Isabella Hustic - Ohio Nomination & Photography by April G Photography Issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Isabella “Bella” Hustic is a teen with remarkable strength and courage. August of 2021, Bella was in so much pain, that she no longer wanted to be alive. Thankfully, Bella bravely reached out for help and was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. Bella continues to work towards wellness and is aware the journey will be lifelong. Bella documents her journey using poetry. She complied her poems, independently found and paid for her own editor, and then published her first book, Prison Trapped Mind, at age 17. She is an inspiration and the face of hope to all who know her.
Photography by April G Photography
How did you find and why did you choose April G Photography for your photographer? We knew her from when she took my brothers senior pictures a few years back and we were very impressed! Tell us about your book. What inspired you to write it? My book is a collection of poetry that is real and raw. It tells a story that many teens go through daily, whether it be depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, bullying or even just the everyday stress of being a teen and figuring new things out. Growing up is not easy for anyone. There are so many obstacles when it comes to figuring yourself out and evolving into an adult, so it is my wish that my book becomes a platform and safe space for anyone who feels alone.
What did it entail getting all the poems together? How long did it take? Throughout the years, I have written hundreds of poems. They are all spread out throughout school binders, word documents, the notes app on my phone and old notebooks under my bed. Every time, I have an idea I stop what I am doing and write it down. So, when I decided to write the book, I rounded up everything, laid it on my bedroom floor and decided on my theme for each section and the order of the poems. Deciding the order took me about 3 weeks.
What are the poems about? Which is your favorite? Why? The poems are about hardship and healing. I would say that the emotional vibe of the book goes in waves, just like human emotion. Some days are insanely hard for my mental and physical health and other days I feel just fine. So, that would be the main message of the poems. But other than that, I cover my personal experience with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, anorexia, abandonment, OCD, heartbreak, losing friends and self-love. Most importantly, I talk about healing. My favorite poem is the last one in my book, titled “More to Come”.
Image by Jilyan Hustic
What was the hardest part about finding a publisher? What was the process like - how/where did you look and where did you find one? The hardest part for me was deciding if I wanted to self-publish or submit my work to publishers. I went back and forth for about 6 months, then I ultimately decided to self-publish so I would be able to keep all credit and makes all decisions with my work. I did a lot of research and weighed the pros and cons of each self-publishing company, then I went with what I thought would work best for me.
How long did it take to get a final copy and what did you do with the first books you received? I am a perfectionist, so it took me 3 months to get the book I wanted. I have 6 first draft books on my shelf that are all different. My original book had a different cover and about 20 more poems that I decided to cut.
What was your purpose that drove you to make sure this book got published and in the hands of others? My only goal I have ever had in life is to help people. I may have changed as a person and I will continue to for my entire life, but my love for others will never cease. If someone where to give me this book on the day I wanted to end my life, I would have probably fallen apart crying. I know what its like to feel meaningless and alone, and I want to empower those would feel like the world would be better off without them to keep living. I will never get to the point where I don’t deal with thoughts or feeling meaningless, but I CAN continue to keep trying and hold onto what is beautiful in life.
Are you planning any future books? Yes! I am currently writing my next book!
Image by Jilyan Hustic
Tell us about your mission trips. Where did you go and what did you do there? First, I went to the Dominican Republic summer of 2016. I went with a group of about 15 people. When I was there, I worked with little kids the most. We went to schools to do some fun activities and I remember there was one day where a group of little kids from an orphanage came to the place we were staying at (the missionaries house) and hung out for the day. The summer after, I went to South Dakota. This trip was more lifechanging for me, because it opened my eyes to the living conditions Native Americans are living in, right here in the U.S. It was very sad, because the truth of reservations is not something that is advertised. We built houses, cleaned up the roads/pollution and held a summer camp for the kids there.
What did you learn about the world and people in general on these trips? I learned that I am very fortunate to live the way I do. Many people in America say that they are not rich, but in my eyes, if you have a roof over your head, clean drinking water and more than one pair of shoes, you are rich. I learned that materials items are fleeting and do not lead to happiness. The happiest people I’ve ever met are people who did not have anything materialistic.
What did you learn about yourself? I learned that I had taken my privilege for granted and I need to keep trying to make the world a better place. I might not have a lot of money to put gas in my car, but I have a car. That is the mindset I have had since going on the mission trips. Nothing changes you like seeing a hungry mom holding a hungry baby with no roof over their head. Although very sad, I wish that more Americans were able to see how most of the rest of the world lives, because it humbles you like nothing else.
Image by Bella Hustic
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? The hardest thing I have ever done was deciding to live. If you have never been suicidal, you do not understand what it is like. It doesn’t matter how much people love you if you are thinking about ending your life. I think that is something most people do not understand. When one is in a suicidal mindset, they are not even thinking like a “normal person”. Their thinking is impaired. I learned in the hospital that your brain physically changes with trauma. If you want to save a life, listen, and stay with the person. Be patient and don’t try to understand, just be with them.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Keep breathing. I know it’s impossible to believe, but things will get better. You will one day feel lighter, I promise.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? I have no idea, wherever life takes me!
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? My favorite past time is running! I’ve never felt as free as I do when I run. It is a tool I use to feel human and to better myself.
3 Things on your bucket list Three things on my bucket list would be: to travel to Alaska, to skydive in Hawaii and to be on the Jimmy Fallon Show.
Who do you find inspiring? I find many people inspiring. I see inspiring attributes in everyone I meet. Although, I would say that I am most inspired by hard workers and artistic people. Some people that most inspire me are: my mom, my friends, other writers, Taylor Swift and Jimmy Fallon.
Look for Bella in issue 59 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!