Content warning: Article discusses suicide.
For months I have hidden the most vulnerable parts of me. I have coped with my own traumas and pushed them into corners to be hidden forever. In the past year, I hit rock bottom.
I attempted to take my own life and I believed that moving on meant never speaking about my most traumatic experience.
The truth is that we like to neglect our emotions because they push us to face the qualities of human life that we fear the most. We're scared to reveal the lonely parts of ourselves that push us to the unthinkable. In the most recent weeks, however, I have found that as individuals who thrive off relatability and understanding, we can not possibly heal by hiding our most vulnerable experiences. We must face them head-on, we often hear others say that you've healed from a traumatic experience when you can recall it without it bringing tears to your eyes.
This is my journey — it no longer brings tears to my eyes, but it is a constant reminder of my strength and ability to face my biggest fears and still walk away whole.
On August 19, 2018, I decided that the most logical way to end my neverending sadness was to overdose.
I forced myself to take any and every pill that I could find. It is important to understand that my decision was not just an irrational thought that suddenly arose out of thin air. The entire week prior to this date had been hell. I had been battling very severe depression for as long as I could remember, and I had recently experienced a loss that contributed to my decision. I had been feeling numb, I was walking through my life without truly being there. I was stuck in my head, I constantly contemplated ways in which I could end my own life. Nighttime came and I was taking more than 20 milligrams of melatonin a night to put myself to sleep. Thinking back to this time in my life, I can't comprehend how I was able to keep up with my responsibilities in such a depressed state.
It was the Sunday before the start of my senior year of high school.
I cried as I forced pills into my mouth, too many to count. I remember laying in my bed, my head throbbing and feeling as if it were going to explode. My chest felt as if it were being compressed and eventually everything stopped. No thoughts, no pain, nothing. I awoke in an unfamiliar room to my sister pulling a sweatshirt over my head. I felt terrible, I had no recollection of where I was or what had happened. I remained in a very fuzzy state of mind for days after waking, but I slowly began to remember what had happened. My sister had been changing me because I was about to be admitted to a mental health assessment facility. I spent a week in the facility. It was easily the most impactful and eye-opening experience of my life.
On my first day in the facility, I remember feeling angry. I felt nothing but anger and I wished that I had been successful the first time. I remember thinking that I would try again as soon as I had the chance. I felt no regret for what I had done, it was what I had wanted and what I had set my mind on. I isolated myself in the facility, there were others who colored and talked, but I sat as far as I could from the group. I felt alone and unwanted, as I had before the incident.
I was alone with my thoughts again but after a few days, the anger faded. I met a girl around my age who told me of the physical abuse she had experienced at home. I began to trust her. We had different experiences but we were able to connect through our traumas. I believe that if she had not pushed me to attend church with her in the facility, I would not be where I am today. She invited me to church during our time there and it was during that time that I knew I hadn't died because I had a purpose. I felt a little burst of hope, that maybe life was bigger than my problems at the moment.
The psychiatrist I spoke to was completely astounded that I had survived.
I remember how she looked at my charts in complete shock, I should have died. I had taken handfuls of several different pills, a few more and I would not have been sitting in front of her. I learned that after taking the pills I had fallen into a coma — my sisters found me on the floor of my bedroom in a puddle of my own blood. I spent a week in the hospital completely unconscious. Once I was stable I was transferred to the facility. During my time there I had lots of time to reflect on the situation and I believe I grew as a person. In many ways my experience completely changed me, I am not the person I once was, my life has definitely changed for the better.
When I left the facility, I had a different mindset. My sister often reminds me of how dedicated I was to get back to school, the first thing I asked for when I awoke was for her to email my assistant principal to ask about my concurrent courses. My senior year had started and I was at a disadvantage because of my mental health. But I didn't let that stop me. After I was discharged, I worked harder than ever before. I managed to get back to work, catch up in school, and focus on becoming emotionally stable. It was by no means an easy semester, each day was a challenge and my body still felt weak from what I had been through. I refrained from telling anybody what had happened, very few individuals knew what I had been through. I gave myself time to heal privately, and I celebrated all of the small things in my life with different gratitude.
A few weeks after I had been discharged, I turned 18, got a new job, and became more aware of the energy I was allowing in and out of my life.
I worked extremely hard and it made me appreciate all the small things in life that we regularly take for granted. I had been so stressed about school, my professors had already told me I was behind and that it would be very difficult if not impossible to catch up. They saw an irresponsible student who had skipped the beginning of the semester, they knew nothing of my situation. I graduated on time with close to 40 hours in college credit. But more than these empty accomplishments, I reached a peace of mind that I had never known before.
Throughout this journey of mine, it has been hard to maintain a positive outlook. I am in such a different place in my life than I was a year ago, but some days are harder than others. There are days when I wake up questioning why I am still trying, why it matters. Healing is a process that we tend to get impatient with because we want so desperately to feel as stable as the person next to us, or to feel as accomplished as the richest person in the world. But what if we realized that not everything is what it appears to be? What if we realized that healing is a process that never comes to an end — if we allow it to work within us always, we will always develop different aspects of ourselves.
So where exactly does healing start? It starts with the acknowledgment that we have control over the energy that we allow into our space. We are in control of our own lives, and we must remember that we are defined by our reaction to any given situation. But being in control of our lives doesn't only mean we control the energy that is coming from outside sources. A large part of the healing process is being aware of the role and influence you play in your own life. What does your mindset look like? Are you asking life for more than you have worked for? Are you truly letting yourself feel your emotions?
The answers to these questions all contribute to what your process will look like, whether it will be real or not. It is a common coping skill to avoid confrontation, but hold yourself accountable and be secure in yourself. Deal with your own stuff, hold your own weight and walk away whole from situations that should have broken you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255