I was sitting alone in my first period third-grade classroom, my mother having dropped me off early, the teacher yet to arrive, the lights still turned off, and the strings from my hoodie tied tightly around my neck. My thoughts were running wild, turning every which way, escaping from the vault in my mind that I had learned to lock them away in. They blinded me. The thoughts of suicide, the thoughts, the horrible thoughts, the only things in this world I could not figure out how to get rid of for good. They corrupted my mind and turned it into darkness so that the only thing I could see in my future was death. The only way, was death. If I wanted to escape this, wanted to escape the life I couldn’t fathom the idea of having to go my entire life living, then I had to die.
I tried hard. I clutched the strings hard, one in each hand, tugging opposite ways, feeling my face turn red and listening to the ragged sound of my breathing slowing. Black spots danced at the edges of my vision after about ten minutes. After about twenty, I gave up. My third-grade self didn’t realize that killing yourself wouldn’t be that easy. In the years, to come, I’d realize that you can die without killing yourself.
The therapists I went to see throughout the years could never figure out exactly what caused my depression. Was it the fact that I couldn’t connect with anyone, and in turn, had no friends? Was it the fact that my parents, while they said they cared about me, didn’t give me the light of day? Or maybe it was the fact that I hated myself so severely that in a way, I thought I deserved to die. Thought it was God’s way of saying screw you. And for a while, I blamed God for this. For everything. For giving me this life that I hated, this chronic sadness that just wouldn’t seem to leave me. For all the therapists I spent my entire childhood seeing, for the antidepressants I would have to stuff my face with every morning for years, for the lack of friends I had, for the loneliness.
I was a miserable child. When I say I had no friends, I mean it. I often was bullied because I tended to stay to myself, reading and writing alone in the corner of the lunchroom. What those kids didn’t realize was that I had just learned over time that other people were evil. I didn’t like them. Didn’t want anything to do with them, and that was why I kept to myself.
I think my parents were the reason I felt this way. Those nights, when my father had had too much to drink, when I misbehaved or in any way acted like a child--crying or throwing a tantrum-I was beaten up. Hard. I still remember him throwing me down the basement steps and locking the door, or grabbing my hair and dragging me to my bedroom. There were several occasions throughout my childhood that I called the police on my parents (mostly my father) when things grew so violent that I was genuinely scared for my life.
You can’t really blame me for hating people. My parents ingrained in my mind that everyone would hurt me. And I was so scared to be hurt. I never thought, as a child, that I would find a husband when I grew up. Never thought I’d be happy again, never thought anyone would like me. After all, if my own parents didn’t like me, how would anyone else?
Now in fifth grade, the therapists and suicide attempts did not stop. My mother eventually had to cut all the strings out of my hoodies because teachers would report me trying to kill myself with them again in the middle of class.
I learned what cutting was in middle school. I soon began to crave the feeling of pain when slicing your skin apart. Began to crave it so much, that I did it all the time and everywhere on my body.
I remember sitting at home one night, in my bedroom, utterly miserable, and wanting a way out. I knew killing myself wasn’t an option--it was just too hard, so I found an old pencil sharpener in my desk drawer, grabbed a screwdriver from downstairs, returned to my room, got the blade out, and began slicing my left wrist. They were small at first, the cuts. I only did it once per week on the soft side of my left arm and wrist. Then the need for it grew exponentially. I became addicted to the feeling of it, the pain, the release. I cut myself deeper, and moved to my thighs and shoulders when I ran out of room on both of my arms. I had to wear long sleeves and pants at all times, even during the hot months of summer, but it was all worth it to me.
The cutting wasn’t my biggest problem, believe it or not. Fast forward a few years, to 9th grade, when everything grew worse, and the one thing worse than the cutting was the loneliness. My parents had stopped beating me up, for the simple fact that I had called the police so many times on them that the Department of Family and Child Services had gotten involved, and my parents were scared of getting in trouble. That was good, I suppose, but other aspects of my life grew worse. The thing I remember most vividly about 9th grade was the loneliness. The God-awful loneliness that tore my world apart.
I had friends at one point, I did. Two of them-I won’t go into too much detail simply because it hurts to think about them, even two years later. Long story short, they couldn’t handle me anymore. The calls to them in the middle of the night when I felt like killing myself. The times where I would cut myself and send them photos of all the blood to make them feel bad for me. I think I craved attention from anywhere I could find it, after not being given much from my parents.
I don’t blame my friends for leaving me. But after they did, I wasn’t the same again. The despair I felt, the loneliness, the goddamn loneliness, made the world very dreary and pointless. What was the point in being alive if I was alone? I had too many issues, I decided, to have friends. I would give up trying to make them. To this day, I still stand by this decision.
I remember waking up one day, a Saturday in October, feeling worse than ever before. There was a pit in my stomach, an empty void that I didn’t think could ever be filled again. I missed my friends dearly. And I was so utterly miserable that I couldn’t fathom living another day. I just couldn’t. I had stopped eating a week before. I wasn’t able to get out of bed to eat, and I had lost weight from months before of barely eating. I couldn’t do anything anymore. I was barely making it to school most days, simply because I knew my parents could beat me up if I didn’t. It was miserable.
I made the decision to tell my mother how I felt that one day, before I did something stupid-at least I was smart enough to do that. I explained to her the emotions I had, and she revealed to me that she had been looking into several mental hospitals because she, while unresponsive, did notice my sadness bloom.
Wait. Mental hospitals? No. I did not belong there. I had never seen what one was like, and I intended to keep it that way. My suicide attempts were barely suicide attempts. Surely not bad enough to go to a mental hospital.
And then I was there. I soon realized that it was either get help, or die trying. I didn’t want to die, not really--I just wanted to sadness and loneliness to go away.
I cried so much while I was at Ridgeview that the other kids would complain about me. I was scared, to say in the least, and I missed my home. I remember begging one of the mean nurses to let me call my mom, to which she told me to stop acting like a child. I would only be here a week or so. But I couldn’t help but act like a child. I was so scared.
The days at Ridgeview were long and all dragged into the next. Mostly we had group therapy in the mornings, and sessions in the afternoons. I remember having to sleep out in the hallway my first few nights because I had threatened to run away, and they didn’t trust me. I remember crying in my bed. The girl next to me gave me her stuffed bear to sleep with. I’ll never forget that.
We were a team, at Ridgeview. All the other kids and I. I eventually befriended two other girls, one eleven years old and the other fifteen. They got me through my time there, always sat with me in group and let me cry on their shoulders. I wish I could have gotten their numbers before I left, but it was forbidden. At Ridgeview, it was a rule that we couldn’t even call the other kids our friends. They feared making friends would “interfere with the healing process.”
When I left, I hated that I wasn’t a normal teenager. Hated that I had been to a mental hospital, hated that I was still depressed. In all honesty, the hospital had not helped much. It was just rude nurses telling me that there was no reason for me to be sad. They didn’t understand, couldn’t fathom how miserable I was.
When I returned home, after about a week, I was fine for a couple of days. I hated the hospital. I decided and I would never go back. The fear of going back kept me from trying to kill myself again. For a few months, at least.
I remember being at home, alone, utterly miserable and lonely, wanting a way out, and going into my basement to try and find a rope. There was a forest nearby with sturdy trees, and I knew how to tie a noose.
I never found a rope. Some days, I’m glad I hadn’t. Other day, I wonder what would have happened if I had.
The next year dragged out slowly. I began seeing a therapist that I actually liked for once, named Julia, who I still see to this day. She agreed that I should keep out of the hospital, that places like that were vile, and I couldn’t agree more. She even convinced me to stop cutting. She helped me see that there was a future for me out there, that I only had to stay with my parents for a couple more years before I could leave. I was sixteen at the time. That meant two more years. I could survive two more years, right?
I thought so. But I was almost wrong.
One night, in December, two months after going to Ridgeview, I was forcibly admitted into Lakeview, another mental facility.
It was the worst night of my life. I was at home, and I couldn’t do it anymore, couldn’t do it anymore. All the misery and realization on how lonely and unfair my life really was, was overwhelming. I hit my breaking point. Hard.
I started seeing one thing and one thing only: I had to die. Had to get out of here.
I went downstairs. My parents were out, and my sister was in her bedroom. I opened the medicine cabinet, and grabbed a random bottle of pills. I wasn’t thinking clearly, and figured enough of anything could kill you.
I returned to my room and began swallowing handfuls of pills. I sat there, on my bed, in between handfuls, purely miserable and drained. I was using a bottle of Coke to swallow the pills.
To this day, I can’t drink Coke anymore.
My sister burst into the room. She must have had a feeling that something was wrong-I don’t know. She tends to know when something’s wrong with me. She freaked out, slapped the bottle of pills away from me, and immediately called 911. She was crying and scared, and to this day, I’ll never forget how horrified she looked when she saw what I was doing.
The paramedics came. They asked a few questions to my sister while I stood there, watching. They then brought in the stretcher and told me to get on it. I did. I remember the guy who sat in the back of the ambulance with me, a young, good-looking guy, who was very kind. He stuck the IV in my arm gently, and asked how long I had been a cutter when he noticed my arms. I told him I didn’t remember.
I was scared. Riding in the back of an ambulance is not the most fun thing in the world. I anticipated what was to come, unsure of how my parents would react when they found out what had happened to me.
We arrived at the hospital. The first thing I saw when I was rolled in was my mother, crying, staring at me, and my father, shaking his head at me. I softly whispered to my mother, tears rolling down my cheeks, that I was sorry. I was so sorry.
Now in my hospital room, on the bed, my parents sitting beside me in hard metal chairs, I let myself go. I bawled that it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t fair, and I had been so close to being dead. I just wanted to be dead.
The nurse came in soon. She brought me a charcoal solution for me to drink as a substitute for pumping my stomach. Apparently, charcoal absorbs all the bad stuff in your stomach. It tasted God awful, but it was better than the alternative.
After a few hours of crying and shaking and wanting to die so badly it hurt, a new nurse returned to the room. She informed me that I would be going to stay at Lakeview mental facility, and that my parents and I had absolutely no choice in the matter. It was the law.
I cried heavier. I did not want to go back to a mental hospital, I was so scared of them. I begged the nurse for another way, begged her not to send me to the mental hospital. She just looked at me sadly and left. I curled up on my bed and sobbed. I remember after a few hours, at about midnight, I went to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I honestly didn’t recognize myself. My eyes were sad, and there were heavy bags under them. My skin was a ghostly pale. And the tears wouldn’t come to my eyes anymore, simply because they were all gone. I stood there, in the mirror, and stared at myself, a bland expression on my face, feeling absolutely and genuinely drained. I stared for a while before a nurse came in to get me without knocking. After all, I was on suicide watch, and I could be drowning myself in the sink for all she knew.
Lakeview wasn’t much different than Ridgeview. It was a larger facility, with no windows and colorless walls, with a few chairs scattered here and there. I wasn’t allowed to shower alone, and I had to ask permission to do literally anything. Someone had to come with me to the bathroom. Most of my time there was spent doing crosswords or word searches or coloring, as this was the only entertainment allowed in mental facilities. There were no phones, nothing. I felt trapped there. After a few days, I was certain I was going to go crazy.
Then India came in. She was a tall, pretty girl with curly brown hair. I was sitting on my bed when she arrived, pretending to be asleep. The nurses told her to undress so they could check for self harm or weapons hidden in clothing, as they did with me when I first arrived, and then they left. I rolled over to face her, and we began talking as if we were friends all along.
India was the reason I got through Lakeview. She taught me that people out there really could like me, could actually enjoy my company, which was something I hadn’t fathomed before. She taught me to be confident, to understand that people out there were good.
She was depressed. It saddened me dearly that someone so amazing was so sad. I cried when she found out that she’d be moving to Illinois after she got out of the hospital, to go live with her parents. I would likely never see her again. In the year to come, I’d try every possible way to find her. I’d look online, but she had no social media. I even paid someone to try and find her online for me, just so that I could see her again. I needed to know that someone was still there for me. India had promised me that if things got too tough at home, she’d come get me and I could live with her. I knew she was telling the truth. In all honestly, if I could find a way to contact her, I would probably be living with her right now.
I got out of the hospital. I remember my puppy being ecstatic to see me when I returned home. I cried when I saw her. (I cry a lot, if you haven’t noticed).
I’d like to say that things got better after Lakeview. I’d like to say that my therapist found a way to make me happy. I’d like to say that I found a way to make me happy.
That’s not exactly the case. A few short months ago, my therapist told me that she was certain I had Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder so bad that I can’t even be diagnosed with it until I’m 18. I’m 17 now. I have a year to fix myself, before I get diagnosed.
She thought I had the disorder for a variety of reasons. She said she came to the conclusion that I had it when I told her of the developing bulimia I was experiencing.
The depression prevented me from eating. Technically, that isn’t classified as anorexia, as I’m not purposely not eating. But in the months to come, I’d decide that I still hated myself. I thought that if I changed my body, maybe I would like myself more. So I began throwing up.
I won’t get into much detail over that, simply because it’s something I’m not proud of. But I’m working on it with my therapist, and I’m certain I’ll learn to stop one day.
The purpose of this isn’t to make you feel bad for me. The purpose isn’t my depression, or my anxiety that would later form, or the developing bulimia. It’s about how, through all my struggling, I’ve survived. I’ve made it through. I haven’t let it kill me yet. I’ve seen the darkest of days and emerged from them, fighting. I’m incredibly proud of myself for having been through all I’ve been through and still be here, continuing to fight, continuing to survive.
It hasn’t been easy. I’m sure you can see that. Sometimes I wish I had better words to describe the misery I’ve been through. Sometimes I feel like there’s just no way to explain it.
My purpose in life is to help others. I know that. I know I was given this life so that I could survive it, so that I could share my experiences and encourage others to survive along with me. I care so deeply about people, which is galaxies different than when I used to feel. I love people, even if I stay away from them. I only stay away because I know that I am capable of being hurt, and I’m not in the state to handle that right now.
I would later find that writing is my true passion. My everything, my reason for living. My goal in life is to publish a book one day. I’ve already started writing it. It’s what keeps me going some days, the need to write and share my writing with others.
I have confidence that my life will be better one day. I have confidence, because that’s the only thing I can have at this point. I know I’ll survive this.
I know I will.