Retaking My First Steps

Retaking My First Steps

Sometimes first steps do not involve walking across the floor.
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The sickly smell of antiseptic overwhelms the air. My body is still weak from the heavy sedation and constant influx of pain medications. I am so weak, I can hardly feel my legs. The only thought running through my mind is that I’ll never regain enough strength to ever walk, dance, frolic, or even stand again. There could be nothing so stomach-wrenching, so painful, so infuriating, as lying in this hospital bed with the sensations of tiny needles prodding into my torso and the nauseating scent of vomit, plastic, and agony that every hospital emits.

Just then, the outline of a white-coated figure through bright fluorescent lights finds its way into my line of bleary sight, another piece of my body that isn’t performing as optimally as it once did. As the white figure comes closer, I remember why the shape of this body in particular is so painstakingly familiar to me. The figure and I have spent many countless hours in doctor’s offices, examining x-rays, discussing treatment plans and how they will affect my future. The friendly face of my wide-eyed and bushy-tailed surgeon – who, regardless of nine hours in surgery, looks young and crisp while I lie there, resembling something close to death warmed over with mucus outlining my nostrils and bags underlining my eyes – peers down at me. I expect comforting words such as, ‘you did so well,’ or ‘everything turned out just beautifully.’ Anything would have been music to my ears in comparison to the foul words that escaped his lips.

“Are you ready to walk?”

I laugh meekly, and suddenly his usually cheerful, jubilant demeanor has transformed into one of pure seriousness. Surely he had to be joking. I just had two titanium rods fused onto my crooked spine! How could I even learn to stand barely twenty-four hours later, let alone walk?

He smiles as he reaches out his arms, and I reluctantly grab ahold to help myself up, all the while glancing at my mother on the other side of me, hoisting me off the bed with great vigor. Blood rushes to my head as I rise as if I were a newborn giraffe learning how to walk. My legs feel like foreign appendages, jellylike and uncooperative. I make it two microscopic steps, each of which feels like two miles, before I feel my legs buckle, and I practically collapse onto the hospital bed nearby. I receive congratulatory looks of pride from my doctor and my parents in the room with me, looks that say I’ve accomplished so much more than two mere baby steps that day. With those encouraging faces staring back at me, I realize that I am more than capable of regaining my strength, and every day I will take more and more baby steps, determined to reach my goal.

Those first few steps after my scoliosis surgery were like the first steps of my impending adulthood. The cold, tiled hallway of Roanoke Memorial Hospital was my own pathway to maturity. I do not think that had my parents not decided to go through with the surgery that I would be the person I am today. Before, I was a child, only a two year veteran of middle school, meek, self-doubting, and entirely unaware of all that I would accomplish in my high school years to come. Today, I consider myself an eager, confident young person, fully capable of anything I wish to accomplish. I am not yet an adult, for I still have much to learn. The strong impact my surgery had on my life is what I believe prepared me to take those further strides into adulthood.

Cover Image Credit: newsjunkiepost.com

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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If I Could, I'd Start Running And Not Stop Until I Got To Kenya ​

The high altitudes of this east African country make conditions ideal for any runner looking to excel.

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If you're into running like me, then it's no secret where the best runners in the world come from. The African country of Kenya is home to some of the greatest runners to ever step foot on planet earth. Phenomenal talent emerges from Kenya year after year. Records get shattered as if they were minor accomplishments. Most of the talent goes unnoticed until the Olympic games roll around and get showcased to the world.

Kenya is a place I've always wanted to visit. Many of my running idols either live or train in Kenya. I'm talking about some world record holding athletes. Like Eliud Kipchoge, for example, who recently broke the world record for the fastest marathon ever. He trains every day alongside other world-class runners on the NN Running Team.

I constantly see athletes post on social media about their experiences while they training in Kenya. I think I would enjoy getting to know the culture. Life as a runner in Kenya looks like a lot of fun. The trails and roads look fascinating. There are always other runners striving to push one another towards their highest potential.

One big reason why I'd want to visit Kenya is that life seems so calm and simple. I wouldn't be caught up in the trends of society that resides while living in the United States. At times I feel overwhelmed and depressed from what goes on in the USA. I feel like there is a constant theme of people trying to outdo one another.

It's annoying because we are all the same and nothing should separate us, Sometimes I just want to get away from all that. I'd rather live out like a hermit and pave my own path in the vast open lands of eastern Africa. I admire the closeness of people in tribes and group settings in Kenya. People seem to be bonded tightly and enjoy the precious moments of life.

From what I read about Kenyan athletes, it sounds like I'd enjoy my time in the country. I would get to train with like-minded individuals day in and day out. The scenery would be incredible and breathtaking. There's just something about Kenya that gravitates me towards it. I've got it on my bucket list to accomplish at some point in my life.

Maybe my running ties could lead me to this place someday. Who knows, I'm just going to keep running until I can't anymore.

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