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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I Think Someone Died Today: Letter to my Future Boyfriend

Dear Future Boyfriend,

I read somewhere once that when a person dies, and there is no one who loved them and who will miss them, the mourning is assigned to a random human, and this is why people sometimes just feel sad. I doubt there’s any truth to the tale, but some days I wish there was at least a small grain. Because some days my sadness outweighs my other emotions, and I don’t know how to tell people the reason behind it all. But this little nugget of mostly incorrect knowledge is so much easier to swallow than the truth behind this dark monster.

Because how do you tell someone there are days when you can’t love yourself? How do you tell someone that somewhere along the way from your brain to your heart, the love for yourself was accidentally renamed and rerouted to love for others? How do you explain to someone that hating yourself doesn’t mean hating others, because the two aren’t mutually exclusive? I don’t think you can; at least not easily. But I’m going to try to anyway, because it’s something you need to know. It’s a part of who I am. It’s not a phase. I won’t grow out of it. We’re a package deal, which sounds a little foreboding, but I can help you along the way. Because I’ve been living with Depression for five years, so I guess you could call me an expert on darkness.

Which is why I want to help you and as many other people as I can understand this sinister plague. And the first place to start is to let you know thoughts can be detrimental to happiness. People like me have the tendency to over-think everything, 98% of the time. And over-thinking, well, let’s just say no good can come from it. Believe me, I know. Over-thinking leads to doubt, and doubt leads to self-loathing, and self-loathing leads to all the side-effects of Depression. We can go from relatively happy to overwhelmingly sad in less time than it takes to blink, which leaves most people saying, “Well, that escalated quickly.” And they’d be right.

I’ve gone from laughing myself into an asthma attack to absolute self-hatred in the time it takes me to catch my breath. And then I’m left wondering: how can anybody love me if I can’t love myself? But the fact that I still believe in love and I still see the beauty in the world despite all I’ve been through is a sign of the strength of the human spirit.

There are days when I don’t think I can get out of bed because the weight of this load I’m carrying is too much to bear. There are days when I use up all my faith as soon as I get out of bed when I trust the floor will stay firm under my feet. There are days when I hate myself so much, I wonder how other people can be around me. But these are the days when I love others the most, because I know they’re travelling the same dark road I am, and it makes this journey so much more rewarding. And I want everybody I meet to feel loved.

And I’m going to warn you now: there will be days when I tell you, “I don’t need a man with a superhero cape to rescue me.” Don’t believe me. It’s a lie. Because for a long time, I tried to wear my own cape, but I couldn’t get out of the pit since my cape was held down by my own two feet (which goes to show that you really can be your own worst enemy).

There will be days when I call you at ridiculous o’clock because I can’t sleep and my mind’s a battlefield in the middle of a war. Just listen. Don’t try to fix me. You’re not God, and I’m not either. God will do what he will in his own time.

There will be days when I won’t believe any of the nice things you say to me. Tell me anyway, and I’ll save them for a day when I need to hear them the most.

Accept me for who I am, Depression and all, and I promise I’ll accept you too. You help me, I’ll help you. And when I’m having a bad day, and I can’t love myself, I’ll come find you. I want you to do the same. No one ever said life was easy; they just said it was worth it. And I for one believe them. And yes, I tried to kill myself, but now I’m trying to outlive myself.

Because this is something I have to live with. I’ve made it this far, and I will keep going. I won’t always know the precise, exact reason why I’m sad, but when that happens, like it did today, when I come up to you with tears streaming down my face, and I can’t tell you why, I’ll just say:

 

I think someone died today.

 

in response to: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/what-its-like-to-love-someone-with-depression/

Moving On

The first cut is always the deepest.  The first cut always hurts the most. But then the second and third cuts come, and after a while, you become addicted. You become addicted to the release it brings. For one minute during your day you feel something. You are allowed to feel something.

And then it’s not just days; it’s months, it’s years of this daily release. Then one day, you hit your lowest point. Your skin is not skin anymore. After years of being bloody from fighting daily battles, it’s become a puzzle to be put back together. It’s become a battlefield marked with the gravestones of those lost. It’s become a maze or a timeline; traceable lines mark the path you’ve walked, how far you’ve traveled.

One day you trace the scars that you’re so eager to hide from judging eyes, because you don’t know how to explain to people that you’re not trying to kill yourself; you’re trying to stay alive:

How have I made it this far? I’m stronger than I think I am.

How did I get here? I’m left looking back on things I’d much rather forget.

Where do I go from here? I have no idea.

I have no idea.

But I’m taking it one day at a time. Because when you didn’t think you’d make it this far, planning the future and looking too far ahead is terrifyingly intimidating. Life is stressful. You take it one day at a time so you don’t forget to breathe.

Through all this, you have to learn how to move on with your life. I’m learning how to move on. I’m learning how to make it through the day. I’m learning that God loves me despite it all. I’m learning that even at my worst my friends are there to fall back on.

I’m learning how to love myself again, which is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s so easy to compare yourself to everyone else. And this game you play, you lose every time, which destroys your self-image. So you have to undo all the damage done—years of losses has left your Self-image so badly damaged there’s no choice but to tear it down and rebuild it from the bottom.

This rebuilding is a process. It’s looking in the mirror and telling yourself you’re beautiful even when you don’t believe it. It’s telling yourself that you are worth something when you’re entire being is telling you that you’re better off dead. It’s learning how to block out the voices of those who once hurt you (not that the memories won’t hurt, because they will. But that’s ok. You’re alive).

And it’s so much more. It’s learning to ignore the people who judge you. It’s learning to ignore the people looking at you, whispering about you as if you can’t see them. It’s learning how to cope, how to deal with the thoughts that can destroy you. It’s learning how to let the feelings out in healthy ways (even if it’s crying at Youth Group). It’s learning that it’s ok that big groups make you uncomfortable, that you are always on the verge of a mental breakdown. The people who matter won’t love you any less.

It’s learning that this is a Mental Illness; the feelings won’t go away, but they’ll be like waves. It’s learning how to make the most of them.

It’s learning that you are worth being loved. It’s allowing yourself to be loved and valued when the right person comes along.

It’s learning to say look how far I’ve come. Look at what you did to me, but look what I’ve done with my life. Look at me prove you wrong.

Testimony 2.0

The first word is always the hardest.

It’s hard for us to admit that there’s anything wrong. It’s hard for us to admit that there are things that have happened to us that have destroyed the person we once were. There are things that have happened to us that have drastically altered the course of our lives.

And we can’t admit we’re broken. So we go on wearing a happy face, rocking our own cape, because we are told that we should deal with our problems ourselves. And then we look in the mirror one day and realize we don’t recognize the person looking back at us.

I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me.

The first word is always the hardest. But I’ve heard when telling a story, it is most effective to start at the beginning.

But, I can’t start at the beginning, because I’m a “Good Christian Girl,” and the story I’m about to share doesn’t happen to “Good Christian Girls.”

And I don’t really know how to talk about it, and sometimes, I feel like I can’t talk about it; so I’m sharing it here.

When I was in 8th grade, I was sexually assaulted by 5 guy friends of mine. They stole my innocence. They tore my proverbial Cinderella dress leaving me in my Cinder Rags. They stole it in a bathroom at school. And while I can’t get it back, the act itself isn’t what’s left me broken.

It’s what they said. “You deserve this. You’re worthless. You’re never going to amount to anything. No one will ever love you.”

And I couldn’t tell anybody because school is filled with the wrong kinds of people. It was my word against theirs. And they were popular and I was not. So I suffered in silence.

The suffering turned to self-hatred. The self-hatred ate at my soul until I felt nothing. I was breathing, but I wasn’t alive. So to feel alive, I began cutting. And with each cut the words “you deserve this. You’re worthless. You’re never going to amount to anything. No one will ever love you” echoed in my mind.

Eventually, after months of this daily battle that left my skin bloody and torn, I decided that wasn’t enough. I started eating less because everybody loves the pretty, skinny girl.

And I didn’t fit any of that criteria. But I wanted to. Because if I couldn’t love myself, who else would be able to.

And over time all these feelings piled up, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to kill myself. I probably would have succeeded too if a little voice in the back of my mind hadn’t told me, you are good enough.

I threw up the pills I took.

I decided to live.

I decided to fight.

And every day I’m still fighting.

Because even though I don’t cut anymore, the urge is still always there. And I don’t know everything that triggers memories to come rushing back. And I wish I did, because then maybe I could tell you what to stop doing. But I don’t. So I can’t. But I will tell you to watch my reaction to jokes, to unexpected physical contact, to certain images, to people that remind me of someone I’d much rather forget. Little unconscious facial expressions can reveal so much about a person.

Don’t tell me I’m a bad Christian for hating myself. God is one of the only things that forces me out of bed in the morning.

Don’t tell me I deserved what happened. Nobody deserves pain like that. I was young, naïve, and didn’t know how to deal with the pain I was going through.

I see many beautiful people while going about my day. I’m not one of them. I don’t think so.

But that’s ok.

Because I’ve figured a few things out.

  1. I am capable of so much more. In the battle between Who I Think I am and Who I could Be, Who I think I am won every time, because that’s what I let get a hold of me. that’s what feeds off my energy. It doesn’t have to be that way.
  2. We are all capable of doing something great. I am, you are, we are all. But we all have something holding us back.

Every mirror tells me something different. I can tell myself that I’m beautiful over and over again, until I’m blue in the face, but there is an irrevocable flaw ingrained deep into the recesses of my brain that refuses to let me believe it. And even though deep in my soul I know I’m capable of greatness, there is something holding me back. And until I figure out what it is, until I figure out how to overcome it, I am destined to live in my own shadow.

I’m held back by fear and self-doubt. Fear that I will never be good enough, and enough self-doubt to give all the arrogant people a healthy dose.

Even though I know all this, it’s not enough to stop the feelings. It’s not enough to cure me. it’s not enough to make me whole again. But it’s enough to keep fighting. And you can be damn* sure that I will.

Sometimes when I’m sad, or hate myself, I look at the lines on my hands. They remind me that I have been stitched together by the master sewer, and I’ve learned that sometimes, that is enough.

 

*Pardon the swear word. I don’t swear normally on principle, but it’s emphasis. It’s important.

You’re Better Off Dead

“If someone hates themself so much they want to die, they are better off dead.”

Those kind words were said in one of my first classes as a college student. Being the type of person that I am, I walked out. I walked out and never looked back.

People are rather ignorant these days when it comes to Depression. They can hear the statistics, they can know someone who is struggling, but they can never truly understand. So many people laugh it off and say, ‘it’s no big deal.’

It is a big deal. People who struggle with depression can become really good at hiding it on the outside, but the smiles, the laughs, the loudness doesn’t quell the battle going on inside.  It’s an exhausting fight: a fight that would be all too easy to end (but that would put us on the losing side, and humans don’t like to lose. But the thought is always still there, lying in wait in the back of our minds).

Depression is more than sadness and tears. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. People who struggle with Depression don’t feel anything. We feel dead: a human void of emotion is no human at all. We wake up in the morning and dread getting out of bed (on our worst days, we can’t get out of bed). Days aren’t really days as much as they are obstacles that need to be tackled. And so we deal with them through medication, drugs, cutting, starving ourselves—anything that will make us feel something, anything other than nothing (because nobody wants to feel like they’re nothing, like they’re invisible and barely breathing).

That’s what Depression is: the overwhelming sense of numbness, and the desire for anything that can help us make it from one day to the next.

Some days we’re fine; other days, we’re not at all fine. And while the world around us is moving like normal, we are spinning in slow motion or just frozen in time. These are the days when the thoughts come back.

If I just swerved off the road here, if I just took a few extra pills, if I jumped down the stairs, it would all be over. I would be completely whole once again.

And then people tell us that “We shouldn’t be sad, because somebody always has it worse,” which is almost as bad as telling someone they can’t be happy because someone always has it better.

But, it’s not as bad because people enjoy being around happy people more than sad people.  Us sad people need friends too. We need to feel just as loved as the next person (except maybe more because we don’t love ourselves). And it’s not that  we are not capable of love. Because we are. We are capable of so much love, but we don’t know how to love ourselves.

And while everybody else is busy living their lives, we’re just trying to survive.

When I read my poem “Checkmate” at Youth Group, people came up to me afterwards and said, “I had no idea, I’m sorry, etc.” But now you do.

One last thing, if you tell me that everything that’s happened to me in my life is my fault, it’s not my fault that my fist ends up in your face.
I had no control over it; your ignorance was asking for it.