Just Keep Swimming

Disclaimer: this post is a post I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to figure out the way to treat this subject with the sensitivity it deserves, because yes, I can be open and candid about it, but for some people it’s just not easy. The wounds are too fresh. I’m showing you my cards here. I’m wiping off my poker face. I’m putting it all on the table. This post, like so many others, is about suicide. And I need, no, I want, you guys to know that before you keep reading. Because I understand that some of your wounds are fresh, but I also know that sometimes talking about can speed up the healing process. I also know that sometimes talking about it can make it worse. So, if the latter is the case, stop reading. I don’t want to make your burden heavier than it already is. Make yourself a cup of tea and go to your happy place. If the former is the case, make yourself a cup of tea and read this post. Either way, I want you all to know that you are loved, and there are people out there who understand your pain, who will be willing to help carry your burden.

 

It’s been 4 years, 1 month, and 1 day since I attempted suicide. I survived. Yet, so many others do not.

I’m not going to give you statistics, because if you want to know, you can look up the numbers on your own. I’m not going to give you statistics, because this isn’t speech class where I need numbers to convince my audience to agree with me. It’s not that I don’t have facts, because I do.

Fact: Suicide is a moment.

Fact: Depression is a race.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them. Because all of sudden, life hits them in the chest, and they realize this sadness will never go away.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you. It’s like a vine that blocks out the sun, a python strangling the joy out of you, and rust that corrodes the bones.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them. Because all of a sudden, life hits them in the chest, and they realize this sadness will never go away. And they dare themselves to do it.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you. It’s like a vine that blocks out the sun, a python strangling the joy out of you, and rust that corrodes the bones. And it’s so easy it sit there and let it consume you, because it whispers to you of an eternal sleep.

Fact: Life is made up of moments.

Fact: Life is a race.

When I am up high, I get scared. Because I’m telling myself, I could really do this. I could. But then, when I think these thoughts, I think of how great it would be to fall in love, how great it would be to travel the world. And I return back to normal. But I hold on to the moment and the thought of what it would be like to travel through the air. And I know I’ll probably never take myself up on the dare again, but the memory gives me a comfort that the day is mine to choose. Because the memory of how I felt in that moment when I swallowed those pills is tucked away in my brain like a sour candy stored in my cheek. I don’t like sour candy.

Some people do.

Some people take themselves up on the dare, because they don’t see how life can get any better. And I can understand why, because sometimes I’m tired of running, which is usually 2.5 minutes after I begin, because I have asthma.

Some people take themselves up on the dare, and they leave their families behind. And their families are left picking up the pieces and are trying to make them fit. But like a jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece, it will never be the same.

And we can’t save everybody, but we should certainly try.

Because I know first-hand how devastating a suicide can be. My mother lost a cousin to it, and my dad did too. And they almost lost a daughter.

And in the last year, my high school has lost two graduates to it, and now the families and friends are wondering why.

I don’t know the reason for other people, but I know mine.

And I think society is talking about it more, which is good, but I think people need to better understand that this is a disease. People like me can’t just snap out of it. Because we can recover for a while, but it will inevitably return, so we live our lives in the moment. The future is scary, and it’s not always guaranteed.

Because it’s all too easy to drown in an ocean of tears, and sometimes we forget we can float in salt water.

 

 

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Un-eligible Princess

If you could use your imagination for a second and imagine me standing in front of you, I’m terrified and shaking and trembling but I’m reading this with a smile on my face. Because I’m terrified of speaking in large groups, but when I’m reading my words from the page, I’m the only one in the room.

Right now, it’s one in the morning, or 7 at night, or pick a time any time. And I’ve written many things already tonight. And the number of words I’ve written in my life is probably greater than the number I’ve spoken. And that’s ok. Because with every beat of my heart, my blood carries my words throughout my body, reaching my brain and my fingers until I itch for a pen.

But there was a time when I would have reached for the razor instead. I would have watched as my blood trickled from my skin and the tears from my eye flood carried the words I didn’t know how to say from this body of mine. Because I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, but a part of it leaves when I sit down to write. Because my heart cries tears of pain and joy and desperation, and all this accumulation turns into inspiration late at night.

And I’m well-versed in the art of poetry (and also math, but Calculus 101 and 102 demanded my wrath). But poetry is not a mathematical equation, unless you’re Shakespeare with his sonnets, and his perfect 14 lines of iambic pentameter.

Because

Any

Sentence

Is

Poetry

If

You

Write

Like

This.

And if that’s poetry, I’m not a poet—try my way though. Because my prosetry may include rhyme and meter, because I grew up counting meter for music, so I’ve met her (be)fore. And anything is a metaphor if you try hard enough. I draw poetry from life around me and the pain inside me. Because every so often, I think ‘why me?’

And I believe my words are beautiful. Because they have the power to open minds, change minds, encourage minds, and maybe one day convince someone to be mine. Even dressed to the nines, I don’t feel fine, by which I mean beautiful.  Because what’s beautiful about scars? I mean Scar was the bad guy in Lion King, and I’m the Daughter of the King, so don’t my scars make me the “Next Un-eligible Princess?” And I try to hide mine, because I drew the line and connected the scars on my skin, and one day I picked up the pen instead.

Because writing makes me feel beautiful. And my writing is beauty filled, and people tell me they’re proud of me. And if my writing can help thee, then it shall be. Because I don’t want to hide these red razor lines on my abs and my thighs, so I transfer them to my writing, which is fine by me. My scars say “I have survived,” but these demons won’t go away, which is why writing is here to stay. Because this pain is enough to drive me insane, but my words are enough to keep them at bay.

Because not too long ago, I believed that beauty was directly proportional to weight, which made me hate society. Because when did it become ok to say things to ourselves we are too afraid to say to anyone else? And when did skeletons become goddesses teaching us to not need? Because what does thin mean to you? Sophistication, adoration, adulation, a vaccination against segregation? And if that’s beauty, I’ll stay ugly.

Because I’ve always been too big, too loud, too quiet, too excitable. But that’s ok, because my heart is too big to be contained in jeans too small for a stick. And although some days I hate everything about who, what, and how I am, it’s ok anyway. Because I have enough pain to write novels like Bronte. And they will be beautiful, because slowly and surely, I am learning to love myself. There are parts of me that shine like the stars. Because my eyes are full of wonder, and when I make a blunder: I still walk into the light.

So I can no longer believe that my value is tied into how much I weigh, because whoever said “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” clearly never tried Red Velvet anything. Besides, I have better things to worry about. I mean, I have a book to write, and lives to change, and people to hug, and stories to tell. And the last thing I want people to remember me for is my weight. I want to be remembered for doing something great.

But right now, in this moment, I’m 19. I’m here, and I’m so afraid. But my courage is roaring like the sun, because I’ve made it this far, and I know I’ll be ok. So when I get up in the morning, and my legs feel like they might buckle, I’ll have to trust that they are strong enough to keep me from falling. I am strong enough. Besides, if they’re not strong enough in that moment, life goes on. And I can try again tomorrow.

 

Clock Tower Ministry

“What time is is?”

“I have no idea.”

“Oh, wait… We’re sitting under a clock tower.”

*facepalm*

This past week was my favorite week of the year: Bible Quizzing Nationals! Every year, this is a week where my faith gets tested, my hatred towards high stress situations becomes apparent, and where friendships are made and strengthened. This year was no exception (I regret to inform you I was unable to watch my youngest sister in her Semi-Finals for Individuals, because of stress. And, had she made it to the Finals, I wouldn’t be able to watch her there either. I rather enjoy not being bald and having finger nails. If not being able to watch her makes me a horrible sister, oh well. Persecute me).

However, my experience this year was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in all my previous years of Quizzing. Last year was my last year being involved as a student in Quizzing, and as such, this year was my first year being a Coach. Being a Coach is a completely different than being a Quizzer, and like in every situation, there are goods and bads.

Bad: I miss jumping.

Good: My knees don’t hurt, and the skin on my elbows is intact.

Bad: I miss knowing things.

Good: I don’t have to study, because studying: Ain’t nobody got time for that!  (Study kids! It’s important!)

Good: I can talkasquickly or as s l o w l y as I want to.

Even better: I can still make my point in 20 seconds or less, so don’t get into an argument with me.

Being a Coach this week afforded me the opportunity to get to know some people. And a lot of the conversations I had took place at this clock tower in the center of my College Campus: 17595_10201556207572955_2020817768_n

The thing about this clock tower is I hated it. I hated it when it was being built, because while it was being built, the shortest route from one end of campus to the other was not able to be used. I hated it after it was built, because I kept running into it. I hated it because even though I’m in College, I have a hard time reading analog clocks.

This week, my perspective changed. Every night, I would sit here, and I would talk to anyone who needed a friend. I would talk to the misfits, the lonely, the ones who were struggling, the ones who were metaphorically lost, the socially awkward, the ones who needed someone to cry with, the ones who needed a hug, the introverts who just needed someone to sit with. Basically, I sat and talked with anyone who reminded me of myself. We all had something in common. It provided healing for me, and I hope it started the healing process in them.

Yesterday, my Dad told me he was proud of my “Clock Tower Ministry.” I mean, he’s supposed to say that, because he’s my Dad, but I’m proud of me too. Because there was a time not too long ago when I would have been the one who needed someone to be at the Clock Tower, and I might not have found anyone there. And I would have been too shy and afraid to ask if I did find someone. But this week, I was the person at the metaphorical Clock Tower. I was the one standing in the Harbor with my light glowing, safely guiding people home. And if this is the only worthwhile thing I ever do in my life, then so be it. Because I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

 

This week, I was President of the ACFCL (Assistant Coach and Fanclubing League), which let me say, is fantastic! Because this week, I was able to watch a lot of the teams from my Church quiz, and I was able to cheer them on without the pressure of having to be at this place at this time.

And for that, I am thankful.

Because this week, I learned something about myself. I learned that even though I am insecure, even though I am loud and obnoxious in large groups, even though I have been broken in the past, even though I have no idea what I’m doing ever about anything, even though some days I believe I’m worth nothing, even though I am a misfit, I can help others. I can be their listening ear of understanding. I can be there to share their laughs, to listen to their struggles, to sit there in silence when words just aren’t enough, to be their shoulder to cry on, and I can be their Fan Club when all they need is a little encouragement.

And that is why I am thankful for this ministry and this week, because I was surrounded by fantastic teens from all over the country. I am surrounded by teens who are hungry for the word of God, and who are destined to do great things. I am thankful for the people I meet, the people I talked to and got to know, and I am thankful for all the students who stood at the front of the Auditorium and shared how God has worked in their lives. And I am thankful for the people I didn’t meet, the people who attended, and the people who couldn’t.

Because I left this week more fulfilled than I ever did when I won trophies and accolades. This week reinforced the concept that people are what matter.

Dear Attackers: A Letter

Dear Attackers,

You’ll probably never read this, and that’s ok. Because now that High School’s over, I don’t have immediate plans of seeing you again.

But I just wanted to let you know that I forgive you. This decision is one of the hardest I’ve ever made (let me tell you that I am a very indecisive person, I think. So every decision I make is relatively difficult). But, in order for me to get on with my life, it needs to be said.

I forgive you.

I forgive you for hurting me. I forgive you for making me feel like I was worth nothing. I forgive you for making me believe that I would never be loved and that I would never amount to anything.

I forgive you because I have proven you wrong. I am worth something. I deserve to be loved. I will do great things.

For a while, you destroyed my faith in God. For a while, you made me believe that I was so ugly, so broken, so worthless that not even a perfect God could love someone so completely imperfect.

I called out to God so many times without an answer, and I began to wonder if he had forgotten my name and the sound of my voice. His name became a rotten taste on my lips, because if there was a God why did he allow his people to suffer?

But suffering happened. I could do nothing but watch as my innocence was stolen from me as if it was never my own. And I wanted to fight back, I did. But fighting back becomes exhausting, which is probably why I sleep all the time. So, I let you take advantage of me. What else was I supposed to do? You were popular; I was not. And since school is filled with the wrong kinds of people, I said nothing.

But God knew what happened. God saw. And even though I tried to destroy the temple he made. Even though I cut myself open with all the hate that I could muster, he stitched me back together.  Someone perfect loved someone so imperfect that he didn’t run away when I wanted nothing to do with him, and as I lay in bed crying, he wrapped his arms around me and refused to let me go, despite the screaming.

That’s why I forgive you. It’s not because of my own power, but God’s power.

These last five years have taught me so much about myself. I’ve learned that finding yourself is the same thing as losing yourself. I’ve learned that beauty comes from brokenness. I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I think I am. Albert Camus once said, “But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

It’s true, you know. It would have been easier to give up; it would have been easier to just do what you said. But, that would be akin to me admitting defeat, which is not something I do easily. I prefer winning and coming out victorious. So I fought. And I fought hard. Even when the air was knocked out of my lungs again and again, I got up screaming through the pain, determined to prove you wrong.

And I think I’ve done a good job of proving you wrong thus far. And even though the odds are stacked against me, I refuse to give in. I’m going to keep fighting to stay alive.

A lot can happen in 5 years: you grow up, you change, you learn to forgive.

Today I am forgiving you. Today I am saying goodbye.

I won’t forget what you did. But I’ll use it to help others, because everybody has a purpose, and I have found mine.

 

Checkmate

One day, you wake up and realize that you don’t know how you got there. And you’re surprised because you didn’t think you would make it this far. But you did. You have.

I have.

We have.

We have secrets and stories from our pasts that are Weapons of Mass Destruction if the wrong person gets their hands on these things that have destroyed us once before. So we protect these stories for all that their worth (which we tell ourselves is not more than a penny, because like a penny we are practically worthless—it costs more to make us than what our value is. Or so we believe. But, really that’s all just lies). So we package up these secrets and stories, and tie them with bows to make them look pretty. And we put these packages on the “Do Not Discuss” Shelf of our lives and leave them there until someone cares to listen (and we tell ourselves that no one will. Check. Check. Another lie).

And repeating lies over and over again does not make them true.

But we tell ourselves that it will be fine anyway, because we’ve made it this far on our own, and we “don’t need no Superhero” in a fancy cape to come rescue us.

Because all we need rescuing from is ourselves and the demons that plague us (and personally, I’d like to see you try to climb into my mind and fight these battles for me).

Because our minds aren’t some freakishly fast rollercoaster with ups and downs that are completely unpredictable. No, our minds are dark tunnels with caution signs and landmines threatening to explode at any moment. (Did I mention the hundreds of tons of dynamite?)

So we fight these battles the only way we know how: self-destruction. Our skin is constantly bloody from fighting last night’s battles. Our stomachs are constantly roaring as we empty the contents of last night’s self-loathing.

With all this pressure to be perfect we hope that all this grit and grime will turn into a diamond. But it doesn’t. It turns into a geyser, which promptly explodes in our face.

And now the secret’s out—it’s written all over our face. And we still choose to believe the lies, because humans are stubborn. And the more times you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

The more you repeat a word, the less it starts to make any sense.

Worthless.

Worthless.

Worthless.

It loses its meaning over time.

Somehow, despite all this, people still care. And it’s these people who care who convince you to get help.

So, you do to appease them (because it’s better to appease the masses than to go against the flow). You learn to deal with these feelings in less destructive ways (I’ve heard that writing helps a lot).

But the feelings don’t go away; they just act more like waves. Low tide and high tide. In an instant, they come back (so this is what drowning feels like). In an instant, they go away (I can breathe again). So you come up, choking and sputtering and gasping for air. And this cycle continues.

Because sometimes you are so focused on breathing in and out that you forget how to put one foot in front of the other.

And this is ok.

It’s ok to fall in front of all the cool kids. Your Fan Club is there to boost your confidence once again.

Knowing is better than not knowing.

And it’s certainly better than the

Tick, tick, ticking bomb that could explode at any moment.

Tick

Tick

Tick

Tick

BOOM!

Checkmate.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I am writing. I am writing hard, because writing means fighting. And I’m not done fighting my inner battles. I’m not done. God is not done with me yet.

One day, He will turn this Grit and Grime into a Diamond.

Dear Daddy

Life is fear. And lots of it.

When I was little, I was scared of the monsters under the bed, Santa getting lost and missing my house, and spiders. Now that I’m older, I’m scared of the future and spiders.

I have a rose from my Grandfather’s funeral to remind me that death and sorrow are real. This was the first time I cried at a funeral, which was the same day that I realized that there would be one less hand to hold mine when I needed someone there.

The most painful thing I’ve learned so far is that no matter how much love I wrap my family members in, no matter how many ropes I weave from their hearts to mine, they cannot stay with me forever. The ones that I hold most dear to me are growing older as I am. And it terrifies me. Because one day, the wind will carry them home, and they won’t be here with me to dry my tears, to hug me and tell me it will be ok. Even though a heart can be the home of memories, a home can’t be a heart.

And I’m scared of growing up and moving on.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Daddy, I miss you. And I know break just ended, and I saw you a lot; but I miss you. I miss our talks, your hugs, cuddle sessions on the couch. And even though I’m in college and still live under the same roof, I never see you. And it’s hard, and it’s painful.

I’ve given this whole “growing up” thing a shot, and I’ve decided that it isn’t for me. I want to go back to when I was five. I want to go back to the days of playing airplanes, back scratch wars, sitting in your fort, curling up next to you and falling asleep. I want to go back to the times when putting a Band-Aid on a cut was enough, because now there’s pain that you can’t fix even though you try so hard to do so. I want to go back to the days when you held my hand to cross the street, and to teach me to walk. I want you to hold my hand forever, because I’m scared of tripping and falling. These shoes of adulthood are too big for me.

And I can’t help but think if this is how I feel now, how am I going to feel when I don’t live with you? How am I going to feel when you’re not there every day for a hug?

And while I’m sitting here trying to figure it out, the world keeps spinning. People keep breathing, and while my mind is stuck in a corner, refusing to let go, I’m getting older and closer to moving on.

I know I’m only 18, and I have my whole life ahead of me to ‘figure it out,’ but that’s what scares me the most: not figuring it out.

Because life is a mystery. Life is pain, fear, and love. And when you love someone, pain is involved.

And Daddy, I know I’m growing older, but I’ll always be your little girl.

Right now I’m just confused about why life must hurt so much. Right now I’m just scared about what the future holds.

And I don’t know if I’m ready for it, any of it.

I want to be five again. Then I can say “tay me bit more,” and it might actually work.

 

Continue Reading: A Father’s Response

In the Stillness You are There

In the stillness you are there.

As a writer, I can find my muse just about anywhere—falling leaves, the way a bird grips a branch of a tree, how the sun kisses every dark corner of the night and turns them into light; inspiration can be found in people, places, smells, sounds, tastes, anywhere and in anything. My biggest muse has always been silence; but silence is the muse of suffering.

As a college student, it has been hard for me to find complete silence, complete stillness; but, tonight, in a room full of praying people, I reached that place—my heart was still, my mind was in complete meditation before God, and I was overcome with emotion. Trying to hold back tears, as my breath caught in my throat, my heart immediately began to bleed; pain that I didn’t know had come back began to course through my veins, like a deadly poison about to take effect.

In the stillness you are there.

Silence has a way of reminding me of pain that I’m too busy to give the time of day, pain that is a reminder of the depression that is so eager to gain control of my body; I’ve told these tales before: tales of darkness, tales of hope, tales that tell you it gets better.

And it does get better.

For a while anyway, and then the demon rears its ugly head and turns my thoughts against me.

(This, I fear, is a recurring theme in my writings; but, my feelings have to be given life. I’ve been down that road of self-harm before; it’s a dangerous and dark road, and I’m not going there again.)

In the stillness you are there.

For a moment I thought,

“If only I was prettier…

If only I was someone else…

If only I was braver…

If only I was stronger…

If only…”

Then a whisper in my ear,

“Shhh. it’s going to be alright.”

A moment later, it was gone.

The moment of silence that I experienced tonight, the moment of stillness that took my breath away, reminded me that I am not alone.

My life won’t always be perfect, and I will probably still compare myself to others. And even though I’m in a rough patch right now, because the floodgates have opened and depression has come out of hiding, it does get better. I will get through this. Hope himself has reminded me that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the stillness you are there.

Perfectly Human

This post has been replaying over and over in my head for a while, and up until a few days ago, it remained unfinished. It’s not that it was hard to finish; it’s that no words seemed quite fitting for such a post. But, I think after much thought, I have just the words to say. 

Since starting this blog, I have stumbled upon many blogs that absolutely blow me away. The emotion that is used, the hurt that is conveyed, makes me inspired. Some of the bloggers are dying. Some of the bloggers are struggling with trying to find who they are. These people say what they are feeling; they say exactly what they think without sugar coating it.

And I wish I could be like them.

I know I have been more verbal about my life story than some. I have been more willing to tell than some would like. But, the part that I’ve shared isn’t my whole story. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. The aftermath has been left unsaid. Cutting. Inner war. Self-bashing. Self-criticism. Nagging questions that have no answer. Being left with feelings of utter bleakness, feelings of hopelessness. It’s as if I’m on a giant water slide, going under water faster than I can catch my breath.

That’s the unsaid part. The day to day feelings. The day to day thoughts. The aftermath.

I’d like to be able to say “You know what? I’m not ok. I’m not. Today, I had this thought about myself. Today, I had this thought about people…” without the fear of being judged by my peers, without the fear of retribution, or being viewed as less of a person.

For one day, I wish I could be more like these other bloggers who unabashedly share their stories, their heart, their cynicism, the doubts.

I know I’m not the only one out there that wishes they could be more open. In today’s world, people are judged for every little thing. Society’s standards are tough to live up to. And one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of being judged, of disappointing or not living up to standards. Which, in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous.

We’re all human. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. And to be judged for having faults, for being human is one of the worst things.

We all have struggles. Some are more verbal about their struggles than others, but that doesn’t make the silent struggles any less real, any less difficult to deal with.

So, I urge you, put yourself into others’ shoes. Walk a mile in their shoes. See life through their eyes. Or at least be a little more cautious, keeping in mind that the person you walk by in the hall way that you are so quick to judge is struggling with something.

Because we are all human. We are all imperfect. We are all perfectly imperfect.