When I Was 15 Years Old, My Mom Took Her Own Life

When I Was 15 Years Old, My Mom Took Her Own Life

This is my story.

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"Your mother is in a better place."

I heard the words, but the funny thing is, I don't remember being there, not really. I was watching another girl's life, detached, feeling nothing. My mom had tried several times during my childhood, but no one ever thought she'd really go through with it. None of that prepared me for this.

I remember how my aunt came over, my mom's little sister, and curled up in a ball sobbing for an hour, a successful, grown woman in her 40s I had never thought I'd see shed a tear.

I remember talking to my grandparents, who had been on vacation in Hawaii, on the phone and hearing how much strength it was taking them to keep their voices steady and hold back the pain.

I remember how I kept thinking, "OK, this is when I wake up, this is where the nightmare ends."

It never did.

After my sister and I had gotten home from school on Jan. 31, 2013, we wondered why our mom's car was still in the garage because she should've been at work. The door to her bedroom was locked too. We knocked and knocked and knocked, and our dad told us to try to pick the lock, but it was no use. I had never had to call 911 in my life, and when I told the operator what was going on, I could hardly believe I was considering the possibility my mom was really dead. Surely, that was ridiculous.

It seemed like hours before the police finally arrived. I showed them upstairs, and when they finally broke the door down, I watched in horror from a chair in the hallway. The memories get jumbled after that, but I remember hearing, "Your mother is in a better place." And I remember wanting to scream, "No, she's not! This was the better place."

Reading the suicide note of a loved one is like losing them all over again, every time. You're reliving a goodbye you never even got. They're saying their last words to you but you can't respond or show them any love, and you know they died all alone.

What's funny is that, other than my mom dying, my life sort of improved in the short term. That sounds so ridiculous to people, but for such an extroverted person like me, the support of others and a sense of belonging is what makes me feel best. My teachers made very generous academic accommodations for me, my friends would invite me over for a sleepover whenever I was sad, and people were always cooking my family homemade meals. During the first few months after my mom's passing, I had a lot of pain that was almost masked by the fact that I was overwhelmed with comfort and love. I kind of forgot how to live a normal life.

Late in my sophomore year, as the comfort dissolved, I began to realize how empty I was really feeling. I started shoplifting small items from several stores, trying to fill that void with something, anything. I'm lucky that never spiraled out of control, but it was only the first gust of wind in the category five hurricane that was to follow.

Trauma doesn't usually manifest in an obvious way, and often it acts as a catalyst for mental illness issues that likely already swam beneath the surface. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a hypomanic episode which resulted in me having to leave a choir I loved so much, followed by a deep depression which culminated in me begging my dad to take me to the hospital because I thought I might try to kill myself. By the end of my senior year of high school, I barely got out of bed, I was scared to show my face in school because I was terrified of all the horrible things that I thought might happen, and I was struggling to take my medication or eat much at all. My family decided to send me to a therapy program that summer and my graduation from high school was postponed until December. Luckily, I was able to get a medical deferral from my university, and I took a gap year.

While my recovery was in no way a linear process and is always an ongoing mission, I have seen a lot of improvement in myself since the end of high school. I considered a lot of career paths, but I could never quite talk myself out of the challenge that is going into medicine as my mom did. Often when I'm doing organic chemistry or genetics or physiology, I wish I could call my mom so she could answer all my questions. When I find a new TV show she would've liked, I have no mom to send it to. I'll have no mom when it's my turn to have children and I need advice from the person who knows motherhood best.

What I carry with me is the knowledge that even if my mom's mental illness ultimately took her life, I make a promise to myself daily that I will never go down that road. I have seen first-hand the way suicide shakes a family to its core and leaves loved ones with scars that can never truly heal. There is no lesson to be learned, or silver lining to be found, no shiny little bow to wrap this article up with. I tell my story openly and honestly because it is the only way I know how to process it, with the hope that I can show others the strength there is in vulnerability.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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You Can Get In 'Bad Moods' And Still Be A Positive Person

No, it's not contradictory. It's the truth.

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For 10 straight years of my life, starting in eighth grade, I was definitely not considered a happy-go-lucky girl. I was consistently at a comfortable level of happiness, sure, but was I jumping for joy for every part of my day without a complaint? Hell no, I had something to say about nearly everything with my eyes practically rolling out of my skull. Now? I am that happy presence in the room, and I have fallen in love with my new self. Is that weird? Maybe. Is it something so simple that absolutely anyone can achieve it? Absofuckinglutely.

What am I like now? Let me break it down for you, and then I want you to try to say that you have no interest in being this way in your own life, too. These are some of the smallest, yet miraculous changes I have ever applied to my life. My normally structured everyday life, my routines and my habits (good and bad).

Some of the easiest parts of your life are the hardest to break. If you understand that sentence to the depth that I'm trying to convey it, then your life is about to change.

I get up the first time I hear my alarm, every morning. I haven't pressed "snooze" in about six months. I get up at 5:02 am every single day, do you know how hard that is?! But do you know it's the easiest way to make for better days? Start your days better, and you'll see better days.

Get excited to light that morning candle because it's still dark out. A new outfit combination to keep things interesting, and feeling that hot water wake you up and release any tension in your body and bones from the night before. It's a new day, and it's up to you to make it a damn good one.

Right there, you're thinking "I can't be a positive person because sometimes I don't have a good day." Ummm, what? Robot? Is that you?

We all have bad days. Complete dog shit days, actually. Just because we are in the process or are these "newly born positive hippie fairy people", does not mean we can control the universe and what it does to us. The world will break your heart six times by Sunday and that's a damn fact. However, you can fall in love with seven of those days. Stay a step ahead of yourself. You won't regret it.

How do you handle the bad days? Simplicity here too.

Work on what you say and how you say it. I say hello to anyone I make eye contact with. Do you know how many people I pass running through meetings and a high school all day long? That's a lot of smiles. And when it comes to conversations, I never end one sentence on a negative note. Even when I'm complaining, I make sure to find a silver lining, regardless of its size, to end my sentence.

Find that little glimmer of hope and positivity, no matter how stereotypical it seems, and emphasize on it.

Make sure you complete that sentence.

Make sure people hear you.

And yes, sometimes things just really are that bad, and you can't find a good in why something happened when it did, the way it did, or why you're feeling the way you do about it. Guess what? Not an excuse. You can still find hope, but only if you're looking. "Hey, that was so shitty and I am taking it so hard and I really hate everything right now, but it could've been worse, and at least I never have to live today again."

Easy as Sunday morning, right?

You don't have to "STAY POSITIVE" to be a positive person. You just have to promise to always try your best to stay positive. That's literally all it takes. That's it.

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