My Suicide Story

My Suicide Story

You will be found
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When I realized that this month was a month that made awareness to something so near and dear to my heart, I almost cried. My life has been significantly altered by suicide and its effects. Unfortunately, I have witnessed both suffering because of it, and felt it on a personal level. I have written a lot about suicide on Odyssey, but this is my outlet, and I choose to use it to pour my heart out.

I will never forget the first time that the thought of "I want to kill myself" popped into my head. I was 13, going through the unimaginable, and thought that my life was not worth saving. I thought that if someone could hurt me that much, that I needed to hurt myself. Luckily, I saw the effect of what suicide did before that happened. My freshman year of high school, a classmate committed suicide. I was in the midst of planning and getting ready to give my stuff away. But because I saw that, I felt compelled to stay, if not for me, for my friends.

So, high school came and went. Things got better. I only had a few times when I was actively thinking about killing myself. However, what stopped me was the "(insert life changing event) is about to happen." Or, "you have friends now! You have got this!" What people fail to realize is that when I am surrounded by people that I know love me, I am much happier.

Graduating from high school was euphoric. I felt like I was on top of the world, the stars, and more. I felt like nothing could stop me. Then, college came. What a lot of people fail to say about college is that even though it appears okay on the surface, a lot of the time, it's not. That was the exact case with me. I had a hard time adjusting. College is difficult to adjust to, but what was brewing was a "I need mental help" stew. I figured, at the beginning, that it was a phase that I would outgrow. However, a situation at home warranted my own emotional trauma. I thought, again, that I was not worth it.

This time, I had a plan. But you know what saved me? It's funny, but Gilmore Girls actually has an impact of why I am here. It was a personal connection with witty characters. It was something to look forward to each night and I knew that I could go to bed with a smile on my face. I had yet to get professional help, but just a few years later, I would have no choice.

They aren't kidding when they say that a lot can happen in a summer, and it did. I grew, and for the first time this past summer, I realized I was not alone. Plenty of people in college rely on others for help, and I am one of them now. Without that help, I would not be here today.

I write this to tell you that you are stronger than you realize. Just because you need a boost every now and that does not constitute weakness. You are stronger than they say, and you will surpass any expectations that you set for yourself. I am the living, breathing example of just that.

Sometimes, I think that I am not capable, I just have to remind myself that I am. It can be hard on some days, but I do it. How? I do my makeup. I write. I realize that everyone is going to have bad days, but they make it through them, so I can, too.

In Dear Evan Hansen, there is a line that says, "you will be found." It is so true. If not now, eventually. Don't lose your place on the map. You are on the right track

If you or a loved one is considering suicide, please contact 1-800-273-8255.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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Our World Needs Us To Practice Suicide Prevention Every Day

This needs to be continuous, not just in September.

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September is here, and to correspond with World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, a whole week is dedicated to spreading awareness of suicide, educating others about prevention and altering people about the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and tendencies. It also reduces the stigma surrounding the topic, as well as encourages people to both seek resources and support people who may have attempted suicide.

While all of this stuff is awesome to do, this is something that we should be doing every month. Why wait until September to show awareness? Show it every day! Be that friend who is there for someone who may need it the most, be kind to a stranger who may be having a bad day and/or post the number to the suicide hotline everywhere you go. Just be kind to one other; it is very needed, especially today.

Growing up, I didn't have many friends; being on the spectrum made that hard. There were times where I didn't want to be around anymore. I sometimes used to put on an act to let people know that I was okay, even though I wasn't deep down. I didn't even tell my own family that I was being bullied because I used to think it was all my fault. Sometimes I used to think that the world would be a better place if I wasn't there.

I'm here today. I'm engaged to a wonderful guy, attending university, going towards my dreams of writing and being a photographer, and I have amazing friends. I wouldn't have done all of that if I had taken my own life. Just know, guys, that you have so much to look forward to in life. A bad past does not have to mean a bad future. You have so much to live for.

Just know that you are not alone in this world and that there is always hope. If you or a friend are considering suicide, know the warning signs. Call for help, and be there for your friends. Just know that there is always hope out there.

Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Other helpful resources:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/hotline

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