Forty-seven is the number of times I have attempted to take my own life. Fortunately I’m still here, and as a survivor it is my goal to reach at least one individual and inspire them with my story. In doing this, I also hope to a create a domino effect of inspiration throughout the whole world and send the message to everyone battling a mental illness and/or suicidal thought that you must keep fighting because your story is not over.
I am strong. I am worth it. Today, I will conquer all that comes my way. I am bigger than the thoughts that try to bring me down. I am a warrior. I have made it this far and I will not stop for anyone or anything. Nothing will stop me from getting what I deserve, which is to find true happiness. I deserve to be happy. I hope that you have read this and can believe these things about yourself; you are certainly one of a kind and you are every bit of unique that this world needs. Even in the darkest of moments where your worries become the beginning to all too familiar nightmare and hope becomes blurry, I so deeply wish that you will hold on and remember the power you have over your thoughts. The biggest struggle we all seem to be oblivious to is actually the one that is most common in all people of every age, race, and religion — settling in our ways and habits that cause us to believe that our spot in life now is and always will be our destination.
Looking back on my life sometimes helps me to become more thankful for all of the insights I have gained though times of hardships. Other times I reminisce of a time and place that is frightening and almost too dark to handle; it makes me realize why sometimes I don’t want to live or why sometimes I just simply don’t want to be me.
One memory in particular takes me back to a rainy afternoon. I had awakened from what I thought was a nightmare. In my “dream” I was sitting in the passenger seat of a car, admiring the windows on a brick building. Soon the windows began melting into a spiral of black and white optical illusions. It was like I was watching a movie of myself. The next clip showed me screaming at a group of nurses and doctors. “I am going to kill you," I shouted, as I tried to escape from their hold. The next thing I knew, I heard a beeping sound. I watched my lifeless body lying there on a hospital bed connected to machines. As the beep grew louder and louder, the more realistic things became, and soon I was back to reality, awake and observing my surroundings. I had asked the less than pleased nurse what had happened. She told me my friend brought me in, and she explained to me that they had pumped my stomach and were now giving me fluids to make sure everything was cleaned out of my system; meaning the three bottles of pills and liquor shots I had swallowed the previous night.
This was just one of many times I had tried to commit suicide. There were several other times I had tried to overdose by downing a bottle of prescription medications. I began to get creative with the ways I tried to end my life; I wrote suicide letters, and even researched ways on what would be the least painful. I was desperate for an escape, and I was sick of explaining my emotions to people who would just tell me “everything” is going to be okay. Life was never going to get to where I needed it to be, and I just wanted to end it all.
Soon after many failed attempts, I realized that taking my own life was impossible. Yet, after already coming so close to death, I had attached the emotion of fear with suicide. After my suicidal thoughts had subsided, I still longed for an escape from my pain, so I decided to cut myself. The pain I had so badly needed to get rid of stemmed from a lot of childhood trauma and family dysfunction. My parents were second cousins and I felt disgusted at myself; I knew I was a mistake and I knew that I was never going to be a creation from a beautiful love story. I was just a result of two troubled individuals who were living in their own sick, twisted version of love. My mother certainly wasn’t ready to be a young mom. She partied, drank, and was in and out of prison. She was absent in my life and still is. My father tried his hardest to be the best parent he could be but he failed miserably; he fell in love with someone for the second time who had brought misery to his company. My step mother did meth and my dad would drink his emotions dry. I was tossed from home to home like a bag of trash, and the instability in my life fed my thoughts of being unworthy and unwanted.
As I write my story, I am realizing the CHOICE I made to cut was my choice. While I didn’t fall into a world of drugs and alcohol the way my family had, I was still choosing an option that harmed me physically. In my own words, “cutting” is a form of coping. It is a negative skill used to alleviate the darkness or racing thoughts in one’s mind. Sometimes, cutting can be “life threatening” when an individual's goal is to end his/her life. To others, using the words "life" and "threatening" may be an ironic use of words when it comes to slashing open your veins, but to a “cutter” such as myself, it is primarily meant to freeze anxiety in its tracks. In the moment, it feels like a better option than suicide.
Before I continue discussing my personal journey through suicidal thoughts and self-mutilation, I would like to clarify that self-harming behaviors are by no means the proper way to handle internal pain. It is not my intention to glorify these self-injurious behaviors in any way or to get pity for my experience. It is my whole hearted goal to instill hope and help those struggling with the similar war I have battled against myself. I also hope to educate the world on why people choose to self harm, what cutting is, and what it’s like for someone to be chained down by it's treacherous grip.
While we have full power to transform our demons into something more beautiful than ever imagined, we must understand the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve this beauty. Overcoming pain means trusting that if you step out of the boundaries of the box you have placed yourself in, that there will be something even greater on the outside. For a very long time, I have let my illness define me and I let my thoughts control me. I am here once again to reveal the naked truth of my inner most secrets and tragedies. I am here writing to turn the tables and define my illness and take back my life.
Unfortunately, choosing our biological families is impossible, but the option to live our lives in pure bliss or pure resentment is not. I admit I still battle with forgiving my family for their lack of support and ongoing abuse. I often feel sorry for myself and imagine what it would be like if I were born into a stable family. Pictures float through my head of random memories of me singing out the window to God and making him promises that I would forever sing with the angels if he would just promise to take me out of this hell I lived in. I was abused in too many ways and sometimes my past would affect the pattern of my cutting. For every thought I had was a slice across my skin. For example, I was abused — slice. My mother doesn’t love me — slice — and so on and so forth. I often wondered if my biological family even cared if I was dead or alive. The sight of my blood was like a rush of adrenaline, and even before that, I would be calmed by preparing my routine. I would set up towels and bandages and clean razors. After the OCD aspect of my negative coping mechanisms, I began to get sloppy and would occasionally need stitches. At one point, I even got an infection in my arm. I was slipping away from reality, and soon, I began cutting in hopes to end my life. When cutting didn’t work, I just fantasized about jumping to my death and watching my very few friends and family attend my funeral.
No one else can find the beauty in your story except for you. It is okay to want to disappear for a while, but it’s not okay to harm yourself. Don’t ever let your struggles wear you down and defeat you — just look at all you’ve gotten through thus far. If you made it here, you can make it to any place in life you want. I can’t tell you that I always feel this positive, because that would be a lie. There are still days I have urges to self-harm, but instead of scraping a razor across my skin, I grab a pen and a pad and spill my thoughts onto paper. I am strong to have conquered so many battles in my 23 short years of life; I have found my purpose and I am in control of my happiness. What’s your purpose? What are some of your challenges? Write a comment of your purpose and tell me what makes you a fighter. Remember — this is not your final destination, and your story is not over.