It all began when I was nothing but a child, when my world should have been bright and happy, yet it was clouded with pain, rejection, heartache and depression. What do you do when your mind is determined to make you believe that you are worthless, that no one cares, that everything would just be better off if you were gone? What do you do when every night, you cry yourself to sleep and you don’t even know why? I was thirteen years old, with my whole life ahead of me, and I all I wanted was to make it end. To make all the hurt and anger just go away, and let me live. But it gripped at me in such a way that I couldn’t just walk away from it. My world was spinning around me, with other children living happy normal lives and I hated them for it. Since the age of 13, the battle with depression and suicidal thoughts has been all too real for me. I spent countless nights on the bathroom floor cutting my wrists, legs and arms, hoping that the cut would be the last one, would be the one to end my misery.
For so many years, the razor was my best friend. It was the only thing that I could turn to when I was hurting. Unlike everything else in my life at the time, it wouldn’t turn its back on me, it wouldn’t judge me, and it wouldn’t reject me and make me feel unloved. It was the only thing that I could truly rely on. As I took the razor to my skin, the pain was always only temporary. A few cuts, and I would be ok. It was a release to what I was fighting inside. It would leave me broken, crying, bleeding on the bathroom floor, but somehow, to me, it made everything ok. Every problem, every situation, every bad day would mean more cuts on my body, it was my coping mechanism. But I should have known, that the one thing that I trusted, would eventually turn on me too. Suddenly I found myself in high school, struggling to get through a day when I didn’t have to turn to the razor for comfort. It was much more than a comfort now… it was an addiction. I had no one to turn to because I pushed everyone away. My mind had convinced me that my family didn’t care about me. I felt ugly inside and out, and my world was crashing down around me. I decided not to be a pawn anymore; I took matters into my own hands.
I stood at the bathroom sink as I had so many times before.
When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t even recognize the girl standing before me. She was torn apart by the world around her, a shadow of who she once was. Darkness loomed in her eyes, her cheeks were tearstained, her body gaunt from starvation. I couldn’t believe who I had let myself become. I cut my wrists and just lay on the bathroom floor waiting for it to be over. But my life didn’t end there, and neither did the cutting. My school found out, and I was forced into a hospital, locked in a room, shut out from the outside world. No one could understand how I could be driven to such things; they never knew how unhappy I was because I never let them in. In the months to come, the guilt of tearing apart my family, and the scandal that my life now was to all those around me, just pushed me back to one thing that started it all. I was like an addict who could stay sober, but not for long.
On the outside I appeared strong and healthy and happy, but inside I was still dying, still struggling. I wanted to be strong, I wanted to believe that I could put it all behind me. It was as much an act for the outside world to believe as it was for me to believe. The smile on my face wasn’t real, but the tears that stained my pillow every night were.
Six years later, nineteen years old with the whole world ahead of her and she was still standing in front of that mirror with the razor in her hand wishing she had the strength to stop. Tragedy was nothing new to her, but this time it hit too close to home, and she couldn’t handle it. Day after day, night after night, the thoughts consumed her. Kneeling, sobbing, once again she held the razor to her skin. One, two, three…: “just a few more and the heartache will go away.” Sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…”make it go away, let me wake up from this nightmare.” When all was said and done, I looked at my arm… twenty seven cuts later, and I still didn’t feel any different. I had officially hit rock bottom. Just like an addict, the drug that had once drawn me out from my pain no longer worked. My addiction was too strong.
At 19 years old, I had my life all my life in front of me, and yet I didn’t see the point in living. I was living with serious untreated depression, and I was battling a multitude of addictions. Every day was a struggle. A struggle to seem strong on the outside while falling apart on the inside. It was a struggle to keep what I was feeling in, because I didn’t want to let down those around me. It was a struggle to ask for help, because I was always told that I had to be strong, and I had to fight through it all, and I just had to brush it off….and I couldn’t. So I made the decision to give up. I made it through that night…and no one ever knew the truth. It was a secret I carried deep within me for a very long time..
But secrets… don’t stay buried for very long. Without ever really opening up about my past, I never gave myself the chance to get real help. And so…years later at 23 years of age when tragedy struck my heart again..all the pain and the doubt and the heartache came rushing back. I was thrown into one of the most serious depressions of my life. But I had to pretend to be strong. I had to put on a brave face and pretend that I was ok…even when my world was crashing down around me. For the second time in my life…depression consumed me. I had no hope for the future. Everything I had ever hoped for in my life..was slowly being ripped away from me. I was watching all my hopes and dreams turn to dust right before my eyes. I was consumed by an addiction to alcohol, pills and self injury. The only way I could cope with my illness..was to numb everything that I was feeling. I let the thought of ending my life consume me.
But the truth of the matter is that something inside me was stronger and it was fighting for me to break free. I shouldn’t be here, able to write this, I should be yet another statistic. But I’m not. And you might wonder, why on earth am I writing this here, for the world to see? But, the fact of the matter is that if you thought this was about me, you thought wrong. Because I believe that if someone can benefit from what I went through, can find hope through my struggle, then what does it matter who knows about my past? If I can’t use my experience to help others, then they were all in vain, and that is the last thing I ever want. I know that I am not alone, not in the fight that I fought or in my will to overcome. I am not about to let this second chance at life just pass me by without fighting for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. Every night I cry for those who are going through what I went through and even worse.
By finally being honest about my past and my struggles, I have given myself a REAL chance at life. I have received help for the depression that I struggled with, and it is no longer a part of my life. I stepped away from pills and alcohol, and instead I have embraced the support of my church family and friends to get me through these difficult days of my life. I have conquered my addiction to self injury and I am celebrating a year of recovery, with my church standing behind me every step of the way.
I know that my story IS for a reason. I know that I am stronger because of I what I went through. I know that my heart can relate to other hurting hearts, and I yearn to reach out to someone in their time of need. And I am on my way to helping others.
I am a Suicide Intervention Specialist for IMALIVE. There is no greater feeling than knowing that I can help someone through their time of need. To help them find the HOPE when it seems there is none. To be a listening ear, when everything seems to be falling apart.
I know what its like to live with mental illness. And I know that struggling through life does not make you weak. Trials will come,storms will try to shake us….but never give up HOPE. The biggest step you can take for yourself is to let someone into the dark places of your life..to share the burden of your pain with someone you can trust who can help you, whether it is a doctor, a pastor, a family member or a teacher.
PAIN SHARED IS PAIN LESSENED; JOY SHARED IS JOY INCREASED