,

And her tongue

Uttered a new language

The language of






She grew some more,

And she came across

The ancient language

Of Instagram,

With the words of




Russian twist


But she kept growing,

And found herself Speaking

Yet another language;

This time it was

Rhythmic gymnastics

Jewish studies

Honors class

Final exam


And then she stopped growing.

Her life became






Eventually, she shrank.

And to keep her from dying,

She was thrown

Into a new language:



Nasogastric tube

Weight restoration


A message to you:

That is never enough.

People like her need

To learn the language of






And now,

She grows again

And finds herself

Amidst a new language.

It is





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  1. Melody Mansfield

    I love the movement of this poem–the progression, regression, rebirth! I love, Sophie, that you found a way to revise your life into something strong, beautiful, and enduring. I love that you found the secret to recovery via using your unique talents for helping others to help yourself as well. I love you, Sophie, and I love FEAST for their wisdom in choosing to publish this moving account of your reconnection with the world. You are a gift and a light for all of us, regardless of our specific challenges/ afflictions. Thank you. Gorgeous.

  2. Susan Sakal

    Thank you Sophie. A beloved family member struggles now as you have struggled. Your words bring hope when hope has been hard to find. Maybe you wrote because you had to and it met a personal need, but know you gave a precious gift to unknown others.

  3. Amanda Jones

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings through such beautiful words Sopie. A powerful piece of literature that hits the core of anorexia. It has made me cry tears of happiness for you and given me strength in a difficult time. I am a primary carer for my daughter. Keep up the writing as you are a very talented young lady 🙂

  4. Amy Crowley

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful piece. The words are beautiful, the path is one our family recognizes, and the hope and light at the end is hopeful and inspiring! I really like how you structured the verses, thank you again for putting this to paper.

  5. Julie Montal

    Thank you for this powerful description of your difficult journey. Bravo for breaking the monster’s grip, and for moving on to creative and helping ways,

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